Atlanta area households rely on their water heaters for comfort, cleanliness and more. Despite how important they are to our everyday lives, common water heater problems often go undetected until they create discomfort, or worse – water leaks.
When a water heater problem pops up that is out of the ordinary, we often get carried away thinking the worst. Don’t worry, it’s entirely normal. You’re not a plumber, and plumbers don’t expect you to know what problems the clues point to – that’s our job!
However, we don’t want you to stress over common water heater issues, as they aren’t always a big deal. Some even have simple fixes you are able to perform yourself! Estes Services explains the causes of common water heater problems and what is needed to correct them. Know when to call a plumber for help or whether DIY repairs are an option. If you do need repairs, contact Estes Services for professional water heater service.
Common Water Heater Problems in Atlanta Homes
There are two types of water heaters – tank systems and tankless water heaters. Below, we focus mostly on tank units, as tankless systems usually require the help of a plumber to diagnose and correct problems.
Tank systems run either by gas or by electricity, and it is an important first step to identify which type you have. While both types of water heaters can suffer from the problems below, their causes may differ based on the unit’s fuel source.
Here are some water heater issues homeowners may experience:
No Hot Water
This problem often means a broken or malfunctioning heating element and requires a call to a plumber to fix.
It’s possible the issue is caused by an incorrect thermostat setting. Check your owner’s manual for directions on how to set your thermostat and make adjustments accordingly. A faulty thermostat could also be to blame. This requires a call to your local plumber for repair or replacement of the component.
Problems with your pilot light (if you have a gas-powered unit) could cause cold water. This is something only a trained plumber should inspect and repair.
Issues related to pilot light are typically in older models, as newer ones use electronic ignition. If your water heater uses a pilot light, you may want to consider replacing the older unit.
Lastly, a simple interruption in the unit’s power could be to blame. If the water heater’s circuit breaker has tripped, the unit does not receive necessary power to operate. This interruption in electricity primarily affects electric water heaters, though some gas water heaters do utilize electricity to operate certain components. Depending on your gas water heater model, a lack of electricity could stop the unit from producing hot water.
In gas water heaters, if the natural gas fuel supply is somehow interrupted, the result is no hot water. Check the gas valve on the fuel supply line leading into your unit and verify that it is open. Verify there have been no interruptions to your gas utility service.
Pilot Light Does Not Light
If there’s no hot water there may be an issue with the pilot light. If your gas water heater’s pilot light does not light, a faulty gas valve or thermocouple are likely causes. These components need to be replaced by a licensed plumber to ensure safety and proper performance of the new parts.
Gas water heaters are vented to the outdoors for safety. If the flue pipe is obstructed, this may prevent lighting of the pilot even though there is gas flow. Check the exterior exit point of the flue pipe for damage, or obstructions, then remove.
Excessive corrosion inside water heater tanks with glass linings causes rust-colored water. Corrosion is the source of numerous common water heater problems, as the metal material of the unit is prone to corrosion due to constant contact with water. This is often a sign you need a new water heater, as corrosion eventually causes water leaks and the potential for a ruptured tank. A plumber diagnoses the exact cause and provides efficient water heating equipment paired with trustworthy installation services.
Rusty water is also a sign of a failed sacrificial anode rod. The sacrificial anode rod is a component that protects the water heater tank against rust by attracting corrosive elements in water – it corrodes away over time and is sacrificed to protect the steel tank liner.
Because it literally corrodes away, the sacrificial anode rod must be replaced, or else the tank’s steel liner is left vulnerable to corrosion and resulting leaks. Factors such as water softener usage, water acidity and more impact the lifespan of the anode rod. Your water heater’s owner’s manual tells you about how often the rod should be replaced, though you want to check it every three years to gauge replacement intervals.
Replacement of the water heater’s anode rod is a job for an experienced DIYer. Though if you prefer, your plumber is happy to handle this task for you.
