Troubleshooting a Water Heater

Both gas and electric water heaters can develop significant problems over time if they are not well maintained. Singling out what the issue might be can be difficult. A water heater repair technician can help, but the service call may cost you. If you’re going to have someone out to make a repair, you should try to be sure that there is a problem in the first place.

Discolored Water

If the water coming from your faucets is discolored, like rusty water, then you might need to drain the tank. Attach a common garden hose to the drainage valve, then let the water drain outside or into a sink. This will take all the sediment out of the tank, preventing a loss of heat.


If your water smells funny, or smells off, it is most likely due to bacteria in the water heater. The tank can build up bacteria with standing water, so use chlorine to clean it. You can also check or replace the anode rod to help rid the tank of bacteria.

Low Pressure

Finding your showers don’t have as much pressure as they used to? There can be a few reasons for this. For one, the water shut at the heater may not be completely open. It’s also possible that the aerator or the faucet line is clogged with sediment.

Relief Valve

The relief valve uses a spring to keep the valve shut. If this spring loosens, you end up with a leaky valve. That is one cause, although water pressure that is too high can also contribute. If the pressure is too high, you may need to install a thermal expansion tank.

Leaky Heater

There are several opening ports on the surface of a water heater: drainage valves,  pressure relief valves, gas controllers… This also means there are a plethora of spots where a leak can develop, so check these obvious places first if you see water pooling beneath the water heater. If you still see water pooling even after you have verified these potential leak points, your tank may be leaky. Leaky tanks cannot be repaired, so it’s best to upgrade to a tankless water heater, or a new energy efficient water heater.

Not Enough Heat

If you find that your water heater doesn’t provide enough warm water during the busiest hours in your home, it’s possible that you need a tank better qualified to handle your peak usage. To figure out this number, divide the day into three parts (morning, noon and night) and then diagram what you use water for. Then look at how many people in your home use that water, like a husband and wife who take a 10 gallon shower mid-day. Add up all these incidents of usage to get the peak usage in your home, then measure this against the new unit you want to be to see if that unit meets or exceeds your figures.
Payless Water Heaters offers more energy saving tips on the Payless Water Heaters Blog. To order a water heater online, visit Payless Water Heaters.