Hot water is an underappreciated convenience. Washing dishes, taking showers and doing laundry just aren't the same without it. However, sometimes a problem with your water heater occurs that requires the attention of a professional plumber. Homeowners should not attempt to service their water heaters themselves, especially if they are malfunctioning. There's a tremendous amount of very hot water under pressure inside that tank — it's easily capable of causing severe burns. Here are two water heater related issues that mean you need to call an emergency plumber.
1. Your Hot Water Suddenly Becomes Hotter Than Normal
If you've noticed that hot water from your fixtures has suddenly become much hotter than it used to be, this means that at least one of your water heater's heating elements isn't turning off. A broken heating element or a broken thermostat can both cause this problem.
When your heating element isn't turning off, it's a major plumbing emergency. It can cause pressure to build up in the water heater, eventually leading to an explosion. Normally, when the water in the water heater becomes too hot, the temperature and pressure relief valve on the top of the water heater is engaged. The relief valve is connected to a pipe that ends a short distance above a drain. Steam escapes from the relief valve and condenses in the pipe, slowly dripping into the drain. If the relief valve is blocked because it is damaged, there's no way for your water heater to vent its excess pressure. If you don't have your water heater serviced, it will eventually explode.
When you're having this problem, turn off the power to your water heater from your circuit breaker. Don't go near the water heater to turn it off yourself. After that, call an emergency plumbing service to have your water heater repaired.
2. You Notice Hot Water Leaking From a Fixture
Broken washers or seals in your fixtures can cause hot water to leak out of them. Although all leaks should be fixed quickly, a hot water leak is more serious than a cold water leak.
Why is a hot water leak more serious than a cold water leak? One reason is that it can drain your water heater faster than it can fill. The tank in your water heater should never have a low level of water — it will expose one of the heating elements to air. The heating elements in your water heater aren't designed to operate in a dry environment. They become too hot and damage themselves. Another reason a hot water leak is more serious is that it will cause your energy bills to skyrocket. A water heater that never turns off is like running your oven all day and all night. It wastes a massive amount of electricity.
When you spot a hot water leak, turn the water heater off and call an emergency plumber. Repairing the fixture will keep your water heater in good condition and spare you from a nasty surprise on your next energy bill. For more information, go to websites like this one!