A water heater may be one of your home’s most valuable appliances but they do not come problem-free. The following article will discuss the most common problems homeowners encounter with their standard tank hot water heaters.

Too Hot or Too Cold

Water that is either lukewarm or overly hot can cause concern for homeowners. For lukewarm water sometimes the circuit breaker is the culprit. Perhaps it has tripped and needs to be reset. A problem with your dip tube could also be causing an issue. The dip tube is a plastic tube that directs cold water from entering your tank to the bottom of the tank. This keeps it from mixing in with your already heated hot water. If the tube is leaking or cracked it can allow the cold water to bleed into your hot water causing your water to become lukewarm. The third reason for cooler water is your heating element may be broken and not heating the water and needs replacing. A hot water heater that has been sized incorrectly can leave you with a unit that is too small and cannot meet the hot water demands of your family.

Too hot water can also be detrimental. For a traditional gas heater adjusting the temperature is as simple as manually lowering the temperature dial. On electric models, remove the access panel covers and, using a screwdriver, lower the temperature setting. It is a good idea to lower your temperature settings when you are going to be away as it saves energy and money. 


A common hot water tank issue, and one that can cause extensive damage to your home, is leaking. A leaking tank can easily turn into a basement flooded with water. Some causes of leaking are an old tank, a worn drain valve, improper water pressure, leaking plumbing connections, and a faulty temperature and pressure relief valve. Tanks older than 15 years should be routinely replaced to avoid flooding disasters. Emptying the tank for routine maintenance can cause the drain, over time, to fail and can leak. If water is entering the tank at too high of pressure or if the steam build-up within the tank becomes too great water will leak through even hair-line cracks in the tank. Too high steam build-up can be attributed to a temperature and pressure relief valve that is either loose or malfunctioning. Water enters the tank from your main water supply and exits the tank when hot water is called for in the home. The connectors to these in and out pipes can become loose and cause water to leak. Sediment collecting at the bottom of aging tanks can also cause problems. If you regularly clean out your water heater tank this collection should not occur. 

Something Smells Fishy

An indicator of trouble is water that smells foul or appears cloudy or rusty. All these indicate either the anode rod inside the heater needs replacing or the tank itself is rusting from the inside out. The anode rod is a long metal rod that extends the length of your water tank and attracts iron, limestone, and other minerals and in doing so, sacrifices itself to corrosion thus extending the life of the heater.

Pilots and Burners

A common problem found in standard water heaters is a pilot light that will not light. This can be caused by a faulty thermostat and can be evaluated using a multimeter. If the thermostat is working, check to be certain your gas valves are clear. Finally, if the issue remains, check to make sure your vent is not blocked.  

If your problem is a pilot light that once lit, keeps going out, you may have a burner issue. To check the burner, run hot water and raise and lower the temperature. If the unit fails to respond, look at the thermostat, the burner orifices, or the vent to be certain it is not obstructed.

Slow Water Heating

If your water heater is electric, water that is slow to heart could be a result of either a faulty heating element or a malfunctioning thermostat. If your system is gas-powered check to be sure your heater is set at the correct gas pressure. If it is not it is time to clean the burner orifices to ensure proper heating of your water.

Hot water heaters are an essential home appliance and, if maintained routinely, will give you years of dependable service. Addressing water temperature issues, visually looking for leaks, being aware of the condition of your water, and maintaining your heater’s parts will add to its efficiency and prevent costly disasters in the future.

Thinking of replacing your old tank water heater with a brand new, cost-effective, tankless water heater? Contact us today! We are water heater replacement experts in Newport Beach, Orange County, and the surrounding areas.

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