Often underappreciated, your water heater is the unsung hero of your home! It rarely takes a day off, but you are sure to know it when it does. Manufacturers strive to make water heaters that last. However, the substantial amount of heat, water, and pressure they process on a daily basis can lead to even the best machines breaking down, resulting in some common water heater problems.
If you are experiencing water heater problems, do not despair! Many problems are not a death sentence and are easily fixable by a professional. However, it is important to properly diagnose what is wrong with your water heater early on. While there are thousands of models of water heaters, they all suffer from similar and common problems. Here are 7 common water heater problems to help get you started!
Before attempting to trouble-shoot any water heater problems, it is vital always to turn off the power at the circuit breaker! If you have an electric model, first, you need to switch the heater off at the service panel. Second, you need to use a non-contact voltage tester to confirm there is no electrical current. Simply turn the thermostat into the “off” position for gas models.
1. Hot Water Is Taking Forever
Water temperature problems are the most common issue homeowners deal with concerning their water heater. Is your hot water taking forever and a day to get hot? Are you waiting more than 5 minutes to hop in the shower? There are several reasons why a water heater might take forever to get up to temperature.
- It may be time to flush your tank. Flush your water heater tank once every 6-12 months to ensure optimal function. You should lean more towards the every 6-month mark if your area has hard water – meaning higher mineral content.
- You need to adjust the temperature on your water heater settings.
- Your water heater is too small for your home.
- Crossed hot and cold connections
- The heating element or thermostat needs replaced
- If your water heater is a gas unit, check that the heater is set to the correct gas pressure. If this doesn’t work, clean the burner orifices.
2. There Is No Hot Water. Period.
If your water is never reaching temperature, this may mean that your water heater is no longer functional. Endless cold water could be due to several factors, from an electrical outage to a faulty thermostat.
- First, look to see if your home’s circuit breaker is working.
- Your thermostat might not be set correctly. Often, the water is not hot enough because the thermostat is set too low.
- See if the high-temperature cutoff is malfunctioning. To do this, push the high-temperature cutoff reset button.
- Test the heating elements. You can test each heating element by touching the screws with a tester probe. Remember, make sure no power is running to your water heater before testing.
- Check the size of your water heater tank in relation to the size of your home. You may need to upgrade your heater to a bigger and more powerful model.
- The dip tube might need replacing.
For gas water heaters, also check the following:
- Is the pilot light working? Double-check to see if it went out.
- Your thermocouple may need cleaning or replacing.
3. The Water Is Too Hot
It is important to adjust your water heater thermostat in the summer to accommodate for the rising temperatures outside. Your thermostat temperature might be ideal for the chilly winter months but not function well during the hotter summer months. Use a multimeter to test if your thermostat is working properly.
4. Dirty Water
If your water is dirty or rust-colored, this could mean the anode rod in the heater needs changing. Rusty water often indicates your tank’s inner lining has corrosion due to the failing anode rod. After changing the anode rod, flush the tank.
5. Foul Smelling Water
Do you notice a smell coming from your water? This could be a very serious problem. Smelly water is an indicator of hazardous bacteria in your water. Water smelling like rotten eggs is a common problem and, luckily, has a fairly quick solution. First, flush your water heater tank. Second, fill it with a combination of water and hydrogen peroxide. Next, allow the water and hydrogen peroxide to sit for two to three hours to kill any remaining bacteria. Finally, flush the tanks once again with clear water. If the tank still has a foul odor, you will want to call your local trusted plumber.
6. A Rattling Water Tank
If your water tank has started making unusual noises, it is time for maintenance. Several things might cause your water tank to sound like a monster in your basement.
- Your water heating element may be burning out, and you may need a replacement.
- Your need to flush your tank because it might have sediment at the bottom
- There might be a leak; check to see if there is excess condensation or pooling around your water heater tank.
- Confirm the pressure valve is working correctly.
A leak has the potential to turn into a huge and expensive mess. A water tank holds between 30 and 60 gallons of water; you don’t want all that water all over your floor. Unfortunately, a leaky tank often means replacing your water tank. However, in some cases, the below options might be the culprit.
- It is time to replace the pressure relief valve.
- Look to see if the ball valve is secure. Tighten the nut securing the handle.
- Check for loose plumbing connections and tighten connections as you go. If the water leak appears to come from the top of the water heater, tighten the connection and replace the nipple.
- Check the loose heating element bolts, and tighten them if need be. If the heating element continues to leak, replace the gasket. It is essential to hire a professional plumber to do this!
- Make sure the drain valve is closed correctly. If that doesn’t help, replace the valve.
- Do you see excess condensation? Turn off the heater for a few hours. After a few hours, check to see if the condensation remains. If it is gone, your water temperature is too high—lower the temperature on the thermostat.
- Finally, check for leaks on or around the storage tank. Water tanks typically corrode from the inside out. If the leak originates from the bottom and doesn’t seem to be coming from any of the above, you might be looking at the end of your water heater.
If you need trouble-shooting common water heater problems, don’t hesitate to call Cam Plumbing. We are available for emergencies, and we offer free consultations! Veteran-owned and family-oriented, Cam Plumbing has a professional team of licensed plumbers with over ten years of experience. We are here to bring efficient and effective solutions to all your plumbing disasters!