Leaking or Pooling Water
Common water heater problems producing leaking or pooling require immediate attention to prevent water damage. A loose or faulty plumbing connection is a potential cause. Check the connections on the exterior of your unit. It is a simple DIY repair if the loose component is easily seen and accessible.
A leaking heating element gasket is another possible source of leaking water. If it is under- or overtightened, the gasket causes leaks at the bottom of the water heater. A certified plumber is needed for the repair.
Issues with the tank’s temperature and pressure (T&P) valve can lead to leaks and pooling water. If the T&P valve is faulty, water is able to escape the tank. This also occurs due to overheating or excessive pressure levels within the tank. Troubleshoot the issue by disconnecting power and allowing water to cool, then remove and rethread the valve. Unstick the valve by opening and closing the lever several times. If troubleshooting does not fix the leak, the T&P valve needs to be replaced.
A leak or rupture is possible in the water heater’s tank, which is among the more serious common water heater problems because of the potential for significant water damage. This is a sign you need a new water heater. Call a plumber right away to prevent additional leaking and flooding. Your plumber drains your old water heater and removes it for replacement with an upgraded unit.
Odor in Your Water
If your water starts to smell like rotten eggs, bacteria buildup in your hot water tank is possible. Call a plumber soon to resolve this issue and prevent problems and illness. The tank needs to be cleaned and treated to stop continued issues.
Not Enough Hot Water
Common water heater problems leading to a lack of hot water cause discomfort for members of a household. A faulty heating element is a possible cause. In this case, call your local plumber to diagnose and repair the system’s heating element, or replace it.
Thermostat failure is another potential source of not enough hot water. A faulty thermostat is unable to detect water temperature and communicate heating needs to the system. If the water heater’s thermostat has gone bad, it needs to be replaced.
Your water heater’s capacity may be too small for your home’s demands. A plumber diagnoses this problem rather easily by evaluating your household size and hot water use. He or she recommends the appropriate size water heater to accommodate your hot water needs.
An installation issue such as crossed lines could be to blame. If recently installed, call the technician who installed your system for a check. This is a simple fix. The hot water line might have been run to the cold water inlet, and vice versa, and must be switched.
Water Heater Noises
Common water heater problems include noises during water heating cycles. If your water heater produces a high-pitched whining sound when running, this indicates heavy mineral scale buildup on the heating element. Rumbling and popping noises occur when excessive sediment rests at the bottom of the tank over the heating elements – water trapped between the heating element and the sediment layer overheats and boils, creating the noise.
These issues can be solved by draining the tank and flushing it to remove sediment and mineral scale buildup. Do not drain the tank if your water heater is several years old and has never been drained before, as doing so may lead to leaks.
Water Too Hot
Improper thermostat settings cause a water heater’s hot water supply to become too hot. If the thermostat is too high, people are at risk of scalds when using hot water throughout the home.
Adjust the water heater’s thermostat to 120°F to optimize energy efficiency and prevent bacteria development in the tank while reducing the risk of burns.
Curious About Tankless Water Heaters? Estes Services Can Help
Tankless water heaters are in demand among Atlanta homeowners. Their repair and diagnosis are often more complicated and require a professional. However, benefits of tankless units include significant energy savings, lowered utility bills, and a smaller footprint in your home. Avoid these common water heater problems when you trade in your tank and go tankless!
Common Water Heater Problems in Atlanta Are No Match for Estes’ Plumbers
Estes Services has expert plumbers who quickly diagnose and repair any common water heater problems. They also advise you on the ideal water heater type for your home’s and family’s needs.
Call today to schedule an Estes plumber! If you have these common water heater problems in the Atlanta area, Estes Services serves homeowners in Midtown, Roswell, Dunwoody, Virginia Highland, Sandy Springs, Decatur and Druid Hills.
You’ll also find Estes’ licensed plumbers in Fayetteville, Peachtree City, Johns Creek, Marietta, Kennesaw and Buckhead.