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Water Heater Repair and Troubleshooting

Water heater repair
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Only when you’re without hot water do you realize just how important it is to daily life, which is why water heater repair is such an important service. From strange colors to weird noises, we’ve seen it all before and we know how to fix it. These are some of the most common gas and electric water heater problems and the possible reasons for them.

Inadequate Hot Water Supply

Not having hot water is unpleasant, but running out of hot water midway through your morning shower is even worse. While there are quite a few reasons you might be running out of hot water, the following are the most common

  • Undersized Heater

    If you are suddenly experiencing an unusual shortage of hot water it may be because your water heater is too small for the hot water demands of your household. If you have a few friends or relatives staying with you or if you have installed a high-flow showerhead it is likely that your water heater is too small to keep up with the new demand for more hot water.

  • Malfunctioning Parts

    Electric water heaters have upper and lower heating elements attached to thermostats. If the thermostats are faulty the elements won’t heat up. In most heaters the lower element is configured to the upper element in such a way that if the upper element is faulty the lower one will not function and you won’t have any hot water. If the lower element is faulty, however, the upper element will still function and you will have a limited supply of hot water.

Water Heater Making Noises

Heating water to extreme temperatures in a small, pressurized container can lead to a few noises here and there, however your hot water heater should not make a huge racket every time you have a shower. Although the following are some of the most common problems associated with a specific noise, it is always best to have your noisy water heater checked if it starts making very strange sounds.

  • Crackling, Popping or Gurgling

    These noises are associated with sediment build up. When the heater is off, caked sediment can trap water under a film at the bottom of the tank. When the water is heated it pops through a small hole, making the crackling sound you hear. Alternatively, the noises could be caused by the expansion and contraction of the tank itself during normal operation.

  • Screaming or Screeching

    Screeching noises are often created by lots of water being forced through a small hole, which can be caused by a valve that is not properly opened. If the noise sounds more like a high-pitched whine than a scream it could be a build up of scale on the heating element.

  • Bubbling or Boiling

    Call a professional immediately if your water heater makes these sounds, as they could indicate that your water heater is overheating or that there is a dangerous build-up of pressure.

Discolored Hot Water

If your hot water looks strange, the first thing you need to do is turn on the cold water faucet and see if the color changes. If the cold water is also discolored the problem lies with your water source, but if only the hot water is discolored you may have one of the following problems, depending on how the water looks.

  • Rusty Water

    Rusty looking water is often a sign of corrosion of the sacrificial anodes inside a tank or the tank itself. Although all metals rust when submerged in water, magnesium and aluminum are more reactive than the steel used to create hot water tanks. Consequently, magnesium/aluminum rods known as sacrificial anodes are placed inside hot water tanks to protect the tank itself and extend its lifespan. These anodes have to be regularly replaced to ensure the steel hot water tank does not rust.

  • Dirty Water

    This is often an indication of a scale buildup on the heating elements or small pieces of debris and sediment that have made their way into your hot water outlet. This problem is usually fixable by flushing the tank and cleaning the elements.

Although these are a few reasons for some common problems, there are many more and the reason you should always call a professional rather than trying to troubleshoot on your own.


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