Omnia Mechanical Group

571 Timpson Place Bronx, NY 10455

Phone: 212-534-2500

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Why Aging Water Heaters for Apartment Buildings Can Spell Trouble: Preventative Measures and Replacement Options

If you own or manage an apartment building in New York City, aging water heaters can be a source of many headaches. Your tenants are guaranteed adequate hot water, and if it’s not available, you may end up fielding complaints, citations from the city, or even lawsuits. Therefore, it’s essential to prevent water heater problems when possible. You should also know your alternatives if yours reaches the end of its life and needs to be replaced.

Signs of Water Heater Malfunction

Insufficient or no hot water

If your tenants are complaining about a lack of hot water, look to the following possible causes:

  • Problem with pipes leading to specific units
  • The water heater is turned down too far
  • The water heater thermostat is malfunctioning
  • The pilot light is out or the burner is not working
  • Problem with the wiring or the circuit breaker
  • The tank is too small for demand
  • The heating element is broken or buried in sediment
  • Leaks in the tank or pipes in the distribution system
  • Uninsulated pipes

In many cases, you can attempt a fix for these issues, provided the tank isn’t really old and everything isn’t failing at once (in that instance, read below about replacement options). However, if the water tank is too small for the number of people using it, which can even happen in single-family dwellings, it should be replaced with an alternative.

Water leaks

Leaking water can cause multiple hot water supply issues. If a leak in the tank itself is large enough, the hot water may escape before it can be used. And if the pipes distributing the water are leaking, you’re throwing money away heating water only to have it escape the pipes before it reaches your tenants. Leaks in your hot water heater should always be fixed immediately, as they can also pose safety issues for tenants and building staff.

Noisy water heater

A noisy water heater, whether electric or gas, is nearly always a sign something is wrong. This usually happens when there is a problem with the unit’s heating element (or elements, if it has more than one). The heater will make a crackling, popping, gurgling, or whining sound as the heating element struggles to do its job.

This often happens when the heating element is buried under sediment at the bottom of the tank, although it can also happen when the element is corroding and falling apart. (See the next section regarding removing sediment.)

Dirty or malodorous water

Water that is brown, rusty, or smelly is yet another sign of a failing hot water heater. This can be due to the presence of sediment, corrosion, or bacteria. We see this when the heating element is not working properly, when the water needs filtration, and when the anode rod fails.

Water Heater Preventative Maintenance

Many of the issues above can be prevented with routine hot water heater maintenance. Regular maintenance by Calray may be able to keep an aging heater running until you have the chance to replace it. Follow these steps to keep your water heater functioning:

  1. Don’t ignore hot water complaints. Track down the source of the problem right away to prevent a larger issue from developing.
  2. Conduct routine checks on your hot water heater for leaks (tanks, pipes, valves, gaskets, etc.). Repair small leaks before they grow larger.
  3. Replace heating elements and anode rods before corrosion causes them to break off.
  4. Check the bottom of the tank for the accumulation of sediment. Remove undesirable material and flush the tank. You may have to treat it with an antimicrobial agent if there are bacteria in the tank. Replace any rods that were damaged as the result of sediment buildup.
  5. Check all wiring supplying electric hot water heaters, including breakers.
  6. Inspect the pilot light and burners. Remove any soot or unwanted material, and ensure the flame is burning blue, not yellow. Check the gas supply line and thermocouple to maintain the proper gas flow.
  7. Insulate pipes to prevent hot water heat loss.

Replacement Options for Your Hot Water Heater

A new all-building tank

One option if you have to replace a hot water heater that can no longer be revived is to get another version of the same type of tank. The greatest advantage of this option is that your building is already set up for this system of hot water distribution. Other than some disruption to the hot water supply during the tank installation, you won’t have to worry about any major changes.

The major downside to remaining with one tank is that, if there is a problem with the heater, the entire building is without hot water. Also, the same issue that plagued the old tank may cause problems with the new one, such as water quality.

Individual tanks for units

Another option is to provide individual tanks of around 50 gallons each for every unit. Avoid the temptation to share one tank between several units, as it’s inevitable one unit will use up the hot water before the adjacent one, and this will cause friction between tenants.

