A Guide to Water Heater Repair in Kansas City
Imagine the worst scenario possible: You come in after a fun afternoon playing in the snow, head into the bathroom for a warm shower and…nothing but freezing cold water. If this happens to you, we want you to be informed about how you can fix the problem and when to call in a professional to make sure things don’t get worse. In this post, we’ll explain the different types of water heaters, how water heaters work, how you can fix some problems yourself, and who to contact for water heater repair in Kansas City. It’s colder in KC than Antarctica right now—make sure you have the hot water to combat the cold.
Types of Water Heaters
Choosing the right water heater is imperative to your heater’s longevity and performance. If you pick a cheap hot water heater from the get-go, you’ll end up spending thousands in repair.
It’s important to check the ratings before making a purchase. The two ratings to look out for are the Energy Factor (ER), which tells you how efficient the system is, and the first-hour recovery/flow rate (EF). You want the EF number to be high, since that means you get more hot water in the first hour after opening the spigot. Tankless water heaters are a little different; lower groundwater temperatures might cut the flow rate in half. Use both of these ratings to determine whether you’re getting a good deal on a water heater or water heater repair in Kansas City.
Conventional Storage Tank
You most likely have a conventional storage tank in your home. This insulated tank heats water and stores it until needed. If you need to relieve pressure that hits 150 psi or 210 degrees Fahrenheit within the tank, you can use the temperature and pressure relief valve. When working properly, your conventional storage tank should not be discharging any water from the valve. If you notice a water leak, it could be due to thermal expansion, excess pressure, or low temperature relief. These are all reasons to invest in water heater repair in Kansas City.
With natural gas water heaters, you won’t have to use as much energy as an electric water heater, thereby lowering costs. You’ll have to pay more upfront though, and there may be higher installation costs.
To properly care for your conventional storage tank, you’ll need to drain and clean it a couple times each year. You can expect to get 10-12 years out of your water heater if it’s well taken care of.
Also called ‘on demand’, this type heats water as needed rather than storing the hot water in a tank. With intense bursts of heat against water-filled coils, the water is heated right when it’s needed. The flow sensors are activated when the faucet is opened, then the heater checks the incoming water temperature to calculate how fast the water should flow past the burners. Much like natural gas, these water heaters have a higher up-front cost that’s compensated by lower bills. Not only are you saving money, but also helping out the environment!
Make sure you determine how much water you’ll need before purchasing a tankless heater, as you’ll need a specific size to achieve a continuous flow of hot water. Size needs are dependent on how many machines you have that use water (ie: dishwasher, washing machine, tub, etc.) and how often these systems are used at the same time. We recommend this option for those who use natural gas to heat their water. These systems never run out of hot water, you save 30%-50% in energy costs over a conventional gas heater, AND they’re small enough to give you extra floor space. On the downside, there’s a lag of 3-8 seconds to get the burner going and get the water to the right temperature. As far as maintenance goes, you’ll need to descale your heater of minerals at least once a year. This process can be carried out by those who specialize in water heater repair in Kansas City.
In this system, heat is transferred from the air or ground to the water using the heat-exchange capabilities of refrigerant. The refrigerant flowing through the heat pump system takes heat from the cold outside air and moves it into the system. From there, the stolen heat is distributed via air ducts. This process is accomplished using 60% less energy than typical electric water heaters. Energy bills are lower, but you’ll have a higher up-front cost. You’ll want to place the heat pump water heater somewhere in your home that isn’t too cold, and give it a 7-foot clearance from floor to ceiling (since the pump is on top). You’re heat pump may struggle when temperatures drop below freezing, in which case an auxiliary electric heating strip will kick in to finish the job (though this can be costly).
With Hybrid systems, also known as dual-fuel systems, an air-source hear pump taps into a gas furnace for backup heating instead of using a more costly electric heating system. You also have the ability to manually switch the fuel source between the two if you find that one is more cost effective. Keep in mind though that natural gas, propane and heating oil experience market fluctuations more than electricity, so it may be a riskier option.
It may seem like something from the future, but you can actually use roof-mounted solar panels to take in the sun’s heat and convert it into an anti-freeze type liquid. The closed-loop system funnels into the water tank and heats the water. These are going to produce the best results in the summer, when sunnier conditions provide extra energy. You’ll have to pay more on cloudy days, but a backup electricity or gas system should prevent you from freezing. To purchase and install a solar system, you could be waiting 10-30 years to make back your investment. Keep in mind though that there are federal and local rebates offered if you choose to go solar.
For those requiring a unit with more than 55 gallons that uses gas, condensing water heaters are the way to go. The tanks look similar to that of a conventional water heater; The main difference is that they collect the hot exhaust gases that typically leave through the flue and use this gas to heat the water in the tank. The gas is blown through a coil in the base of the unit and is then absorbed by incoming cold water when it flows around the coil. These are one of the most efficient water heaters (96% thermal) and you’ll never run out of hot water. The downside is that they’re a little pricier and require a gas line/venting reconfiguration (which can be done by those who specialize in water heater repair in Kansas City).
Water Heater Troubleshooting
Water Not Hot Enough
Before you do any troubleshooting, you need to make sure that the power to your water heater is turned off. This can be done by turning off the fuse or circuit breaker connected to the unit. If there’s no hot water being produced by the unit, the problem could be due to lack of power, a defect electric thermostat, or issues with the upper electric heating element. You can check to see if it’s a power problem by following these steps:
- Reset any tripped circuit breaker/replace broken fuses (see below)
- See if power is being pumped into the water heater element thermostat
- Test the element and replace if broken
- If thermostat is getting power but still not working, try replacing it or other heater part
If the water is warm but not hot, you may have an undersized water heater that can’t accommodate the amount of water you’re needing heated at once. Other issues might be crossed hot and cold connections, a faulty heating element or the thermostat. You’ll know an undersized heater is to blame if the heater has less than 75% of its capacity as hot water. Rule out crossed connections by shutting down the water supply and turning on a hot water faucet. If you water still flows after this has been shut down, check for a crossed connection. When all else fails, call a professional for water heater repair in Kansas City.
This can be one of the most troublesome issues to fix, as water damage can be costly to repair. These leaks could be due to a broken temperature and pressure relief valve, too much pressure, a stuck valve, overheating, a leak from an overhead or close plumbing connection, loose bolts, or a leaking water tank. Follow these steps to identify and resolve the cause:
- Check the T&P valve by putting a container beneath the overhead pipe, opening the valve and flushing the pipe of debris. Continuous leaks after flushing require repair replacement.
- For excessive heat or pressure, lower thermostat, scan for loose pipe connections and use a tool to tighten any loose connections you encounter.
- Tighten any heating element bolts that seem loose
- For leaking storage tanks, new o-rings (see below) may be necessary.
Odd Color or Smell
If the odor only occurs with hot water, the source is normally a reaction between the hot water heater’s anode rode and water with a high concentration of sulfates. The decaying sacrificial rod might be releasing hydrogen, giving off a rotten egg smell. For troubleshooting:
- Run the hot water for a couple minutes
- Flush out the tank.
- Use a mixture of 2 pints of 3% hydrogen peroxide and 40 gallons of water to treat the tank for two hours
- If water still smells odd, replace the anode rod with a new, zinc-alloy one that’s flexible.
- Worse comes to worst, you may have to replace the heater with a plastic-lined one
For garlic smells, a dead pilot light may be your problem. Switch the gas valve off and wait until the smell has disappeared before relighting. If the smell persists, you’ll need to contact someone who knows their way around water heater repair in Kansas City.