DIY Water Heater Repair

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The loss of hot water during any time of the day can be frustrating and cause interruption of day-to-day activities. There are measures that can be taken to reduce your risk of experiencing a water heater repair emergency. The average homeowner is capable of performing water heater maintenance to help extend the life of the water heater.

Water Heater Questions Asked by DIY Homeowners 

How do you maintain a water heater properly? 

  • Water heater manufactures recommend flushing water heaters annually to reduce scale and sediment in the tank or heat exchanger. 

How do I maintain my water heater safely?

  • Safe water heater maintenance is instructed by licensed water heater repair professionals. The first thing you should do is turn off the gas or electricity and the water to the water heater.

What is the discoloration of the hot water caused by?

  • Hot water that is discolored can be caused by various reasons. There could be damage to the glass lining or your anode rod may have deteriorated in the water heater tank allowing the steel tank to rust. 

Why does my hot water smell?

  • Odors or smelly hot water can be a sign of dirty water coming into the water heater. Often well water will contain anaerobic bacteria, as the water heats and sits without use for extended periods of time it begins to produce hydrogen sulfide gas causing smelly hot water.

How much do water heaters cost?

  • Water heater prices vary depending on the route you take to purchase. The average Do It Yourself 40-gallon water heater replacement is around $850 while professional installation will range from $900 all the way up to $1900. It is always best to show the water heater service company the old water heater before they come out, to get an upfront replacement price.

How long do water heaters last?

  • Tank-type water heaters can last as little as 1 day and as long as 20 plus years. The trick is proper maintenance and to protect from thermal expansion.



Common Water Heater Terminology

Thermal expansion

  • Water heated inside the water heater will expand. This process is known as thermal expansion and causes the water heater to expand and contract or for the excess pressure to be pushed back into the cold water piping system potentially causing drippy leaky faucets and tub shower valves. the best explanation is that a 40-gallon water heater holds 40 gallons of water, when heated the 40 gallons expands to roughly 42 gallons when heated.

Water Heater Drain Valve

  • A valve located at the bottom of the tank-type water heater to allow a water hose to be hooked up and the water drain after the electricity or gas has been turned off.

Water Heater Supply Valve

  • The valve located at the top of the water heater on the cold water side stops the flow of water to the water heater.

Expansion Tank

  • 2-gallon bladder tank pressurized with air that allows room for heated water to expand safely with-out damage to the plumbing system.

T&P temperature pressure relief valve

  • Located on the top or on the side at the top of a tank-type water heater to relieve pressure caused by excessive heating of water. This device keeps the water heater from exploding in the event there is a malfunction.


Overflow pan

  • A pan with a drain fitting catches water that leaks from the water heater and allows the water to drain.

Supply line

  • Connection piping from the water piping system to the water heater, must allow means of disconnection and possess di-electric properties to protect dissimilar metals.

Dielectric Unions

  • Means to disconnect the water heater from the water piping system that contains physical separation between to dissimilar metals to prevent electrolysis.


  • Corrosion caused by natural electrical currents of dissimilar metals 

Flue Pipe

  • Gas water heaters have an exhaust flue pipe to convey the exhaust from the burner out through the roof. The water flue must be installed properly to prevent Carbon Monoxide gas from leaking into the home.

Gas Control Valve

Gas water heaters operate by means of a temperature sensing gas control valve. The gas control valve controls the temperature by turning the gas on and off to the burner. 


Thermocouple / Flame Sensor

  • The device converts the heat from the pilot light to electrical current allowing the gas control valve to be switched on and off to safely heat the water.

Hot Water Recirculation System

  • Recirculates water from the hot water piping back to the water heater to be reheated and delivered to point of use providing an instant hot water effect at each faucet. Hot water recirculation systems come in two styles and both require a pump to push the hot water to the water heater.
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DIY Water Heater Maintenance