If you need help troubleshooting a water heater because of smoke, leaking or venting problems, you can use the information in this article to help you find and correct the problem. Although a problematic water heater can be a source of considerable stress, they are not difficult to work on and you can do many types of repairs yourself. This article will tell you how to diagnose several common problems with water heaters.
Smoking Water Heaters
If you notice smoke coming from your electric water heater, there is probably a problem with the electrical wiring inside the service panel. Therefore, you should remove the cover to the wiring service panel so that you can inspect the connections. However, before you do this, make sure that you turn off the power to the water heater at the main circuit breaker. In fact, as soon as you notice smoke coming from your water heater, you should immediately turn off the breaker to the unit as smoke could be a precursor to an electrical fire.
Once you have the panel cover for the electrical wiring on the water heater removed, inspect all of the connections inside the panel. Make sure that all of the wires use wire caps and not electrical tape to cover the bare wiring. If you do notice electrical tape inside the panel, remove and replace all of the connections with wire caps.
If you notice burnt or scorched wires, clip them and replace them with new wiring. A pair of wire cutters, wire strippers and wire caps will usually fix most electrical problems with the water heater.
Leaky Water Heaters
if your water heater is leaking, there could be several sources for the problem. Inspect all of the valves and pipes that lead into the water heater and make sure they are not the source of the leak. If valves or pipes that lead into the water heater are leaking, you can usually replace them quite easily. You'll need an adjustable wrench to remove fittings and valves, and also need some plumber's pipe dope to dress the threaded ends of pipes so that they won't leak. Make sure to replace the leaking pipe with pipe that is of the same type and diameter.
If your water heater is leaking at the base of the unit, the problem is probably due to rust and corrosion. If this is the case, it may be possible to repair the tank; however, the tank will probably need to be welded. Nevertheless, before you can locate the source of a water tank leak, you will first need to drain the water heater. Refer to the owner's manual for your water heater for draining it or using the drain valve.
Problems with Venting
If you have recently upgraded the heating system in your home to a more efficient central type unit, you may have what is referred to as an orphan water heater that vents into a chimney. When this happens, you will probably notice a considerable increase in the amount of moisture in your chimney caused by improper venting. If this is the case, you'll probably need to install a new PVC venting pipe and blower in order to help the water heater vent properly. When installing the new pipe and vent, it is best to have it vent out the side of the house in the crawl space or even in the basement.