Water Heater Repair Basics

Your water heater is one of those appliances that tends to be out of sight and out of mind until something goes wrong. When that happens, your quality of life can come to a screeching halt.Water Heater

Most plumbing problems with gas or electric water heaters should be fixed by a professional plumber. Read on Water Heater Repair Sarasota to learn more about this article.

Whether you are trying to figure out how to repair your water heater yourself or you are just looking for more information about the process, knowing what to expect can make all the difference in getting your hot water back. This is particularly true if you have just moved into a home or recently did some work on the heater. Thermostats may have been set incorrectly, or the system might not be operating based on a programmed schedule. If you are having issues with your water heater but aren’t sure what the problem is, you can follow these steps to troubleshoot and fix your hot water heater.

Turn off the power at the electrical service panel (post a sign indicating that others must also do this). Then, remove the access panel from the tank to expose the element and thermostat terminals. Note that this is very dangerous and requires the use of a multimeter. Make sure that the multimeter is set to RX1000 (resistance times 1,000) before touching any of the element terminal screws with its probe tips. Ensure that line voltage is present in the field wiring compartment and at the top of the high temperature switch (look for a red or black button with “RESET” printed on it). If the switch has tripped, a mechanical click should be felt or heard.

If there is no line voltage present, then the heating element may have burned out. In this case, you will only have hot water from the upper half of the tank until it is depleted. Then the lower part will be activated, and you will run out of hot water very quickly.

The next thing to check for is a leak. If there is one, then you should drain and flush the tank and replace the elements if necessary. You should also regularly clean the rusty anode rod and ensure that it is not corroded or scale-encrusted. Finally, you should make sure that the water heater is properly sized for your family’s needs. If it is not, then you should consider upgrading to a larger unit.


Most homeowners don’t put much thought into their water heater until it stops working. If your hot water tank starts producing lukewarm showers, washing dishes becomes a hassle, and your laundry isn’t as powerful, you may need to replace the upper or lower heating element.

When the heating elements fail, it’s typically because of rust or calcium buildup on them. As the corrosive minerals in the water pass through your water heater, they eat away at the anode rod and begin to corrode the tank itself. Eventually, the anode rod will be completely dissolved, leaving your upper or lower heating element vulnerable to damage.

Fortunately, replacing an electric water heater element isn’t difficult, and it can save you the cost of a new water heater installation. However, before you do anything, it’s essential to turn off the power supply to the water heater at your electrical service panel. You should also close the drain valve at the bottom of your tank and open a hot water faucet, which will help flush out the lines of excess sediment.

Once you’ve turned off the power supply to your water heater, you can disconnect the black and white circuit wires from each heating element by removing the access panel, insulation, and plastic safety guard that cover each one. Before touching any of the wires or screw terminals, use a non-contact circuit tester to make sure that there is no power flowing through them.

With the wires disconnected, you can now test each heating element by connecting a multimeter to its black and white reading ports. If either of the heating elements are good, they’ll read a steady 0 ohms. If the heating element is bad, it will read a higher ohms number and be hot to the touch.

If you’re comfortable with light electrical work, it shouldn’t take more than an hour to remove the old heating element and install the new one. When selecting a replacement, it’s important to ensure that the voltage and wattage match the original one. You can find this information by looking at the heating element label or by searching online using your water heater’s model number (found on the name plate). Once you’ve found a replacement, turn the power back on to your water heater and let it heat for several hours before testing its temperature again.

Dip Tube

A water heater’s dip tube transports cold water to the bottom of the tank, where it’s heated to produce hot water. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to have steamy showers. The problem is that the tubes have a tendency to disintegrate or break off. When this happens, they stop bringing in cold water, and you suddenly don’t have as much hot water as you once did.

The solution is to replace the dip tube. However, it’s not an easy job because of the heat inside the tank. In order to work on the tube, you need to drain the water. That means shutting off the circuit breaker that delivers electricity to the tank and then disconnecting the cold-water inlet valve. Next, you’ll need to remove the short piece of pipe threaded at both ends that holds the dip tube. Once that’s done, you can unscrew the nipple at the top of the tank and pull out the old tube.

When you’re ready to start a new tube, choose one that’s made of crosslinked polyethylene (PEX) rather than metal. PEX is more durable and won’t break down under the strain of a hot water tank. Once you have your replacement, you can reconnect the supply line and switch the water and power back on. You’ll then want to drain the water again so you can clean out the tiny bits of plastic that will inevitably find their way into your faucets and pipes.

It’s a messy job, but it’s necessary in order to get those long, satisfying showers you deserve. Don’t be afraid to take on the task yourself, but make sure you have the right tools and follow all safety guidelines when working on your water heater. That way, you won’t have to worry about getting a nasty shock from your electric water heater. And that’s a good thing for your peace of mind and domestic tranquility. That’s a whole lot more important than a few plastic flecks in your shower. Right?  Right!

Pressure Valve

Most water heaters are built with a safety feature that will shut off the water supply when the temperature or pressure get too high. This is known as a water heater temperature or pressure relief valve (TPV). Without this feature, water could be released at an unsafe rate, potentially causing costly damage to your home. It is important to keep the TPV in good working condition.

If your TPV does not function properly, it is likely due to either a stuck valve that won’t open or close or a leak. To test the TPV, simply remove the discharge tube and place a bucket underneath. Then, pull the metal lever of the TPV so that a small amount of water—about a quarter cup or less—releases into the bucket. If the TPV does not quickly snap back into its original position, it is not functioning correctly and needs to be replaced.

A plethora of different types of PRVs exist, each designed to provide varying levels of performance depending on their design and construction. Conventional direct spring-loaded PRVs are held closed by a spring force that can be adjusted within a set range and is directly affected by backpressure exerted on the valve. A balanced PRV, on the other hand, has a secondary control chamber, or huddling chamber, that acts to offset this effect by exposing a larger surface area of the disc to system pressure, which enhances lift and improves reliability.

Regardless of the type of PRV in your water heater, it is important to remember that these devices are not fail-safe and should be tested regularly by a qualified technician. A faulty PTV can result in a dangerous burst of steam and hot water escaping from the discharge tube, possibly resulting in serious burns and extensive property damage.