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Troubleshoot Now: 10 Common Water Heater Problems and Solutions

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Ben Franklin Plumbing Van
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troubleshooting water heater problems

A malfunctioning water heater can be frustrating, especially when you need a hot shower or warm water for household chores. From a sudden loss of hot water to strange noises emanating from your unit, water heater issues can vary widely in complexity, sometimes requiring the hiring of professional water heater repair technicians.

Sometimes, a common question asked is, “Why is my hot water not working?” However, with a bit of troubleshooting knowledge and some basic tools, many of these problems can be addressed without the need for professional assistance. In this guide, we’ll explore ten common water heater problems and provide practical solutions on how to repair a water heater.

No Hot Water:

One of the most common water heater problems for homeowners is the need for hot water. If you find yourself in this predicament, the first step is to check if the pilot light is lit on gas water heaters or if the circuit breaker hasn’t tripped on electric models. A faulty heating element or thermostat could be the culprit if everything seems normal. For gas heaters, a thermocouple failure may also be an issue.


Relight the pilot light if it’s out, reset the circuit breaker, and if these don’t solve the problem, consider replacing the heating element, thermostat, or thermocouple as necessary.

Insufficient Hot Water:

If you’re getting hot water that runs out quickly or isn’t as hot as expected, sediment buildup in the tank could be to blame. Over time, minerals in the water can accumulate at the bottom of the tank, reducing efficiency.


Drain and flush the water heater to remove sediment buildup. It can improve heating efficiency and restore hot water capacity.

Strange Noises:

Hearing popping, rumbling, or banging noises from your water heater is another common problem faced by homeowners. These sounds are often caused by mineral deposits accumulating on the heating elements or tank bottoms.


Flush the tank to remove sediment buildup and reduce the occurrence of strange noises. Regular maintenance can prevent this issue from recurring.


Leaks around the water heater tank or connections can indicate a serious problem, such as a water heater that requires immediate attention. Such leaks can occur due to corroded fittings, loose connections, or a damaged tank.


Inspect the tank and connections for signs of leakage. Tighten loose fittings and replace damaged components promptly to prevent water damage to your home.

Rusty Water:

If you notice rusty or discolored water coming from your hot water taps, it could indicate corrosion inside the water heater tank.


Flush the water heater to remove sediment and corroded material. If the problem persists, consider replacing the anode rod, which helps prevent corrosion.

Smelly Water:

Foul-smelling water from the hot taps is often caused by bacterial growth inside the tank, especially in systems set to low temperatures or unused for extended periods.


Increase the water temperature to at least 140°F (60°C) for a few hours to kill bacteria. Flushing the tank with hydrogen peroxide or chlorine bleach can also help eliminate odors.

Pressure Relief Valve Issues:

The pressure relief valve (PRV) is a crucial safety feature that prevents excessive pressure buildup inside the water heater tank. If the PRV leaks or malfunctions, it could indicate a problem with the pressure or temperature settings.


Test the PRV by lifting the lever to release a burst of hot water. If it doesn’t operate smoothly or continues to leak, replace the valve to ensure proper safety measures.

Pilot Light Won’t Stay Lit:

technician repairing a gas water heater

For gas water heaters, a pilot light that won’t stay lit is a common issue that can disrupt the hot water supply.


Clean the pilot orifice and ensure proper gas flow. If the problem persists, the thermocouple may need to be replaced to maintain a steady flame.

High Energy Bills:

An inefficient water heater can lead to skyrocketing energy bills, especially if it’s older or poorly maintained.


Consider upgrading to a more energy-efficient model, such as a tankless water heater. Regular maintenance, insulation, and lowering the thermostat can also reduce energy consumption and lower utility costs.

Age-related Decline:

Water heaters typically have a lifespan of 8 to 12 years. As they age, efficiency declines and the risk of malfunctions increases.


If your water heater is nearing the end of its lifespan or frequently experiencing problems, it may be time for a replacement. Investing in a reliable water heater service company can help you find a new, energy-efficient model. This investment can save you money in the long run and provide reliable hot water for years.

Ending on a Hot Note: Master Your Water Heater Troubles

Dealing with common water heater problems can be inconvenient, but with the right knowledge and troubleshooting techniques, many issues can be resolved without professional assistance. However, if you encounter complex issues or need help with how to proceed, feel free to seek help from a qualified plumber or HVAC technician.

Benjamin Franklin Plumbing offers comprehensive water heater services in Phoenix, including repair, maintenance, and replacement. Our expert technicians diagnose and solve issues promptly, ensuring reliable hot water for your home.