Water heaters are large, essential components of most homes today. Most designs require very little maintenance, but with a few routine behaviors, you can extend the life of your water heater. Repairs may need to happen occasionally, but if you take good care of this appliance, you shouldn’t have to replace it for many years.
Common Water Heater Repairs
Most water heaters are designed to last about 10 years, depending on the style and manufacturer, as well as the conditions where the water heater is kept. It’s common for valves to become clogged or malfunction after a few years, and it’s common that water build-up inside the tank can cause some issues. Be sure that you’re addressing common, simple issues first. There’s usually no need to call a repair professional for these.
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- The pilot light goes out. If you have a gas water heater, make sure you understand how the pilot light works, where it’s located, the safety precautions you need to take when lighting it, and how to light it. Often, when your hot water suddenly stops working, it’s something as simple as the pilot light has been extinguished. If your pilot light keeps going out multiple times over the span of several days, it may be worth calling a technician to find out why.
- The heating element has burned out. If you have an electric water heater, one of the most common reasons for sudden cold water is that your heating element is no longer working. Depending on the type of water heater, you may be able to change this yourself easily, but if you check the guide and find you would rather call a professional, this type of repair is generally quick and inexpensive.
- Leaking, overflowing, clogged valves. Drain your water heater twice per year to help remove sediment that can build up and corrode the insides of your water heater. Corrosion can lead to holes rusting through the metal, which can cause the water heater to leak. Or, the sediment in the tank can clog the pressure relief valve, which can cause an overflow. A leaking tank may need to be replaced, depending on where the hole is, but a clogged or corroded valve can typically be replaced easily.
Water heater repair is something to take seriously if you’re going to attempt it yourself. Make sure you read all safety guidelines, and perhaps watch an online tutorial or two. You want to follow all suggestions carefully, to avoid burning, scalding, or otherwise injuring yourself.
When should I not try to repair my water heater?
A tankless water heater can be much more difficult to repair, and you may want to call in a professional. Again, it may depend on the design of your water heater, but higher-technology water heating systems require higher-knowledge of that technology.
If your water heater is leaking from the bottom, the water appears dirty, brown, or with rust in it, or if you cannot discover the cause of your water heater issue with a simple inspection, definitely don’t try to repair it yourself. Call the professionals to determine if you need your water heater repaired or replaced.
How much does water heater repair cost?
The cost for a water heater repair can vary greatly depending on the brand and design of your water heater, the area where you live, and the nature of the repair needed. If the situation is urgent and you’re calling for an emergency inspection and repair, the cost will certainly be higher. If you have a large or unusual water heater, repair costs will typically be more. And if you have a complicated repair needed, the cost could even be so great that replacing the water heater is a better decision.
On average, plumbers can charge around $100 per hour for water heater repairs. It’s always wise to compare the rates of several plumbers when you first move in or first install your water heater, so you’re ready with a referral when it comes time to need a water heater repair. If you’re in an urgent situation and need a repair quickly, you don’t want to be looking for information – you want to have it ready.