39 Most-Common Problems With Water Heaters (Must Read)

We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases. Read more about us

Photo of author
Written By John Roe Stephen

When the weather is chilly, the first thing you want to do is take a hot shower (after a cup of Joe or tea, of course). Therefore, you make your way to the bathroom, anticipating a steady stream of warm, soothing water to wash over you.

Even if it did not, or maybe you are halfway through your shower, the water temperature has suddenly dropped dramatically. You have gotten yourself into a lot of trouble! 

A few of the most prevalent water heater issues faced by homeowners in the United States include the following: Though they do not always need a complete overhaul of the system. However, it would help if you dealt with them immediately. 

You will be able to use it for at least eight to 12 years if you do it this way. Recognizing and resolving these immediate problems is critical. A list of these issues has been provided for your consideration.

39 Most-Common Problems With Water Heaters

Let us check iu the most common 20 problems with water-heater –

  1. Hot Water Is Not Available 
  2. Mineral Buildup
  3. The Hot Water Keeps Running Out
  4. Water Heater Bad Smell 
  5. Unbalanced Workload
  6. To Heat Water, It Takes Too Long
  7. Pressure In The Water
  8. Rusty or Strangely Colored Water
  9. A Cold Water Sandwich
  10. Too Warm or Too Cold Water
  11. Failure To Start
  12. Noise From The Tank
  13. Ignition Error
  14. The Pilot Doesn’t Turn On The Lights
  15. The Burner Is Extinguished
  16. When Water Boils, You Can Hear It
  17. It’s A Broken Thermostat
  18. Turning Off And On The Thermostat
  19. From The Top, Water Is Coming Out
  20. Water Is Leaking From The Bottom
  21. Do Water Heaters Come With Legs?
  22. Do Water Heaters Need A Neutral?
  23. Why Do Electric Water Heaters Have Two Thermostats?
  24. Do Water Heaters Require GFCI?
  25. Can You Buy Used Water Heaters?
  26. Do Electric Water Heaters Need To Be Bonded?
  27. What Size Gas Line Do Tankless Water Heaters Need?
  28. Do Water Heaters Have Backflow Preventer?
  29. Do Water Heaters Have Check Valves?
  30. Do Gas Water Heaters Have Breakers?
  31. Can You Use 2 Water Heaters Together?
  32. Can CPVC Be Used For Water Heaters?
  33. Can Tankless Water Heaters Use Well Water?
  34. Can Hot Water Heaters Cause Fire?
  35. Can You Use Teflon Tape On Hot Water Heaters?
  36. How Far Apart Should Water Heaters Be?
  37. How Long Should My Water Heater Run?
  38. How Heavy Is Empty Water Heater?
  39. What Happens If You Drop A Water Heater?

Hot Water Is Not Available 

It is possible to have no hot water because of several causes, and you must go through each one to remove each one – and this will depend on whether you have an electric or gas-powered heater. 

An electric heater won’t operate if it doesn’t have any electricity to run. Make sure the power is off by checking the circuit breaker. If so, turning it off and turning it back on is all that is needed to repair it. A blown fuse may necessitate a new one.

The high-temperature cut-off is the next phase. Open the panel and push the “reset” button in the red color. Observe to see whether the water is now hot enough for you.

Heating components may be malfunctioning, which might cause your problem. Replace these if required. A professional may be needed if you have no hot water after examining all of the above options.

Ensure the gas valve is open on your heater if it’s powered by gas. If this isn’t the case, the burner or the Pilot may malfunction.

Mineral Buildup

Keep an eye out for mineral accumulation in your water heater, whether you use a standard or tankless kind. Water with a high mineral concentration is referred to as “hard water,” The more complex the water, the greater the risk of mineral accumulation.

Scaly accumulation caused by calcium and magnesium mineral buildup may hurt the performance of your water heater if you don’t fix it. 

Tankless water heater owners should also check the water filter in their water heater, particularly if they are upgrading from a standard tank water heater to tankless. There’s no need to clean tank water heaters regularly, but tankless water heaters need more attention for a long lifespan. 

If you have healthy water, you may notice that your tankless water heater takes longer to build up a buildup of debris than regular tap water. Particles might become stuck in this lengthy passage if your water filter isn’t checked regularly.

The Hot Water Keeps Running Out

A few seconds, and you’re spewing ice-cold water. This is the second most prevalent issue with water heaters. It’s possible that a rapid reduction in water pressure is to blame for this.

