Portsmouth Water Heater Repair:

Essential Troubleshooting Tips

Are you tired of dealing with a malfunctioning water heater in your Portsmouth-area home? The inconvenience and potential expense of repairing or replacing your water heater can be taxing. Look no further! Our comprehensive guide is designed to provide you with practical tips and expert advice to help you solve common water heater problems. From troubleshooting a pilot light that refuses to stay lit to addressing sudden leaks, we are here to assist you every step of the way. Don't let water heater issues dampen your day - let us be your go-to resource for water heater replacement and repair solutions.

How does a water heater work?

A water heater is an essential appliance in every household, providing hot water for various tasks such as bathing, washing dishes, and doing laundry. But have you ever wondered how exactly a water heater works? The process begins when cold water enters the tank through a supply pipe. Inside the tank, there is a heating element, typically powered by electricity or gas. When the heating element is activated, it generates heat that warms up the water stored in the tank. As the water heats up, it naturally rises to the top of the tank, displacing the colder, denser water. This creates a continuous circulation called convection. To enhance the efficiency of this circulation, many water heaters are equipped with a dip tube that directs incoming cold water to the bottom of the tank, ensuring a consistent supply of hot water. Once you turn on a faucet or any other hot water outlet, cold water is drawn from the tank through a pipeline and heated as it passes through the heating element. A thermostat monitors the temperature of the water and automatically turns the heating element on or off to maintain a consistent temperature.

To avoid breakdowns, proper water heater maintenance is essential

Proper maintenance is crucial to avoid unexpected issues and prolong the lifespan of your water heater. Neglecting regular maintenance can lead to a decrease in efficiency and a higher chance of needing a replacement sooner than expected. Performing routine maintenance tasks can help identify any potential problems and address them before they become major issues. These tasks may include checking the pressure relief valve, flushing out sediment buildup, inspecting the anode rod, and testing the thermostat and heating elements. It is important to consult your water heater's manual or seek professional assistance to ensure that maintenance tasks are performed correctly. Furthermore, maintaining consistent water heater maintenance can also save you money in the long run. A well-functioning water heater operates efficiently, reducing energy consumption and lowering your utility bills. By regularly inspecting and maintaining your water heater, you can extend its lifespan and delay the need for a replacement, saving you the hassle and expense. If you suspect any issues with your water heater, such as leaks, strange noises, or inconsistent hot water supply, it is crucial to seek professional assistance as soon as possible.

What are common signs a water heater

needs to be repaired or replaced?

If you're experiencing any of the following signs, it might be an indication that your water heater is in need of repair or replacement:

  • Age: The age of your water heater is a primary factor in determining whether it needs to be replaced. On average, most water heaters have a lifespan of 8 to 12 years. If your heater is approaching or surpassing this range, it's advisable to consider a replacement.

  • Leaks: Leaks around your water heater could indicate a serious problem. Even a small leak can lead to significant damage over time, such as water damage to your floors or walls. If you notice any signs of leaks, it's crucial to have your water heater inspected promptly.

  • Inadequate hot water: If your water heater isn't producing enough hot water or if the water isn't reaching its desired temperature, it could be a sign of a malfunctioning heater. This could be due to issues with the heating element or a buildup of sediment in the tank.

  • Strange noises: Unusual noises coming from your water heater, such as rumbling or popping sounds, can indicate a buildup of sediment. This can reduce the efficiency and lifespan of your water heater. In some cases, these noises may also be a sign of imminent failure.

  • Discolored water: If you notice rusty or discolored water coming from your taps, it could be a sign that your water heater is corroding on the inside. This can affect the quality and safety of your household's water supply and may require a replacement.

  • Increased energy bills: A significant and unexplained increase in your energy bills may be attributed to an inefficient water heater. As a water heater ages, it loses its ability to operate efficiently, leading to higher energy consumption.

  • Frequent repairs: If you find yourself constantly repairing your water heater, it might be more cost-effective to replace the unit altogether. Frequent breakdowns are often a sign that your water heater is reaching the end of its lifespan.

