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Water Heater: Common Problems, How to Fix, and When to Replace

Access to hot water is so common in the United States that most of us have never dared to dream of a life without it. Aside from camping excursions and trips to the beach, we almost always expect that hot water will flow from the tap. But for much of human history, hot water has been hard to come by.

Until the mid-1800s, the main source of hot water was from natural hot springs, geysers, or boiled water from a campfire or chimney. The first inventions were quite dangerous, using fuel from Bunsen burners to heat up water in the pipes. By the time gas fuel became available for residential use, Edwin Ruud had found a way to use storage tanks along with this new fuel source to heat water safely.

His invention was the catalyst for modern heaters which are now usually tankless and rely on things like coils or heat pumps for energy. Given the current variety of water heaters, you might be confused about how to take care of your water heater, how to fix it, and when to have it replaced.

Common Problems With Water Heaters and How to Fix Them

While water heaters are powerful and seemingly complex machines, sometimes you can diagnose and fix problems without the help of a plumber. Because water heaters are meant to last for a long time, parts can come loose over the years. This may seem like a big issue but that isn’t always the case. One of the most visible problems is when water leaks from the top of the system.

Leaks are one noticeable sign of wear, and there are many reasons why the top of your water heater might be leaking. In many cases, you can repair these issues yourself if you have a toolbox with a decent variety of wrenches and screws. Before you go in to repair anything, however, you need to dry up any excess water and find the source.

Here are some of the most common sources of water heater leaks:

1. Water inlet valve

Find the nut that is attached to it and see if you can tighten it. If tightening the fixture doesn’t stop it from leaking, take a picture of the valve and go to the hardware store to find a replacement.

2. Pipe corrosion

If you notice that the pipes look mildly corroded, you can try using a solution of vinegar and salt to try and remove it. In all other cases, you should call a plumber and learn about replacing the water heater.

3. Corroded electric nipples

The electric nipples which are connected to the hoses on the top of the heater sometimes show signs of corrosion. After draining the pressure release valve, you can replace these with new ones.

4. Internal corrosion

Extensive internal corrosion is a sign that your water heater needs to be replaced. Check the manufacture date to see if it’s close to 10 years old. If so, you will most likely have to replace it.

5. Excessive pressure

If you see water coming from the bottom of the tank, you should try draining the tank and loosening the valve. After tightening it again, refill the tank and see if the problem is fixed.

6. Rusty anode rod

When the internal anode rod becomes rusted out, it will cause the inside (including the bottom) of your water heater to corrode. This can greatly shorten your heater’s lifespan.

7. Sediment

The buildup of sediment happens frequently in Florida where homes have hard water. You will need to drain the tank, clear out the sediment, and refill it with clean, cold water to reset this issue. 

Taking care of these types of issues straight away can help avoid many problems like damage to the electrical unit or excessive energy and water bills. In some of these cases, you will not be able to fix the problem on your own. Sometimes, replacing the water heater is the only available option.

Replacing Your Water Heater in Florida

Florida water is hard and this is obvious given the frequent white residue that’s left behind in sinks, bathtubs, and showers. The sediment buildup that happens due to hard water can shorten the lifespan of these units. To combat this issue, you may consider adding a water softener or salt-free water conditioner to your setup. This may save you early replacement costs or time lost constantly repairing your water heater.

Most of the problems that water heaters have are visual to the naked eye. Unlike electrical problems, water heater issues may be easier for you to locate. As soon as you notice an issue, you should make some attempt to fix it or have a plumber check it out. If the issue seems bigger, you might have to skip straight to replacement.

Here are the four main signs that it may be time to replace your water heater:

  • Rust
  • Age (roughly ten years or more)
  • Water leaks
  • Not enough hot water

When you experience any of these issues, you should consider calling a plumber to assess your water heater and give you options for replacing it. Most people have their water heater installed in a closet or hidden area which means they don’t check on it regularly. If you frequently check to make sure none of these problems exist, you can save yourself excessive repair costs. Plus, this may extend the life of your water heater by several years.

If you live in southeast Florida near Broward, Palm Beach, or St. Lucie, our team at Sansone Air Conditioning Electrical & Plumbing offers water heater replacement and repair services. Please note that we only serve customers in these areas and cannot take out-of-state jobs. Our history as a family-owned business is at the heart of our approach to customer service.

We would be happy to learn more about your water heater issues and offer a solution backed by extensive experience in the plumbing industry. Please contact us via email or scroll to the top of the page to call one of our three locations in southeast Florida, we look forward to hearing from you!

Call us to hear about our specials or to schedule an appointment.
Broward: (954) 800-2858
Palm Beach: (561) 701-8274
St. Lucie: (772) 879-5656

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