What’s Wrong with Your Water Heater and How to Fix it?

water heater

If your water heater is out of order, you’ll probably need to call a professional plumber to repair it. From this article, you’ll get to know about the most common heater-related problems and ways of fixing them.

Modern water heaters are rather complex units. If something goes wrong, you should rather call a professional technician instead of trying to fix the issue with your own hands. However, in some cases, it might be enough to turn the thermostat up or down or wait when the power outage is over. In this article, you’ll find a list of the most common water heater-related problems and tips on solving them.

No Hot Water

If you have a gas heater, make sure the gas valve is open. Otherwise, there might be an issue with the pilot or the burner.

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If you have an electric heater, it might fail to receive power. Check the circuit breaker to make sure it has not been tripped. If it has, try to turn it off and back on again. If the fuse has blown, you might need to replace it. Then, you should check the high-temperature cut-off. Open the panel and press the red “reset” button. The water should start to heat. If it doesn’t, you might have a faulty heating element or elements — in this case, you should replace them.

No Hot Water for Bathtub

Sometimes, you might have no problems when using the washing machine, dishwasher or shower — but fail to get hot water to run a bath. This might happen if you have a tankless heater and water flows through it too quickly, which means it lacks time to be heated. That might be enough to have a warm shower because it requires less water than a bath. In such a situation, you won’t be able to repair the heater because it’s not a breakdown. The unit simply can’t give you the hot water you need, so you should think about installing alternative solutions.

Not Enough Hot Water or Water Not Hot Enough

This case is a bit similar to the previous one. You might need to purchase a heater with a big tank. The one that you currently have seems to be too small for your requirements.

If the unit produced enough hot water for everyone before but suddenly stopped, you should check whether its heating element is functioning as intended and replace it if necessary.

Tankless heaters tend to work harder in winter, so they might deliver hotter water in summer. In colder months of the year, the temperature of the groundwater is lower, so you might try to turn the thermostat up to heat it better.

Water Too Hot

Maybe, some of your family members have set the thermostat too high. Then, you just need to turn it down to reach the desired water temperature.

If this piece of advice doesn’t help you, check the temperature-pressure valve. The heater might fail to shut off when it reaches the correct temperature when the valve is faulty. If this is the case, you should replace the valve as soon as possible to prevent potentially dangerous situations.

Water Takes Too Long to Heat

The three most common reasons for this problem are:

  • A faulty thermostat
  • Faulty heating elements
  • Sediment build-up on the elements

If you have a gas heater, there might be a problem with the burner.

Low Water Pressure

Most likely, the pipes are not wide enough. This problem is typical of older homes. To resolve the issue, you shouldn’t do anything with the heater at all but you’ll need to reinstall the pipes.


If leaks come from valves, you should replace them. If the connections are loose, you should tighten them with a wrench. If the leak comes from the tank, the latter might be corroded and you might need to replace it.

Dirty Water

The dirty rust color of the water might be one of the symptoms of corrosion inside the water heater’s tank. You won’t be able to fix this problem, so the only way out will be to install a new tank.

Alternatively, the anode rod might be failing. Then, you might try to flush the tank and replace the anode rod.

Smelly Water

A weird smell might indicate that there are bacteria in your heater. This might easily happen if your water comes from a well. To kill the bacteria, you can try boiling the water to maximum temperature. Also, you might flush the tank and clean it out with chlorine bleach. If you detect the smell of rotten eggs, the anode rod might be failing and you’ll need to replace it.

Tank Makes Noises

The heating elements might produce rumbling, popping, and banging sounds as the water heats. That would be the most common reason for the problem. To fix the issue, try draining the tank and descaling. To prevent the problem, you should flush the tank out completely every few months. If you don’t flush it out systematically, you might need to replace the tank completely.

Besides, pipes and heaters might contract and expand due to heat. In this case, you might also hear noises — but they are harmless and you won’t be able to get rid of them.

Pilot Doesn’t Light or Lights and Then Goes Out

The pilot light orifice or the tube might be blocked and require replacement. Alternatively, the gas valve might be faulty or there might be air in the gas line. Besides, the thermocouple might be loose or faulty.

Burner Goes Out

This might happen because the vent is dirty, the thermocouple is malfunctioning or the orifice is blocked.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this article came in handy, and now you better understand the potential reasons for problems with your water heater. The unit might fail because of a temporary lack of power supply because it’s old or some parts of it have become faulty. To carry out high-quality water heater repair, you should call a professional plumber. In some cases, you might need to do it urgently to prevent emergencies (for instance, when the temperature-pressure valve is malfunctioning). Thanks to systematic maintenance, your water heater should be able to serve you for many years.

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What’s Wrong with Your Water Heater and How to Fix it?
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