Water Heaters Troubleshooting – Problems and Their Dos and Don’ts

Carolina Evans
Carolina Evans
Research Writer
Holds a Master’s degree in Engineering and is keen on her own home’s climate. Sometimes we think that Carolina owns every single product she writes about – that’s ho read more
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Richard Powell
Richard Powell
Expert Consultant
For 8 years, Richard had been working as an HVAC specialist and AC unit installer since his student years. Now, he’s our main consultant on every technical aspect that may read more
Last updated: August 19, 2023
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Water heaters are always installed in almost every home today, and it is an appliance that is used every day. They help supply hot water through your taps.  We will look at water heater troubleshooting in this article. You need hot water for your bath, washing machine and even to do the dishes. It can be disappointing when you turn on your taps, and the water is cold. Could there be something wrong with the water heater Trusted Source The water heater maintenance that’s too often overlooked - The Washington Post Homeowners can do many routine tasks themselves to prolong the life of their water heater. www.washingtonpost.com system? This appliance gives problems like every other appliance. Electric water heaters are not difficult to fix, and you can do the water heaters troubleshooting by yourself. It is not in all cases that you will need a professional. There are common water heaters problems, and you must learn about them. You can easily learn how to fix them yourself in no time.

Water Heater Problems and Troubleshooting

There are many common problems you may experience even with the best water heaters. One good thing about them is that they come with simple parts, so it’s always easy to fix the problems as they come. Here are the common problems most people have experienced with their water heaters and how to fix them. You can always call an experienced professional to help fix this problems, of you can’t handle the repairs yourself.

No Hot Water

There are two elements responsible for producing heat in the water heater. If you turn on the heater and you discover it isn’t releasing hot water, it could be a problem with the circuit breaker. You will need to check the breaker box to be sure the problem comes from there. If the circuit breaker seems fine, then it is possible that the heating element is faulty and needs to be changed. Before you replace any parts, also check that the problem isn’t from the limit/reset switch from its thermostat. It is possible that the switch tripped has off because the water was too hot or the limit/reset switch needs to be replaced.

Not Enough Hot Water

Another problem you could experience is if the water heater isn’t realizing enough hot water. This problem is easy to fix because it is a problem with the thermostat. What you need to do is adjust the water temperature on the thermostat to the degree of hot water you want. Some electric water heaters have their thermostat hidden in this tank at the back of the access panel. You will find it at the side of the tank and close to the insulation layer. The gas water heater model is different from the electric thermostat. The manufacturer already set the thermostat right from the factory with the intention that it won’t need to be adjusted. However, there are times it will need to be adjusted. The cold season will require a different temperature and considering that the water will already start cooling as it travels through the pipes.

It is also possible that the water heater is not supplying enough hot water because the thermostat is faulty or one of the heating element is faulty. It could be as a result of a loose wife or that the water heater tank is too small to serve your home.

Water is Too Hot

If the water heater thermostat temperature is set high, it can cause the water to be very hot. You can fix this problem by adjusting the water heater’s thermostat. If you are unable to adjust the thermostat, it is possible it is faulty and needs replacement. Also, check that the problem isn’t from the wiring.

Water Takes Too Long to Reheat

Usually, the heating time for gas, water heaters, and electric water heaters are different. The electric water heater takes double the time needed to reheat the water as the gas water heater. The reheating time varies depending on the model of the water heater. Newer models take less time to reheat.

If you notice that your water heater is taking a long time to reheat, there could be a problem with the heating element. It may likely be that sediments have built up in the heating element. Also, check to see if the problem is from the thermostat, so you will know which parts need replacement.

If there has also been a change in your household leading to more demand for hot water, you may need to get a larger water heater tank capacity. You can install one large enough to act as a central hot water supply and is attached to your shower or any water source you use more.

Top Water Leakage

Water Heaters Troubleshooting - Problems and Their Dos and Don'ts

If you are experiencing a leak at the top of the water heater system, there are many reasons for this. The cold inlet or hot water outlet pipes may be loose. Leakage at the top of the heater is possible if the T&P valve isn’t functioning the right way. Also, if there is a leak from the inlet valve, it could cause the leakage. If the problem is from any of these places, you can easily fix it. Also, for gas water heaters, leakages are the same as the electric water heater.

Bottom Water Leakage

Sometimes the leak can happen at the bottom of the water heater. If this happens, it is probably caused by normal condensation. Also, if the heating element gasket is leaking or as a result of water leaking from an overflowing pipe. If the T&P valve is expelling high-pressure water from the tank, it can cause leaking. Sometimes the tank itself may be the problem and if it is leaking, if the water heater tank is leaking, there is no way to fix it, except by replacing it.

