Water Heater Repair Basics

Most homeowners give their water heater little thought—until it stops working. This can create a host of problems, including stale odors and discolored water that can make bathing seem impossible.Water Heater Repair

First, check your circuit breaker to see if it has tripped. If it has, switch it off and on. However, if you need some professional help, you can call Water Heater Repair Spring TX.

The pilot light is one of the first things to check when your water heater has gone out. Whether you are using gas or electric, this small flame is essential for turning on your hot water. A lot of factors can cause the pilot light to go out, from simple dirt to more complicated issues. If it is not coming on at all, you should call a professional plumber to check out your water heater and fix whatever is wrong with it.

Depending on the water heater, there should be instructions in the owner’s manual about how to relight the pilot light. Newer water heaters may also have a button that can be pressed and then automatically ignite the pilot light with a spark from an igniter inside the unit. If there is no such button, use a long lighter or match to light the pilot light manually. Press and hold the “reset” button while you are doing this. Then, when a blue flame appears, let go of the button.

It is important to note that you should always turn off the gas before doing this. It is a flammable gas, and you don’t want it around while you are working with the pilot light. The best way to do this is by finding the control valve and putting it in the “off” position. Then wait for a few minutes so any gas can disperse before you start working on the pilot light again.

Some of the common reasons the pilot light goes out are because it isn’t getting enough air supply or because of a dirty thermocouple that stops the gas flow to the unit when it doesn’t sense the heat from the pilot light. The thermocouple can also get bent and will need to be very carefully straightened out again.

Another reason could be that your water heater is simply not big enough to handle the amount of hot water your household needs. If this is the case, it is time to have your plumber help you determine a larger capacity for your water heater.


Thermocouples, or thermoelectric sensors, are an electrical device that consists of two dissimilar metals in contact with each other at each end. When a small change in temperature occurs, they create a voltage potential and send a signal to the gas control valve to open or close. Thermocouples come in a variety of styles and types, depending on your application and needs. They are most commonly used in gas appliances like water heaters, furnaces, and stoves. It is important to know the basic information about each of the different thermocouple types in order to select the best one for your specific situation.

The most common sign of a broken thermocouple is when your pilot light won’t stay lit. The thermocouple is a safety device that shuts off the gas supply to the unit when the pilot light goes out.

If your thermocouple is dirty, it won’t be able to sense the heat and cannot give the correct outputs. Dirty thermocouples can also cause the gas control valve to cut off the supply of gas even though the pilot light is still on. This will not only prevent the pilot light from staying lit but will also stop your water heater from heating.

Cleaning or replacing a water heater thermocouple is not difficult and can be done at home. To begin, make sure the pilot and gas control valves are both turned off. Then, remove the burner assembly from the bottom of the tank and take out the thermocouple. To do this, remove the securing screws or nuts, then slide out the old thermocouple. The new one can simply be inserted in its place. Make sure to note the positioning and mounting details, as they may vary depending on the model of your water heater.

Once the new thermocouple is in place, it is time to relight the pilot light. This is a simple process and can usually be done using the instructions pasted on the tank. Alternatively, you can use a utility lighter and a long wire to reach the pilot flame and manually relight it. Once the pilot light is re-lit, you can turn the gas back on and test it to ensure it stays lit.

Dip Tube

The dip tube is a relatively unsung hero that transports cold water from the top of your hot water heater to the burner located at the bottom. Without this critical piece of equipment, you would be experiencing constant runs of cold water in your home instead of hot. If you find yourself noticing that your dip tube isn’t functioning properly, it may be time to replace it.

Water chemistry and temperature can change the structure of a dip tube, causing it to degrade and disintegrate inside your water heater tank. When this happens, it will create tiny fragments of plastic that can cause clogged filter screens and faucet aerators in your household. To avoid these issues, be sure to replace your dip tube with a high-quality model that can withstand water temperatures and water chemistry.

To remove your old dip tube, start by shutting off the power to your water heater (electric) or the gas supply line to it (gas). Then disconnect your heater’s cold water inlet and drain the tank. Once the tank is drained, reconnect your water supply and power lines, then drop in your new dip tube.

Depending on the type of water heater you have, there are a few different types of dip tubes you can choose from. Some have a flared upper end, making them easier to install; others simply slide on and snap over the inlet port nipple. Either way, it’s essential that the dip tube be the correct length to ensure that the cold water supply reaches above the lower element. If the tube is too long, it can collect sediment and cause insufficient heat to be delivered to your household. To check whether your dip tube is the proper length, place a few pieces of white plastic in a glass of water. If the plastic floats, it’s not the right size; if it sinks, it is the correct length. If you’re not sure what the correct length is, consult your manufacturer’s manual or search online for “water heater dip tube length.” You should be able to find a chart that will provide you with the correct dimensions for your particular water heater.

Pressure Valve

The water heater pressure valve, sometimes referred to as the T&P or TP valve, is a safety device that releases excess temperature and pressure from your hot water tank. This is an important step in protecting you and your home. If your T&P valve is leaking, it may be time to replace it. A professional will be able to do this without draining or powering down your water heater.

It is very important that the T&P valve not be capped or plugged! Doing this creates the potential for an explosion in your water heater tank. These explosions are extremely dangerous and require extensive amounts of energy to produce. Next Plumbing highly recommends hiring a professional to perform the water heater repairs instead of trying DIY “band-aid” fixes that could actually cause a dangerous situation in your home.

A properly functioning T&P valve should discharge when the lever is operated. However, certain naturally occurring mineral deposits can adhere to the lever handle, blocking its waterways and rendering it inoperative. In this case, it is recommended that the water heater owner operate the valve using the lever at least once per year to ensure that the waterways are clear and allow hot water to discharge.

When you do this, make sure you have a towel nearby to protect your hands from the steam! Be prepared to shut off the power if it is an electric water heater or the gas if it is a gas water heater. You can do this by flipping the breaker attached to an electric water heater or turning off the gas valve if it is a gas heater.

It is also a good idea to inspect the discharge tube of the T&P valve. It should be pointing downwards, and it should match the valve’s discharge port size so that any water that is released from it can drain down the pipe to avoid damage to the valve and your home’s structure. It is also a good idea to install a protective guard over the T&P valve to prevent children and pets from touching it.