To accurately diagnose and determine the best course of action for your water heater, it's recommended to consult with a professional plumber who specializes in water heater repairs and replacements. They will be able to conduct a thorough inspection and provide expert advice tailored to your specific situation.

What are the possible causes of water heater malfunctions?

Water heater malfunctions can be caused by a variety of factors. One common cause is sediment buildup in the tank. Over time, minerals and debris can accumulate at the bottom of the tank, interfering with the heating process and reducing the efficiency of the water heater. This can result in longer heating times, lukewarm water, or even a complete lack of hot water. Another possible cause of water heater malfunctions is a faulty heating element. The heating element is responsible for heating the water in the tank. If it becomes damaged or fails to function properly, it can lead to inadequate or no hot water production. In some cases, the heating element may need to be replaced to restore the functionality of the water heater. A malfunctioning thermostat can also cause problems with a water heater. The thermostat regulates the temperature of the water in the tank. If it is not functioning correctly, it can cause the water to be too hot or not hot enough. This can be a safety concern and may require the replacement of the thermostat. Additionally, issues with the gas supply (for gas-powered water heaters) or electrical connections (for electric water heaters) can lead to malfunctions. If you are experiencing any issues with your water heater, it is recommended to contact a professional plumber who can diagnose the problem accurately and recommend the appropriate solution. They can determine if a water heater replacement is necessary based on the specific malfunction and the condition of your existing unit.

Check the temperature setting on your water heater

When it comes to ensuring the optimal performance of your water heater, one crucial aspect to consider is the temperature setting. Properly controlling the temperature of your water heater is not only important for your comfort but also for energy efficiency and safety. To check the temperature setting on your water heater, start by locating the temperature dial, which is typically found on the front or top of the unit. Many water heaters have a temperature range between 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (49 to 60 degrees Celsius). To adjust the temperature, use a flathead screwdriver or follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. It's important to note that setting the temperature too high can not only increase your energy consumption but also pose a scalding risk, especially if you have young children or elderly family members at home. For optimal comfort and efficiency, it is recommended to set your water heater temperature to around 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius). At this temperature, you can enjoy a warm and safe shower while minimizing energy waste.

Perform regular

visual inspections

Performing regular visual inspections is an essential part of maintaining the efficiency and safety of your water heater. As a homeowner, it is important to be aware of any signs of wear and tear or potential problems that could lead to the need for water heater replacement. By conducting visual inspections on a routine basis, you can catch issues early on and take necessary steps to address them before they become more severe. During a visual inspection, take note of any leaks, rust, or corrosion on the water heater itself or its connecting pipes. These could indicate a potential issue with the tank or the connections. Additionally, pay attention to the condition of the pressure relief valve and the temperature settings. Any signs of damage or malfunction should be addressed promptly to prevent further damage or even potential accidents. In some cases, a visual inspection may reveal that it is time for a water heater replacement. If you notice significant signs of aging, such as a cracked tank or a buildup of mineral deposits, it may be wise to start considering a new water heater. Replacing an old and inefficient water heater not only ensures a reliable supply of hot water but can also lead to energy savings and lower utility bills. When it comes to water heater replacement, it is crucial to consult with a qualified professional. They can assess your current system, recommend the appropriate type and size of water heater for your home, and perform the installation with precision and expertise.

Test the water heater pressure relief valve

to make sure it works

Regularly testing the pressure relief valve of your water heater is essential to ensure that it is functioning properly. The pressure relief valve is responsible for preventing excessive pressure buildup inside the water heater tank, which can be dangerous. Testing the valve is a simple procedure that can be done in a few easy steps.
It is recommended to perform this test at least once a year. Regularly testing the pressure relief valve ensures that it is functioning correctly and provides you with peace of mind, knowing that your water heater is operating safely. If you find that the pressure relief valve is not working properly during the test, it is crucial to contact a licensed plumber or professional to replace it. Attempting to repair or replace the valve yourself can be dangerous and may result in further damage or injury.

