Your water heater is one of the most important appliances in your home—and the one you take the most for granted. Unless you’re out of town, you can trust that you’ll use your water heater every day to shower, cook, clean, wash dishes, and do laundry. It’s helpful to know a few troubleshooting tips when water heater problems crop up. And if you can’t solve the problem yourself, a plumber can always lend a hand.

Water Temperature Issues

Your water heater may face three distinct temperature issues:

  • No hot water: This could be caused by a lack of power, faulty thermostat, or broken heating element. First, reset any tripped breakers and replace any blown fuses. Then, make sure the power switch is on. Finally, check that the thermostat is receiving power.
  • Not enough hot water: Try raising the thermostat setting. If that doesn’t work, the water heater may be undersized or have a faulty thermostat. Apart from taking shorter showers to improve hot water recovery time, you may need to upgrade your water heater or repair broken components.
  • Overheated water: To reduce the risk of scalding at the tap, set the water heater thermostat to 120 degrees.

Water Heater Leaks

A water heater can leak for many reasons. First, check for loose plumbing connections, tightening any you find. Then, inspect the unit’s gaskets and temperature and pressure (T&P) relief valve. These may need to be replaced. If water continues to pool around the water heater, the tank itself may have rusted through. In this case, the only option is to replace the appliance.

Discolored Hot Water

Rust-colored water is a sign that the anode rod is failing. Fortunately, replacing the anode rod is easy and can add years to your water heater’s lifespan. Dirty water is a sign of sediment or scale buildup making its way into the hot water outlet. Flushing the water heater is a simple and effective way to remove sediment from the tank.

Noises Coming from the Water Heater

Hissing, popping, banging, or other sounds are most often caused by scale buildup on the heating elements. If flushing the water heater doesn’t resolve the problem, there could be too much pressure inside the tank. Slightly high pressure is usually harmless, but you should have your water heater looked at for peace of mind.

Low Hot Water Pressure

This problem most often appears in older homes with 1/2-inch piping. The only solution is to upgrade to 3/4-inch pipes. Other factors include sediment, calcium deposits, and rust inside your plumbing or faucet aerators.

Smelly Hot Water

Bacteria in the tank can cause your hot water to smell bad. Boosting the thermostat to 140 degrees should kill the bacteria, but a full clean-out with chlorine bleach may be recommended.

If you need a plumber’s help to resolve your water heater issues, contact Mike Counsil Plumbing and Rooter at 408-618-8002. We have over 25 years of experience offering water heater repair in San Jose, CA.