& Territories
The Plumber
Q: Water heaters, faucets, toilets, etc. Is it better to repair or replace these items when they break? Is there a general rule?
A: There are several factors to consider but the general rule is the 50% rule. If you are going to spend over 50% of the replacement cost for a repair, you should consider replacement instead. However, even this rule can be misleading. For example, if you have a 15 year old water heater that needs repair I would consider replacing it no matter what the repair cost is just because of the age. Another example is a garbage disposal. Disposals last an average 7-10 years. Any repair needed inside the 7-10 year range should probably be skipped for a replacement instead. On the other hand, toilets can last quite a long time so repairs to your toilet are usually the way to go (at least until your toilet hits the 25-30 year mark).

Q: How do I adjust the temperature on my water heater?
A: If it's a gas heater just turn the large dial on the front of the heater (located about knee-high). Make only small adjustments and then sample the water temperature for a couple of days. Keep fine tuning the temperature until you have the desired setting. If your heater is an electric one you'll have to remove the panels covering the thermostats before you can make the adjustment. Most water heaters have 2 elements so look for 2 panels. You should also turn off the power to the water heater before removing the panels so as to eliminate any risk of electrical shock. Most thermostats have a slotted head for adjusting the temperature so be sure you have a small, flat-head screwdriver handy. As with gas water heaters, make only small adjustments and then sample the water temperature for a day or two. Small tweeks in the temperature control translate into 5-10 degrees of water temperature change. Since scalding occurs more quickly with higher water temperatures, you'll want to be sure you don't set your heater unnecessarily high. If you don't feel comfortable adjusting the temperature on your water heater please call Galaxy Plumbing & Drain. We will be glad to make the adjustment for you.

Q: I run out of hot water after only 1 shower. I don't understand why. I have hot water but only a little.
A: It's actually quite simple. You have 2 elements in your electric water heater and only the top one is working. After the top element is satisfied it turns off to let the bottom element turn on. Since the bottom one is not working properly, your water heater is only 1/2 heated. Call Galaxy Plumbing & Drain to come out and fix the problem.

Q: Which is better? Gas or Electric? What about those new Instantaneous Heaters? Are they any good?
A: In my opinion, neither gas or electric is better than the other. They both do the same job equally well. As far as the instantaneous heaters, yes they are good but I don't think everyone should run out and start changing their heaters over. It takes a lot of electricity or gas supply to operate one of these units. A changeover may be easy or difficult. It will probably be costly at best. Be sure to weigh the cost savings vs. installation cost before getting started. Please call Galaxy Plumbing & Drain with any questions. We will gladly discuss your options with you and give our best recommendation.

Q: Is it okay to store things next to my gas water heater?
A: Water heaters have minimum clearances from combustible materials of at least 1 inch so nothing should be closer than that. A gas water heater also needs plenty of combustion air (fresh air) to properly burn. If you put a candle in a jar and cover the jar tightly the candle goes out because of a lack of air. Your gas water heater works the same way so you should not clog the heater space with debris all around it.

Q: When I relight the pilot light on my gas water heater I have to hold the button down for 30 seconds after relighting it. Why?
A: Your gas water heater has a safety device on it called a "thermo-couple". This device sits IN the pilot flame and when it gets hot it sends a signal back to the main control valve to let the valve know that the pilot light is burning. If the pilot light goes out the thermo-couple gets cold and the lack of a signal to the main control valve causes the pilot line valve to close so that raw gas is not continuously fed into the heater. When you first relight the pilot light the thermo-couple is still cold and it takes a few seconds for it to warm up before it sends a signal back to the main valve to indicate that "all is well". By pressing and holding the button you are manually overriding the pilot line's closed valve. After the thermo-couple gets hot the pilot line valve stays open by itself. If you are having trouble with your pilot light just call Galaxy Plumbing & Drain to come out and service your water heater.

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