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Common Water Heater Issues

Common Water Heater Issues

Your water heater is an integral appliance in your home, yet its importance often goes overlooked as it’s tucked away out of sight.

Nevertheless, if your hot water suddenly turns frosty, you will likely hurry to the water heater to determine what is causing this issue. With hot water a necessity for your daily routine, it’s important to acquaint yourself with the typical water heater issues and their solutions.

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Although some of your water heater issues may be small enough to repair yourself, an expert should always handle more serious repairs. Calling a professional will ensure that the problem gets fixed correctly so you can get back to enjoying hot water whenever needed. Here are six typical water heater broken issues.

Water Leaks

Eventually, all water heaters succumb to corrosion due to the age-old problem of water’s natural ability to destroy materials. It is why leaks are one of the most frequent issues related to them.

Often, the leak is not noticeable in the beginning, and you’ll have to search around to discover the problem. Start by looking at the top of the tank. If the leak is coming from there, more than likely, your water connection is loose.

Easily fix condensation-related leaks from the bottom of the tank by adjusting your thermostat’s temperature. Ultimately, if you’re contending with a pipe leak, it may be caused by corrosion. In this case, you may need to replace the water heater.

No Hot Water

When your water tank is full, and there’s no hot water, it could be due to the heating source. For example, with a gas heater, a bad pilot light or faulty gas connection could be the reason for no hot water. You may need to replace the burner if the gas doesn’t ignite and your pilot light is on.

For electric heaters, the issues may lie within one of the heating elements keeping your water from getting hot. The element’s electrical connection could be impacted and need replacement.

With newer electric heaters, check your breaker to see if the circuit to the water heater has tripped. If it has, then just reset it to have hot water again.

Strange Smelling Hot Water

If you detect a peculiar odor when your hot water is running, an accumulation of bacteria may exist.

The best way to solve this issue is by turning the water temperature to 140 F°. However, don’t keep your water at this temperature for over an hour.

Having a water temperature set this high can cause serious burn injuries. If the problem continues, you can clean your water tank with vinegar.

Tank Takes a Long Time to Heat

Here are several reasons your water tank is taking an eternity to heat up.

  • The thermostat is set too low.
  • There is a gas connection problem. You may need to clean out certain parts for proper gas flow.
  • You need more capacity. It means it’s not getting the proper chance to refill and reheat to be used again for hot water.

Low Water Pressure

Older homes often have the common issue of dealing with low water pressure due to the design of the pipes. To remedy the issue, a plumber may have to redo your pipes if your home is older. For newer homes, you can fix the problem by ensuring the aerators in your sink are not clogged.

Water Too Hot or Too Cold

No matter how often you adjust the setting, you may need to replace your thermostat when the water is too hot or cold. If your water is too cold, it may be due to a gas flow problem.

Water Heater Leaking from Top

If you discover water heater leaking from the top, don’t panic. Loose connections typically cause these types of leaks. As long as you address them promptly, you can quickly fix them yourself. Read on to find out why water leaks from the top of the water heater.

Cold Water Valve

Your cold water travels through the inlet pipe into the water heater. The leak may be due to this valve when water leaks from the top. Therefore, it’s best to check this inlet valve first when this happens.

When looking at the cold inlet pipe, search for a ball or gate valve to shut the water off. After shutting the water off, check if the water leak comes from the valve. Grab a wrench to tighten the valve if it is loose and leaking. You may need to replace the valve if there’s still water leakage after tightening the valve.

Temp & Pressure Valve (TPV)

The temp and pressure valve sits at the top of your tank. A few heaters have it displaced on the side. This valve releases the water in the tank and lowers the pressure when the temperature gets too high. Look for loose or corroded fittings around the TPV to solve this issue.

Moreover, it is essential to keep the TPV in good condition. Failing to do so can cause major problems. In some cases, it may even cause an explosion. Switch off your water heater until this issue gets addressed.

Anode Rod Port

Inside your water heater is a long thin rod that helps prevent corrosion. Without this rod, the elements within the water could eat through the water heater.

