8 Common Water Heater Problems

Posted on: Feb 08, 2023

It’s easy to forget about your water heater, tucked off to the side, usually in the cellar or in a utility room—until something changes. What happens if something goes wrong? Read on for a list of 8 common water heater problems to watch for and advice for resolving them.

1. Stinky Water

Stinky water can be a sign that contaminants have gotten into your water tank. Odors in hot water are almost always the result of bacteria. To prevent bacteria buildup, make it a yearly practice to flush your tank. 

The cause might be something other than your water heater if you find that both hot and cold water produce bad smells. If you flush out your tank and the odor continues, contact a plumbing service professional to get to the bottom of it.

2. Limited Hot Water

Check your thermostat if you’re not getting enough hot water. The solution might be as easy as simply adjusting the temperature on your heating element’s thermometer. You might have to look behind your water heater’s access panel if you own an electric model. Sometimes it’s on the side of the tank under the insulation layer. 

If you live in an area with cold winter months, raising the thermostat temperature just a little might help. In colder climates, the hot water cools much quicker, thanks to cold pipes in your home’s infrastructure. Other reasons include broken thermostats, nonworking elements, loose wiring, or a water heater tank that’s too small to meet your needs. 

3. Leaks

Water coming out of your water heater can be stressful. No one wants a minor flood in their home, no matter where it’s located. You want to stop the leak as fast as you can. 

Do some water heater troubleshooting. Some causes might include a(n):

  • Faulty pressure relief, ball, or drain valve.
  • Loose connection or stripped threaded needle.
  • A condensation issue. 
  • Old tank. 

Sometimes you can tighten the nut securing the handle to make sure the valves are closed properly. Replacing the valve is also an option. 

With condensation, turn off the heater for 1-2 hours. If the leak stops, keep a lower temperature on your thermostat. If your leak is coming from the bottom, and you can’t find any other problem, you might just need to replace your entire heater.

4. Taking Too Long to Reheat

You may have faulty heating elements if your water heater starts taking a long time to get the hot water going. It may be the result of built-up sediment or just the wear and tear that comes with age. Maybe your household is using more hot water these days. Either way, it may mean you need a new model. 

5. Blockage 

If you notice that the water pressure is off, it may mean a blockage of some kind. Investigate and remove anything that may be interfering with water flow. Check to see if your heater meets clearance requirements. If the issue is more complex, it may mean that your heater has reached end-of-life and needs to be replaced. 

6. It’s Making Weird Noises

If you hear weird noises coming from your water heater, it usually means you’ve got build-up on your elements or too much sediment on the bottom. Such noises include hissing, popping, banging, or knocking about. It might also mean a leak, too much pressure in your tank, or perhaps even normal expansion and contracting. Call a plumbing services professional to make sure.

7. Dirty Water

Rusty or dirty water is usually the result of an anode rod corroding inside the water heater tank. You can easily and inexpensively replace the anode rod but make sure the inside of the tank isn’t corroding as well. It will cause leaks and require a replacement sooner rather than later. 

8. Water is Way Too Hot

Your tank’s thermostat is probably way too high. Find the thermostat and adjust it to your liking. You may need to do this regularly, as winter gives way to spring. If you want the temperature lower than it will go, you may need to call a professional to replace your thermostat or adjust the wiring.

If You Need to Talk to a Professional…

Reach out to Airco Service for professional water heater services! We will help you with common water heater problems and provide you with solutions. You can also check out this blog post for helpful hints for replacing your water heater.