Hot Water Heater Troubleshooting

The hot water heater troubleshooting guide below covers water heater problems common to both electric and gas water heaters.

Troubleshooting water heaters is basically a process of elimination. Start with the most likely cause and work your way down the list until you find the problem.
For hot water heater repair and testing follow the links on each page.

Electric water heater troubleshooting
Covers specify problems related to electric water heaters. Includes links to testing and repair pages for electric water heaters.

Gas water heater troubleshooting
Covers specify problems related to gas water heaters. Also has links to testing and repair pages for gas water heaters.

This hot water heater troubleshooting guide is for tank type residential storage water heaters.

Follow the links at the bottom of the page for help testing and replacing water heater parts.

Discolored Water

1. Caused by rust and sediment - flush and clean tank.

Water has Bad Odor

1. Bacteria build up in tank.

2. Clean tank with chlorine bleach or hydrogen peroxide.

3. Check/replace anode rod.

Low Hot Water Pressure

1. Water shut at water heater not completely open.

2. Faucet stem or aerator clogged with sediment.

3. Faucet supply line clogged.

4. Faucet water shut off clogged.

5. Water heater dip tube clogged.

6. Water line leaving water heater clogged with sediment.

7. Shut off valve at water heater malfunction.

8. Follow the link below for detail help with each step.

Low hot water pressure

Relief Valve Dribbling Water

1. Spring in relief valve is weak.

2. Water heater pressure to high. Install thermal expansion tank.

Relief Valve Releasing Large Amounts of Hot Water

1. Water heater is to hot - Go to gas or electric troubleshooting guide for help with your particular type of water heater.

Water Heater Leaking

1. Water heaters have several ports or opening in the tank, such as the drain valve, pressure relief valve, gas control valve or electric heating elements. Check all ports for water leaks. Also check the plumbing above the water heater.

2. If after all the checks you can't find a leak and you have lots of water on the floor the water heater tank is most likely leaking.
Water heater tanks can't be repaired.

All guides are step by step with pictures.

Water heater relief valve - In-depth troubleshooting, repair.

Flush hot water heater - Flush sediment from your water heater.

Cleaning hot water heater - How to clean a water heater without chemicals.

Hot Water Heater Troubleshooting Tips

Not enough hot water

The cold water supply entering a water heater may drop as much as 25 degrees during the winter. This temperature difference will cause a water heater to recover much more slowly.

A 40 gallon water heater can only deliver about 27 gallons of usable warm water. Its very easy to use up hot water without realizing it.

As sediment builds up in a water heater, it takes more energy to heat the water.
Its a good idea to flush a water heater every 3 months in areas with hard water.

Excessive sediment is the major cause of low hot water pressure.

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