Guide To Water Heater Gas Repair

San Rafael

(415) 942-6565

Santa Rosa

(707) 452-3464

Can You Repair An Electric Gas Water Heater Yourself?

Hot water is a necessity for every home. From dishes to laundry to showers, your hot water heater provides the essential hot water you need for day-to-day tasks. So when your water heater is not operating correctly, it can cause massive trouble for the entire household. It is essential that any malfunctioning water heater be repaired as soon as possible. But do you have to call in the professionals right away, or are there solutions you can find yourself?

It is always recommended to seek a master plumber for assistance when handling an appliance such as a water heater. Gas water heaters in particular can be extremely hazardous to handle on your own because of the risks of carbon monoxide leaks and a faulty pressure relief valve, which releases steam if the pressure inside the water heater’s tank gets too high. Electric water heaters are risky as well, with the possibility of improper wiring resulting in electrical fires. Also, depending on the temperature set within your water heater, you could be dealing with scalding water, so you must know how to be careful so that you don’t burn yourself.

However, if you have the right tools and know the correct steps to take, it is possible for you to carry out repairs to your water heater on your own. Read on to find out what some common water heater problems are, some initial troubleshooting tips, and how to take specific, in-depth repair steps to get your unit back to its proper functioning state so that you and your family can get back to having the hot water that helps the household run.

Problems With Electric and Gas Water Heaters: Initial Troubleshooting

Whether it is a gas or electric water heater, some of the most typical problems that water heaters can have over time include:

  • Inability to heat water
  • Foul odor from the water
  • Rust-colored water
  • Loud sounds from the unit
  • Leaking water heater
  • Fluctuating water temperature

Before you begin more intense DIY repairs on an electric or gas water heater, there are a few steps you should take to ensure the problem can’t be fixed by something more simple. Things you should check before digging into your water heater further are:

1) Circuit Breaker

Check the circuit breaker in the fuse box for an electric water heater to make sure the power to the water heater is on or if the circuit needs to be reset. It is possible the heating element may be the cause of the problem if the power and the fuse box are working as they should. The heating element can be tested with a digital multimeter and by following the manufacturer’s guide, but it is best to contact a qualified professional for this.

2) Pilot Light

Look at the pilot light for a gas water heater to make sure it is ignited and able to power the heating process. The pilot light is the ignition source that will heat the water with natural gas in the gas regulator valve once the temperature drops to a certain point within the water tank. Make sure the gas valve is open to ignite the light so that heat can get to your water. If it is out, you can relight it by following the specific instructions on your manufacturer’s guide. You also might need to clean the pilot orifice if it is clogged. If the pilot supply line is damaged in some way, it will probably have to be replaced. If there is air in the gas line, you can hold down the pilot button to try to remove it and then re-ignite the pilot light.

3) Thermostat

Sometimes a water heater producing an uncomfortable water temperature can be due to an incorrect thermostat setting or a thermostat setting that needs to be adjusted to your comfort level of hot water. Make sure that the water heater thermostat is set to the desired setting and adjust it if the water heater is producing cold water or water that is too hot.

4) Flushing the Tank

There can often be sediment buildup within the water tank over time, and flushing out the tank every now and then can be extremely helpful in keeping your water heater’s water supply clean. To flush out your tank, set a gas water heater to the “pilot” setting, or shut off the power for electric heaters. Close the cold water valve and wait for the water to cool. Connect a hose to the drain valve and open it to let the water drain from the tank into a bucket or drain. Turn on the cold water, and then wait until the water being drained is clear before shutting off the valve and refilling the tank. Don’t forget to reset the settings or turn the power to the water heater back on.

Repair Steps For a Gas or Electric Water Heater

Once you are sure that the tank is free of sediment, the thermostat is adjusted, the pilot light is lit, or the water heater is receiving power, it is time to take more in-depth repair steps if you find you are still experiencing issues with the water heater. If you are experiencing frequent troubles with your electric or gas water heater, these may be the necessary repairs it could require.

