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Common Water Heater Problems

A black Diamond technician servicing a water heater at a local home

As a homeowner, it helps to know a bit about some of the appliances and fixtures in your home so that you can take care of common problems when they occur. For example, you may know how to fix a running toilet or a clogged drain. But how much do you know about your water heater? Do you know that it is one of the most important appliances in your home?

Don’t worry, not many people do. That’s because it is often out of sight and out of mind, tucked in the corner of your garage or basement. But your water heater is actually used every day, often multiple times a day. And, as with many other appliances in your home, occasional problems do arise.

Many common water heater problems can be easy to fix, but not always easy to diagnose. If you are having a problem with your water heater and aren’t 100% sure what is causing it, it’s recommended that you call a professional to properly diagnose the problem and make any necessary repairs. Otherwise, consider the following common water heater problems and recommendations for troubleshooting, and you may be able to handle some of these problems yourself in the future.

Diagnosing Hot Water Heater Problems

Keep in mind that sometimes, the causes of water heater problems can be one of several different things. That being said, when diagnosing hot water heater problems you want to be completely sure that you know what the issue is before engaging in any repairs yourself. You can also consider consulting with an experienced professional.

Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting

If your electric water heater isn’t working, try checking the breaker. If the breaker has been tripped, there may be an issue with other appliances on the circuit or another electrical problem. You can turn the breaker on again, but it is recommended that you contact a professional to see why the breaker was tripped.

If the breaker was not tripped, try checking to see if the main water valve is on. Additionally, the electric water heater may have stopped working if the reset button popped out on the GFCI circuit it is connected too.

Gas Water Heater Troubleshooting

If your gas water heater isn’t working, check to see if the pilot light is lit. Another thing you will want to check is the flue, ensuring that it is attached correctly and not loose or falling off. Additionally, make sure that the gas valve is turned on.

Frequent Water Heater Problems

Regardless of whether you have a gas water heater or an electric water heater, you may experience one or more of these problems at some point.

No Hot Water

More often than not, you will have not hot water because the circuit breaker was tripped. If the circuit breaker is fine, the problem may be that the heating elements need to be replaced. Other causes of water heater problems resulting in no hot water include a malfunction with the limit/reset switch on the thermostat, which may need to be replaced.

Not Enough Hot Water

The main culprit for this common water heater problem is the thermostat. Try adjusting the water temperature. You may need to raise the temperature during colder months in the fall and winter. Other reasons for not enough hot water include a faulty heating element, a malfunctioning thermostat, or even a water heater that isn’t large enough for the home.

Water is Leaking from the Top or Bottom

There could be several reasons for water leaking from the top of the water heater. One reason could be that the cold inlet or hot outlet pipes are have come loose. They may also be a leak in the inlet valve or the T&P valve.

If water is leaking from the bottom of the water heater, first check to see if it isn’t just condensation. Otherwise, it could be that the electric heating element gasket is leaking, or perhaps the water heater itself has a leak.

Low Hot Water Pressure

This is most often a problem in older homes, due to the smaller galvanized piping. Otherwise, it could be due to calcium deposits or sediment and rust inside the pipes or sink aerators restricting the water flow.

Water is too Hot

The first thing to do is simply check the thermostat, which may just need adjusting. The thermostat could be faulty, or there could be an issue with the wiring.

The Water Heater is Making Noise

Noisy water heaters could be caused by a number of problems, such as a buildup of sediment or too much pressure in the tank. It’s recommended you have an expert inspect the water heater so that it doesn’t become a larger problem.

Dirty or Rusty Looking Water

Dirty or rusty water is often caused by corrosion on some of the elements in the tank, such as the anode rod, or the tank itself. This should be treated immediately or the tank may need to be replaced. Replacing the anode rod is a simple fix and can help to ensure your water heater lasts for many years.

Remember, always check the thermostat to make sure it is set at the right temperature. More often than not, this will fix some of the common water heater problems you are experiencing.

It’s also recommended that you have a full water heater diagnostic performed at least once a year to make sure there are no problems and to ensure your water heater runs properly for many years to come.

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