Water heater repairs - plumber

Water Heater Repairs

When you are in need of hot water heater repairs, your day can quickly turn into a nightmare. Let’s face it, the water heater is arguably the most important appliance in your home. Ask anyone who has had to take a cold shower.

That’s why fast service for a water heater repair, installation, or replacement is a must. You can save a lot of time, and even money, if you can help your plumber more quickly identify the problem. So let’s review the most common hot water heater repairs.

The Most Common Repairs

1. Burner or Pilot Light

A common water heater repair issue could be a faulty burner or pilot light. In a gas-powered water heater, the burner unit below the tank has jets that will light and transfer heat to the water. It will have a hard time igniting if the burner is dirty or corroding. Over time, the jets will not be able to turn on and the water in the tank will not heat.

The flame from the pilot burner is directed onto the thermocouple, which enables it to gauge the temperature of the flame. If there is not sufficient heat from the pilot burner, that could cause the thermostat to keep shutting off the gas supply. 

Relight water heater pilot light instructions
Pilot light instructions can often be found on a label attached to your water heater. However, if relighting doesn’t work, you likely need a plumber to repair the burner.

2. Thermostat

Electric water heaters use one or two resistive elements to heat the water. Each element is controlled by a thermostat that turns it on (when the water temperature falls below its cut-in setting) and turns it off (when the water temperature exceeds its cut-out setting). If you do not seem to have enough hot water for a shower or the water never gets hot enough to be comfortable, it could be that one of the thermostats needs repair.

Gas water heaters use a different type of thermostat system. On gas water heaters, the gas control valve includes both a thermostat and a heat limiting device. If the thermostat on a gas water heater goes bad, you will have to replace the gas control valve component.

Water heater repairs - thermostat
Bad thermostats or gas control valves can be the cause of water heater failures.

3. Heating Elements

Another common reason that you may need a hot water heater repair is faulty heating elements. If your electric water heater becomes slow to heat, runs out of hot water faster than it used to, or doesn’t deliver any hot water, there’s a high chance that replacing one or both of the heating elements will solve the problem.

Heating elements can burn out. Sometimes only one element can fail, causing the other element to work overtime. If the heating element is not burned out, it may have flipped off because of a tripped circuit or a blown fuse. So check the fuse box as well.

4. Pressure Relief Valve

The pressure relief valve can be a common culprit of needed water heater repairs. Also called a T & P valve, it is a critical component in allowing the water heater to relieve internal pressure. It is vital that you do not touch the valve in any way that will block or break it.

A pressure relief valve can leak, make a loud whistling noise, or the valve can split and leak. If you find problems with your valve, you will want to call in a professional because repairing the valve correctly is vital to the function of the water heater and safety of your family.

Water heater pressure relief valve
This is a typical water pressure relief valve on a tank-style water heater.

When Should You Replace a Hot Water Heater

1. Old Age

The first thing to assess is the age of your water heater. If you are going to invest money for repairs, you should consider a potential replacement if the water heater is older. We do not recommend spending money on a water heater older than 10 years old. Here’s how to determine the age of your water heater and if it needs to be replaced.

2. Sediment

Older water heaters tend to develop a large amount of sediment that builds up in the tank. Sediment can harden and reduce the efficiency of the water heater eventually leading to a water heater repair or replacement. A water softener may be used to avoid sediment build up.

Water heater sediment
If sediment builds up in the tank, you might need a repair or replacement.

3. Corrosion

If you notice a change in taste or smell in your hot water, it could be an indication that your heater is rusting from the inside.

Rust-colored water can also be an indication that a water heater repair or replacement is necessary. If you notice a rusty discoloration when running hot water, it may mean that corrosion is inside the water heater, which may begin to leak. However, rust colored water could be due to galvanized pipes.

To determine if the water heater is corroded or if the problem is with your pipes, drain about 10 gallons of hot water into multiple five-gallon buckets. If the water still looks rusty when you fill the third bucket, it’s time to look for a new water heater. 

Corrosion on water heater means repair or replacement is needed
If your water heater has indications of rust and corrosion, it might need replacement.


Repairing a hot water heater is less expensive than installing a new one. To keep repair costs down as well, having a basic understanding of the most common water heater repairs will give your plumber a head start in diagnosing the issue. In addition, this kind of knowledge will keep you prepared before your water heater gives up or fails, which can be inconvenient at best or cause catastrophic water damage at worst.

In either case, the more you can tell your plumber, the less time needed to identify and make the repair. Everyone wins.

Call 1-Tom-Plumber

Don’t hesitate to contact us here or call us at 1-Tom-Plumber (1-866-758-6237) if you’d like help with your water heater, whether it’s repair or replacement. We will immediately handle any emergency plumbingdrain, and water damage problem, including excavation of underground water lines and sewer main lines.

Check us out on Facebook and Google!

Similar Posts