How to Repair a Water Heater

Every home has a hot water heater. “The average lifespan for a hot water is around 10 years old meaning there is a good chance you will need to repair or replace a water heater on multiple occasions in your own lifetime,” according to Jim Campbell, owner of PDQ specializing in appliance repair in Cicero.

You can learn how to troubleshoot common hot water heater problems with our list of issues below. The list includes issues common to both gas and electric water heaters because the symptoms are similar for both types of appliance. If a repair differs depending on electric or gas, OBX will note the difference in our guide.


The primary cause for a noisy gas water heater is a buildup of mineral deposits in the water tank. “This can occur if there is hard water in your home’s plumbing,” says Karl Coleman, owner of a Toledo appliance repair service. You will need to clean out the mineral deposits in the tank and in the valves. This could also be the cause of loud noises coming from an electric water heater but another cause could be the heating element on the unit.


You need to regulate the temperature of the water coming from the water heater. If the water is too hot it means there is a problem with one of the two thermostats on the unit. There is an upper and a lower thermostat on most models. You will need to identify which one is broken and then replace it.


The problem of an unlit pilot light only occurs on gas models. The thermocouple is responsible for lighting the pilot light. There could be a defective thermocouple. We do not recommend DIY repair for this problem. In the event of a defective thermocouple on a gas water heater, call a local appliance repairman to diagnose and fix the issue. The issue could also be due to a thermostatic control valve which is an easier repair.


Too cold water from a water heater is a bad sign. There are several issues that could be occurring if this is the case and a complete diagnostic test will need to be performed. In this case, we would recommend calling a professional appliance repair service to inspect the unit. The primary causes for this issue are either a faulty heater element or control valve on the machine.


The water heater should maintain a consistent temperature set on the two thermostats on the unit. If the temperature fluctuates between “too hot” or “too cold” then there is an issue with one of the two thermostats. You will need to identify which one is malfunctioning and then replace it with a new part.


Leaking water is a common problem for older water heaters. You will need to identify the source of the leak and then repair the leak or replace the part with a new one. The most common sources for water heater leaks are drain valves, pressure relief valves and element gaskets. Inspect each of these parts first before moving on to other areas of the water heater.


The issues above are the most common that occur on water heaters. There are several other possible repairs that could occur. In the event of a more complicated issue, we recommend hiring an appliance repair service that specializes in water heater repair and household appliances.

Here are some we recommend:

PDQ Cicero Appliance Repair
Cicero, IL

EZ Boise Appliance Repair
Boise, ID

Paula’s AAA Appliance Repair
San Antonio, TX

Total Toledo Appliance Repair
Toledo, OH

Las Cruces Appliance Repair
Las Cruces, NM

Wisman’s Appliance
Fort Wayne, IN