Nevertheless, change the rod after a certain period to prevent any leaking. If you spot water trickling from the top of your heater, it may mean that its rod needs replacement. Ignoring this can lead to pricey repairs later on.

Loose or Corroded Pipes Fittings

As pipes age, they can become corroded or loose, resulting in leakage. Fortunately, this issue is simple to address.

Start by looking at your water heater’s inlets and outlet fittings. If you notice either is loose, grab a wrench to tighten them. However, if they’re corroded, replace them.

Leaking Expansion Tank

Some water heaters have a smaller tank next to them, known as an expansion tank. This tank sits atop the water heater and collects the excess water to lower pressure.

Inspect your expansion tank to see if water leaks from there. Check for any loose pipe fittings and tighten them.

Hole in the Top or Condensation

Remember to replace your anode rod to prevent corrosion in your water heater. If neglected, a corroded tank may eventually lead to leakage and holes. The only surefire way of solving this is by replacing the unit entirely.

Condensation is generally nothing to be concerned about and results from cold temperatures. If you find excessive moisture with the condensation, however, it may be time for an inspection of your water heater. Check the pipe valves or fittings to ensure they haven’t loosened over time.


After extreme weather, a pool of water may be on top of your water heater. If you’ve experienced a powerful storm recently, it could be easy to misinterpret this puddle as an issue with the plumbing.

Thankfully, this is typically a minor issue. Simply clean up the puddle. Conduct a thorough inspection beforehand if you suspect water seepage.

Water Heater Stays Lukewarm

Another common issue is the water staying lukewarm. Below are eight reasons why this may happen.

Sediment Build-up

Particles like sand and dirt will often settle at the tank’s bottom. When sediment builds up over time, it can keep your water heater from getting hot.

You can open the drain valve to see if there’s sediment build-up. If there is, fill the tank with cold water halfway and drain it to clean the build-up. Then, repeat the process until the water is clear again.

Thermostat Broken

Another reason for lukewarm water is a broken thermostat. You can test if it’s the thermostat by setting it to a high temperature. If the heater doesn’t come on, this is likely the cause.

Often this happens to water heaters that don’t receive regular maintenance. To avoid this issue, have a professional perform yearly inspections.

Gas Hot Water out of Fuel

If your gas supply is out, then your water heater will not be able to operate correctly. Check your gas supply to see if it’s full. Then check your pilot light to see if your water heater is getting adequate gas supply.

Electric Hot Water Doesn’t Have Power

When it comes to an electric water heater, lukewarm water is likely due to a power issue. You can start by checking your breaker and flipping the switch back to “on.”

Note that the water may take a while to heat itself properly. However, if the issue keeps happening, it may be an electrical issue that a professional must fix.

Broken Dip Tube

If the dip tube breaks, it prevents cold water from reaching the bottom of your heating tank. When this happens, you won’t have access to warm water.

You’ll have to replace the dip tube to fix the issue. Unfortunately, it isn’t a straightforward process. It may be more cost and time-effective to replace the entire unit in the long run.

Depleted Hot Water Supply

Your water heater is where heated water is stored until you need it. If the hot running water isn’t as warm as usual, you may have to wait longer for your desired temperature.

You may need a bigger water heater for your home to solve this issue. Also, it’s ideal to schedule times to use hot water throughout the day to be more mindful of the hot water supply.

Clogged Pipe

A clogged pipe can prevent your water from becoming hot. Checking for gurgling pipes and water emptying slowly may help. In most cases, a plumber can easily help you determine the source and clean the clogged pipe.

Faulty Heating System

If none of these reasons are causing the lukewarm water, it’s likely due to a faulty heating system. Unfortunately, there’s little you can do if this is the problem. The only thing you can do is replace the water heater.

Call the Professionals for Water Heater Repair

While DIY plumbing projects may seem like a great idea, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. If you ever find yourself in over your head with plumbing repairs, our professional plumbers are just one call away and ready to help.

Book with our plumbers today.

Look no further than 4 Service Pro for all your plumbing needs in Virginia! Contact us today to get started with expert water heater services.