Water Heater Problems and Troubleshooting

By Ian | Feb. 03, 2015 1:25 pm PST

Water Heater Problems and Troubleshooting

Learn about common water heater problems and how to solve them — because a cold shower isn’t exactly the wake-up call you want.

Your water heater tends to go underappreciated — until the warm water runs out mid-shower or it springs a leak, that is. Knowing some of the basics about how your water heater works — and whether it’s time to call a technician — will help you get it back in working order for the least amount of time, money…and cold showers.

Water heaters are the workhorse of the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system, and they do have occasional issues. If your water heater is malfunctioning, you’ll notice it in a couple of places:

  1. At the tap because you have little or no hot water, or your water is rust-colored or stinky.

  2. The unit itself will start making strange noises, or you will find a pool of water around its base.

What are the top water heater problems that require attention?

No hot water

This could be the result of a faulty pilot. Check the pilot light and try relighting if it’s out (following the directions on the tank). If that doesn’t work, the thermocouple or the pilot may need to be replaced by a technician.

Not enough hot water

If it’s a chronic problem, you may need a bigger unit. But if it’s a new installation, check the water connections. If those are correctly placed, the problem lies elsewhere. You may have a burned-out heating element (if it’s an electric heater), or an issue with the assembly (if it’s a gas heater).

Rusty water

This is likely caused by corrosion in the tank due to a failing anode rod, which is designed to prevent rusting and other buildup. Replace it with another anode rod or a magnesium rod, which you can find at the Sears PartsDirect’s water heater parts page.

Stinky water

If the smell is coming from both the hot and cold water taps, it’s probably due to the source water, and you may want to install a sulfur water filter. If it’s just the hot water, it’s likely caused by sulfates in your tank. Flush the tank and refill it.

Water heater is whining or pounding

You probably have scale deposits on the tank or heating elements. Scale is a buildup of flaky white minerals like calcium and magnesium. Flush the tank, and clean scale from the tank and elements.

Water on the floor

Check all the water ports for leaks, including the drain valve, pressure relief valve, gas control valve, electric heating elements and any nearby pipes. If you can’t find the source, it probably means the tank is leaking and will need to be replaced.

No one wants to take a cold shower. If your water heater is having any of these symptoms and it’s time for a water heater repair, schedule a repair appointment online today.

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