Look Out For These 5 Common Water Heater Issues

The phrase “in hot water” usually means to be in a difficult situation. But if there’s a problem with your home’s water heater, you may find yourself without hot water, which isn’t good either.

Residential water heaters are typically reliable and provide years of service with minimal maintenance. However, that doesn’t mean water heaters are 100% trouble-free. Common tank water heater issues include insufficient or no hot water, strange noises, odors in the small, or leaking coming from the tank. Due to the complexity of water heaters, it’s best to have a licensed plumber diagnose and fix the issue rather than trying to do it yourself.

Five common water heater issues

  1. Not enough hot water. If you experience warm water but it doesn’t get as hot as you’d like, there are a few common issues to explore. First, make sure the water heater thermostat is set to around 120°F, which is the recommended temperature for safety. Next, you may want to consider draining and flushing the tank to remove sediment that interferes with the heating process. Finally, for electric water heaters, it’s possible that a heating element failed inside the tank. This part will need to be replaced by a licensed plumber.
  2. Unit turns off or stops working. The worst-case scenario is when the water heater suddenly stops working, leaving you with zero hot water. The cause could be coming from several sources, including the pilot light, heating element (for electric units), or thermocouple (gas units). A plumber should be able to diagnose the issue and replace the faulty component, if possible.
  3. Strange noises. If you hear a rattling or banging noise coming from the tank, that’s a sign that you have sediment deposits floating around, hitting the walls, or being burned by the heater. Again, the best remedy is draining and flushing the tank.
  4. Odor coming from hot water. There are a few reasons why your tap water may have a funny smell. But if the odor is only coming from your hot water, that’s a clear indication that the water heater is to blame. Sometimes, bacteria can grow inside a tank water heater, which can produce a rotten-egg odor. Draining the tank and filling it with a cleaning solution can kill the bacteria so that you can start back up with fresh water. If the smell persists, you may want to bring in a plumber to take a look.
  5. Water leaking from the tank. If you find water on the floor outside of the water heater, that’s not a good sign. Over time, the inside of the tank can deteriorate due to mineral and sentiment build-up. Once this corrosion reaches the surface of the tank and water begins to leak out, it’s usually too late to save the water heater – and you will need to replace the unit. But before you jump to any conclusions, check to make sure the water isn’t coming from the pressure relief valve, which is a safety feature that discharges some water if the pressure inside the tank gets too high.

Need a plumber to fix your water heater

If any of the above problems sound familiar or are running into a different issue with your water heater, talk to the Fredericksburg plumbing experts at Robert B. Payne, Inc. To schedule a water heater service appointment, call us today at 540-373-5876.