Picture this: you’re coming home from a long day at work, or you’re covered in sweat from an exercise routine or afternoon yard work. You’re ready to warm your muscles under a steaming-hot shower, only to feel freezing water drench your skin instead!
Your home’s water heater is often out of sight and out of mind, meaning that you don’t think about it until you need sudden plumbing repair. However, paying attention to minor issues can help you figure out when your water heater is struggling to keep up with your demands. In some cases, it can even help you diagnose and treat the issue on your own!
If you want to make sure you’ll have hot water whenever you want it, here are a few red flags to look out for.
The most obvious sign that something’s gone wrong with your water heater is a lack of hot water. If you notice cold or tepid water from your home’s taps, you may be able to fix this common issue on your own.
Check your device’s thermostat for a possible setting error. A temperature of 120 degrees is ideal, as it not only keeps you warm but also saves energy while cutting back on your utility bills. If your thermostat isn’t at the right temperature, adjust it and test the water again after an hour or so.
If this doesn’t solve the problem, your next steps will depend on the type of water heater you own.
For an electric water heater, check the circuit breaker. If the breaker has tripped, you’ll need to reset it. Flip it to the “on” setting if you see that it’s gone “off,” then restart your water heater.
For a gas water heater, you’ll want to inspect the pilot light. This light should always burn a bold blue.
However, the pilot light can sometimes go out if dirt or debris has clogged around it, so the area may need cleaning. Freezing temperatures can also affect the gas line, which you may need to thaw. Relight the pilot light when you’ve finished, and restart your water heater.
If these steps don’t work, you may need to contact a local plumber. Your plumber can also help address a pilot light that burns yellow or an electric water heater that trips the breaker over and over.
The water coming out of your faucet shouldn’t have a strong smell.
If you notice foul odors coming from your water, check the source. If the smell only comes from hot water, the hot water heater is the likely culprit. If even your cold water smells strange, the problem lies elsewhere.
Sometimes, water that sits in your hot water tank for too long can grow bacteria. These bacteria contribute to the water’s foul smell.
Flushing the tank can sometimes help remove this annoying microbial growth. A tank flush is an easy task for homeowners to do alone, but you can also contact an expert to tackle this basic plumbing maintenance if you don’t feel comfortable doing it.
To perform a flush, you’ll shut off your water heater and close its cold-water valve. Let the tank cool down for several hours before you continue.
Next, connect a garden hose to the tank’s drain valve, then open the valve to drain the water. Let the water flow until it runs clear, then close the drain valve and remove the garden hose. Allow the tank to fill again, turn it back on, and let it warm up for a while before testing to see if the smell is gone.
Keep in mind that if even a small amount of the bacteria lingers, the bacterial growth may continue, and the odor will continue past the initial tank flush. If this happens, find a quality plumbing service that can disinfect your tank to keep foul smells at bay for good.
Your water heater may make recurring sounds as it cycles through its settings to warm up your water. However, if you start noticing unusual sounds, especially loud banging, clanking, or clattering, it’s a serious red flag.
These noises often happen after sediment builds up at the bottom of your tank. Boiling water can get trapped beneath this layer, causing the tank to vibrate. If some of the sediment knocks loose, it may even circulate around the tank, banging into the sides.
Regular tank flushes can prevent this issue. If you’ve skipped this home plumbing task, doing a tank flush now may solve the problem, but the banging noises might also indicate that too much of the sediment has hardened.
If you have a serious buildup, this hardened sediment means that plumbing repair or a total water heater replacement is necessary. When you upgrade, consider a tankless option to avoid sediment buildup in the future!
Water heater leaks are a common complaint, and they can spring from multiple sources. The most frequent causes of these leaks include a faulty plumbing connection, gasket, or temperature and pressure (T&P) valve.
Tightening a loose valve can sometimes help, especially if you’ve noticed a leaky drain valve during one of your usual tank flushes. If tightening it doesn’t help, call a plumber for a replacement.
An aging anode rod may also be to blame. This feature prevents tank corrosion, but it becomes less effective over time. A simple replacement can fix the issue and even extend the system’s life.
Unfortunately, some leaks are signs that your hot water heater has reached the end of its lifespan. If the tank itself has sprung a leak, you’ll need to replace the entire unit. Contact a pro to diagnose the problem and provide expert plumbing installation, if necessary.
Get Fast Plumbing Repair
If you’re struggling with any of the complaints above, you don’t have to go through it alone! DIY diagnosis and basic troubleshooting can sometimes fix the issue, but they can only take you so far.
Before you start frantically searching “plumber near me,” consider Advantage Plumbing Heating and Cooling! For 50 years, our experienced team has been the trusted resource for plumbing repair in Stillwater and the surrounding area. Contact us today for a quick fix!