Troubleshooting Water Heaters

Troubleshooting guide for Leaking, Sediments, Gas Valve, Pilot Light and Thermocouple Problems

Troubleshooting water heaters, home and DIY tips for tank leaking, sediments and lime build-up, noise, hot water heating, gas valve problems, thermocouple replacement and other water heating elements can be found here.

Gas and Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting

By using this hot water heater troubleshooting expert guide we will show you what the common symptoms are, how to identify problems and how to do repairs on tank type gas and electric water heating systems.

This guide can be used for repairing most of the water heaters sold in US and Canada including; Rheem, AO Smith, Bradford White, American, State, Kenmore, GE, Ruud and Whirlpool. Keep in mind that symptoms or signs of water heater failure among different manufacturers are very similar if not the same.

To have better understanding about propane, natural gas and electric heaters, we recommend you to become familiar with articles how these units work and their main parts. Once you collect all the necessary information water heater troubleshooting is much easier.

Heater's problems are not complicate to diagnose as they are usually obvious, and if DIY home and plumbing projects are not strange to you and you have necessary tools and the right guide, than you can successfully trouble shoot water heater.

Note: Troubleshooting water heaters that are using gas and electricity should be performed by a qualified individual, plumber or HVAC technician.

Common Problems

The first thing when dealing with the electric or gas hot water heater troubleshooting is to recognize a problem. Before the big problem occurs it is important for you to understand what are the symptoms, does your heater have low performance, temperature, is it still efficient, does it delivers enough hot water, and finally trouble shoot and fix it on time.

Electric water heater troubleshooting is very easy for the tank type heaters. Gas heater is more complicate, but if you know about the heating process, unit anatomy and have basic knowledge, it is also easy to solve the problem and fix the heater.

With the proper problem diagnosing you will save time and money you might spend on repairs by a plumber. I have seen and experienced many times that solutions for hot water heater problems are very simple (like blown fuse at the breaker), or easy repair by replacing the faulty element (heating element, thermostat...).

To make the hot water heater troubleshooting easier here are the common problems and symptoms for tank type heaters failure, using propane, natural gas and electricity as fuel source:

  • Water heater leaking - Leaks are one of the most frequent problems found in many consumer reports. Reasons for such malfunction might be that tank steel body had corroded sufficiently enough to cause a water leak, or it could be a discharge of overheated water from the temperature and pressure relief (TPR) valve... Paddle on floor - find out how to fix leaking hot water heater.

  • Leaking or condensation? For proper troubleshooting keep in mind that condensation is often found on newer models as they are more efficient than older ones and that the typical heater will produce approximately one half gallon of water vapor during every hour of work. Condensation usually happens shortly after the heater kicks in.

  • Discolored, milky water and rusty hot water - anode rode is failing, corrosion inside the tank...

  • Smelly water such as Sulfur or rotten egg odor - bacteria in the tank as the result of decomposing sacrificial anode. Chlorination procedure is often used to eliminate bacteria from the system.

  • Water hammer is the hydraulic shock that is loud and destructive to your pipes and your heaters. Fixing this common plumbing problem is fairly easy.

  • If you have heard ticking, clicking, humming or tapping noise in the plumbing system you might fix the problem by simply removing the heat traps from the tank, if it has one. Heat traps are installed to increase the energy efficiency of the unit.

... more answers on the common question "why does my hot water..." and "how to" are shown below.


Preparing site for troubleshooting

Before you try to fix any of the problems above, here are the tips for troubleshooting water heaters and preparing the site for repairs.

  • Turn off both gas and electric power before working on the heaters

  • Shut off water supply to the heater

  • Plug the garden hose to drain valve

  • Prepare necessary tools for service



Related Articles

Electric Water Heater Trouble shooting - Problems with heating elements or thermostat? Use how to fix electric heater problems guide. Common symptoms, problems and DIY repairs.

Gas Hot Water Heater Troubleshooting - Problems with pilot lights, thermocouple, gas valve? Use how to fix gas heater problems guide. Common symptoms, problems and DIY Repairs.

Maintenance - Inspecting Heaters' Main Parts

How to Do Maintenance on Gas and Electric Heaters For Better Performance, Efficiency and Longer Life.

Noisy Water Heater - Solving Heater Noise Problems

How to Troubleshoot Heater Noise like Pounding, Rumbling, Crackling, Popping, Ticking, Sizzling.

Why my Pilot Light Goes Out - Pilot Outage Due to Improper Venting on
Gas Heaters.

Tankless Problems - Common problems with Tankless heaters including Noritz, Bosch, AO Smith... and how to troubleshoot.

Condensation - What causes condensation in the heaters? How to reduce condensate in heating.

I have tankless heater with the problem: hot water temperature fluctuates during my shower, from hot to very cold. What should I do?

Bulging water heater article explains how to check is your heater leaking due to an increased pressure of hot water inside the tank. Symptoms and cause of water heater bulging and how to prevent it.

The premature water heater failure signs and causes and what you can do to protect the heating system...

How to drain a water heater....



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