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7 Common Household Water Heater Issues And How To Solve Them

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Hot water is a basic necessity in every household. You use it for bathing or showering, washing dishes, cooking, and washing clothes. 

A water heater is invaluable as it provides the hot water you need for everyday chores at home. A minor problem with the appliance can cause major disruptions to your home.   

It’s crucial to understand how your water heater works and the common issues that cause it to stop working. This will help you diagnose them and take the appropriate action. Whether gas-operated or electric, water heaters have some universal problems. 

Here are some common water heater issues and how you can solve them. 

  • Cold Water

One common problem you’ll encounter with the water heater is cold water. There could be several causes depending on the type of water heater. 

For electric heaters, it may mean that your heating elements have failed or have interference with their electrical connection. It could be a faulty pilot light or bad gas connection for gas heaters. 

Female hand puts thermostat of electric water heater (boiler) in low low power consumption mode . Household enegry saving equipment

Check if your thermostat is set at 120 degrees Fahrenheit; if not, adjust it. Hot water is supposed to return after about 30 minutes if this is the problem. If it doesn’t, and you’re using a gas water heater, check the pilot light. Light it up if it’s out, and if it flickers off, you might have a problem with the thermocouple. 

The thermocouple senses if the pilot light is out and cuts off the gas supply. If it’s faulty, you need to adjust or replace it. 

If you have an electric water heater, try restarting it to see if it will heat your water. You can also check the circuit breaker box to see if your water heater breaker has been tripped. If the breaker is in the off position, then flip it back on. If these steps fail, consider calling a reputable plumbing company like Fergusons Plumbing Group to repair your water heater. 

  • Lukewarm Water

It’s usually a quick fix if your water doesn’t heat to the desired temperatures. Check if your water heater’s thermostat is set to 120 degrees; if not, adjust it. 

The pilot light is the other place to check for a gas water heater whose thermostat is set correctly. Ideally, the pilot light should burn blue. If it burns yellow instead, the flame is not getting enough air. You need to call a professional to fix the issue. 

  • Too Hot Water

When your water is too hot, it usually means that the thermostat setting is too high. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends setting your thermostat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit for better efficiency. 

  • Inconsistent Water Temperatures

Sometimes you may adjust your thermostat correctly and still get too hot or not have enough water. When this occurs, it could be a problem with your thermostat. 

On the other hand, your thermocouple might need to be cleaned or replaced to sense temperatures correctly. 

The other issue that would make you get cold water is limited gas flow. If the burner doesn’t get sufficient gas, it won’t adequately heat your water.  

  • Dirty Or Discolored Water

When you notice rusty water coming out of your water heater, it can indicate corrosion of the tank’s inner lining. 

The rusting usually begins when the anode rod inside your water heater fails. When this happens, you may need to call a professional plumber to come and repair it. But in most cases, this signifies that you need a new tank. 

  • Water Leaks

Water leaks or pooling can be signs of various issues ranging from corroded water heater tanks and leaking gaskets to poor plumbing connections. The other causes might be:

  • Overheating
  • Loose heating element bolts
  • Loose or damaged drain valve
  • A stuck valve
  • A faulty temperature and pressure (T&P) relief valve
  • Improper water pressure

You can tighten the loose parts to solve the problem. However, you should call a professional to replace your gasket if your heating element is still leaking. 

If leaks are on or around your storage tank, it could be corroded from the inside. It may be a sign that the water heater is giving out. So, before moving to a new home, inspecting the water heater for leaks is advisable. 

  • Strange Odor 

Sometimes your water may come smelling like rotten eggs. This is typically caused by leaving hot water in your tank for a long time. Letting warm water sit in your tank for too long causes bacteria to build up. 

The bacteria emit gasses through your pipes when you turn on the water. Solving this problem is complicated, and you may need to call a professional to flush and disinfect your water tank. 

Final Words

Although you can fix some of these water heater issues on your own, it would be best to get the services of a plumbing expert if the problem is beyond your depth. It may seem cost-efficient to do it on your own, but some issues require replacing your entire hot water system.

Qualified professionals have the expertise to handle these issues efficiently; thus, you may need to partner with a reliable one. It will ensure the optimum performance of your hot water system and an extended lifespan. 


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