Plumber checking list for water heater problems

Common Gas and Electric Water Heater Problems

No matter the season or time of year, your water heater functioning properly is essential. Summer or winter, your clothes need to be washed, your shower needs to be warm, and your sink needs to sanitize those dishes.


How do you know if your water heater is experiencing problems and affecting usage and efficiency, or causing damage to your home?


Let’s break down the most common problems homeowners experience with gas and electric water heater systems. (And how to fix them!)


Common Gas Water Heater Issues

Gas water heaters utilize a burner to heat water, located at the bottom of the water heater. Gas water heaters have a tank and require airflow. The temperature of the water heater can be set based on the size of the home and the number of hot water users living there.


Heat is transferred by the combustion of propane gas, ignited by a pilot light. Gas water heaters require an exhaust system funneled outside so as to remove dangerous carbon dioxide fumes from the home.


Gas water heaters should be handled with caution and expertise, especially when dealing with a number of system problems.


1. Not Enough Hot Water

One of the most common problems encountered with gas water heaters is that there doesn’t seem to be enough hot water to go around. Thankfully, this is fairly easy to fix; simply turn up the water temperature on your water heater. Be cautious not to turn it up too high, as this can be a burning hazard.


If the problem persists, it may be due to an improper thermostat setting or a malfunctioning gas valve. Both of these circumstances require the intervention of a professional plumber.


2. No Hot Water

If your home has a gas water heater and there is no hot water accessible from any sources in your home, it may have something to do with the pilot light or flow of gas. You may be able to reignite the pilot light using an ignitor or following the specific instructions found in your water heater manual.


3. Water Heater Clicking/Making Noise

If your water heater is making unfamiliar noises, it’s a sign of something potentially dangerous. It’s likely that your water heater is “clicking” because there is a build-up of sediment at the bottom of the machine, preventing the water from being heated properly. This can result in overheating, and therefore should be addressed by a professional.


For prevention, your water heater should be flushed, inspected, cleaned, and maintained by a plumbing expert at least once per year.


4. Leaking Water Heater

If you observe a leak coming from your water heater, call a trained plumbing professional immediately. The water heater either needs to be repaired or replaced, and will cause further damage if not properly attended to. After placing the call to your plumber, follow these steps:


  • Locate the source of the leak
  • Turn off power to your water heater
  • Turn off water supply
  • Remove valuables from the flow of water and ensure the area is clear of pets, children, etc


5. Smelly Hot Water

If you’re smelling something resembling rotten eggs coming from your water heater, or from your hot water tap, it’s likely that there is bacterial growth occurring in your water heater. The solution is fairly simple (flushing with a cleaning solution), but if you’re not trained to do this, it’s time to call the pros (a plumber).


Common Electric Water Heater Problems

While gas and electric water heaters look similar, the main difference between the two is that an electric water heater is powered by electric upper and lower heating elements which protrude into the tank to heat the water.


If your electric water heater is showcasing any of the above water heater problems, the solution will likely look different than that of a gas water heater issue.


Before proceeding with any diagnosis or investigation of your electric water heater problems, be advised to turn off the power to your electric heater using your home’s breaker system.


1. No Hot Water

If your electric water heater isn’t producing hot water in your home, it’s likely not receiving power or a failed heating element. To troubleshoot, check the heater’s circuit breaker to ensure power is still flowing. Try switching it off and on again.


If there is a malfunctioning heating element, it may be time to call in the pros for repair or complete replacement.


2. Not Enough Hot Water

If your home’s hot water supply doesn’t seem to be meeting the demand of those living inside, it may be that the unit isn’t large enough to satisfy the water needs of your family. You can mitigate this by limiting the length of hot showers and spreading out other hot water uses (dishwasher, laundry, etc) throughout the day.


If the issue persists, there may be one or more heating elements beginning to lose efficiency, in which case it’s best to schedule an appointment with a water heater repair expert.


3. Water Temperature is Too Hot

While one wouldn’t assume this is a problem, water temperature that is unbearably hot can be just as frustrating as no or not enough hot water. It’s possible that a setting on your electric water heater isn’t set properly. Follow the instructions specific to your unit and adjust one or more of the water heater’s thermostats.


4. Leaking Water Heater

As with a gas water heater, this is a highly problematic situation. If you notice water coming from your water heater, call a professional right away. The leak could be due to tank corrosion or a loose heating element. After calling your local emergency plumber, do the following:


  • Turn off power to your electric water heater
  • Turn off water supply
  • Locate the source of the leak
  • Evacuate the area
  • If knowledgeable and confident enough, you may begin draining the tank


5. Colored Water, Bad Odor, Or Noisy Tank

The procedures for addressing these issues in an electric water heater are the same as mitigating them for a gas water heater. It’s time to tap in your local professional plumbing team!


NoCo’s Team of HVAC and Plumbing Experts

If you’re in need of professional plumbing services, be sure to call the team that will provide you with individualized solutions and excellent customer service.


Good Guys Home Services is fully equipped and trained to mitigate any problem your gas or electric water heater might throw our way. We can handle leaks, malfunctioning heating elements, build-up, bacteria in your tank, and more! Whether your home is in need of maintenance, repairs, replacement, or an inspection, you need a team of plumbing experts!

When you need heating, plumbing, and air conditioning services, be sure to call a business that allows you to talk to find the solution right now. Enjoy quality, speedy service and 24/7 availability every time you call Good Guys Home Services. Reach out today!