What to do if your water heater breaks?
It’s easy for us to take so many things for granted in our homes, including modern conveniences like electricity, running water, and heat. So when one or more of those things go away for whatever reason, we’re reminded very quickly of how good we have it. Especially when that thing is the water heater! Talk about homeowner stress – it might not be a quick and easy fix, and that might mean you’re about to spend a lot more money than you’d like to. But even if it isn’t broken right now, take a few minutes to learn what to do if your water heater breaks so you’ll be prepared if and when it happens. We’ll give you the major things to look for, how to ensure your safety, and some tips on how to save money in the process.
- Most water heaters are rated to last a decade or more, but you can probably add years of life to yours by simply checking on it periodically. Feel the fittings and if they’re loose, snug them up. Check for any leaks around the base of the heater. This will help you avoid costly water damage problems resulting from mold and other flooding issues.
- If you’re worried that your water heater might be close to dying, listen for a rumbling sound and look for any minor leaks that might be developing near the supply lines. If you find either of these, it might be time to replace it before it fails or, worst case, ruptures. The corrosion that takes place can combine with other rust inside the water heater itself to create problems. As sediment builds up inside, it can speed the failure of the heater. A faulty thermostat can also create a safety issue and make your heater fail.
- If you find any of the major issues mentioned above, keep yourself safe by turning off the water heater right away and taking the following additional steps:
- For a gas heater, turn the thermostat dial to OFF and shut off the gas supply line. For an electric heater, go ahead and turn it off at the circuit breaker to be safe.
- Next, turn off the water supply valve to the heater, and if you’re not 100% sure that it’s off, you can always do the same for your home’s main water supply.
- Now it’s time to drain the heater. If you don’t have an emergency drain next to the heater, you can hook up a hose to the drain valve and run it outside or to another lower sink or drain. Use a tool to open the drain valve, and then open the pressure relief valve so there won’t be a vacuum. Remember: the water is probably still hot, so exercise caution here by wearing protective clothing and eyewear, and make sure you don’t have any loved ones around to get scalded.
- After the heater is completely drained, open the water supply back up briefly to rinse out any of the sediment that’s still at the bottom of the tank.
- Finally, call a service professional to help you assess how to move forward with replacing your water heater. We know water heaters aren’t cheap, but if you’re proactive with inspections and make the hard call to replace it when you know it’s bad, at least you’ll avoid a huge water damage bill to go along with it!
- If you’re in the worst-case scenario where the water heater exploded and leaked everywhere in your home, then after you’ve taken the steps above, catalog plenty of pictures to help with your homeowners insurance claim. You may need to call a water damage professional such as AdvantaClean to dry out the space completely.
- Depending on your policy and deductible, it might be worth calling your homeowners insurance company even if you don’t think there was a major flooding issue.
More info? To learn more on water damage in your home, read one of our other posts: WATER DAMAGE? WE'RE ON THE WAY!