Another is because of shoddy plumbing work (hot water lines and cold tank inlets cross each other). Another option to consider is that your heater’s capacity is insufficient for warm water you need. 

While the ordinary homeowner often overlooks these inefficiencies, there are a few causes that are more possible. As a result, having an inspection performed by a certified service expert is highly recommended. A damaged heating element, low water pressure, or a broken dip tube may all be quickly identified by these experts.

Water Heater Bad Smell 

When the water becomes heated, do you notice that it has a foul smell? Those who use a well for their drinking water often have this issue with their water heater.

Bacteria in the water from the well are the most common source of the stench. Options to address this problem are available.

Every few months, a person may cleanse their water heater. This repair will last longer if the anode rod is replaced.

Turn up the water heater’s thermostat to destroy microorganisms if you’re in a hurry. For the time being, guests and visitors will not be inconvenienced.

Unbalanced Workload

Multiple showers running simultaneously might strain your tankless water heater’s capacity, causing it to overheat and fail. If your water heater is overworked, it may have trouble providing hot water or shut down completely. 

If this occurs, a reset may be necessary, and you should restrict the number of concurrent hot water applications.

To avoid frequent overloading of your tankless water heater, you should purchase a larger model or install an extra unit.

The cost of a second unit may seem high at first, but it will save you money in the long term since you will use less water while waiting for hot water and less gas heating the water. 

To Heat Water, It Takes Too Long

A broken thermostat, clogged heating elements, and sediment buildup on the components are all possible causes of water taking a long time to heat.

Each of these should be checked and replaced as needed. The burner may be to blame if you have a gas model.

Pressure In The Water

Insufficiently broad pipes are often the source of low water pressure. Older houses have 12″ pipes. However, newer houses often have 34″ pipes.

If you have low water pressure in an older house, it may not be just the boiler that is to blame — you may need to widen the pipes in your home to fix the problem.

Rusty or Strangely Colored Water

Rust-colored or muddy water isn’t only unsightly; it’s also a pain to clean with. Also, it’s not something you’ll want to use in your water, whether for drinking or bathing.

Rust in water isn’t harmful to health, but it may be a huge pain and terrible taste.

These reasons should be more than enough to prompt you to take immediate action. Because the anode rod in your hot water tank has most likely failed by this point.

A sacrificed portion does not imply it is useless. As a result, you should get the broken rod replaced as soon as possible.

This particular portion of the filter draws aluminum, magnesium, and zinc from the water, for your information. Simply because it prevents corrosion on the water heater, it’s there for all of us to see.

As a result, if you don’t repair a failing anode rod, your hot water system will be infested with rust. More rust means a more significant chance of leakage or possibly a complete tank rupture.

A Cold Water Sandwich

You may have heard of the “cold water sandwich” if you and your family routinely take back-to-back showers. Imagine that someone in your home just completed taking a shower, and now it is your time to do the same thing.

When you initially switch on the shower, you will feel the warm water, but then you’ll be hit with a burst of chilly water that lasts for several seconds before gradually rising again. 

What transpired was as follows: When the first shower was over, some hot water was still in the pipes leading to the second shower. The warm water you felt at the beginning of the second shower was trapped water. They are also known as “instantaneous water heaters,” They deserve it! 

You are showering with chilly water because cold water has settled in the pipes from your water heater to your shower. With each additional mile of travel, you’ll notice a considerable difference in water quality.

Fortunately, you are now aware of the issue, so you can wait to get wet until the cold water has finished running.

Too Warm or Too Cold Water

Is the temperature of the water in your heater fluctuating? It does not matter what temperature you set your thermostat at; the water always becomes too hot or cold. Your thermostat may be malfunctioning if this occurs.

If your thermocouple is not measuring temperatures correctly, you may need it cleaned or replaced. In other cases, icy water might indicate a problem with gas flow.

Your burner will not be able to heat your storage tank’s water enough if the gas supply is restricted or inadequate.

Failure To Start

Several factors might cause the failure to start your water heater. Check whether your propane tank is full before doing anything else since a gas shortage often causes this problem.

The failure of your ignition might also be caused by a gas valve or water valve that is not completely opened. Ensure that the gas and water valves are entirely open.

Your ignition pack may have failed, or there may be a more serious issue if these measures do not address your ignition problem.

