When your hot water heater goes on the fritz, it’s an emergency. Without hot water, the dishwasher and washing machine won’t function properly, and showers become tortuous. Unfortunately, plumbing repairs involving hot water heaters can be expensive, which could tempt some homeowners to put off getting a fix. Before you give up hygiene or comfort in the name of frugality, however, check out this hot water heater repair which you might be able to take on yourself.
Basic Plumbing Skills Come in Handy
One common cause of failure in hot water heaters is the heating element at the bottom of the tank. With some basic handy skills, this is a part you can replace yourself without having to call a plumber or buy a whole new hot water heater. If you decide to give it a go, one of the first steps is to purchase a new heating element, preferably from the same manufacturer. If that’s not an option, at least ensure that you pick out a product with the same wattage rating as the old one, and measure to make sure it will fit in your unit.
Next, before you start any plumbing repairs, you need to shut down all the inputs to the water heater. That means cutting off the power from wherever the unit gets its electricity -- keep in mind that it may have its own electrical panel that you need to turn off outside of your main circuit box. Next, turn off the water supply to the heater.
Replacing the Heating Element
Once the heater is shut down, open up some hot water faucets in your sinks to reduce the pressure in your heating tank. From there, you simply take out the old element and install the new one in its place. The exact procedure can vary depending on what model heater you have -- be sure to consult the manufacturer’s instructions. If you don’t have the original documentation that came with your unit, find a model number on your water heater and conduct an online search for repair and maintenance documents. Alternatively, you could call the customer service department of the company that manufactured your unit.
Once the heater is back together, turn off all the open faucets and then flip the water supply back on to the water heater. If there aren’t any leaks, turn the power back on, and with luck, your heater will be working as good as new.
Avoiding Unnecessary Plumbing Repairs
It should go without saying, but don’t start replacing your heating element unless you know it is the cause of the problem. Water heaters can break down in other ways, and some issues, like a cracked tank, mean you need to replace the entire unit. When it doubt, have a plumber give you a diagnosis before you begin any plumbing repairs.
If you do need help with your hot water heater, or with any other plumbing repairs, get in touch with a qualified plumber right away.