This is usually a good solution if you have a relatively small building. It could help the owner save money if you install electric heaters in a submetered building, meaning the tenant is now paying for their hot water.

However, this alternative is contingent upon space. You need to find a place to house individual hot water tanks. Also, this solution involves more construction and potential disruption to your building’s hot water supply during the transition period.

If you have a hot water heater that’s malfunctioning or on its way out, we’d be happy to consult with you on your options. Call Calray Boilers at 212-722-5506, or use our convenient online form to schedule a service appointment.


Our Privacy Policy

Omnia Mechanical Group(the “Company”) strives to ensure the highest standards for property listings and customer information privacy. Please review the following statement to learn about our company practices and policies. Please be aware that our Privacy Policy is subject to change at any time.

1. Purpose.

This Privacy Policy (“the Policy”) provides information on how the Company uses your personal information. By agreeing to the Policy, you agree to our collection and use of your personal information as described in the Policy. This Privacy Policy is effective for all new users of Sanitaryplumbing.com.

2. Personal Information.

You can browse some areas of omniagroup.nyc (“the Website”) without being a registered user. However, certain activities do require registration. (You consent to the transfer and storage of your information by registering with omniagroup.nyc).

3. Use of Information.

Our primary purpose in collecting personal information is to provide you with a safe and user-friendly experience. For example, the Company may use your personal information to:

  • Improve our services and the Website’s content and layout;
  • Provide the services and necessary customer support you request;
  • Resolve disputes, collect fees, and troubleshoot problems;
  • Track and record customer satisfaction with our services;
  • Protect the Company against error and fraud;
  • Inform you of special promotions and announcements;
  • Enforce our agreements, terms, conditions, and policies; and
  • As otherwise described to you at the time of collection.

We may occasionally ask you to complete optional surveys. These surveys are used to improve and customize your experience with Sanitaryplumbing.com.

The Company always provides you the ability to opt-out of further communication such as promotions and surveys; see the Opt-Out section below.

The Company does not share any of your personal information with outside organizations, companies, individuals, etc. The only exception to this standard is if such a disclosure is reasonably necessary to respond to any and all legal processes.

4. Links to Other Sites.

The Website may have links to other websites that may collect personally identifiable information about you. The Company is not responsible for the privacy practices of the content of those linked websites.

5. Safety & Security Precautions.

The Website has strict security measures in place to protect you and your information from fraud. Once your information is provided to Omnia Mechanical Group, we strive to ensure the confidentiality of your identity and information.

6. Opt-Out.

The Company provides you with the opportunity to opt-out of receiving promotional and other non-essential, marketing-related communications from Omnia Mechanical Group. If you would like to opt-out of these select communications, please see any of the Company’s email communications and follow the directions indicated.

7. Account Protection.

Your password ensures the security of your account. When choosing a password, the Company suggests using various characters. It is highly recommended that you do not disclose your Sanitaryplumbing.com password to anyone. (If you do disclose your password or your personal information with others, you are responsible for all actions taken in the name of your account.) If the security of your password is compromised for any reason, please contact the Company immediately.

8. Accuracy of Information

The Company does not guarantee the accuracy of information for any and all of its properties on the Website, and is not responsible for any errors or misrepresentations (made by Renters, the Client, or otherwise).

9. Cookies

The Company may place a small cookie on your computer’s hard drive. This allows us to personalize your use on the Website. In order to maximize the functionality and usability of the Website, you must set your browser’s preferences to allow both permanent and temporary cookies.

10. Changing Your Personal Information.

Should your personal information change, please immediately update your information on the Website. This will ensure the accuracy of our records. The Company does retain personal information from closed accounts in order to comply with law and collect and disburse any fees owed.

11. Third Parties

This Privacy Policy addresses only the use of information we collect from you. Since omniagroup.nyc does not control the privacy policies of third parties, you are subject to the privacy policies of those third parties. It is advisable that you consult with the management of third parties before you disclose your personal information to others.

12. General

We may amend this Privacy Policy at any time by posting the amended terms on the Website. All amended terms are immediately effective after they are initially posted on the Website.

13. Privacy Policy Questions & Concerns

Questions and/or concerns regarding the Policy should be emailed to the following email address: info@omniagroup.nyc.