Check for signs of rust and corrosion

around the water heater tank

When performing a regular inspection of your water heater, it is crucial to look out for signs of rust and corrosion around the tank. Rust and corrosion can indicate potential issues and may warrant a water heater replacement. Rust is a common problem that occurs when the metal components of the tank are exposed to moisture for an extended period. It typically starts as small patches and gradually spreads, weakening the tank's integrity. Likewise, corrosion refers to the deterioration of metal due to chemical reactions with the surrounding environment. If you notice any areas on the tank that appear rusty or corroded, it is a cause for concern. These signs indicate that the tank may be deteriorating and could potentially lead to leaks or even burst. It is crucial to address this issue promptly to avoid further damage. In some cases, rust or corrosion can be repaired by replacing the affected part or using specific treatments. However, in more severe cases or if the tank is old and showing multiple signs of deterioration, a water heater replacement may be the best course of action.

Water heater connections should be tight and secure

It is important to ensure that water heater connections are tight and secure. The last thing you want is for water to be leaking or posing a safety hazard. A loose connection can lead to water damage and potential accidents, so it's crucial to take the necessary steps to ensure that the new water heater is properly connected. To start with, make sure to turn off the power supply to the water heater before beginning the replacement process. This will help prevent any accidents or injuries while working on the connections. Next, inspect the old connections to see if they are in good condition. If there are any signs of corrosion or damage, it is recommended to replace them with new ones. When connecting the new water heater, use proper tools and equipment to tighten the connections. This will ensure a secure and leak-free operation. It is also essential to follow the manufacturer's instructions and guidelines for the specific model of water heater being installed. These instructions will outline the correct steps to take for connecting the water heater and ensure that it functions safely and efficiently. Lastly, after the water heater replacement is complete, carefully inspect the connections for any signs of leakage. It is best to check for any drips or moisture around the connections, as this could indicate a loose or faulty connection.

Keep the water heater and pipes free of sediment buildup

Sediment buildup in the water heater and pipes can cause numerous problems and decrease its efficiency. To avoid any inconvenience and costly repairs, it is essential to keep your water heater and pipes free of sediment buildup. Sediment buildup occurs when minerals like calcium and magnesium in the water settle at the bottom of the water heater tank and form a layer of sediment. Over time, this sediment layer can harden and reduce the water heater's efficiency and heating capacity. To prevent sediment buildup, it is recommended to flush your water heater regularly. Flushing the water heater involves draining and removing the sediment from the tank. This process helps to maintain the water heater's efficiency and extends its lifespan. To begin the flushing process, you need to turn off the power or gas supply to the water heater. Next, connect a hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank. Place the other end of the hose in a suitable drain or outside area where the hot water can safely discharge. Open the drain valve and allow the water to drain out. The water may be hot, so exercise caution. As the water drains out, the sediment will be carried out with it. You can also open a hot water faucet in your house to help with the drainage process. Once the water has completely drained from the tank, close the drain valve and remove the hose. Turn on the water supply to the water heater to refill the tank. Make sure to also turn on a hot water faucet in your house to allow any air trapped in the pipes to escape.

Keep the water heater burner assembly clean

Proper maintenance is crucial for the smooth functioning of your water heater, especially the burner assembly. Over time, dust, dirt, and debris can accumulate on the burner assembly, affecting its performance and efficiency. To ensure your water heater operates at its best, regular cleaning of the burner assembly is essential. Cleaning the burner assembly of your water heater involves a few simple steps. Before starting the process, always ensure your water heater is turned off and the gas supply is disconnected. This will ensure your safety throughout the cleaning process. To begin, gently remove the burner assembly cover, which is typically located on the front or side of your water heater. Take extra care not to damage any components or wiring while doing this. Once the cover is off, inspect the burner assembly for any visible signs of dirt or debris. Using a soft brush or a cloth, carefully remove any dirt or debris that has collected on the burner assembly and its components. Be gentle to avoid damaging any parts. Pay attention to the burner ports, as these can become clogged with particles over time. Clean out any blockages by gently brushing away the debris. After cleaning, ensure that all the parts are dry and free from any moisture. Moisture can cause rust or damage to the burner assembly. Once everything is dry, reassemble the burner assembly cover securely.

