DIY Troubleshooting: Common Water Heater Problems

The Life of a Hot Water Heater

Here at Top Ten Water, we understand the woes a DIY’er goes through.  But, it doesn’t end there.  Appliances have problems, too!

The biggest problem of a hot water heater is a leaking tank (I know from experience). Once this occurs, there is no other recourse than to purchase a new one. According to most hot water heater manufacturers, a heater should last anywhere from 8 to 12 years with regular maintenance requirements.

Hot Water Heater Repair Parts

A hot water heater is a water-efficient plumbing product and system. However, hot water heaters occasionally will malfunction for several different reasons related to their parts. This can include the following:

  1. large holding tank

Traditional hot water holding tanks carry 30 to 60 gallons of water. Water enters the holding tank, but as you know water also carries minuscule mineral deposits that also bring in sand and other sediments like calcium carbonate. The water sits in the tank waiting to be heated, but the minerals then settle to the bottom of the tank.

As a result, the calcium carbonate settles to the bottom of the tank and impedes the hot water from reaching your fixtures and when you turn on the faucet, all you will get is lukewarm water. Other issues include water with a sewer like bad odor, low water pressure, rust-like water coloring.

  1. cold water inlet valve

Water pooled on top of your water heater is a leak either in the water inlet valve or the outlet pipe valve. The cold water inlet valve delivers water to the water heater for heating, but when it erodes or develops a leak, water is deposited on top of the tank.

  1. hot water outlet valve

Just like the cold water inlet valve, the hot water outlet valve is located on top of the water heater and start leaking. A hot water outlet valve issues are often the result of a loose connection. However, as a part of the drain valve system, the hot water valve on top can also become clogged with mineral deposits, but instead of removing the debris, it is best to replace the valve.

  1. drain valve

The drain valve on a water heater can wear out and begin to leak or dribble water. Water heater drain valves are responsible for draining the hot water from the tanks. If your drain valves are made of plastic, then yes, over time the plastic can become brittle and crack allowing leaking to occur. Also, rubber gaskets are a part of the drain valve system and this will deteriorate also.

  1. dip tube

The dip tube is a part of the tank system where cold water enters in. It expels cold water to the bottom of the holding tank where it can be quickly heated. At times, the dip tube outlet that is also located near the top of the tank can fail and deposit water at the top of the tank.

  1. anode or sacrificial rod

A metal rod or anode keeps rust from building up inside the tank. The anode or rod usually last up to five years, depending on water quality and how much travel through it. The sacrificial rod as its name applies works because it corrodes before there is any damage to your water heater’s tank, thus saving it or the pipes. The rod allows harmful sediments that can increase your energy bill, settle at the bottom of the tank.

  1. heating element

If you do not flush your water heater out annually, you will develop problems. The heating elements inside of a water heat consists of the thermostat and the thermal switch. The problems that your water heater tank’s heating elements encounter include burn-out elements and overworked or burned-out elements.

To recognize how a heating element has developed a problem, does your hot water begin to run cool? If so, it is possible that the bottom heating element has failed. If your heating element develops a faulty problem, then your thermostat will also fail.

Electric and Solar Repair Problems

If your water heater is a solar heater or an electric heater, then you too can experience common water heater problems. Solar water heaters also experience leaking and other issues. For example, solar water heaters can experience pipe degradation, corrosion, element failures, and degraded insulation.

Also, if your solar panels develop a problem like a broken panel or some form of deterioration, then your indoor hot water heater will also develop issues. Common electric water heater problems include a faulty electric thermostat, a circuit breaker problem or a blown fuse, a problem in the pressure relief valves, a water heater timer or other minor electrical parts.

DIY Repairs?

There are certain repair aspects of a hot water heater that can be done as a DIY project. For instance, heating elements on electric hot water heaters can be replaced as a DIY repair.

There are also problems that should only be fixed by your local licensed plumber. Suppose you smell gas around your gas powered water heater. Suppose you see water around your electric water heater. What would you do?

No, don’t grab the water heater manual to what you can do to find and fix the problem. Besides, if you don’t know what you are doing, you are putting yourself and your family at risk. We are not saying there aren’t little fix-it issues that you can’t tackle yourself.

If you know your way around a hot water heater that is tankless and gas or electric operated, then gather your tools and give it your best DIY repairs. For example, is your hot water heater trying to sing a tune and it is off-key?

This is a sign of mineral deposits or sediments having settled in the bottom of your tank. You can, then turn off the electricity and flush out your tank.

When To Contact A Professional

What if your water is too hot or too cold? The chances are that your thermostat needs to be adjusted. If you do reset the thermostat and nothing changes, then call your professional plumber because your sensor or thermostat needs to be replaced.

Also, remember that a leaky hot water tank is dangerous and without a doubt, you will have to replace your tank. You can replace it with many dependable, quality hot water heaters like Modern technology has made today’s water heaters energy-efficient which means it will save you money.

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