If your water heater is efficient, it will be one of the furthest things from your mind. But once it starts giving trouble, you’ll notice. Your hot water might stop running, your warm showers and baths might turn cold sooner, or your water tank might make loud and scary noises. Those are three common water heater problems, and here’s how to troubleshoot them before contacting a water heater repair & replacement contractor:
No Hot Water
If your water heater is electric and has power, then it’s likely the circuit breaker tripped. Look at its breaker in your home’s breaker box and see if it’s flipped. If so, switch it off then back on again. If the breaker isn’t flipped, try resetting the heater’s high-temperature limit:
- Turn off the heater’s breaker in the breaker box.
- Remove the heater’s upper heating access panel.
- Remove the insulation and plastic safety guard.
- Press the red reset button above the upper thermostat.
- Replace the plastic safety guard, insulation, and access panel.
- Turn on the heater’s breaker in the breaker box.
If your water heater is gas-powered and doesn’t produce hot water, you should check the pilot light. This tells you if the pilot flame is lit, which is a small flame that’s always burning. When you need hot water, this flame ignites the main burner.
To relight most gas-powered heaters, do the following:
- Open the pilot light access located under the gas valve. With a flashlight, you should be able to see inside the burner.
- Turn the gas knob to PILOT, then press and hold it down. Or, if your heater has a separate button for pilot mode, press and hold down that one. This lets gas flow so you can light the flame.
- While holding the gas button down, light the pilot with a long lighter. If your heater has an igniting button, use that instead.
- After the flame ignites, hold the gas button down for at least another minute. Then release slowly, making sure the flame is still lit.
- Turn the gas knob to ON.
- Replace the cover.
If these steps don’t work or if you don’t feel safe doing this project yourself, you should contact a water heater repair & replacement contractor.
Not Enough Hot Water
If your water heater uses a tank, and the hot water runs out during use, your tank isn’t large enough for your household needs. If there’s enough hot water when one water appliance is used, but not enough when additional appliances are used at the same time, then you either need to adjust your routine or upgrade your water tank.
The appropriate water tank size depends on how many members are in your household. Energy.gov recommends a small tank (50-60 gallons) for a household of 1-3 people, a medium tank (80 gallons) for 3-4 people, and a large tank for 4-6 people.
If your water heater is tankless, then you’re running too many appliances at one time for your heater to keep up. Tankless water heaters only provide water as needed, so they can only handle so many simultaneous uses. You can adjust your routine to have fewer simultaneous hot water applications, upgrade your tankless system to one with a higher capacity, or install another tankless unit.
Noisy Water Heater Tank
The most common reason for a water tank making rumbling and banging noises is a build up of sediment. Sediment is settled material left behind by water after it’s boiled. If your tank deals with hard water, the boiling water will make the minerals separate into limescale, which creates a popping noise when water flows through it.
The louder the noise, the thicker the sediment. You should act as soon as you hear noises, before the sediment builds to a critical thickness.
Your first attempt at a fix should be to drain and flush the tank:
- Empty the water tank.
- Open the cold water intake and fill the tank halfway.
- Empty the water through the drain valve.
- Repeat steps 1-3 until all the sediment is rinsed away.
To prevent sediment build up, routinely flush your tank. You could also have a residential plumber install a water softener to filter out calcium and magnesium minerals, which form limescale when boiled.
Water heater tanks are susceptible to several other common problems, such as leaks, water flipping between cold and hot water during the same application, and rusty water. If you have multiple issues, you should contact a water heater repair & replacement contractor to inspect your tank.
Ehret Co. Plumbing & Heating services all water heater types, including tankless water heaters. We can troubleshoot your water heater and guide you through the best solution. Contact us through our online contact form or call us at 510-528-4292 for quick, safe, and quality water heater repair & replacement services.