Low Hot Water Pressure

The low hot water pressure could be caused by the type of water system you have installed in your home. Many older houses still use the 1/2-inch diameter galvanized piping system and it has limited water pressure. The solution to this will be to install a modern 3/4-inch piping system that will increase your water heater pressure. If this is not the case, sediments, rusts, and calcium deposits may be clogging your pipes. Sink aerators can also make your water pressure low.

Hearing Strange Noises

Sometimes you might hear strange sounds coming from the water heater. It could be a hiss, a bang, pop or even knowing sound. This is very common and is caused because of the scale build-up in the heating element. If there are particles at the bottom of the water heater tank, you will hear the sound. Leakages also cause noises and also when the water pressure is high. The noise could be from the pipes that are expanding and contracting because of the pressure. I hear strange sounds coming from the water heater, there isn’t always any reason to worry.

Dirty or Rusty Colored Water

When you notice that the water coming from the water heater looks rusty, it is a sign that the anode rod or the tank is rusted. If you fail to attend to it, you will end up replacing your water heater. Rusting can cause the tank to leak. If the rust is from the anode rod, you can easily replace it.

If the discolored water is not related to that but dirt, it is because of a build-up of dirt in the heating element. It shows that the sediments on the heating elements have increased and are now inside the hot water outlet.

Smelly Hot Water

Bacteria can cause water to smell in the tank. Some homes use well water as their water source and this water is usually untreated. It is likely to have four orders which will also get into the tank. You should regularly flush the water heater to get rid of the rotten smell. It is also necessary that you replace the anode rod. You can get a powered anode rod that will easily remove the foul smell. Also, another solution will be to increase the water heater’s thermostat to 140 degrees hot enough to kill any bacteria in the water.

Pilot Will Not Light

If you have a gas water heater like the Rinnai RU199iN, you may likely encounter this problem. If you already know how to light the pilot on the water heater but it fails to light, there are many reasons for this. The pilot light orifice or even the tube may be blocked. It could also mean they need replacement. If this is not the case, the problem could be from the thermostat. If it is loose or isn’t working anymore. It is also likely that the air in the gas line or valve is not working properly.

Pilot Will Not Stay Lit

You may also experience a situation where you light up the pilot but the light goes out. If the pilot light goes off shortly after being lit, you may have to replace the thermocouple. Before you do that, check that the problem isn’t caused by something else. The pilot light won’t stay a lot if the gas valve is faulty or if the vent is partially clogged. This will cause the pilot light to blow out.

Burner Does Not Stay Lit

Gas water heaters also have problems with burners going off. The burner may also show an unusually high or low flame and could even make a whistling sound. The reason for this most times is that the burner orifices are clogged. Also, it is possible that the thermocouple is faulty or there may be dirt in the vent.

Types of Water Heater Systems

Water Heaters Troubleshooting - Problems and Their Dos and Don'ts

After discussing multiple problems that might occur and the ways to solve them we should also to stress the point that some of those problems can be eliminated only by choosing the correct type of the water heater system. So, when buying a new water heater in your home, you should get one that will supply enough hot water for the size of your household. There are many good brands you can get. Most people have rated the Rheem MR50245 Marathon Tall Electric Water Heater high, because it supplies sufficient heat. Water heaters use either electricity or gas for power. It is good to invest in the right type for your home. The best ones are those that cost very little to maintain and can be installed easily. It should also be able to provide sufficient hot water for your home. If you spend money on the wrong type of water heater system, you will be wasting money. If you want to know the right type to get, you should do some research and find out what people think about different products. This will help you have an idea on the right fit .

Also, you have to consider the fuel options to save your money. There are different types of water heater systems available today, and it is good you know the types to help you decide which would be best for your home. The types of water heater systems are:

  • Conventional Storage Water Heaters: It has a reservoir or storage tank for your hot water.
  • Tankless Water Heater: This type does not make use of a storage tank, but supplies hot water directly.
  • Heat Pump Water Heaters: This type of water heater transfers heat from one spot to the next. It is different from others as it does not generate heat directly.
  • Solar Water Heaters: It uses the sun’s energy to generate hot water.
  • Tankless Coil And Indirect Water Heaters: This type of water heater generates hot water using your home’s space heating system.

Final Thoughts

It is good you get a good water heater system in your home that will last you a long time. Most people prefer to use either electric-powered and gas-powered water heater systems. There are good natural gas brands like the Rinnai RUC98iN water heater which provides sufficient hot water for most homes. Even when they develop some problems, they are easy to fix and won’t cost a lot on repairs. If your water heater is giving you problems you can always refer to this water heaters troubleshooting guide to help you solve it. If you are unable to fix these problems yourself, you can always call an expert in to handle your repairs so you don’t cause more damage to your water heater system.


The water heater maintenance that’s too often overlooked - The Washington Post
Homeowners can do many routine tasks themselves to prolong the life of their water heater.
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