How To Troubleshoot Common Water Heater Problems

Plumber Repairing Water Heater

A cold shower is something that no homeowner wants to wake up to. But although water heaters are often the most reliable appliances in the home, you may encounter difficulties with your water heater at some point. A number of different issues can occur with these appliances, and it’s not always easy to tell which problem is the cause of your difficulties. However, knowing how to troubleshoot common water heater issues can make the difference between spending the day without hot water and getting your supply back fast.

Identify Your Type Of Water Heater

You may already know what type of water heater you have, but figuring this out is the first step for troubleshooting your hot water heater issues. Electric and gas tank water heaters are the most common variety and they look similar to one another. The difference is that gas water heaters are powered and heated by a natural gas furnace, whereas electric water heaters are powered by an electric heating element. There are also tankless water heaters (usually powered by gas) which many households now have. You might be able to determine your water heater type by seeing what fuel source it is supplied with, whether it has a gas pilot light, and whether it has a tank, or consists of just a tankless panel. Otherwise you can always ask the plumber who installed the water heater for you.

Prepare for Troubleshooting

Before you take a close look at any type of water heater, it’s essential to prepare by turning off the power supply, turn the gas pilot control valve to ‘pilot’ and turn off the water supply. This keeps you and your home safe while you check your water heater.

Modern water heater

Water Heater Issue: No Hot Water

Getting no hot water is a common water heater problem, here’s how to troubleshoot it.

Electric water heaters –

  • Check that the electricity supply is working and that the circuit breaker and fuse are in working order.
  • Ensure the thermostat is functioning.
  • Check that the upper heating element is working.

Gas water heaters –

  • Ensure the gas supply is connected and correct.
  • Check the gas pilot and the gas pilot control valve.

Tankless water heaters –

  • Check for an error code on the unit’s control panel.
  • Ensure the minimum flow rate to activate the water heater is being achieved.
  • Check that the burner is working and the flame rod is generating sparks.

Water Heater Issue: Water is Too Hot or Too Cold

Not getting enough hot water, or having a water supply that is too hot, is another common complaint with water heaters. Here’s how to troubleshoot water temperature issues.

Gas and Electric Tank Water Heaters –

  • Water heater tank may be too small for your needs, resulting in inadequately heated water passing through.
  • Incorrect settings or faulty thermostat.
  • Crossed connections from incorrect water heater installation.

Tankless water heaters –

  • Check that the temperature setting is not too high or low
  • Ensure there are no obstructions or build-up in the water passageways, as this can alter the water temperature.
  • Check that the output temperature sensor is not broken.
  • Ensure there is no plumbing crossover and cold water is not mixing with the hot water.

Water Heater Issue: Discolored or Foul Smelling Water

Water color and odor issues are not as common with tankless water heaters, and if they do occur, they are generally due to an issue with the main water supply. For tank water heaters, water color and smell can indicate an issue.

Gas and Electric Tank Water Heaters –

  • Corrosion is occurring inside the tank
  • The sacrificial anode rod (which is designed to prevent corrosion) has failed and needs replacing.
  • Foul smells can be caused by bacteria build up in the hot water tank which may then require flushing and cleaning.

Troubleshooting your hot water heater issues can help you identify the cause of the problem, and lead you to the right solution. If you need help getting your water heater back to correct function contact your local licensed plumber, Magnificent Plumbing for professional advice and assistance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *