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The Well Pump Man Talks Water Heaters

It’s Not About The Money

One of my favorite things to do is talk about plumbing. If you know me personally you’ll know I love to talk with people in general. Many people have questions about their plumbing systems. I’m always asked questions. I get calls daily and I’m happy to share my knowledge for free with folks. Since I began plumbing nearly 30 years ago I’ve had a passion and a love for this profession.

My goal was not only to plumb and fix things but to educate people about how things work. I wanted them to know when it was time to call a licensed professional and when they were able to fix a problem on their own. Today I thought it would be fun to answer some water heater questions. So hold on to your hats and don’t turn any valves just yet. Here’s some answers to some frequently asked water heater questions in today’s blog.

What Is The Most Common Failure On A Water Heater?

 For a gas water heater, it would be the pilot light not staying lit due to a thermocouple failure. Thermocouples are an inexpensive part. It does take some know-how and a little time to change those out. The number one cause of a failure for an electric water heater would be an element burning out. Typically the bottom element of the water heater will burn out first. When that does happen we need to replace both elements.


I recommend replacing the thermostats at the same time because once those get some age on them they can fail after you install a new element. If you only install a bottom element the top element will eventually fail within the first month after just installing the bottom element.

So we recommend replacing both elements and both thermostats on an electric water heater and on a gas water heater we recommend replacing a thermocouple when it needs to be replaced. Those are the two number one small things that go out on a water heater.  

How Do I Know If My Water Heater Pressure Relief Valve Is Bad? 

A ‘Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve’ or aka ‘T&P Valve’ (that’s what it’s referred to by licensed professionals) comes off the side of your water heater or out of the top of your water heater. Usually, it has a pipe going nowhere down the side of the tank. It needs to be within six inches of the floor. What will happen is usually you start to see water dripping out of that when the spring becomes weak. This is after years and years of being under pressure.

Things To Watch Out For

If you have steam coming out of that you need to call a licensed professional immediately. That can mean your water heater is overheating the water which can lead to a very dangerous situation. In addition, never cap the ‘T&P Valve’ because this could lead to an explosion of your water heater.

What Happens When A Thermostat On A Water Heater Goes Bad? 

Sometimes when a thermostat goes bad on a water heater a couple of things could happen. 

  1. You could have no hot water.
  2. Or the water heater will overheat the water and not shut off in time.

It varies from gas to electric water heaters. Most electric units have an ‘Emergency Cutoff’. It will shut off the water heater if it reaches a certain temperature. Now and then those can fail. Water will overheat until you…

  1. Get a leak out of your ‘T&P Valve’ or
  2. The water heater stops working altogether

If you’re having issues with your water heater thermostat or your ‘T&P Valve’, give us a call. (765) 336-9808. We can come and give you a proper diagnosis. 

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