How To Troubleshoot A Water Heater How To Troubleshoot A Water Heater

There are a number of reasons you may need to fix main a water heater. Read on to learn about some common problems and how to fix them.

Lack of Hot Water

Causes

  1. Undersized unit
  2. Dip tube is damaged allowing cold water to mix in tank
  3. Crossed cold and hot water connections
  4. Gas supply control problems
  5. Heating element is faulty
  6. Bad thermostat

Repairs

  1. The water heater may be overtaxed by supply demand. Approximately 75 percent of the tank should contain hot water. Therefore, if there is a demand for 30 gallons, you need a 40 gallon yank.
  2. Replace a damaged dip tube.
  3. Ensure that you haven't switched hot and cold water lines on appliances like dish or clothes washers.
  4. When using a natural gas powered unit, make sure the flame burns blue with a yellow-tinged tip. Propane is bluish green with a yellow-tinged tip.
  5. Check the voltage output from an electric powered unit’s heating element. If necessary, replace the unit.
  6. Check first to make sure there is an effective connection to the electric power source. You may have a faulty thermostat and not a bad heating element.

Off Color or Rusty Water

Causes

  1. Corrosion taking place inside a glass-lined tank
  2. Anode rod is failing (an anode rod is an additive that dissolves slowly to prevent tank rust)

Repairs

  1. Periodically flush sediment materials, removing them from the tank.
  2. Replace the anode rod that doesn’t work with a magnesium-based anode rod. You can purchase this from any plumbing house.

Bad Odor

Cause

  1. A rotten egg smell could be be from the presence of bacteria in the tank sediment from a failing anode rod. You may notice a slight odor at first, but left untreated, it will become quite pronounced.

Repairs

  1. Periodic flushing may help.
  2. Apply a hydrogen peroxide solution of two pints of 3 percent peroxide to 40 gallons of water. Also treat the water lines by opening faucets and allowing water to run for a minute. Close water lines and let the solution sit in the tank and lines for 2 hours. The solution is not toxic. If the problem continues, replace with a zinc-alloy anode. If the odor persists, replace the water heater with a plastic-lined unit.

Rumbling Noise

Cause

  1. The rumbling noise you hear is boiling water caused by excessive sediment buildup that makes the tank overheat. The sediment tricks the thermostat into believing that it has not yet met the proper heat requirement. As a result, the burner stays on longer and causes boiling water.

Repairs

  1. Remove the sediment by flushing the heater.

Whining Noises (Electric Heater)

Causes

  1. Scale material has built up on the heating element

Repairs

  1. Flush the water heater
  2. Clean the scale off the heater element
  3. Use low-watt density heating elements with much larger areas transferring heat to the water more efficiently. This will allow less electrical wattage per square inch resulting in the decrease of scale material buildup on the heating element.

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