You rarely think about your hot water heater unless there’s a problem, but when there’s a problem with your hot water heater, it’s all you can think about. No one enjoys taking a cold shower, but your hot water heater does a lot more than just make sure you’re comfortable when showering. It provides hot water for your dishwasher and clothes washer, and provides a sanitary environment for washing your hands. The point is, when you need hot water repairs, you need them now. Here are the three most common water heater problems to help you diagnose the issue.
1. Water Temperature is Too Hot or Too Cold
Almost all homeowners have issues with their water temperature at one time or another. If your water is cold when it should be hot, it could be due to a lack of power, a faulty thermostat, or a faulty heating element. Eliminate possible causes by checking your circuit breakers and ensuring there are no blown fuses. If everything looks good, move on to checking the power switches to make sure they’re on and ensuring the thermostat is receiving power.
If your water is warm, but not getting hot, you could have an undersized water heater, a failing thermostat or heating element, or your hot and cold connections are crossed. You can determine if your connections are crossed by turning off the water supply and turning on a hot water faucet. If the water still flows when the water supply is off, your connections are crossed.
When your water is too hot, this is usually because you have turned your water heater thermostat too high. It is recommended you set it at no hotter than 120°F to avoid burns. Beyond the simple checks recommended here, you should have a professional inspect your water heater if you suspect a faulty thermostat or heating element.
2. Water Heater Leaks
There are various reasons why your water heater might be leaking. It could be a faulty temperature and pressure (T&P) relief valve, improper water pressure, a stuck valve, overheating, loose heating element bolts, a leak from a plumbing connection, a bad gasket, or a leaking water tank.
While you can check for obvious loose parts and tighten them (but not too tight), it’s best to leave most leak repairs to professionals because they know how to identify the problem quickly and recommend repairs or replacements to permanently fix the leak.
3. Discolored Water
If you’re getting brownish or yellowish water from any faucet, it could be the result of a rusting water tank. It might be just a failing anode rod, but this is best determined by a professional. If the problem is more than just an anode rod, you’ll probably have to replace the entire water heater.
Hot water problems are absolutely no fun. We’ve come to rely on getting hot water instantly when we need it and when it’s not available, it’s a real hassle. Most hot water issues, though, must be diagnosed by a professional, especially since water heaters can be dangerous to work with. While you can perform some basic checks to attempt to determine the problem, it’s always best to leave this work to those who are trained to do it.