Noise From The Tank

Water heaters may generate sounds for a variety of reasons. The most typical cause of rumbling, popping, and banging noises when heating water is a buildup of scale in the tank and on the heating components.

The tank should be drained and discarded if this is the case. Flush the tank thoroughly every few months to avoid this issue in the first place.

If the condition gets out of hand, you may need to replace the tank. Occasionally, the expansion and contraction of water heaters and pipelines might cause them to create noises. You cannot stop the noise, but this is not dangerous.

Ignition Error

Gas pressure or electrical issues are the most common causes of flame failures. You should rule out little explanations like low propane tanks or unpaid gas bills like ignition failure before moving on.

Flame failure may also be caused by a gas line that is too narrow, regulator failure, combustion difficulties, venting, and more. Troubleshooting the problem may be done by contacting technical assistance.

The Pilot Doesn’t Turn On The Lights

There are several reasons why your pilot light may not be working correctly. The pilot light aperture or tube may be clogged, or it may simply need to be replaced if it won’t ignite in the first place. A defective or loose thermocouple is another option. You may have a defective gas valve or an air leak in the gas line.

The Burner Is Extinguished

Problems with the pilot light are likely to be at the root of this problem. A clogged orifice, a faulty thermocouple, or a filthy vent might all be to blame.

When Water Boils, You Can Hear It

It’s also known as “kettling” by sure folks. If you hear a “boiling” sound coming from your water heater, it implies that the water is boiling and has to be fixed right away. Scalding is the opposite of boiling, and it may result in severe burns. Then there’s the fact that burns aren’t good.

It’s A Broken Thermostat

At the absolute least, if the thermostat is incorrect, it should be reset. Replacement or upgrading is the best choice if this doesn’t work.

Turning Off And On The Thermostat

The thermostat may malfunction if there is insufficient water pressure, too many taps are open, or frequent leaks. As a result, the thermostat often cycles between on and off modes.

From The Top, Water Is Coming Out

Does the water heater have water leaking or pooling at the top? This is occurring for two reasons. The hot water exit and cold water input pipes are both loose.

Secondly, the temperature and pressure relief valve is leaking. Call a professional immediately if you can’t repair these issues by tightening the valves.

Water Is Leaking From The Bottom

If you see water dripping from the bottom of your water heater, don’t panic. Several factors are at play here. Condensation might be the cause of leaking water from an electric water heater.

You may solve this issue by raising the temperature on your thermostat. Perhaps it’s an overflow pipe attempting to relieve some excess pressure. A drain must be connected to the pipe.

Do Water Heaters Come With Legs?

Short legs have traditionally been attached to the bottom of every water heater to lift it a few inches off the ground. If an ignitable fuel source powers a water heater, it must be elevated by local building codes (gas, propane, etc.).

Even so, the code specifies that the spark plug must be lifted. If your water heater is electric or heat pump, there’s no need to increase it to local building codes.

Do Water Heaters Need A Neutral?

Traditional water heaters do not need a neutral at this time. For 220 and 240-volt appliances with electronic controls, the neutral wires are included in the 4-wire cable.

Why Do Electric Water Heaters Have Two Thermostats?

There are usually two thermostats to monitor the temperature of both the top and bottom of the tank on most larger electric water heaters. The higher thermostat is in charge, and it commands the lower thermostat at all times.

Do Water Heaters Require GFCI?

There is no need for GFCI protection in the case of receptacles that are not designed to service wet bar countertop surfaces such as water heaters, ice machines, and freezers.

Can You Buy Used Water Heaters?

However, finding a reasonable price on an old water heater with lots of life remaining might be more complex than finding a new one, so purchasing a used one is riskier.

When a person wants to save money, there are alternatives to purchasing a secondhand water heater. Before purchasing a secondhand heater, here are some things to bear in mind.

Instantaneous Or Storage Tank For Water

Water heaters with and without storage tanks are the following options to consider. In the majority of water heaters, there is a tank.

Tanks made of stainless steel are more costly, but they last far longer and need less maintenance than mild steel. Copper-tank water heaters are the finest, but they’re also the priciest.

Continuous-flow water heaters provide just the amount of water you need at the time. The hot water doesn’t come out of the faucet instantly, though; if the water heater is far from the tap, it may take a few seconds for the water to heat up.

Gas and electric instantaneous water heaters are offered. It’s less expensive to operate than a storage system since there are no heat losses.

