Look out for These Common Tank Water Heater Issues

No matter what season it is, your home’s water heater is in use on a daily basis. While it’s easy to take this appliance for granted, once your water heater starts experiencing issues, it’s a problem that affects everyone in the household. Luckily, water heater problems are often relatively simple to diagnose (as opposed to problems with more complex appliances).

These tend to be the most common tank water heater issues:

  1. No Hot Water

  2. Hot Water Is Extremely Hot

  3. Hot Water Gets “Used Up” Too Quickly

  4. Water Leaking From the Top of the Unit

  5. Water Leaking From the Bottom of the Unit

  6. Hot Water Smells Bad

  7. Hot Water is Dirty or Rust-Colored

We’ll delve a little deeper into what causes each of these issues to occur and provide you with some basic troubleshooting tips.

Rather speak directly with a professional? Contact EZ Flow Plumbing today! Whether your model is gas or electric, our water heater experts can provide you with a painless plumbing experience.

1. No Hot Water

What causes this problem varies depending on whether your own a gas water heater or electric water heater.

No Hot Water from a Gas Water Heater

In order for your gas water heater to produce hot water, there needs to be gas flow, and your pilot light must be on. Therefore, those are the first two things to check. Also, if your water heater requires electricity to ignite, check to see if it might have tripped the circuit breaker on your circuit breaker panel. If your heater tripped the breaker, push the breaker back into position to allow the flow of electricity.

If you’ve checked the circuit breaker and determined that there is gas flow and that your pilot light is on, your unit might have a dirty or faulty thermocouple. If your thermocouple is too dirty or isn’t functioning properly, it won’t be able to sense that your pilot light is on, so as a safety measure, it won’t allow gas to be ignited to heat up your water.

No Hot Water from an Electric Water Heater

If your electric water heater stops producing hot water, go straight to your circuit breaker panel to see if your water heater tripped the circuit breaker. If your heater tripped the breaker, push the breaker back into position to allow the flow of electricity. This solves the problem most of the time.

If the problem persists, these are the most likely causes:

  • A Tripped or Faulty Thermostat: If the thermostat sensed extremely hot water, it might have tripped. There also might be a malfunction with its limit/reset switch.

  • Faulty Heating Elements: Sometimes the heating elements in the tank stop working and have to be replaced.

2. Hot Water Is Extremely Hot

This problem most likely has to do with the thermostat. Check your thermostat and make sure that it is not set to an extremely high temperature. If the thermostat can’t be adjusted or the water is still much too hot, your thermostat most likely has faulty wiring and may need to be replaced.

3. Hot Water Gets “Used Up” Too Quickly

There are a few possible causes for a water heater that’s not able to produce enough hot water. Not all are related to faulty parts.

In many situations, people own water heaters that don’t have the capacity to meet their household’s hot water needs. That’s one of the reasons why it’s best to consult a plumbing professional about what size and type of water heater would be best for you before you buy. Also, during colder months, a water heater’s thermostat may need to be raised so that the water will still be your desired temperature by the time it makes it through your home’s cold pipes to your faucet.

When the situations above do not apply, the problem is usually caused by one of these two things:

  • A malfunctioning thermostat

  • A broken dip tube that’s causing outgoing hot water to mix with incoming cold water

4. Water Leaking From the Top of the Unit

Whether your water heater is gas or electric, a leak at the top of your unit is generally caused by these easily-repaired issues:

  • A loose or broken inlet valve or temperature and pressure relief valve

  • A loose cold water inlet pipe

  • A loose hot water outlet pipe

5. Water Leaking From the Bottom of the Unit

If you see what looks like a leak at the bottom of your unit, the water is probably the result of one of these conditions:

  • Condensation

  • Excess Pressure: When there is excess pressure in the water heater tank, the temperature and pressure relief valve will open. Water is then pushed out of the overflow pipe to help relieve the pressure.

  • An Actual Leak: A faulty heating element gasket or loose drain valve can cause a leak at the bottom of the tank. Sometimes the tank itself is leaking due to a hole made by corrosion.

6. Hot Water Smells Bad

If your hot water is giving off a sulfuric or “rotten egg” smell, it means that anaerobic bacteria in your water heater tank is reacting with the elements that make up your water heater’s anode(s), producing hydrogen sulfide gas. This is a common problem for homes with a well as their water source.

Do not remove the anode from your water heater, unless you want a major problem with rust. Instead, flush your water heater in the meantime. As a long-term solution, consider replacing your water heater’s existing anode (which is probably made out of aluminum or magnesium) with an aluminum/zinc alloy anode.

7. Hot Water is Dirty or Rust-Colored

If your hot water looks dirty but not rusty, this usually means that either sediment from your water heater or scale from its heating elements are entering your home through the hot water outlet. To reduce sediment buildup, flush your water heater. A heating element that is overtaken by scale will typically need to be replaced.

If your hot water has a rusty tinge to it, this generally indicates that either your anode is corroding or that the tank itself is corroding. Replacing anodes is a simple repair. If your water heater itself is corroding, you’ll want to consider buying a replacement before a leak occurs in the tank wall.

At EZ Flow Plumbing, LLC, we do our best to diagnose water heater problems quickly and complete the repairs in a timely manner. We are a Crimshield certified company with an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

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