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Broken Water Heater? Know When To Call a Plumber

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Residential water heaters are essential appliances that provide us with hot water for bathing, cooking, and cleaning. However, like any other household equipment, they are prone to breakdowns and malfunctions over time. Understanding why water heaters break down and learning how to maintain them can help extend their life span and save you from expensive repairs or replacements. Trust Prime Plumbing for all your water heater services in Baltimore County, MD. Save time, call Prime at (443) 741-1129.

7 Reasons Water Heaters Break

Water heaters break down due to a variety of factors, including age and the malfunctioning of key components. Understanding these reasons is crucial for effective maintenance and prevention strategies.
  • Age: The most common reason for water heater failure is old age. Over time, the components wear out, and corrosion can occur, leading to leaks or inefficiency.
  • Sediment buildup: Sediments such as minerals, sand, and dirt can settle at the bottom of the tank, causing it to overheat and corrode.
  • High water pressure: Excessive water pressure puts a strain on the water heater’s internal components, leading to leaks or bursts.
  • Corrosion: Corrosion affects the tank’s lining and the heating elements, weakening them and causing leaks.
  • Faulty heating element or thermostat: A malfunctioning heating element or thermostat can prevent the water from reaching the desired temperature.
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6 Tips To Prevent Water Heater Breakdowns

Preventing water heater malfunctions involves a combination of regular maintenance practices and simple adjustments to ensure optimal performance, energy efficiency, and an extended life span for the appliance.
  • Regular maintenance: Schedule regular maintenance with a professional to inspect and flush the tank, remove sediment buildup, and ensure all components are working correctly.
  • Check pressure valve: Test the pressure relief valve every six months to ensure it’s functioning properly. If it’s not working, it can lead to dangerous pressure buildup.
  • Adjust temperature: Set the water heater’s temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent overheating and reduce the risk of scalding accidents.
  • Use a water softener: If your area has hard water, consider using a water softener to reduce mineral deposits and extend the water heater’s lifespan.
  • Install an expansion tank: If you have a closed plumbing system, meaning water flows in through the supply line and can only flow back out through drains and sewer lines, installing an expansion tank can help absorb excess pressure and protect the water heater. Problems can occur because water expands when it heats up. If the plumbing system is full when expansion occurs, the water has nowhere to go unless it can flow into an expansion tank.
  • Insulate pipes: Insulate the hot water pipes to reduce heat loss and save energy, which can also decrease wear on the water heater.

When To Call a Plumber

Knowing when to call a plumber for your water heater is essential to avoid a worsening or even dangerous situation. Recognizing the signs of malfunction and understanding the threshold between manageable problems and professional intervention can help you maintain a functional and safe water heating system.
  • No hot water: If your water heater is not producing hot water or is producing inadequate amounts, it’s time to call a plumber to diagnose the issue.
  • Leaks: Any signs of leaks around the water heater should be addressed promptly, as they can cause significant water damage and lead to more severe issues.
  • Strange noises: Unusual noises, like popping or banging sounds, indicate sediment buildup or other internal problems that require attention.
  • Rotten egg or sulfur smell: An unpleasant odor may signal bacteria in the water tank or can be a sign of a corroded anode rod. Contact a Prime plumber to determine whether you need a new water heater or to flush and clean the tank and replace the rod if appropriate.
  • Rusty water: If your hot water appears rusty or discolored, there could be corrosion inside the tank, which should be addressed by a professional.

Emergency Situations

Certain signs accompanying water heater problems should raise red flags and prompt immediate action. Recognizing these emergency indicators is crucial for safeguarding your home, addressing potential hazards, and ensuring the timely assistance of a professional plumber:
  • Complete loss of hot water: A sudden, complete loss of hot water in the middle of winter or during essential activities constitutes an emergency.
  • Gas smells: If you smell gas around your water heater, turn off the gas supply immediately, leave the premises, and call for professional assistance.
  • Leaking water heater: A significant leak that cannot be contained with a bucket or a towel should be treated as an emergency.
Residential water heaters are vital appliances that require regular maintenance to prevent breakdowns and extend their life span. Understanding the common reasons for their failure, adopting preventive measures, and knowing when to call a plumber or handle emergencies can help ensure a continuous supply of hot water and keep your household running smoothly. Remember to consult with a professional plumbing contractor for any complex issues or doubts regarding your traditional or tankless water heater. Call Prime Plumbing at (443) 741-1129 to schedule a water heater service appointment in Anne Arundel County.


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