Tips for Diagnosing Water Heater Problems

We’ve all been there before. You’re about to shower or do the dishes and suddenly, there is no access to hot water and now your whole day is thrown off. What is your next move? You can start by gaining an understanding of basic plumbing.  With this knowledge, you can identify the root cause of the problem so you are better able to decide whether or not it is necessary to bring in the help of a professional.

Be prepared the next time you come across a hot water issue. Read on to learn the basics.

The Importance of Water Heaters

A hot water heater is essentially made up of two different parts. A tank and a source of heat. When you turn on the faucet in your bathroom sink, cold water travels through the water tank that is heated to match the thermostat setting. When this water is met with the hot tank, it gradually warms up. If your tank temperature dips lower than the thermostat setting, the heat source starts up in order to warm it back up so it is able to heat the water that passes through. Although it sounds pretty simple, repairing can often be hard.

Tips For Diagnosing Water Heater Problems

Some problems with your water heater are easier to diagnose and repair than others.  Here’s a list of the most common issues, the reasons they arise, and some tips to troubleshoot them yourself.

Loss of Hot Water

In an electric water heater, a lack of hot water could mean a broken thermostat, tripped circuit breaker, or both. Gas water heaters on the other hand, are a bit more complicated. You can check if the pilot light is burning. To do so, follow the instructions in the user manual to re-light it. If this is not the issue, it is safe to call a professional.

Inconsistent Access to Hot Water

One reason that you would not be getting enough hot water is that there has been an increase in use. If that is not the case, the next step wouold be to check the thermostat to ensure it is set at a hot enough temperature. In an electric heater, if the thermostat looks ok, one of the elements is likely broken. In a gas heater, it is possible the burner may not be working properly.

Water Heater Leaking

Look out for water droplets, or deposits of rusty or white color. This would be a sign of a leaky valve. If your actual tank is leaking, an obvious sign would be water collecting beneath it. You might also see rusty lines formed on the outside of the tank surrounding any openings.

Rust Colored Water

Rust colored water typically means the tank has weakened and worn down. In this case, a new water heater is needed.

Foul Smelling Water

Foul smelling water coming from the water tank indicates a buildup of sediment inside. Your next step would be getting your tank drained and cleaned by a professional.

Knocking Sounds

Knocking sounds coming from your water heater is not uncommon. These sounds are usually heard when the tank is changing temperature. However, it is important to note that a boiling sound coming from your water heater is a hazard. The water heater is probably too hot,  which could lead to a steam explosion.

Getting Professional Help

Diagnosing leaks and other minor problems are great ways for homeowners and residents to prevent major water heater issues from taking place. With so many repair tips available online, you may choose to fix the issue yourself. However, water heaters can be complex and a minor mistake can lead to an even more difficult and expensive problem. If you’re not completely comfortable with or simply don’t have the time to repair an issue, you can always call Core Plumbing. Our team of professional plumbers is available to assist throughout San Diego County.