Hot water heater repair can be something of a mixed bag. There are minor repairs that you can attempt for yourself if you know how to repair a water heater and there are problems that should only be handled by a licensed professional plumber. Some problems are rather inexpensive and some problems will require that a completely new water heater be installed. It is important to know what you are looking for and what your capabilities are when attempting to deal with any hot water heater repair.
In situations where you smell gas (gas water heater) or the floor is flooded with water (electric water heater) it is important that you leave the house and call upon a licensed professional immediately. Failure to do so could result in property damage and risks the health and well-being of your family.
If your hot water heater is making a lot of noise (banging, whizzing, popping, hissing, etc.) when it first kicks in, the most likely culprit is a build up of sediment at the bottom of your tank. Properly flushing your tank can help to eliminate this problem. In fact, flushing your tank every six to twelve months is part of regular hot water heater maintenance.
Problems such as the temperature of the water being too hot or too cold can often be easily remedied by adjusting the thermostat of your hot water heater. To properly set the temperature of your hot water heater, set the thermostat so that the water coming out of the tap at full hot is just above 150 degrees Fahrenheit if you have a dishwasher or a little lower if you do not. If the temperature does not change after adjusting the thermostat, you probably need to replace the thermostat or its sensor.
If your hot water heater is leaking, there is no option but to replace the unit. A leaking water heater can be a very dangerous thing and a professional plumber will be able to quickly remove your old water heater and replace it with a more energy efficient new model.