Leaking Water Heater

Aside from sediment buildup, things like pressure relief valve failure, a loose drain valve, or an old anode rod can be the cause of water leaks in your water heater. Leaks at the top of the tank can be repaired by tightening or replacing the valves. There are various different valves that will be part of a water heater. There is the temperature and pressure relief valve, a tank drain valve, and an inlet and outlet valve. If you have some plumbing knowledge, it is possible for you to replace or repair any of these defective valves yourself should they begin to leak. You can also repair the connection between the valve and your tank with plumber’s tape to enforce a seal that will stop leaks. However, if the leak is from the bottom of the tank, that could be a sign of corrosion, meaning the tank will most likely have to be replaced.

Fluctuating Water Temperature

Aside from a thermostat mishap, hot water temperature issues can happen when the water heater dip tube is damaged, since this tube directs the flow of cold water towards the bottom of the tank to be heated. Any damage to this tube can release cold water at the top of the tank and mix it with the hot water, which will reduce the temperature of the output water. It is possible you may need a replacement tube. If the heating element in electric heaters is failing, it will need to be replaced by a professional plumber.

Discolored Water & Strange Odors

Keeping your tank regularly flushed can help prevent this, but it could be yet another sign of corrosion in the tank or with the anode rod. If flushing the tank doesn’t work or you find you have to flush it repeatedly to remove sediment buildup in the discolored water, you can try a water softener system to remove heavy minerals that can build up in the water. An anode rod within a hot water heater is what helps to prevent corrosion in your hot water tank by attracting minerals and sediment so that they do not contaminate the rest of the tank. A corroded anode rod can be replaced by itself, but if you see actual rust in the water, it could be time to replace the entire tank.

Gas Line Problems

An issue with the gas line can lead to things like pilot light problems and strange smells. Gas leaks are a very serious potential danger when it comes to gas water heaters, so it is important to proceed with extreme caution if you are attempting any repair work involving the gas line on your own. The burner assembly is where the natural gas ignites in a gas water heater, which is how the water heats. There are many parts that make up the burner assembly. Make sure that you shut off the gas supply and disconnect the gas line before beginning your inspection. Make sure the main burner flame and pilot flame are off. Locate the gas control valve, usually on an external pipe, and turn it all the way to “off.”. All of these elements work with natural gas to heat water in gas hot water heaters. If you smell gas during this process, especially after you have shut everything off, you should evacuate and contact your gas company right away, since this could be a sign of gas leaks. Once you successfully disconnect the gas line, you can look for physical indicators of damage in the gas line, such as cracks or corrosion.

If a gas control valve is faulty, you will have to replace it since there is no way to repair a broken gas control valve. Everything in gas heaters from the pilot burner to the gas supply tube can become damaged over time and will need replacement.

Inadequate Hot Water Supply

For a low amount of hot water, it is a good idea to check the burner orifice to make sure it isn’t clogged or faulty, and clean it to clear it up. It is also important to check the gas meter and gas cutoff valve. If the gas is off or there is a problem with the gas pressure, contact the gas company. It is also possible that your tank may be the incorrect size and you may need to install a larger one if you find you frequently run out of hot water. A tankless water heater is also another option.

Regular maintenance is the key to making sure your water heater unit lasts as long as it can with as little problems as possible, but when the occasional trouble does arise, there are many water heater problems you can possibly remedy on your own to get your appliance working properly once again. Remember, if you are looking for a plumber certified in all water heater repairs, you can call a professional business like John Owens Services to make extra sure that everything is working correctly and that the best safety precautions are taken every step of the way with your gas water heater.

Things like excessive pressure buildup can occur with faulty valves, leading to an explosion when dealing with a gas hot water heater, so it is best to leave the extreme repairs to the experts, especially if you are not well versed in plumbing. A certified technician like those at John Owens can ensure that all repairs are done safely and correctly, as well as help you to keep your hot water heater properly maintained so that you will avoid any future issues with your water heater.

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San Rafael
(415) 942-6565
Santa Rosa
(707) 452-3464



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San Rafael
(415) 942-6565
Santa Rosa
(707) 452-3464