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Posted 10/14/2017

Common Water Heater Problems and How to Fix Them

Common Water Heater Problems and How to Fix Them

Water heaters are often the most ignored piece of equipment in every household that is until there is a problem. Having clean running water in your home can be a blessing from God but when that water is either not clean, smells strange or the right temperature, it can quickly turn in to a nightmare. Till that happens, water heaters are taken for granted. That is because they have a solid build and do not malfunction quite often like for example the air-conditioner that leaks refrigeration almost every year.

The good thing is that water heater problems are easy to detect. We cannot even go one day without using water in the house, and if there is something wrong with the water, chances are the water heater is acting up. Here is a list of a few common problems faced by homeowners regarding water heaters:

No Hot Water

This can be a real pain the butt because you only find out there is no hot water when you have stripped naked and about to take a shower. If the water is bloody cold, you can’t take a shower especially if its winter. There might be an easy fix though

  1. Firstly check the pilot light and make sure it’s on
  2. If it doesn’t turn on it might be because it is blocked or needs to be replaced, the thermocouple is coming loose, there is access air in the gas lines or the gas-valve is malfunctioning
  3. If the pilot does not stay lit it is likely that the gas valve is partially blocked causing a draft to blow out the pilot flame
  4. If the burner does not stay lit or makes a whistling sound it might be due to blocked burner orifices or clogged vent

Check the gas valve to make sure that’s working too. Next, it is possible that the circuit breaker might have tripped and needs to be switched on. If the fuse is blown then that might need replacement. However if everything seems fine, it might be that the thermostat is not working due to excessive heat. Replace it and you should be good to go.

Insufficient Amount of Hot Water

This can be worse than having no hot water at all because if you are taking a shower and the hot water runs out, it’s a recipe for disaster. This is usually to do with the thermostat being too low or malfunctioning. Try to raise it to a higher level and see if that works. If not then you’ll definitely need a replacement. It could also mean that other members of the house have used up all the hot water and you need to wait for it to heat up again.

The Water is too hot

This might be due to faulty wiring in which case it is recommended to call a professional however first try to lower the thermostat. The water will not cool down immediately so you need to give it some time. Check after two hours to see if it worked.

Water takes too long to heat up

If you just upgraded your water heater to an electric one then you might not have seen this coming. Electric heaters, on average take twice as long to heat water than an old fashioned gas boiler. If people in the house are using way more water than the maximum capacity of the heated water, you should contemplate the idea of getting a bigger model.

Low hot water pressure

Older homes that have 0.5 inch plumbing installed are usually the ones with this complaint. In this case you should upgrade to a 0.75 inch piping to allow a greater water flow. Also, rust and dirt deposits might cause the pipes, sinks and showers to get clogged. Take out the time to open and clean them to resume proper water pressure.

Dirty or Orange shade in the water

This might be due to rusting inside the tank. If left unattended, it might grow into a serious leak. You can have the water tank cleaned and relined to extend its life.

Strange smell in the water

If the water is giving off strange, pungent fumes or tastes different, it could be deposits of bacteria forming in the tank. You could have the whole tank emptied out and cleaned or you could just raise the temperature up to 140 degrees to kill the bacteria and stop them from growing. Both ways work but having the whole tank cleaned, gives it a lesser chance of bacteria forming again.

Water Heater is Making Strange Noises

If there are strange banging, popping sounds coming from the heater it might indicate a leak somewhere else. Check for wet areas around the heater. It might also be due to a buildup of air pressure inside the tank.

Water Leaking from the top

In this case it is possible that one of the pipes got loose. Just put it back together and it should stop the leak. However, if you notice that one of the pipes is ruptured, then call for HVAC specialist.

Water Leaking from the bottom

In this case it could be possible due to the condensation taking place for which you can try to turn up the thermostat to see if that makes a difference. Otherwise, there might be a loose valve or loose drain causing an overflow due to increased pressure. Try using duct tape to seal off the leaks. This is not a permanent solution though. It is just meant to buy you some time till the plumber reaches your home or office. It also stops potential flooding.

As a general rule of thumb, everything can be fixed at home when it comes to water heaters except for when there is a leak. That means it too late to do anything now and you probably would end up with a replacement. According to certified HVAC experts it is always better to regularly maintain and clean the heater either by vacuuming or with a blower to get rid of dirt and debris.


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