Having your water heater break down can be a real hassle, especially if it happens during colder weather. When I do a water heater installation for my customers, I make sure to give them tips on what to do if their water heater breaks down. Not all issues call for a water heater repair or replacement, and some temporary fixes can save you money by limiting further damage until a repair person can fix it for you.
How to Tell if a Water Heater is Broken
If your water heater is spewing water, you know it’s broken. However, there are a lot of little signs to watch for that can lead up to a rupture in the tank. The most common signs that you need to be aware of are:
- Water pooling under the tank
- Pipe connections that are leaking
- Having rusty water running out of your hot water tap
- Popping, banging, or rumbling sounds
In most cases, water heaters will start to run into trouble with age, usually within an 8 to 12-year period. Most of the issues are caused by a build-up of sediment which damages the unit’s interior. The tank, which is made of steel, will start to rust, become corroded, and then develop tiny holes that eventually become bigger holes and start to leak. This can also cause damage to the control systems which then malfunction. Something like a broken thermostat can cause a dangerously high level of heat within the unit, or a pressure valve that is faulty can lead to an explosion.
A Bit of Prevention
The best way to prevent problems is to be proactive. Make sure you have regular maintenance and inspections of your water heater. It’s recommended that you have a check-up twice a year, usually in the spring and autumn. Other things to check for:
- Look for any fitting that has become loose and tighten them
- Regularly check under the tank for any leaking
- Check the walls and floors close to the unit for any dampness
- Make sure to have your plumber inspect the unit, drain it and refill it at least once a year.
All of these steps will help you find potential problems before they turn into big expensive problems. Keeping your water heater healthy will also prolong the life and efficiency of it.
What to Do When Your Water Heater Breaks
Unfortunately, we may not catch those early signs soon enough, which leads to a total water heater breakdown. So, what do you do when this happens? This is when you need to call in a professional. There are also things you should do to help minimize the damage to your home, as well as making the cleanup process a bit easier. Having a plan in place helps you act fast in such a stressful situation.
If you have a gas water heater, you will need to unplug the water heater, turn off the gas valve, and give us a call. For an electric water heater, shut the power off to it from the circuit breaker and give us a call.
Next, you will want to turn the main water line to the tank off. You can find this around the top of the water heater, shut it off by turning the valve clockwise. If the valve is in an unreachable area, you will need to shut the valve off from the main water supply running into the home.
To minimize further flooding, you will need to empty your tank. You can do this by attaching a hose to the drain valve located at the bottom of the tank. You can then run this hose outside or into a drain in the basement. If you are running the hose outside, make sure it’s to an area that is lower than the home to avoid water flowing back into the house. Next, switch on the pressure relief valve. This will help to keep a vacuum from occurring within the tank while you are emptying it.
If you think your water heater is having issues, give us a call today!