What’s Wrong with my Water Heater?
Check out the most common problems to determine if a water heater repair or replacement is right for you.
Not Enough Hot Water
If you’re running out of hot water too quickly, there are a couple things to check. First and foremost, take a look at your water heater’s thermostat. It could be as simple as adjusting the heat so the water gets hotter. If you’ve had issues with hot water supply for as long as you’ve had the heater, your water heater’s tank might not be big enough to supply the hot water you need.
It’s also possible that your tank is leaking or that the dip tube, which supplies cold water to the tank, may be broken or cracked. The heating element, burner (in a gas unit), or wiring (in an electric unit) could also be malfunctioning. Professionals can fix all of these problems.
Water is Too Hot
If your hot water is too hot, the problem is probably with your heater’s thermostat. Check to see if it’s turned too high. If it isn’t, it could be malfunctioning. Mark its current position and then turn it to a cooler setting. Wait a few hours. If the water is still as hot as it was before you turned the temperature down, it’s because the thermostat isn’t working.
If the water coming out of your faucets is way too hot or it steams, it’s possible that the water heater isn’t shutting off at the temperature it’s supposed to. This is probably because the temperature-pressure (TP) relief valve is malfunctioning. This is easily replaced by pros.
Water Takes Too Long to Reheat
If your water takes too long to heat up after the tank is emptied, it’s because your heating element is struggling. This could be because the heating element itself needs to be replaced or because the power supply isn’t reaching the element.
Slow-heating water could also be the sign of a more serious problem, however. If sediment or rust has built up in your water tank, it could be smothering or insulating the element. This insulation will force the element to work harder to heat the water, causing a pressure and heat build up that could lead to rupture.
Water is Rust Colored or Smelly
If your water is rust-colored or smells and tastes weird, the first step is to determine if the problem is with your heater or your source water. If all your water (cold and hot) or only your cold water is discolored, the problem is your source water. If only the hot water is discolored or smelly, it’s because there’s a high concentration of sulfates or other minerals in your tank. These minerals are “cooked” when the water is heated and release into your water. See if flushing the tank helps.
If the problem persists after a total flush or two, have a pro replace the anode rod in your water heater’s tank. This device acts like a kind of rust “lightning rod.” It keeps your tank from rusting out from the inside by corroding in its place.
Valve or Tank is Leaking
If the water tank of your heater itself is leaking, it has been irrevocably corroded from the inside. At that point, the only good way to solve the problem is to replace the tank. This should be done as soon as possible.
If the valve directly below the tank is leaking, however, you may still have options. Usually, the thing you’ll notice leaking will be the temperature/pressure relief valve. This opens to relieve high pressures and temperatures inside the tank and lets out water in the process. If it’s leaking, then it can’t do its job properly or is opening prematurely. If you notice a problem with your TP valve, call a professional for a diagnosis. The TP valve is often a harbinger for greater problems, so if you call fast, we may be able to save you from a more costly fix.