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Troubleshooting Six Common Water Heater Problems

Learning there are problems with your hot water heater is often self-evident through normal day-to-day usage. You turn on the hot water to take a shower, and nothing but cold comes out. You may notice the temperature of the hot water is excessively hot. You might hear snapping and popping coming from the heater when it is heating hot water.

No matter what the water heater problems are, it is important to troubleshoot them to determine the causes. Once you know the causes, you can then decide if it is something you can resolve on your own, or if you need to call a professional plumber for assistance.

  1. Hot Water Not Hot Enough or Runs Out Quickly
  • Check the hot water thermostat setting and turn it up if needed. On electric models, there will be an upper and lower thermostat.
  • Look for leaks around the water heater and tighten any connections.
  • Check the overheat breaker on electric heaters located above the upper thermostat and reset it.

If none of the above fixes the problem, your water heater may be too small for your hot water needs.

water heater repairing

  1. Hot Water Is Excessively Hot
  • Check the thermostat and turn it down.

Excessively hot water is dangerous. If the thermostat was not turned up, one potential problem is the heater is overheating due to a defective thermostat or heating element. The overheat breaker on the heater should be blowing as a safeguard. It is highly recommended to shut off the breaker to the heater and call a professional plumber for help.

  1. No Hot Water
  • Check to make sure the breaker has not blown.
  • On electric heaters, verify the secondary safety switch is turned on. This looks like a light switch located near the hot water heater.
  • On gas models, verify the pilot light is lit.

If you still don’t have hot water after checking these things, the heating elements may need to be replaced if you have an electric heater. The thermostat could also be defective and no longer working. On gas heaters, the burner may need to be replaced if it is not turning on.

  1. Snapping and Popping Sounds When Heater Runs

This problem typically means there could be scale and other types of sediment building up in the tank. You will want to have the tank drained and flushed to try to remove it. For problems concerning the electric heaters, you may want to get in touch with experts who specialize in these kind of electrical repairs and check the heating elements and have it replaced if there is excess buildup on them.
man analyzing water heater temperature

  1. Pilot Light Won’t Light or Stay Lit

On gas water heaters, if your pilot light keeps going out or will not stay lit, it often means there is a problem with the thermocouple. Other causes could include clogged or dirty gas lines and a defective gas valve.

  1. Burner Does Not Stay On

The burner is the part on gas water heaters that heats the water. It is located in the bottom of the tank. If it is going out mid-cycle, it could need to be cleaned and/or replaced.

If you need further help troubleshooting water heater problems, please feel free to contact your nearest Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing location in San Antonio, New Braunfels, Temple, or Austin today! We offer hot water heater installation, repairs, and maintenance services for gas and electric tank-type and tankless heaters.

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