One of the most-used and least-thought-about appliances in your home lives tucked away in either your basement or an out-of-the-way closet. Your electric storage tank water heater. We do remember it, though, when we run out of hot water. Although problems are not common, they do come along from time to time. Let’s take a look at the most common problems you’ll see with electric water heaters. Safety tip: Remember to UNPLUG the appliance before you start troubleshooting.

 

Temperature problems

Problems with water temperature far outrank any other water heater problems. Thankfully, repairs tend to be inexpensive for these types of issues.

water heater circuitNo hot water

When you have no hot water at all, check your circuit breaker to make sure a breaker has not been tripped. If the circuit has been tripped, switch it off and back on again to reset it. If the problem is not the breaker, you will want to check the hot water temperature reset button above the upper thermostat inside the heater. In electric water heaters, failed heating elements or a faulty thermostat can also cause no hot water. If this is the case, you will need to check both the upper and lower elements and thermostats and replace whatever is malfunctioning.

Not enough hot waterwater heater tank size chart

Tank size. The primary cause of not enough hot water is a tank that is too small to meet your family’s needs. If your family has grown since you bought your home or if you have added newer water-using appliances (i.e. dishwasher, washing machine) your tank may not be able to keep up with the increased demand. In this case, the best option is to replace your tank. The Department of Energy provides guidelines on sizing your water heater tank needs. We also encourage you to consider multiple options such as our tankless or on-demand water heaters.

Electrical issues. A thermostat that is set too low can also explain why there is not enough hot water. Other culprits can be a failed upper water heater, a faulty thermostat or loose wiring. The elements can also become encrusted with sediment which prevents them from heating the water adequately.

 

Water too hotwater heater thermostats

This problem most likely stems from a thermostat that is set too high. You will have to access the thermostats for each element to lower the temperature. If you are unable to lower temperature settings, your thermostat has most likely failed and will need to be replaced.

 

ball valve inletLeaks

The second most common problem with electric storage heaters is leaking. Leaks present significant safety hazards and should be dealt with as soon as they are discovered.

From the top

While water leaking from the top of the tank poses a less immediate threat, you still need to address it in a timely manner to keep it from becoming a more serious issue. Water leaking from the top of the heater tank can come from only a limited number of sources, most of which can be easily remedied. Check the ball valve in the cold water inbound line. If this is the source of your leak, simply tighten the nut securing the handle to the valve. Another potential leak site is the temperature and pressure relief valve on the top of the tank. If this is leaking, you will most likely need to replace it. If water is leaking from any of the pipe joints, you will probably want to call in a professional to make repairs.

leaking tpr drain pipeFrom the bottom

Water under your tank can be coming from a loose heating element gasket, simple condensation, or a little run-off from the TPR valve releasing some water. It can also be a case of corrosion rusting out the bottom of your tank, in which case, the tank will have be replaced.

 

CONCLUSION

Electric water heaters don’t generally have problems, but when they do, you’ll know what to look for. If you decide to replace your water heater, we’d love to talk with you about your options. Water heating isn’t just for tanks anymore!  As with any type of plumbing issue, if you feel uncomfortable troubleshooting or managing repairs, give us a call! We offer 24-hour emergency service and welcome the opportunity to serve you and your family.

Gas water heaters remain a popular option among homeowners. In spite of competition from their electric counterparts, gas storage water heaters supply hot water to about 60% of America’s homes. How you choose to heat your household water makes a difference in an economy where heating water in the home has become the second-largest household expense, according to the Department of Energy. Gas storage water heaters are a great option for lots of families, but they can still have some drawbacks. Let’s take a look at some of the common problems associated with a gas storage water heater.

Gas water heater problems with performance issues

Typical gas storage water heaters tend to outperform same size electric storage water heaters. They just have a faster recovery time. Sometimes, though, older — and even newer — units can malfunction. Here are some common gas water heater problems.

no hot water, water heaterLittle or no hot water

Arguably the most annoying hot water heater problem, reduced or no hot water when it’s needed ranks as the most common issue. Little hot water results from a variety of issues.

Increased demand for hot water prevents the water heater from fully heating water before delivering it. Are you remodeling? Do you have guests or a new family member? How about a new, larger washing machine? All of these can increase the demand for hot water and affect how quickly the water heater recovers. Other common causes of reduced hot water supply are:

  • Thermostat set too low
  • Thermostat malfunction
  • Faulty dip tube
  • Sediment build up in tank
  • Incoming water pressure is low
  • Dirty or faulty gas burner

Adjust the thermostat to a higher temperature and see if this resolves the issue. If not, you may need to check the thermocouple. This is a safety device that shuts off the gas if the pilot light goes out. It is fairly easy to replace. A faulty drip tube delivers cold water into the tank at a higher level than designed. This allows the cold incoming water to mix with the hot water at the top of the tank and cool it down. Replacing the drip tube can remedy this problem. Over time, sediment build up in the bottom of all storage water heater tanks. This layer of sediment prevents the burner from heating the water as efficiently. Annually flushing your water heater eliminates this problem. The gas burner beneath your water heater may also be in need of cleaning or replacement.

