Water Heater Repair
Learn how to reapir your water heater without calling a plumber.
A water heater is comprised of a large storage tank lined with porcelain or plastic (to prevent rust). It has temperature controls and either a gas burner or an electric heating element. Most units also have a sacrificial anode in the tank which corrodes over a period of time. Any exposed steel will not rust as long as a working anode is in place. If pressure builds due to over heating, a pressure relief valve lets water and steam escape. If the water temperature exceeds 190 degrees, a high-temperature cut-off shuts the heater down.
The tank should be drained every six to twelve months. This removes sediment particles that collect at the bottom maintaining optimal efficiency.
To drain the tank:
a.. Shut off the cold water inlet valve.
b.. Open a hot water faucet somewhere in the house.
c.. Attach a hose to the draincock and let the water run into a suitable drain.
To refill the tank:
a.. Reopen the inlet valve.
b.. When the water coming out of the hose is clear, close the draincock and the hot water faucet.
Test the pressure relief valve every 6 months by depressing its lever to allow some water out. If no water comes out, have the heater serviced.
Correcting gas heater problems
a.. Clean pilot orifice - shut off gas. Remove burner assembly by disconnecting its lines at the gas control valve. Gently prob the orifice where the pilot light is with a thin copper wire. Vacuum out debris.
b.. Check the thermocouple (this shuts off gas if pilot flame goes out) for loose connections at the control valve and verify that its bulb tip is in the pilot flame. Do not over tighten nuts; screw them on finger tight, then give a quarter turn with an open end wrench.
c.. To replace thermocouple shut off gas; remove burner assembly; disconnect thermocouple from bracket; and attach a new thermocouple. Test for leaks with soapy water to joints and turn gas back on. Bubbles mean there is a leak. If there is no leak relight the pilot.
To replace cut-off (and thermostat), shut off power first. Remove top panel cover and move insulation aside. Label and disconnect all wires. Pull unit from bracket. Fit new unit into place and reconnect wires. Press reset button, then restore power.
Heating element (electric water heaters)
To replace a heating element, shut off power. Drain tank (see above). Disconnect element leads. Take out mounting bolts to remove element (or unscrew a threaded element). Clean any corrosion then install a new gasket and element. Refill tank. Check for leaks at gasket; tighten if necessary.
Restore power and press reset button.
For more serious problems or problems with these tips contact a qualified technicians.