Troubleshooting Water Heaters
Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated March 3, 2021)
Troubleshooting water heaters is an important, and even vital, skill for a homeowner to have. While it is true that you can simply call a repairman if your water heater starts having problem, doing this alone can be fairly expensive. Learning the proper method for troubleshooting water heaters can be a great way to save some money when you need it the most. Here are a few guidelines that you can use to ensure you are troubleshooting properly.
- What's the type? Generally speaking there are two types of water heaters that you could have in your home. These are either electric or gas water heaters, and it is a good idea to know what kind you have in your home. While there are plenty of similarities between the two, there are also enough differences that it is important to know which you have in your home. By knowing this you will be able to give more accurate information to the repairman when they finally come over.
- Inspect the lines. Take a look at all the lines that are going into the heater. This means taking a look at the power lines, gas lines (if applicable), and water lines. For example, are you having problems with your water pressure? Take a look at the water lines since something may be interfering with the water flow. If you think you are having power problems look at the power line to ensure that it isn't frayed or damaged in some way.
- Color of water. If your water is coming out a rusty or dirty looking, you may have a problem with either the tank itself or the sacrificial anode. Most tanks are lined with a protective material (such as glass) which is designed to help prevent corrosion. If this liner is damaged or corroded then the interior of the tank may be rusting away. Another cause for rusty colored water is the sacrificial anode is failing. This anode is designed to help prevent interior corrosion in a water heater, and if it is failing it will need to be replaced.
- No heat. If you are unable to get any hot water then you will want to look at the heating elements. The heating elements themselves could be missing, corroded, or there could even be a fault between the thermostat and the heating elements. Make sure these are in good working order, as well as that the unit is actually receiving power. Don't forget to check the pilot light if you have a gas water heater in your home.
- Bad odor. Another indicator that your sacrificial anode is going bad is if you start noticing a bad odor coming from the water of your water heater. There are a few solutions to this problem including replacing the sacrificial anode, as well as flushing the water heater. If you do flush the water heater, use a simple mixture of two pints hydrogen peroxide to every 40 gallons of water. It may be a good idea to replace the anode to ensure that this is not the cause of the problem. You will also want to check and make sure that there are no leaks in the gas lines since that could also be the cause of any bad odors you may smell near your water heater.
Keep in mind that these are only a few guidelines that you can follow when troubleshooting your water heaters. While there are many different things that you could find wrong with your water heater, these are typically the most common problems that you can expect to find with your water heater. Over time even the greenest of home improvement enthusiasts will be able to figure out what is going wrong with their water heater.
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