How to Identify Common Water Heater Problems

Have you ever stepped into the shower to enjoy a hot body wash only to find the water is freezing cold?

It’s the darn water heater! That’s the first thing that shoots to mind, no doubt.

Well, you are right, because most of the time hot water goes off in a home a faulty water heater is the culprit.

To avoid cold surprises every time you want to use hot water, you must ensure your home water heater is always in tiptop condition.

However, like other home electrical and mechanical systems, technicians typically install water heaters in the garage, basement or a quiet room out of our sight.

This means it’s difficult for homeowners to detect and fix a problem before it gets out of hand.

But you can learn to identify common water heater problems… if you read this article all the way down!

Let’s dive in while it’s still hot.

Understand Your Water Heater

Home water heaters come in different shapes, sizes and makes, but power source (gas, solar or electricity) is what tells them apart.

Understanding how your home water heater works can help you tell whether it has a problem.

If it runs on electricity, for instance, a power outage is one of the reasons hot water could stop working. But if it’s gas fired, hot water failure signifies a problem that needs attention, because they should work even in power outage.

You also need to know how the thermostat, the device that ensures water maintains a desired temperature, works.

Sometimes checking if the thermostat is working properly is all it takes to troubleshoot water heater problems.

For example, a thermostat with an automatic shut-off valve can go off when there is a power fluctuation, so restoring hot water could be as simple as turning on the valve.

Is Your Water Cold or Not as Hot?

Is your water cold?

Does it feel hot, but not as hot as usual? Or is it hot one moment and cold the next minute?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you could be having water heater problems. However, don’t rush into calling a specialist, yet.

Hot water failure can be caused by many things, such as a power outage (as you already know). If your heater is solar powered, hot water can go off on cloudy days, because solar collectors must be exposed to lots of sunlight.

If the power system, thermostat, and other system element seem to be working fine, then you could be dealing with more complicated water heater problems. Call a home heating and cooling repair company.

Poor Recovery Rate (Long Reheating Time)

Just refilled your tank?

No problem.

As you wait for the heater to do its job, you notice the water is taking longer than usual to heat up.

Maybe you will shrug off this observation, but that’s not the right thing to do, as it could turn out to be an expensive mistake.

Long reheating time is a sign your heater is not producing enough power to heat water as quickly as it should. Check your thermostat to ensure its installed and calibrated correctly.

Loud Noises are Indicative of Water Heater Problems

When functioning properly, your water heater can go unnoticed for weeks or months.

But when rumbling, popping, creaking or knocking sounds start coming from the basement or wherever it’s installed, you must take notice. These sounds are cries of distress because something is wrong with it.

Although the sounds could be warning you of a bigger problem, sometimes they’re caused by a build-up of sediments on the tank’s floor.

If that’s the case, cleaning the tank with lime mixture and flushing off the water should fix the problem.

Besides sounds in the tank, listen out for a knocking or hammering sound in the house walls. Suddenly turning off water entering or leaving the tank can cause pipes in the interior walls of your home to bang or move.

These movements can damage your walls. Bring in a professional to install a water hammer arrestor and make other appropriate repairs.

Water Has Bad Odor

Sometimes your water heater works just fine.

No hot water failure, no unusual sounds.

But there is one problem: hot water rushing from your taps has a foul odor!

Could there be a water heater problem? Not exactly a problem that will cost a lot of pennies to fix, but a problem nonetheless.

To know whether your water heater is involved, switch if off and check cold water smells as bad.

If the odor only comes with hot water, the magnesium nodes in your water are probably reacting with bacteria, chlorine residuals or sulfates in the water.

You can fix this issue by getting a bacteria-free water supply, or replace the magnesium node with an aluminum node.

The second option is not recommendable, though. Aluminum rusts in record time, so you will keep replacing the unit.

Spike in Energy Bills

Water heating is the second-largest energy is most American homes, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. A substantial change in your hot water consumption will, therefore, be felt in your pocket.

But if you notice a spike in your energy bills without a change in your consumption habits, something could be cooking in your water heater.

A faulty water heater can use more energy than normal to heat your water. Excess buildup of sediments can also cause a spike in your bills, since the heater will need a lot more energy to maintain a constant tank temperature.

In Conclusion

Water is an indispensable resource for all homes, though we never really appreciate how important hot water is until it goes cold on us!

Unfortunately, electrical systems develop problems from time to time, and water heaters are no exception.

When this happens, you need to be armed with the know-how to troubleshoot the problem. Although some problems are easy to fix, others need experienced hands.

Always call an experienced home heating and cooling system specialists to resolve the issue and restore your hot water.