When your hot water heater is not heating, it is important to remember that every hot water appliance is going to be prone to the occasional problem. It may be due to regular wear and tear, lack of maintenance, or a malfunction, amongst other things. Here, we’re going to take a closer look at some of the common problems affecting tank water heaters, how you may be able to prevent them, and what can be done about them when they do occur.
Gas & Electric Water Heater Repair & Maintenance
Since there are two kinds of tank heaters, gas and electric, there are also problems that can be specific to each type. Bear in mind which type of water heater you have before applying a solution. If your tank hot water heater is not heating, this is the article for you. If your tankless hot water heater is not heating, head over to our tankless water heater blog for help.
Before doing any troubleshooting or making any attempts to fix an issue with your tank water heater, ensure that you’ve taken safety precautions. Electric water heaters are high-voltage appliances that can be risky to work on. Similarly, gas-powered appliances come with the risk of fire, explosions, and carbon monoxide leaks when not handled by a professional.
Make sure the electricity and gas supply is off before doing any troubleshooting and know when to call a professional. For electric devices, make sure you use a non-contact voltage tester to ensure the power is off before touching any wiring.
Problem #1: No Hot Water
The most glaring issue with a water heater is when there’s no hot water at all. If your hot water heater is not heating, a lack of energy supply is a common culprit, so make sure your electricity is on or that you have a functioning gas supply. If your energy supply is fine, the issue may be with the heating element or ignition. Check to see if the breaker has tripped and switched it off and on if it’s electric.
You can also reset the high-temperature limit on electric systems by turning off the breaker and pressing the red high-temperature cut-off reset button above the thermostat, beneath the insulation and plastic guard. Otherwise, you may need a professional to look at the heating element, ignition, or flame.
Problem #2: Low Hot Water
One of the benefits of tank water heaters is that with enough time to heat up, they should be able to supply plenty of hot water to meet the needs of simultaneous and frequent hot water use. However, if you’re feeling like it’s not producing enough hot water, the heater may have too low of a capacity. If this is the case, then there’s little to do but reduce your hot water use or to install a bigger heater that’s suited to the household’s demands.
If you don’t think that the heater is undersized, then it might be another heating element or ignition issue. Follow the tips as mentioned in the “no hot water” section above and get in touch with a professional to help diagnose the issue.
Problem #3: The Water is Too Hot
Usually, this is due to an issue with the thermostat. It may simply be set too high. If this is the case, you should locate and adjust it. Check your heater’s manual to find where the thermostat is. For gas-powered heaters, it’s usually externally visible, but for electric models, there’s another one beneath the access panel.
If turning the thermostat doesn’t work, get in touch with your local plumbing and HVAC specialist. Water that’s too hot can lead to a range of issues, including burns and faulty faucets due to worn rubber washers.
Problem #4: Sediment, Mineral & Bacteria Buildup
If your water has a rusty color, is cloudy, or has a strange odor to it, then it may be due to a build-up of either minerals or sediment in the pipes. If there’s an odor that smells like rotten eggs, however, there may be bacteria in the tank that is reducing your water’s quality. Replacing the anode rod in the tank can help with that.
Iron pipes and plumbing can lead to rust, and iron sediment can get trapped, diminishing the flow of hot water and reducing its temperature and pressure. In homes with hard water, calcium and magnesium can do the same.
Regular flushing of your systems can prevent buildup. Your systems should be flushed annually. There are at-home kits you can use to do this, but it is recommended that you consult a professional who has more appropriate, heavy-duty equipment for the job.
Need Help with Tank Water Heater Troubleshooting?
If you’re uncertain what the issue with your tank water heater is, or you’re not comfortable applying any of the fixes above, get a professional on your side. At The Water Heater Company, we are dedicated to diagnosing any issues your tank water heater may have and resolving them as quickly and efficiently as possible. We can offer you expert tank water heater service and repair to ensure your water heater stays up and running the way it should.