Many Winchester residents have heard horror stories about hot water heaters bursting and flooding a residential basement. Other stories are even more dramatic, including gas units exploding and flying through the roofs of businesses.

Though these – especially the latter – are the extremes, other problems are more frequent for water heaters, whether gas or electric.

And luckily, many are simple fixes. To assist, we’re here to expose the top gas and electric water heater problems and provide some solutions.

Let’s start with the most of all basic water heater problems: no hot water

Gas and Electric Water Heater Problems and What to Do

Problem: No Hot Water


1. No Power (electric):

An electric water heater that fails to produce hot water sometimes simply lacks power. Check the circuit breaker, and if the circuit has tripped, flip the switch on then off again.

2. High Temp Cut-off Reset (electric):

If after the power has been resupplied to the water heater, but it is still not producing hot water, try resetting the high-temperature cut-off.

3. Bad Heating Elements/No Power to Heating Elements (electric):

Heating elements can often be the root of no hot water in an electric water heater. Test each heating element to ensure they are in working order, if not, double-check electrical connections to ensure they are getting adequate power and perform repairs as needed.

4. Bad Thermo Couple (gas):

If a gas heater is not heating water, it may be on account of a bad thermocouple. The pilot light not staying lit is often a sign it’s time to replace the thermocouple

5. Gas – Bad Gas Control Valve (gas):

If the thermocouple is not the root of the issue, the pilot light not staying lit can be on account of a harmful gas control valve that needs replacing.

6. Gas – Bad Pilot Light (gas):

If a pilot light is not lighting or staying lit it can mean the pilot light orifice or tube is clogged. If cleaning the pilot light does not fix the issue, it will need replacing.

7. Gas – Bad Ignitor (gas):

If the pilot light is not lighting, one should also check/test the ignitor. This process can quickly be done as most systems will allow one to override and ignite at will manually. If it does not ignite manually, the ignitor may need to be replaced.


Problem: Not Enough Hot Water


8. Exceeded Water Heater Capacity (gas/electric):

When a water heater is failing to produce hot enough water for one’s desires, it is often because the heater is not big enough. Try limiting hot water usage, and if this allows water to come up to desirable temperatures, it may be time to install a larger water heater.

9. Heating Elements Dirty/Faulty (electric):

With an electric water heater, failure to produce adequate water temperature may be on account of heating elements covered in sediment, or some heating elements have failed. To find out for sure, you will need to inspect/test each element.

10. Thermostat Setting Too Low (gas):

Dirty pilot lights and bad gas control valves often contribute to gas heaters producing water temperatures that are too low. However, the most common root of the issue is the thermostat being set too low.


Problem: Leaks


11. Bad/Faulty Connections (gas/electric):

Leaks are a pressing issue as they need to be addressed immediately; that does not mean they are always challenging to repair. Most often, leaking water near the water heater is on account of faulty plumbing connections. A close inspection will tell if the plumbing should be replaced or tightened up.

12. Leaking T&P Valve (gas/electric):

The T&P valve is often the source of leaks on water heaters. This valve can stick on account of corrosion over time and should be a simple fix. Though for these water heater problems it most likely means its time to replace the valve.

13. Leaking Near Bottom (gas/electric):

Water found near the bottom of the tank is almost always a typical result of water flowing from the overflow pipe. A simple fix is to place a catch to prevent this water from hitting the floor.


Problem: Dirty Water


14. Rust Colored Water (gas/electric):

Rust-colored water is most likely caused by corrosion in the plumbing or tank. The best course of action is to inspect the system for any signs of corrosion and perform necessary repairs.

15. Bad Odor (gas/electric):

A bad odor commonly described as the smell of rotten eggs is often a product of bacteria in the tank. The tank will need to be flushed and treated, but a quick fix is to turn the thermostat to 140 degrees to kill off any bacteria.

16. Bad Anode (gas/electric):

If the tank has been flushed and treated to rid bacteria, but the fowl odor returns, it’s often a symbol that it is time to replace the tank anode rod.

hot water heater leaking and making hissing noise

Problem: Water Heater Making Popping/Hissing Noise


17. Sediment Buildup (gas/electric):

Over time, sediment can build up in the bottom of the tank. As this happens, this sediment can cause the water heater to overheat, which will result in several odd sounds to come from the heater. If deposits are present, the tank will need to be drained to remove this sediment.

18. Limescale (gas/electric):

Limescale buildup is just as typical of an issue as sediment buildup in the water heater. If the tank does not drain, it could be a sign that it is time to have the water heater flushed to remove the lime.


Problem: Low Hot Water Pressure


19. Restrictive Plumbing (gas/electric):

Low hot water pressure is rarely at fault of the water heater. Instead, it is most likely that the plumbing is either too small or filled with corrosion or sediment that hinders flow. Removing faucet aerators can be done to determine whether the flow is restricted by residue or corrosion.


Problem: Water Taking too Long to Heat


20. Electric-Dirty Heating Elements (electric):

If water temperature is taking too long to recover or heat up and the water heater is of adequate size, it can be that the heating elements need attention. Often, the heating elements being covered in sediment can slow the water heating process.

21. Pilot Light/Burner Dirty (gas):

With gas heaters that are taking too long to heat the pilot light and burner, dirt is a common problem. The pilot light orifice/flue or the burner may be soiled and need to be cleaned or replaced.

Water Heater Problems – Concluding Thoughts

This can seem like a lot of information at once, but the critical element to remember is that the typical problem linking water heater troubles together are dirty components.

While mechanical failures are inevitable, keeping a clean water heater is key to having a pain free system. Need help with maintaining your water heater within the Winchester area? Contact DM Select Services Winchester’s trusted staff today for additional information.