Diagnose Electric Water Heater Problems


In this hot water heater troubleshooting guide, we will diagnose gas and electric tank water heater problems.

Hot water heater troubleshooting will be easier once you have a basic understanding of how your water heater works. You can gain that understanding by reading your water heater manual and doing research on the internet. Actually many hot water heater problems are very easy to diagnose, and you will be pleasantly surprised to find that you can do many of the repairs yourself. Saving money on plumber’s bills is especially important if your water heater is approaching the end of its 10 to 15 year lifespan.

Before attempting any diagnostics or repairs, make sure that you have turned off the gas or electricity, as well as the water supply

Water Heater Leak.

The most common water heater problem is dripping water, or a pool of water at the base of your water heater. This water can originate from several different places. If this only happens during the cold season, then the water can simply be due to condensation.

A water heater leak often originates from a loose or faulty temperature-pressure relief valve, or from the drain valve. Replacing these valves can be done easily and inexpensively. On electric water heaters the heating element gaskets can sometimes be the cause of a leak.

The first indication that you need to replace your water heater, is when there are obvious signs of corrosion. It usually begins with a pinhole leak on the bottom of the tank. The tank will later begin to show obvious signs of rust as the leak gets progressively worse.

Water Temperature Either Too Hot or Too Cold

If the water temperature is not right, you should first try to adjust the water heater thermostat. If this does not work, you will need to determine if there is an electric current to the thermostat. If there is a current, then your thermostat is faulty and will need to be replaced.

If your hot water is too cold and both your thermostats are working, the cause might be a broken dip tube. The dip tube is a plastic tube that is located in the cold water inlet port. If the dip tube is broken, it may allow the incoming cold water to mix with the heated water above.

Water Heater Makes Strange Sounds

One of the easiest hot water heater troubleshooting symptoms to diagnose, are the banging, popping or gurgling sounds inside the tank. These sounds are caused by hard water sediments and mineral scale deposits on the inside of the tank. To avoid the accumulation of these sediments, you should flush your water heater tank every few months.

If the sediment deposits are already causing banging sounds, you could try flushing, but the sediment chunks might be too big to pass through the drain valve. In an electric water heater some of the sounds are due to sediment build-up on the elements. You should, therefore, check the elements and replace them if necessary.

Water Heater Has Rotten Egg Odour

A sulphurous odour in your water is a fairly common water heater problem. It is usually caused by a reaction between bacteria in the water and the sacrificial anode rod.

To get rid of the odour you could try flushing the water heater with dilute hydrogen peroxide or chlorine bleach. If this doesn’t work, you should hire a plumber to replace your anode rod with a zinc anode.

Long Delays in Receiving Hot Water

This is due to long water pipelines. You can improve the situation by insulating your pipelines. You can solve this problem by hiring a plumber to install a hot water recirculating pump, or a small inline point-of-use water heater.

These are some of the most common hot water heater problems that you will encounter while troubleshooting your water heater. Gas hot water heater troubleshooting reveals additional specific problems that could not be dealt with in this article. 


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