Check out the variety of water heater options available and their maintenance requirements

With water heater replacement, Portsmouth homeowners have a plethora of options to choose from. It's important to be knowledgeable about the different types of water heaters available and understand their unique maintenance requirements. Whether you're replacing an old unit or looking for an upgrade, here's what you need to know:

  • Conventional Storage Water Heaters: This is the most common type of water heater found in homes. It consists of a tank that stores and heats a large volume of water. These water heaters require regular maintenance, such as flushing the tank to remove sediment buildup, checking the pressure relief valve, and inspecting the anode rod to prevent corrosion.

  • Tankless Water Heaters: As the name suggests, tankless water heaters heat water on-demand without the need for a storage tank. They are more energy-efficient and provide an endless supply of hot water. Maintenance for tankless water heaters includes descaling the heat exchanger annually to remove mineral deposits that can affect performance.

  • Heat Pump Water Heaters: This type of water heater uses air or ground temperature to heat the water. Heat pump water heaters are highly efficient but require a well-ventilated area for installation. Maintenance includes regularly cleaning the air filters and checking the refrigerant levels.

  • Solar Water Heaters: Utilizing solar energy, these water heaters are environmentally friendly and cost-effective in the long run. Maintenance for solar water heaters is relatively low, requiring occasional inspection of the components and ensuring proper fluid levels.

  • Condensing Water Heaters: These high-efficiency water heaters utilize exhaust gases to preheat water. They are known for their energy-saving capabilities. Maintenance involves inspecting the condensate drain line and ensuring proper ventilation.


Homeowners should prioritize familiarizing themselves with the various types of water heaters available on the market. By understanding the specific maintenance needs of their chosen system, they can prevent potential problems and ensure the smooth operation of their water heater for a longer lifespan.

Troubleshooting tips

to help you identify

water heater problems

If you're facing common problems like insufficient hot water, temperature inconsistencies, unusual noises, or leaks, there are a few troubleshooting tips you can try before reaching out to a professional technician. Take a moment to inspect the heating element, ensuring it's in good condition, and verify the thermostat settings. Flushing out sediment buildup can also help address some water heater issues. And don't forget to thoroughly inspect for any possible leaks. By following these simple steps, you might be able to diagnose and potentially resolve the problem yourself, potentially saving both time and money. However, it's important to keep in mind that some issues may require the expertise of a qualified technician for a water heater replacement.

Benefits of hiring a licensed water heater professional

Hiring a licensed professional is the best way to go if you're dealing with water heater issues. There are several benefits to choosing a licensed water heater professional for this important task:

  • A licensed professional has the training and expertise needed to handle water heater replacements efficiently and effectively.

  • They have the knowledge and skills to properly assess your needs and recommend the right type and size of water heater for your home. This ensures that you get a water heater that is not only energy-efficient but also able to meet your household's hot water demands.

  • In addition to their expertise, licensed water heater professionals have the necessary tools and equipment to complete the replacement project correctly.

  • They are familiar with the latest industry standards and regulations and will ensure that your new water heater is installed in compliance with these requirements. This gives you peace of mind knowing that your water heater replacement is done safely and up to code.

  • Hiring a licensed professional for water heater replacement can also save you time and money in the long run. They are able to complete the installation quickly and efficiently, minimizing any disruption to your daily routine.

  • They can help you choose a water heater that is energy-efficient, which can lead to significant cost savings on your utility bills over time.

  • Working with a licensed professional for your water heater replacement ensures that you have access to warranties and guarantees. If any issues arise with your new water heater, a licensed professional will be able to address and resolve them promptly. This level of support and service is not typically available with DIY installations or hiring unlicensed contractors.

Research is important

When it comes to water heater replacement, thorough research is essential. From evaluating different models to finding the most reputable professionals for the job, taking the time to gather information can save you both time and money in the long run. Your water heater plays a vital role in providing hot water for your household needs. Whether you're dealing with a malfunctioning unit or simply looking to upgrade to a more efficient model, a replacement may be in order. However, a hasty decision without proper research can leave you with a less-than-ideal solution.

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One of the most significant investments you can make in your home is a water heater replacement.

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PHONE:+(757) 379-8344

Newman's Plumbing Service and Repair

Portsmouth, VA 23701

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