Back to Help Center

How to Diagnose Your Water Heater Problem

Water heaters are an essential asset to every home. It continuously heats water whether it is being used or not. When there is no more hot water, cold water enters into the water heater to heat up and replace the hot water that was used. There are two main types of water heaters – gas and electric and both can be found in many homes. Many professional plumbers might tell an individual that electric water heaters are good because an individual does not need to worry about venting of combustion gases, however, electric models are more expensive when it comes to operation. Whatever type of water heater is chosen is dictated by the type of water heater already installed. To have a plumber come in to change from gas to electric (or vice versa) can prove to be an expensive ordeal.

As with any home appliance, there can be malfunctions. It is important for any individual to know how to diagnose a problem with a water heater – this way, they can either see if it is possible to fix it on their own, or if it something complicated that only a professional plumber should come in to repair.

If an individual is experiencing a lack of hot water or if it takes too long to reheat water, it could be due to the thermostat being set on a low temperature, in which case, all that an individual would need to do is raise the temperature on the thermostat, but not too high to avoid burns. Other reasons for a lack of hot water include sediment or lime buildup in the tank or a decrease in gas pressure.

If the is a leak coming from the pressure relief valve, either the water temperature is too high (in which case, turn down the thermostat), the water pressure is too high (go to the supply line to locate the pressure reducing valve), or the pressure relief valve is broken, in which case, an individual will have to call in a plumber to replace it. If the actual tank is leaking, it is important to check the valves and pipes for leaks as well as if the leak is due to condensation on the tank. If the leak is coming from the actual tank, then the entire water heater system will need to be replaced.

If the water heater is gas-powered, and the pilot light will not remain lit to heat the water heater, determine if the thermocouple is screwed tightly into the thermostat and secured near the flame of the pilot light. The thermocouple might be broken, in which case, replacement is necessary. Other reasons for a pilot light that will not remain lit include condensation that extinguishes the light, the gas line might be turned off, gas pressure might be low, there could be dirt or air clogging the gas line, the thermostat might need to be replaced, or insufficient combustion air can cause a water heater to turn off due to safety reasons.