Troubleshooting water heaters, common causes, symptoms and home repair guide for tank leaking, no hot water, not enough hot water, cold water sandwiches, sediments and scale build-up, noise, bad odor, gas valve problems, thermocouple replacement and other water heating issues.
Use this water heater repair guide to find out more about common causes and symptoms, how to identify problems and how to do repairs on tank type and tankless 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, Whirlpool, Rinnai, Noritz, Takagi and other. Keep in mind that symptoms or signs of water heater failure among different manufacturers are very similar, if not the same, so directions for one brand and model can be applied to other.
To have a better understanding of propane, natural gas, and electric heaters, we recommend you become familiar with articles how these units work and the main parts. Once you collect all the necessary information water heater troubleshooting gets much easier.
Heater's problems are not complicated 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, then you can successfully troubleshoot the water heater, without calling an expensive plumber.
Note: Troubleshooting water heaters that are using gas and electricity should be performed by a qualified individual, plumber or HVAC technician.
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To make the hot water heater troubleshooting guide easier to understand and perform the repair, here are the common problems, causes and symptoms for water heaters failure, using propane, natural gas, and electricity as the fuel source:
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 to understand what are the symptoms, does a heater have low performance, uncomfortable temperature, is it still efficient, does it deliver enough hot water, and finally troubleshoot and fix it on time.
Electric models are very easy to troubleshoot while fixing gas heater is more complicated, but if you know the heating process, unit's anatomy and have basic knowledge, the repair shouldn't be a problem. Tankless, due to the advanced design is even more complex, but since many models are equipped with the diagnostics system, troubleshooting gets easier.
With the proper problem diagnosing you will save time and money. I have seen and experienced many times that a solution for water heating problem can be very simple (like blown fuse at the breaker), or easy repair by replacing the faulty element (heating element, thermostat...).
The recommendation is to perform the maintenance and service the unit regularly, because this is one of the best ways to prevent the problem on the heater, and even extend the life of the unit.
Before trying to fix any of the problems shown above, here are more tips for troubleshooting water heaters and preparing the site for repairs.
Keep in mind that the water heater failure and unit's replacement can be easily avoided if the signs of a potential problem are identified on time. The symptoms or signs, list of potential problems and how to troubleshoot them are described in this article. Some of these problems are easy to fix, some require more time, knowledge and the right tools.
Describe the problem with your water heater in details so we can find the right answer. Please provide the manufacturer, model and type (gas, solar).
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