Diagnosing Common Residential Water Heater Issues

An improperly working water heater can make it difficult for you to live comfortably in your home. It makes it harder bathe, wash dishes, and even do laundry. When you’re faced with a broken water heater, you have no other option than to face the situation head on. The first step toward fixing the heater is pinpointing the problem so repairs can be made quicker.

Some water heater problems are easier to identify than others. This quick guide will go through the most common reasons water heaters stop working. At Rooter Hero Plumbing, we always advocate for professional help, but if you want to troubleshoot before calling a plumber, it’s important that you are safe. Before troubleshooting, make sure you do the following:

  • Electric water heaters – cut power by turning off the electricity at the circuit breaker box.
  • Gas water heaters – Adjust the gas pilot control valve so that it is at the pilot setting.
  • Turn off the water supply.

Not Enough Hot Water

Are you getting hot water, but not enough of it? This may be a thermostat problem. Sometimes thermostats are set too low and the water doesn’t heat to a comfortable temperature.

The heater may have a buildup of sediment. When was the last time you flushed or drained the heater’s tank? Sediment can block the burners and make it difficult for the water to heat properly.

If your tank has been recently flushed, check the dip tube. When a dip tube is damaged, it can cause the hot and cold water to mix. The result is lukewarm water.

No Hot Water at All

If you have a gas heater, the pilot light may have burned out and may need to be relit. Be careful performing this task and make sure you read the instructions in the owner manual that came with the unit. You can find owner manuals online for most major brands if you’ve misplaced yours.

Other problems that gas heaters are known for developing include the following:

  • Poor gas pressure
  • Damaged thermocouple
  • Bad gas pilot
  • Broken gas pilot control valve

Popping Sounds

When you’re taking a shower, do you hear a popping or slapping sound coming from your water heater? This sound can be puzzling and disconcerting. Usually, it is the direct result of too much sediment in the water heater’s tank. Tanks should be flushed every 12 months for optimal performance. If you have hard water, you may need to flush your tank at smaller intervals. You can find instructions online to flush your tank, but we recommend having a licensed plumber do the job to make sure it is done correctly.

Leaky Tanks

Water around the base of the water heater means that water is seeping from the tank. There are a few reasons this may be happening such as a leaky pipe or relief valve. Don’t ignore water leaking from your tank.  If you can see the water leaking from the valve, you can try to tighten it. The best course of action is to call a plumber. There may be a faulty heating element of the tank may be damaged. Rusted tanks can lead to corrosion, which can lead to holes. You need to call a professional right away to access the damage.

Rooter Hero Plumbing is the leading 24-hour plumbing service throughout metropolitan areas in Arizona, Texas, and Southern California. If you suspect there is a problem with your heater, call us right away and we’ll send a highly-trained plumber to your home today!