Electric Water Heater: Common Issues and How to Solve Them

Electric Water Heater

Water heaters are the mainstays of household hot water systems, and when they malfunction, that can cause real headaches. There are various problems that occur and they have different symptoms, such as water temperature, odour, leaks, noise and discoloration. Naturally, you want to figure out the root cause and to pull it off, you need to embrace a proactive approach. One of the basic rules is to turn off the power before doing any troubleshooting. Simply turn off the fuse or a circuit breaker attached to the heater unit. Then, go on to examine the unit to pinpoint any of the following faults.

Water temperature

Let us address the first common issue, inadequate water temperature. In general, when there is no hot water, it is the result of a lack of power, a malfunctioning electric thermostat, or upper heater electric element. Therefore, inspect the heater and rule out problems until you find the culprit. Reset a tripped circuit breaker and blown fuses. Check whether the power is supplied to the electric water heating element. In case the element itself is faulty, you have to replace it.

And if there is hot water, but it is in short supply, there are few possible scenarios: crossed cold and hot water connections, undersized water heater, and defective thermostat/heating element. For instance, when it comes to size, the heater should always have 75% of its capacity in hot water. On the other hand, turning off the water supply and then turning on a hot water faucet is a simple test to determine whether you have a crossed water connection.

Leaks

Water leaks are some of the most prevalent water heater problems that lead to both energy and money going down the drain. Here, there are several possible sources of leaks: a leaking tank, temperature and pressure (T&P) relieve valve, bad gasket, overheating, a stuck valve, leak from an adjacent connection, and loose heating element bolts.  It is best to go step by step. For example, to inspect the T&P valve, place a bucket under an overhead pipe and flush the debris clear. If the leak persists, you need to fix or replace the valve.

Furthermore, lower the thermostat settings to deal with excessive heat or pressure. Once that is done, you can proceed to inspect the heater for loose pipe connections and bolts. Use the wrench to tighten, but avoid over-tightening any of the moving parts. Should the leaking continue, ponder replacing the gasket. At last, check the possibility of water tank leaking due to corrosion or shabby o-rings. Do not fret if you are unable to solve these issues yourself. Contact trusted local professionals, such as these Canberra-based hot water plumbers, who can make short work of them.

Discoloration, odours, noise

It is a good idea to keep an eye on signs of discoloration. They can be caused by corrosion inside the tank or an anode rod reaching the end of its lifespan. The latter problem is also linked to hydrogen release, which produces the nasty odour of rotten eggs.  Those who notice this should flush the heater immediately and use a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water to treat the pipes. If the smell is still there, you might have to invest in a new zinc-alloy anode or a plastic-lined heater.

Finally, weird noise originating from the heater is another reason for concern. Low, rumbling sounds indicate that the unit is overheating, probably because of sediment build-up inside the tank. Flushing the heater should eliminate this issue. As for high-pitched noise, it is usually caused by the build-up of scales on heating elements. Again, flush the water from the heater and then clean the scales. It may also help to install new, low-watt density heating elements and achieve greater thermal efficiency.

Test the waters

A fully functioning and properly installed water heater can save you a lot of nerves, energy, and money in the long run. Regular maintenance is essential, but it only goes so far. All heaters have a limited lifespan and sooner or later, you will start noticing issues. React promptly when you identify leaks, odours, noise, discoloration and water temperature fluctuations. The solution is usually simple and can be implemented the good old DIY way. But, if it is beyond your capacity, hire professionals instead of risking to aggravate the situation.

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