Common Water Heater Problems and Troubleshooting Tips

We use hot water for a multitude of essential daily chores—from taking a shower to getting the dishes and laundry done. Water heater troubles can bring it all to a halt, requiring professional water heater repair service. This out of sight, out of mind appliance is crucial in any modern household. That’s why we’ve put together common water heater problems and troubleshooting tips for Highland Village, TX homeowners. 

Searching for a “water heater repair service near me”? Call the pros at Strittmatter Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing for fast, dependable repairs and installation. Dial (972) 362-4135 to speak to a team member today or visit us online for more information.  

Types of Hot Water Heaters

Before we get started, let’s take a quick look at common types of water heaters available:

  • Conventional Storage Tank Water Heaters These units heat and hold water in an insulated tank until it is needed and can be electric or gas operated.

  • Tankless Water Heaters Tankless systems heat water on demand and have an infinite hot water capacity.

  • Heat Pump Water Heater This hybrid system uses a tank and draws heat from the ground and air. 

While each type of water heater has unique maintenance requirements, there are common issues we can discuss to help you troubleshoot your unit. Let’s dive in.    

No Hot Water

If water hasn’t been heated to any degree, this indicates one of several potential issues:

  • A tripped breaker or blown fuse.
  • A faulty or incorrectly set thermostat.
  • Broken or faulty heating elements. 
  • A pilot light that is out or a faulty thermocouple (this applies to gas operated water heaters only).

It’s wise to start with troubleshooting the simplest of these issues first. Check that the unit’s thermostat is on and set to the correct temperature. Next, investigate your electrical panel and check for tripped breakers or blown fuses. If all seems well, you may need to repair or replace your water heater’s heating elements. A professional HVAC technician can inspect and diagnose the issue.

Lukewarm Water or Not Enough Hot Water

Insufficient amounts of hot water or lukewarm water can result from a water heater that is too small to keep up with a household’s water heating demands. If hot water returns simply by waiting in between uses, you may need a bigger unit. A qualified pro can evaluate your system and household needs to determine if your water heater is improperly sized. 

If water remains lukewarm, even after waiting between uses, this could be due to sediment or scale build-up inside the water tank or on the unit’s heating elements. Flushing the tank and descaling the system can get your hot water back in no time.     

Discolored Water

Brown or rust colored water can result from corrosion in your hot water tank, or from a sacrificial anode rod in need of replacement. Nearly all tanked systems contain such an anode rod, which attracts the electrolytes in tap water. This highly reactive piece of equipment helps increase the lifespan of your hot water tank and will rust before the lining in the tank does. It’s a good rule of thumb to replace your unit’s anode rod every 5–10 years.   

Water Heater Leaks 

Water heaters typically contain a pressure release valve that helps regulate water temperature and internal tank pressure. Some water can escape or drip out of this valve as part of your unit’s normal operation. Excessive leaking or water that pools beneath your water heater, however, points to a bigger problem. The root cause for water heater leaks can range from faulty plumbing connections and problematic valves to issues in the water tank itself. If the water heater tank is leaking, this could indicate excessive corrosion on a tank that has ruptured or is close to doing so. Contact a water heater repair service right away, as a failed or ruptured water heater tank can lead to major property damage.

When the Water is Too Hot

If your hot water is too hot, it’s possible that the heating element thermostat is set too high. Most water heaters have a 120°F pre-set, but it’s worth checking and turning the temperature down to avoid injury. 

Popping or Bubbling Noises

This issue is especially common in areas with hard water—water with a high mineral content. As mineral deposits build into sediment over time, it often settles on the bottom of the tank. Those popping, bubbling or gurgling noises are the sound of boiling water trying to push through the sediment. Luckily, the fix is simple—flush the tank to rid it of accumulated sediment. 

Water That Smells Like Rotten Eggs

Sediment build-up in the water tank can lead to bacteria, which can cause unpleasant odors to circulate through your plumbing. If you only notice the smell when hot water runs, the problem likely lies with your water heater. Have a professional flush and clean out your tank. If your water heater is older than 12–15 years, it might be more cost effective to upgrade to a new system, as odors can linger even after the unit is flushed.  

Pilot Light and Thermocouple Problems

A gas operated water heater has the addition of a pilot light and thermocouple to troubleshoot. The thermocouple regulates gas flow inside your water heater by sensing changes in temperature. Over time, the thermocouple can get covered in dirt and debris, which can cause it to malfunction. Turn your unit off and wait for it to cool down, then clean off any build-up that might cause interference. If you continue to experience pilot light problems, contact a professional to investigate the issue. 

Water Heater Repair Service in Highland Village, TX

The team at Strittmatter Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing provides high-quality, professional water heater services with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. We offer multiple payment options to help cover costs and you can always rely on honest, transparent pricing and advice from our skilled technicians.  

Strittmatter specializes in cooling, heating and plumbing services in Highland Village, TX, and the surrounding areas. Call (972) 362-4135 today or visit us online to schedule services from the best HVAC company near you.  

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