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Not all water heaters are created equal. Simply put, some makes and models offer a more reliable performance and a longer lifespan than others. If you’re ever in the market for a new water heater but are overwhelmed by the sheer range of products on the market, you can always ask your plumber for a recommendation.

At Carter’s My Plumber, we’re a leading provider of Bradford White water heater repair in Indianapolis area. We are always happy to address questions about water heater repair cost, water heater replacement, and more. And, we are more than happy to recommend a particular unit for use in your home or your place of business.

A brand of water heaters that we especially like is Bradford White. We often recommend this line to homeowners, as we’ve found it to be one of the most efficient, reliable, and long-lasting. With that said, even the best water heater can experience problems from time to time, requiring maintenance from a professional plumber.

Whether you are thinking about buying a Bradford White unit and want to be fully informed, or you already have one and need to troubleshoot it, we invite you to review some of the most common Bradford White water heater problems. Don’t hesitate to call Carter’s My Plumber if you need help with water heater repair in Carmel and Greenwood, Indiana areas.

Bradford White

Common Problems with Bradford White Water Heaters

Again, we want to emphasize that this is a trustworthy brand that shouldn’t give you too many headaches. And yet, even the most top-of-the-line units experience wear and tear, resulting in performance issues over time. Some of the issues most typical to Bradford White include:

1) The unit isn’t heating.

When electric water heaters, tankless water heaters, or conventional water heaters won’t heat, there could be any number of issues in play.

  • The most common issue by far is that the thermocouple is broken. Thermocouples are safety devices, and they are used on gas water heaters to regulate the pilot light. If your unit isn’t producing hot water, it may be that you need to call for service to have the thermocouple replaced.
  • It may also be a problem with incoming power. Make sure that the outlet you’re using is working, and that you don’t have a blown fuse or a tripped circuit. If you have an electrical issue, you may want to consider hiring an electrical contractor.
  • You may also have a problem with the pilot, including carbon formations that prevent it from lighting. You can often clear away these deposits by carefully wiping with a stiff brush.
  • There may also be a faulty burner or heating element at play, especially if your water heater is an older model. This is a problem you’ll need a professional plumber to address.

2) Your water heater is leaking.

Another potential problem is a leaky unit. Some possible causes include:

  • You have a leak coming from your temperature and pressure relief valve. This usually happens due to simple age and wear and tear. You can address the issue by having the valve replaced on your hot water heater.
  • You may also have a problem with the drain valve, which can be caused by sediment build-up. Fix this problem by draining your Bradford White’s tank, then replacing that valve.
  • Still another potential cause of your leak is that the tank itself is rusted and corroded. There is no way to repair this issue. You’ll simply need to have your entire water heater replaced. This can be a great opportunity to shop for a tankless unit, which can usually offer an even longer lifespan with fewer maintenance needs.

3) The pilot light won’t ignite.

If your Bradford White’s pilot light won’t ignite, then there’s no way the water heater will be able to accommodate your household’s hot water demands. Some potential causes include:

  • You may have a bad igniter. First test to ensure it’s getting the voltage that it needs. If so, then that means the igniter itself is defective, and needs to be replaced.
  • You may also have a defective pressure switch. If the pressure switch is bad then the igniter won’t light and the water heater won’t work. A professional plumber can help you replace the switch, meaning you won’t be stuck with cold water for long.
  • As we mentioned above, the thermocouple technology may be faulty. This is usually something that’s pretty inexpensive to replace.

4) Your water is too hot.

Nobody wants cold water when they shower, but scalding water can be nearly as frustrating. What might be the cause of your water heater producing overly hot water?

  • First, double check that your Bradford White gas water heater has its thermostat set correctly. We generally advise setting your water heater thermostat on 120 degrees, and no higher.
  • If your water is hotter than your thermostat selection, that means the thermostat assembly itself is defective, and needs to be replaced.
  • Another possible issue is that your heating element is shorted out, which can cause the water to get too hot.
Tankless Water Heater

Additional Questions About Bradford White Hot Water Heaters

Some additional topics to help you troubleshoot your hot water tanks, or to determine whether this manufacturer’s selection of water heaters is right for you.

What is the life expectancy of a Bradford White water heater?

The average life expectancy is 8-12 years on a Bradford White tank water heater. Water pressure and water quality play a huge role in this.

Where is the reset button on a Bradford White electric water heater?

The reset button on an electric water heater is on the top thermostat. It’s red and says reset.

How do I reset my Bradford White?

To reset a Bradford White electric you can simply flip the breaker box on and off. To reset a gas unit you would need to turn the gas control valve off, which can be a little more complicated.

Why do plumbers use Bradford White water heaters?

Licensed plumbers recommend Bradford White because it’s 100% American made, but also because, out of all the water heater manufacturers in the world, this one boasts one of the highest levels of quality and reliability. Here at Carter’s My Plumber, we use this brand in our own, individual homes.

How often should I drain my Bradford White water heater?

It all depends on the quality of your water. Most homeowners can get away with draining their tank once a year, but if you know your water quality is quite poor, you may want to drain it every month or two.

What is the normal life expectancy of a Bradford White water heater?

For a conventional unit, you can anticipate a lifespan of eight to 12 years. If you spring for tankless water heater installation, the lifespan may be double that.

What temperature should my Bradford White water heater be set at?

No matter what type of heat pump water heater you have, the recommended thermostat setting is always 120 degrees at the most.

Why is my Bradford White water heater status light blinking seven times?

Your Bradford White status light is blinking seven times because the gas chamber has overheated and caused your resettable thermal switch to kick out. We recommend replacing that switch and checking airflow into your burner assembly chamber for proper airflow.

What are signs that a water heater needs to be replaced?

When a water heater is not producing much hot water and is over seven years of age, that’s when we would highly recommend replacing the unit. Consider your options for hybrid water heaters, tankless units, etc.

Kelson Carter

Article reviewed by:

Kelson Carter, aka, The Prince of Plumbing

Kelson is a 3rd generation Plumbing Contractor. His family business is located in Greenwood, Indiana, and provides Residential Plumbing Service to the Indianapolis Metro market.

Kelson grew up watching his grandfather and father do plumbing. After graduating high school, Kelson went to Trade School and became a Licensed Master Plumber and Licensed Plumbing Contractor. He is also Certified in Backflow Prevention. He currently owns and operates Carter's My Plumber with his parents.


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