Should You Repair Or Replace A Leaking Water Heater?
A water heater is a major appliance in most homes in Costa Rica. Although you will still find suicide showers in some homes, modern middle-class homes will have a water heater.
They are typically located near the center of your home, so they can provide hot water for every part of the house. Some homes have them installed in the laundry room.
Hopefully, when you have a leaking heater, it’s installed in an easily accessible location. And one that won’t create water damage when it leaks. Before you call a plumber it’s important to find out if the problem can be repaired or not. Here are a few tips:
1. The Signs
One of the first signs of a leaking water heater is a rattling sound. This is usually followed by an increased electricity bill. That can be an indication that there is a loose pipe or gasket that needs to be tightened up. But if you are not familiar with this kind of issue, waterheaterleakinginfo.com contains a great deal of information on this exact topic.
Two other signs to watch for are:
a) A change in hot water temperature. If you’re not getting hot water from your faucet, then the tank might have a leak.
b) Or, if there are little drops of water on the floor near your water heater.
In such a case, you would want to have somebody come out and fix the leak as soon as possible before your home will be flooded.
2. What to do?
When you notice a problem with your hot water tank, the first thing to do is to go check the temperature of the water coming out of your hot water faucet. You want to make sure that it’s at least 120 degrees and hotter than that if possible. If it’s lower than 120 degrees, then there may just be a problem with the thermostat inside of your tank.
However, if it’s lower than 120 degrees and you’re getting hot water from the faucet then there might be a leak somewhere in your heating unit that needs to get fixed right away.
3. Small leak or worse?
In situations where the leak is only a small problem, you might be able to fix it by replacing the thermostat cartridge inside your water heater.
However, if the leak is significant and there is a change in hot water temperature, it might be time for a new heating unit altogether.
You should be able to spot a small leak because there would be water accumulating around the base of the tank. A larger leak will have water running out of the top of the tank or you’ll see broken pipes spraying out water.
4. Who to call and what will it cost?
If your water heater is leaking or has a problem, make sure to contact a service technician as soon as possible.
It’s hard to say the cost of a service call because it will depend on how much they have to repair and how long they have to stay at your home. For example, if you need a thermostat cartridge replaced, this should be fairly inexpensive. This replacement takes about 20-30 minutes.
A new hot water heater would be more expensive because that could take 2-3 hours to install. There may also be additional parts that need replacing in order to fix the leak.
5. A gas tank or an electric one?
Gas water heaters are not very commonly used in Costa Rica. Often, those who cook on gas also have a hot water tank that runs on gas. The gas tank requires a fuel feed and a constant firing of the burner to be able to keep up a flow of hot water by quickly replacing the cold water that flows back into the tank or condenser.
These tanks can either be installed indoors or outdoors, easily when you are off the grid. Gas tanks also offer other benefits such as quicker recovery time, increased capacity, and increased efficiency.
Instant Electric Heater
Tankless instant water heating units are more common in Costa Rica. It is more common nowadays to use an instant heater that is installed close to where you need the hot water. Some homes have one for the bathrooms, one for the kitchen, and one for the laundry. These tanks are cheaper in use because they use power only when the water is running.
Hot Water Tank
A small (50- to 60-gallon) storage tank is usually sufficient for one to two-three people. A medium (80-gallon) storage tank works well for three to four people. Singles and couples usually use a 30 – 40-gallon tank. It’s recommended to install a timer so the water in the tank won’t be heated over and over again.
6. Safety procedures
You want to make sure that the area around the hot water tank is always clear and free of anything that might interfere with air circulation. Do NOT use an extension cord for your heater.
Make sure the tank isn’t near an open flame like a gas fireplace, and that there’s nothing blocking it from getting enough airflow.
When is it time to replace your water heater? When there is rust or cracks around plumbing joints and the steel cover starts crumbling. If the repair is more costly than buying a new tank, it might be time to start shopping.
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