Water problems always seem to come up at the most inopportune moments–just before an important job interview, you head to the bathroom only to find that the pipes are delivering nothing but ice cold water, and you’re out of luck. Hot water tank problems can be very intimidating for home owners, and you may feel like your malfunctioning water heater is beyond your scope of repair. However, most common hot water tank issues are relatively simple to fix, and you may be able to resolve your hot water problem on your own with just a few tools and a little bit of knowledge.
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How to fix your water heater
Hot water heaters are relatively simple machines, though they may look complicated. The whole appliance consists of a large water tank which is fed cold water in one valve and lets out hot water from another. Inside, there is a heating mechanism, a dip tube that guides cold water to the bottom of the tank, and an anode that prevents corrosion inside. Almost any problem with your water heater can be traced to one of these mechanisms, so your issue shouldn’t be very difficult to diagnose and remedy.
If you’re not getting any hot water at all from your plumbing, don’t run to the phone and call your contractor just yet. The problem is most likely rooted in either the pilot or the gas thermocouple on a gas heater. Lighting the pilot may solve your problem, but if the pilot won’t light or continues to go out quickly, then you’ll need to replace the thermocouple. Turn the shutoff valve on your water tank to make sure that no gas is flowing, and unscrew the copper colored thermocouple line. Find a replacement of the same type art your local hardware store and install it just like the old one. If your water heater is electric, you may need to adjust or replace the thermostat.
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Troubleshooting you hot water heater problems
If you’re getting dirty water when you try to run the taps hot, you may be experiencing problems with the anode rod. Anodes attract corrosive elements inside the hot water tank to prevent rust and corrosion, and they need to be replaced periodically. To fix this problem, you’ll need to shut off and drain the hot water tank first. You can remove the anode rod from the top of the tank by unscrewing the bolt or hex head holding it in place. The bolt itself may be corroded, so be prepared with WD40 and elbow grease to loosen it.
Hot water tank leaks can usually be fixed easily by tightening or replacing valves on the intake or outlet fittings of the tank. Shop online for your replacement parts at websites like GoToTanks.com to get the best prices on the parts you need, or shop local to get the opinion of an experienced handy-man in person. If these remedies all fail, then you may need to replace your hot water tank, but most repairs can be done on your own relatively easily.
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