How To Fix Common Water Heater Problems

Hot water is a necessity for every household, particularly for regions that constantly experience cold climates. Thanks to water heaters, people can conveniently do household chores such as cooking and cleaning. Apart from these, water heating systems are also responsible for ensuring that there is a steady supply of water. A water heater is an all-around tool that makes everything convenient for the family. 

What Is A Water Heater?

Essentially, water heaters are used to heat up your water supply based on your desired temperature. They are considered basic appliances found in many homes. Contrary to popular belief, water heaters are not only found in houses that experience extremely cold weather. They are also sold in countries with moderate to extremely hot temperatures. A water heater looks like a huge, metal cylinder placed on low-traffic and hidden areas of a house—under the sinks, closets, pantries, basements, among others. 

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Common Issues In Water Heaters

Like other household appliances, water heaters also encounter several issues in its entire lifespan, as well as experience wear and tear due to regular usage. If you notice unusual operation in your water heater, it’s important to check the unit immediately and identify if there’s a need for professional services. Early detection of these issues can spare you from extra expenses and inconvenience. 

However, there are some water heater issues that homeowners can troubleshoot and solve on their own, given proper research. Here are some of the most common problems in water heaters and helpful ways on how to fix them: 

Water Leaks 

Minor water leaks don’t get discovered immediately since most water heaters are installed in hidden places. However, you can easily discover small leaks if you check from time to time. Typically, water leaks are only discovered once a noticeable puddle appears or flooding occurs. 

There are two types of water leaks—the top and bottom water leaks. If you’ve noticed the water heater leaking from top, it’s usually a problem with the following:

  • T&P Valve Leak: The T&P valve prevents over pressurization and thermostat failure from occurring. It’s located at the top of the unit and if there’s a leak in the T&P valve, it simply needs a replacement.
  • Leaking Valve: There’s a specific valve on top of the heater that looks like a joint with a handle called a ball valve. If you notice water leaking from this valve, you’ll have to tighten the nut or replace it completely. 
  • Leaking Joint: Lastly, if the leak isn’t found on those two valves above, it could be a problem with the threaded nipple. This means that you should contact your plumber immediately, especially if your unit uses copper tubing. 

On The Other Hand, If The Water Heater is Leaking From The Bottom:

  • T&P Valve Leak: Some units are equipped with a T&P valve at the bottom to enable the channeling of water to the floor. If there’s a leak in the T&P, it will most probably be expelled through the overflow tube. This will require you to check whether the thermostat isn’t adjusted too high or ultimately, have a T&P valve replacement. 
  • Drain Valve Leak: The valve that is supposed to drain water can have leaks, and they might simply need to be tightened. However, if that doesn’t work, it should be replaced. 
  • Tank Leak: Old water heaters, especially poorly maintained ones, will eventually develop holes due to corrosion. If this occurs, there’s no other remedy but to replace the unit, either by yourself or a professional. 

Inaccurate Water Temperature

Is the water supply too hot or too cold? Sometimes, the temperature in a water heater gets inconsistent with long-term use. Every water heater owner will encounter this kind of problem once in a while. Do not panic and take note of these pointers in fixing this issue:

  • Extremely high temperature: Typically, your thermostat is set with the highest temperature that can be extremely hot for human skin. You can simply adjust the temperature, ideally at 120℉ or 49℃ for a perfect mixture of hot and cold water.  
  • Low temperature: If the water is too cold, it’s usually caused by a faulty heating component or thermostat. You can try rebooting the power source, power switches, then see if the thermostat is working.
  • Average temperature (not warm enough): If your water isn’t heating up adequately, this may be caused by a damaged thermostat or heating component, an undersized water heater, or overlapped hot and cold networks. Once you’ve checked everything and to no avail, contact a plumber immediately. 

Strange Noises

Hearing strange sounds from your water heater is perhaps even more frightening than visual signs like leaks. However, this problem is actually easier to fix. Typically, strange machine noises such as hissing, popping, or knocking are caused by mineral buildup that eventually coats the entire bottom of the tank. 

To address this problem, all you have to do is flush the mineral buildup from the tank. First, shut off the gas valve and inlet water valve, connect a hose into the drain valve, then let the hot water faucet dissolve and flush the mineral deposits into the drain valve and out of the system.  

Bad Odors 

The foul smell coming from water heaters is a big issue since all the water coming into the heater will flow through various parts of the house—from the kitchen sink to the bathroom faucet. If your heater water smells like rotten eggs, it’s because of sulfate bacteria growth in the tank. Warm, stagnant water causes this type of bacteria to thrive. The use of water from the well might also contribute to this foul smell.

Before anything else, it’s important to confirm whether the rotten smell is from your tank or the water source itself. Turn on cold water in each faucet and examine the smell. If it’s coming from the source, report it to your water service provider immediately.

On the other hand, if the foul smell comes from the stagnant water in the tank, a new water heater is your safest and most effective bet. It’s too difficult to eliminate the sulfate bacteria completely from your tank. This type of bacteria usually comes back even after a full cleanup. 

Takeaways

Water heaters are unquestionably an important piece in your household. That’s why you should conduct regular cleaning and maintenance to ensure that you and your family are safe from contaminated water. As a homeowner, it’s important to know how to troubleshoot issues in your water heater. It would also help to do some research on the matter so that you can try solving minor issues on your own without calling a professional immediately. 

Khuwalid Khalid
Contact me at khuwalid.khalid@gmail.com

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