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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!

frustrated kid holding his headIt can be very frustrating trying to figure out if it’s time to replace the household water heater, or if it simply needs a little TLC. This article will help shed some light on whether it just needs a repair, or if it needs to be replaced.

There are plenty of signs that a water heater is about to fail. Below are some of the most common indications that it’s time to replace the household water heater. 

Common Signs It’s Time To Replace the Water Heater

rust-colored water running out of a faucet

If the water heater is 10 years or older, it will be in the best interest of the house to go ahead and replace it before it starts causing problems. To check the age of the water heater, simply look on the upper part of it and find the manufacturer’s sticker.

If rust-colored, metallic tasting water is coming out of the hot water faucet, this is another big indicator. Dark, metallic water is a clear sign that the inside of the water heater is beginning to rust. If this is left unattended for too long, it will severely damage the tank. It will also begin to leak and cause more damage to the home. 

sediment at bottom of a water heaterWith older water heaters, it is not uncommon to notice strange noises or rumbling coming from the unit. These are usually caused by excessive sediment build-up accumulating on the bottom of the water heater. As the water heater will frequently change temperature, the sediment will eventually harden. When this happens, it will be harder for the water heater to effectively heat the household water supply. This will ultimately cost more money to run it. 

leak underneath water heaterConsistent “puddles” around the base of the water heater could be a sign that there are fissures and cracks in the hull of the tank. As the metal heats and expands and then cools and shrinks again, this causes these fissures and cracks. While this is normal and should not cause problems for quite some time, in an older water heater it could be a sign that it is time to replace the water heater. But before doing that, make sure that leaky pipes or loose valves are not to blame.

Why Isn’t There Enough Hot Water? 

shivering duckIt’s safe to assume that the biggest problem with water heaters is that there is often not enough hot water being supplied to the household. There are some simple explanations as to why this is happening, regardless of the type of water heater (i.e. gas or electric).

Electric Water Heater Malfunctions and Possible Causes 

yellow lightning boltMake sure that the water heater has a proper connection to the power source, and then, reset the thermostat. There could also be too much sediment in the bottom. As mentioned above, this impedes the function and makes it harder to heat enough amounts of water. A good flushing of the water tank will make sure that all the sediment is removed.

Another culprit might be that the pipes are not properly insulated, and the water is losing heat on its way up to the rest of the household. Another thing to assess is the heating element or thermostat. If this is the case, it would be best to just replace that part, rather than the entire unit. If all those things check out fine, it could just be as easy as raising the temperature.

Gas Water Heater Malfunctions and Possible Causes

close up of water heaterThere are only a few differences when it comes to assessing problems with electric and gas water heaters. The first thing to check on a gas model is the pilot light. If the pilot light has gone out, relight it, and make sure that the gas valve is hooked up securely and properly. Another issue could be that the gas burner needs to be cleaned. The cleaning is a good time to go ahead and replace the thermocouple, too. Just like electric versions, it is important to flush to rid the tank of sediment. Also, keep an eye out for rusty water coming from the hot water faucet.

In conclusion, if the tank itself is presenting serious damage signs, it is smartest to replace the whole water heater. Give us a call, and we will be more than happy to help you make the right decision!

It’s something we don’t really think about — until it stops working. When your shower gets cold, that’s when things heat up!

Amidst cries of outrage about cold water showers and cold water dish washing, we scramble to figure out what caused the water heater to stop working. But, before we talk about things that can go wrong with water heaters, let’s take a look at their simple, yet creative design and discover how it is they do what they do to make our daily lives more comfortable.

 

WATER HEATER DESIGN

The majority of residential water heaters are storage water heaters. They are basically tall cylindrical tanks–sort of like a tall metal drum. They vary in capacity from about 20 gallons to about 80 gallons of water. Even though traditional water heaters don’t present a very dramatic appearance, the principles they use to supply abundant hot water to your home are pretty interesting.

 

COMPONENTS

water heater

                  photo credit: US Department of Energy

 

Storage water heaters are comprised of the tank and a couple of tubes, a series of valves, and a mechanism for heating the water. Storage water heaters are either electrical or gas operated. Here’s how all these components work:

  • Tank: The tank is made of heavy metal and is actually the inner component of the cylinder. It serves as a shell to hold the water. Tanks are often covered with some type of insulating material, a decorative “outer shell” and sometimes an additional insulating blanket-type cover.
  • Dip Tube/Cold Water Inlet: Cold water enters the tank at the top and flows through this tube to the bottom  of the tank. Because the water is cold, it stays close to the bottom of the tank where heating occurs.
  • Hot Water Outlet: This pipe is also at the top of the tank. Heated water at the top of the tank exits through this outlet and flows to areas where it is needed.water heaters
  • Shut-Off Valve: This valves closes off the flow of cold water into the tank.
  • Drain Valve: This valve is near the bottom of the tank and is used to empty the tank when servicing is needed.
  • Pressure Relief Valve: This valve serves to regulate pressure inside the tank.
  • Anode Rod: This rod, made of steel overlaid with either magnesium or aluminum, is suspended in the water of the tank to help reduce corrosion.
  • Heating mechanism: In a gas storage water heater, the heating mechanism is a gas burner and chimney system. An electrical storage water heater uses heating elements projecting into the interior of the tank to heat the water.
  • Thermostat: This device is a thermometer and a temperature-control device. Electric water heaters may have individual thermostats for each heating element.

HOW IT WORKS

water heatersStorage water heaters rely primarily on the scientific principle that hot water rises. Cold water enters the top of the tank through the dip tube or cold water inlet, flows through the pipe to the bottom of the tank where it exits the pipe, pushing the warmer water already in the tank upward.

The thermostat setting is usually between 120 – 180 degrees Fahrenheit. The thermostat should be set nearer the lower end of this range in homes with small children to prevent potential scalding injuries. As the thermostat monitors the temperature of the water inside the tank, it regulates the function of the elements (on an electrical water heater) or the gas burner (on a gas water heater) to heat the water accordingly.

Because heat rises, the hottest water is always closest to the top of the tank. When a hot water tap is turned on somewhere inside the home, the hot water exits the tank through the hot water outlet at the top of the tank and flows to the open tap.

What’s next?

Now that we have a basic understanding of the parts of a water heater and how it works, our next post will take a look at some things that typically cause water heater problems resulting in the dreaded cold shower.

Whether you have a malfunctioning water heater or a leaking faucet or a clogged drain, Knoxville Plumbing is here for you!

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