Safety Feature

Storage water heaters may be dangerous. Therefore it’s essential to understand the dangers and safety aspects before using one.

When pressure or temperature rises over a certain point, a safety valve will open to alleviate pressure buildup. In the case of an emergency, this protects the water heater from bursting into flames.

Space Allotted For Setup

When shopping for this item, keep in mind that it will take up a significant wall or floor space.

You’ll need a place where you can quickly reach the faucets for maintenance and repairs, as well as where you can connect them to the water supply.

Do Electric Water Heaters Need To Be Bonded?

The National Electric Code does not mandate the installation of a bonding wire; however, specific municipal building regulations do.

When copper pipe fittings are linked to a water heater, some electricians and building inspectors advocate using a bonding cable.

What Size Gas Line Do Tankless Water Heaters Need?

A 34-inch gas pipe is typically required for a standard tankless water heater. However, a 12-inch line may suffice with sure tankless water heaters, provided the pressure is adequate, and the run length is short enough.

Do Water Heaters Have Backflow Preventer?

When installing a water heater, a backflow preventer must be included in the plumbing. This will prevent water from polluting drinking water by preventing it from running backward.

The pressure in your water heater might be affected if hot water is not prevented from rejoining the supply.

Do Water Heaters Have Check Valves?

Tanks with check valves on the water heater’s cold inflow side save energy. When cold-water pressure drops, it stops hot water from going up the cold input water line.

Do Gas Water Heaters Have Breakers?

A breaker is required for every water heater with an electrical connection, whether gas or electric. An electrical circuit may be required to monitor and operate sure gas water heaters, making them more efficient.

Can You Use 2 Water Heaters Together?

Connecting in series or cold into both heaters (as indicated above) are optimal options if tanks are of various sizes and not identical to one another. If you want to connect, for example, a 50-gallons gas and a 30-gallons electric, you may do it with no issues.

Can CPVC Be Used For Water Heaters?

The transition temperature of CPVC is substantially higher than the temperature at which a water heater shuts off, making it an appropriate material.

As a result, the pipe should last the user for at least 50 years. Regarding hot water plumbing, CPVC pipes are the best option.

Can Tankless Water Heaters Use Well Water?

A tankless water heater is a viable option if you have healthy water. Still, you’ll need to examine the water temperature, the water pressure, and whether or not your water is hard or contaminated with silt.

Can Hot Water Heaters Cause Fire?

According to the National Fire Protection Association, water heaters accounted for 11% of home heating equipment fires between 2007 and 2011.

Can You Use Teflon Tape On Hot Water Heaters?

Do not use Teflon tape to seal gas connections. Do not use oil-based products. Make sure the new heater can run on the gas you currently have.

How Far Apart Should Water Heaters Be?

Air space must be provided around water heaters to perform correctly and safely. A water heater must have a 12-inch clearance on all sides.

Additionally, a specific quantity of airflow is necessary for optimum combustion and ventilation.

How Long Should My Water Heater Run?

Three to five hours is the usual amount of time a water heater is used in a typical home each day.

A water heater’s capacity, the number of persons consuming hot water, its storage capacity, location, temperature setting, and efficiency all have a role in how long it takes to heat a given amount of water.

How Heavy Is Empty Water Heater?

The typical empty weight of tank-style water heaters is 150 pounds. However, this varies depending on the heater’s size. The weight of a gallon of water heated by a tank-style water heater is around 2.6 pounds.

The average weight of a tankless water heater is only 27 pounds, making them far more portable. In addition, the average weight of an under-the-sink water heater is 32 pounds.

What Happens If You Drop A Water Heater?

When the bottom element of an electric water heater reaches the desired temperature, the element turns off. The power is sent to the higher element, which completes the heating process.

Dropping it without water will result in the bottom element (most of them are not designed to operate in air, but there are a few exceptions, such as the sandhog variety) blowing up instantaneously, essentially shutting down the entire thing.

A gas heater generates heat by creating a flame at the bottom of the tank and sending it up the middle of the tank to the vent. This is how they function. If you don’t add water to the tank, the metal will heat unevenly and eventually separate, resulting in a leak.


However, even though tankless water heaters are known to be low-maintenance and energy-efficient, issues might arise. Some of the most frequent issues with tankless heated water heaters are included in this list, although it is by no means comprehensive.

Was this article heplful?

Yes No