How Can I Tell My Water Heater Isn’t Working?

Does your water heater seem to be on the fritz? If you’re having trouble with hot water, it may be time to check and see if your water heater is functioning properly. There are several tell-tale signs of a malfunctioning water heater that can help you diagnose the issue before calling in an expert. 

From checking for rust or corrosion on the tank, to flushing out sediment buildup, there are many steps you can take to make sure your system is running optimally. In this blog post we’ll explore seven ways to tell if your water heater isn’t working as well as it should so that you can get back up and running again soon!

Identify common signs of a malfunctioning water heater

A malfunctioning water heater can be a major inconvenience, especially when it fails to provide hot water at the time you need it most. Therefore, it is essential to be aware of some common signs that indicate your water heater is not functioning properly. 

One of the first and most noticeable signs is that there is a lack of hot water or it does not last as long as it used to. Alternatively, the water temperature may fluctuate or not reach the desired temperature as previously.

Another common sign that your water heater is not in great condition is strange noises or sounds coming from the tank. These noises can be a result of sediment buildup inside the tank, which causes the heater to work harder and make the noises. 

Additionally, a leaking water heater tank indicates that the unit has a problem somewhere that needs to be addressed immediately. It is also worth noting that if you notice a strange rotten egg odor in your hot water, it may indicate that bacteria have formed in the tank – a sign that the water must be disinfected.

A malfunctioning pressure relief valve is also essential to acknowledge as it can be dangerous. This valve eliminates excess pressure within the tank to prevent it from exploding. If you notice that the valve is leaking, it suggests that the valve is not working correctly and needs to be replaced.

Finally, older water heaters may show signs of rust or corrosion on the tank, a result of years of continuous exposure to water. If rust or corrosion is detected, it is likely that the water heater’s tank has reached the end of its useful life and should be replaced.

Check the temperature and pressure relief valve to ensure it is working properly

One crucial aspect to consider when determining if your water heater is functioning correctly is to check its temperature and pressure relief valve. This safety feature is designed to vent excess pressure and hot water in case the thermostat fails or there is a buildup of too much pressure in the tank.

To check if the valve is working properly, first, turn off the power supply and water supply to the tank. Next, locate the valve typically at the top or the side of the tank. The valve should have a lever that can be lifted to release a small amount of water. Caution must be taken while testing the valve, as it can release hot water that may cause burns.

Once you lift the lever, water should flow out, and then it should stop when you release it. If the valve doesn’t operate in this way, then it might be defective and will need to be replaced. If the valve does release water but never stops, it may indicate that there is too much pressure in the tank and should be addressed promptly to prevent any potential damage.

Inspect the tank for rust or corrosion

Inspecting the tank for signs of rust and corrosion is an important part of maintaining your water heater. Rust indicates that the metal tank is deteriorating, which can lead to leaks and even complete tank failure. Corrosion, on the other hand, is caused by the reaction of the metal tank with the water and can also weaken the tank.

To check for rust and corrosion, begin by turning off the power supply and letting the water cool down. Then, examine the tank closely for any signs of rust or flaking paint, especially around the seams and fittings. Look for any areas where the metal is discolored or appears to be corroded.

If you notice any rust or corrosion, it’s important to take action right away. In some cases, you may be able to remove the rust with a wire brush and apply a coat of rust-inhibiting paint. But if the rust is extensive or if there are signs of corrosion, you may need to replace the tank.

Test the thermostat using a multimeter

To determine if your water heater is functioning correctly, one important step is testing its thermostat with a multimeter. The thermostat is responsible for regulating the temperature of the water in the tank, and if it is not functioning properly, the water may be too hot or too cold.

To begin, turn off the power to the water heater and locate the thermostat. Use a multimeter to test the thermostat’s resistance by placing the meter’s probes on the thermostat’s terminals. The reading should match the temperature setting on the thermostat. If the reading is significantly different, the thermostat may need to be replaced.

Examine the anode rod for wear and tear

When examining your water heater for potential issues, it’s important to take a close look at the anode rod. This component is responsible for preventing rust and corrosion from building up inside the tank. Over time, however, the anode rod can wear down and become less effective, leaving your water heater vulnerable to damage.

To examine the anode rod, first turn off the power supply to your water heater and allow it to cool down. Then, locate the rod, which is usually found on the top of the tank. If the rod is heavily corroded or has significant wear and tear, it may need to be replaced.

It’s important to keep in mind that the lifespan of an anode rod can vary depending on several factors, including the hardness of your water and the age of your water heater. As a general rule, most anode rods should be replaced every 5 years or so to ensure that they’re providing adequate protection to your water heater.

Flush out sediment buildup in your tank regularly

One important aspect of water heater maintenance is flushing out sediment buildup in the tank on a regular basis. Sediment can accumulate over time due to minerals and other particles in the water supply. When sediment buildup occurs, it can reduce the efficiency and lifespan of your water heater, as well as cause potential safety hazards.

To flush out sediment, turn off the electricity or gas supply to the water heater and allow the tank to cool down. Then, connect a hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank and run the other end of the hose to a nearby drain or outside. Open the drain valve and allow the tank to drain completely.

After draining the tank, close the drain valve and turn on the water supply. Allow the tank to fill up completely before turning the electricity or gas supply back on. It is recommended to flush out the sediment buildup at least once a year or more often if you have hard water.

Have a professional inspect your water heater annually

Regular professional inspections are crucial in ensuring the longevity and efficiency of your water heater. During the maintenance check, a qualified technician will thoroughly examine all components of your heater, including the gas or electric supply, thermostat, valves, and tank.

Annual inspections can detect any potential issues early on, such as leaks or buildup of sediments, and prevent costly repairs or unexpected breakdowns. Furthermore, a professional can clean your tank and replace parts as needed, ensuring that your heater operates at peak performance.

Final Thoughts

While it’s not easy to tell when your water heater isn’t working, there are some signs you can look out for. If the hot water is taking a long time to heat up or runs cold quickly, if you hear strange noises coming from your unit, or if the pilot light won’t stay lit, then these could all be indications that something is wrong with your water heater and should be addressed by a professional. 

If you suspect that your water heater isn’t functioning properly, don’t hesitate to reach out to the experienced plumbers at Expert Plumbing. Our skilled technicians have years of experience and training in quickly identifying and resolving all types of water heater issues. Trust us to restore your hot water and ensure that your home or business runs smoothly. Contact Expert Plumbing today to schedule your appointment! 

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