Human beings have long needed and used hot water. It is evident from the ancient Greeks, Romans and Japanese communal baths. We have come a long way from the communal baths, but water heaters are still an integral part of our lives. This is especially true if the climate is on the colder side.
Heated water is primarily utilized for bathing and cleaning. An efficient water heater is one which is convenient, safe and easy to use. However, as with all other machines, they can sometimes run into trouble.
The most common issues with a water heater include:
- Leaking heater.
One of the most common problems with the water heater is leakage. The reasons behind it could range from too much pressure, corroded parts, damaged drain valve, and condensation amongst others.
- Water does not get heated.
When the water heater does not perform its primary duty, it is a distress signal. Even after you’ve made sure that the pilot light and the switch is on and it still doesn’t heat up, then it’s time to call a plumber.
- Fluctuating temperature.
Everyone has a preferred water temperature, and the thermostat is set to it. When the water produced in the heater is either too cold or too hot, and it seems to be ignoring the thermostat, it is malfunctioning.
- The water is never sufficient.
If this problem occurs despite having a substantial tank, there could be some underlying issue.
- Colored water.
It is not uncommon for the water heater to produce colored water. The color can range from light brown to dark brown.
Slight mechanical sounds are expected from the water heaters. But when there is a cacophony of weird noises that starts to generate from the unit, it is usually a sign of internal trouble. It can range from hissing and knocking to banging.
Repair or Replace.
Having a professional plumber assess the water heater will usually allow him to decide whether the parts and the unit need repairing or replacement.
However, you might want to consider a replacement if you encounter these problems.
- Leaking tank.
One of the most common issues with a heater and usually the priciest is the leakage. Unlike other problems that can be repaired, this is one issue that can be solved only with a replacement.
- Constant repairs.
When your water heater needs more attention than say, your pet, it is usually time for a change. Repairing the heater is typically expensive, not to mention time consuming and annoying.
- Low temperature.
It can be a rude shock when you expectantly switch on the tap and be assailed by cold water. An underperforming heater is better replaced by a more efficient one.
- Accumulation of sediments.
Minerals in the water can lead to the accumulation of sediments in the tank. If regular flushing no longer takes care of this problem, then it is time for the old unit to go.
- Rust and corrosion.
This problem can be the proverbial double-edged sword. Rusting not only produces water that has an awful smell but it is dirty as well. If you have been feeling like taking a dip in the gutter every time you turn on the heater, consider a replacement.
- An old unit.
Water heaters that are more than ten years old are way past their prime and are time for retirement. A groaning and rickety heater is heavy on the energy bills, unsafe and wastes a lot of energy.
How to prevent damage and extend its life.
Continuous use of the heater can result in eventual wear and tear. However, some measures can be employed to reduce it.
- Switch it off when not in use.
Apart from the apparent wastage of electrical power, keeping the unit switched on all the time puts it under a lot of stress and strain. It is essential to switch off the water supply as well as the fuel or water supply when it is not in use. It will not only reduce the energy bills but keep the unit running smoothly for longer.
- Understand the type of heater you have.
Water heaters come in a lot of different varieties such as electric, gas, propane, storage tank or tankless. Although not critical, having information about the model number and the serial number can also prove very beneficial.
- Isolate the water heater.
It is a crucial step as suffocating the unit with other materials can be hazardous. Insufficient ventilation can damage the burner, cause carbon monoxide emissions, waste energy and be the source of a fire hazard.
- Drain the tank occasionally.
Every ten months or so, it is essential to completely drain the tank using the drain valve. Draining the tank will get rid of residue as well as sediment build up.
- Vacation mode.
Whenever you plan to go away for the weekend or go on an extended holiday, remember to set the thermostat to the “vacation” mode. It will not only keep the unit safe but reduce your bills and save precious energy.
- Regular maintenance.
Allow a professional to assess your heater every ten to twelve months. People only make use of them only when the unit starts groaning or begins to shows signs of wear and tear. By this time usually, it is already too late to save the heater. Regular maintenance will extend its durability and keep it running in optimum condition.
Is a professional plumber necessary?
Enlisting the service of a licensed plumber is not only efficient, cost-effective and safe. It can be very tempting to undertake the repairs as a DIY. With all the video tutorials floating around the internet, it can give you a false sense of confidence.
But water heaters require professional service more than other units. Stories of people having serious accidents in the bathroom due to a faulty or malfunctioning water heater are not uncommon.
Licensed professionals have the knowledge, and the expertise to not only solve the problem at hand but have a thorough assessment. They also possess the right tools and pieces of equipment to correct every problem with the heater.
Apart from efficiency and convenience, most of them are also available whenever the services are required, day or night.