No hot water

If you have no hot water, you might have a problem with your pilot. Pilot lights can go out when there is no problem with the unit. If this is the case, simply relight the pilot. If the pilot fails to stay lit, you probably have a bad thermocouple. Older gas water heaters have a pilot easy to light with a match or a candle-lighter. Newer models, however, have a button you push to activate a spark igniter inside the burner compartment. If the problem is the thermocouple on an older unit, you can DIY the replacement. A newer unit requires the services of a professional because the thermocouple is behind the sealed compartment and not easy to access safely without the proper equipment. If the thermocouple is not the problem, you might have a faulty gas valve. In this case, definitely call in the professionals.

 

Leaking

If you find water on the floor under or near your water heater, you need to find the source of the leak. Leaks can occur in several different places on your water heater. One potential leak location is the top of the tank where the cold water enters the drip tube. This leak presents an easy fix. Just tighten the connections. The T & P (Temperature & Pressure) relief valve sits on the outside of the tank near the top and has a small pipe running to a drain near the heater. You can repair a leak from this valve, but if the leak originates in the bottom of the tank, you will have to completely replace the tank.

 

 

 

Gas water heater problems with sounds and smells

Faulty plumbing and normal wear-and-tear provide a homeowner with plenty to do. Unfortunately, gas water heaters have a reputation for some additional types of problems.

Sounds

Rumbling. Popping. Ticking. Sizzling. Hissing. Hammering. Knocking. Gas water heaters have a reputation for conjuring all of these noises. Fortunately, each sound indicates a specific problem or two for you to check and correct.

electric water heater maintenance tips Pleasant How to Remove Water Heater Sediment Top Water HeatersPopping:

This occurs when sediment has built up in the bottom of your tank. The sediment causes the water to boil. Water bubbling up through the sediment makes the popping sound.

The Fix: Flush your tank annually to keep sediment from becoming a hazard. Or, install a water softener system to prevent sediment from collecting in the tank at all.

Ticking:

Ticking noises come from a couple of problems. The first, variations in water pressure, you really can’t fix. The second, however, presents an easy fix. The pipe straps holding the hot water lines that come out of the tank can be loose and cause an annoying ticking sound.

The Fix: Pick up some plastic spacers at the hardware store and install them to keep the straps from slapping into the pipes.

Sizzling or hissing:

This sound also arises from a couple of possible sources. A tightly closed relief valve can generate a sizzling sound. Water dropping onto the hot gas burner assembly will also cause a sizzling noise.

The Fix: Not so easy this time. The water dripping onto the burner is probably coming from the bottom of your tank. A leaky tank can’t be fixed. It must be replaced.

Rumbling:

This is also a sound you really don’t want to hear from your tank. A rumbling sound occurs when the tank has begun to rust out from sediment build-up.

The Fix: The rusting metal leads directly to a leaking tank, which, as stated previously, leads to a replacement.

rust-colored water running out of a faucetDiscolored water

Has this ever happened to you? You turn the hot water on, step into the shower and get splattered by reddish brown streams jetting from your shower head? Hopefully, it hasn’t. But, if it does you can narrow it down to a couple of sources. Rust in plumbing can cause water to appear yellow, brown, or red. The rust could be in the pipes inside your home. It could also be in the outside pipes leading into your home or even in the water heater. The good news is that it’s not really a health hazard. The bad news is — well — it’s pretty unsightly. It also causes the water to taste metallic and can leave stains on clothing and toilets and tubs. This fix has to be handled by installing a water treatment system.

Rotten egg smell

Unfortunately, discolored water is often accompanied by a nasty, sulfur-like rotten egg odor. This sewage-like smell indicates that bacteria are growing in your water heater. This happens for a few reasons. If you’ve been away and turned the water off or turned the thermostat too low to keep the water hot, bacteria will take advantage of a prime place to colonize. Although the bacteria are not harmful, it’s best to have a professional plumber help you deal with this problem.

 

CONCLUSION

Your gas water heater provides essential service for your family. Make sure you take care of it.Whether your gas water heater is new or old, if you’re experiencing any of these issues, Knoxville Plumbing is here to help. Give us a call today for any of your plumbing needs!