7 Water Heater Maintenance & Troubleshooting Tips

As winter binds us in its chilly grip, it’s important to have a water heater that works. Unfortunately, even the sturdiest water heaters are prone to malfunctioning from time to time. If you cannot fix the unit quickly, you will be left stranded in a house with no hot water for cooking, cleaning, and drinking. Without this precious hot water supply, winter is going to feel like a cold and miserable season for the next few months.

While it may seem daunting to repair the water heater by yourself, some of the common problems are quite small and fixable, even for novices. With the right knowledge, you should be able to perform the water heater maintenance and troubleshoot the basic issues. For the more perplexing complications, you can always contact the professional HVAC technicians for assistance.

To help you learn more about water heater maintenance, here are seven troubleshooting tips for homeowners:

1. Listen to your water heater

Listen to your water heater

Sound is usually the first indication that something has gone wrong with your water heater. If you notice a lot of strange noises coming from your water heater, take a moment to listen for these telltale signs of distress.

You may hear a high-pitched screeching coming from your water heater. If you hear this whining noise, it usually means the power vent motor used to remove the exhaust fumes from the water heater is on its way out.

Another noise you may hear is a loud burst of water coming from the pressure relief valve in the side on the tank. This is a typical sign of the water overheating (and possibly boiling) due to the sediment build-up or there is a high-pressure condition forming in the tank. In both cases, you should have a gas technician immediately diagnose the problem before the issue gets any worse.

2. Make sure your water heater has power

Make sure your water heater has power

If you aren’t getting any hot or warm water in your home, the issue might be because your water heater has lost power. In your water heater, check the circuits and other electrical components. Sometimes, the solution may be as simple as throwing a switch and turning the circuits back on. Just remember to use extreme caution when dealing with anything electrical.

3. Know your water heater’s capacity

Know your water heater's capacity

Have you ever been in the middle of a long, relaxing warm shower and the water suddenly turns cold? If this problem keeps happening, there could be a problem with the performance efficiency of your water heater.

Exceeding the water heater’s capacity is often the main issue. When you use a lot of hot water in your house, your water heater may simply be too small to meet the demands of your household. If you believe your water heater isn’t large enough, try calling in some professionals to ascertain the exact status. They may recommend that you upgrade to a bigger water heater with more capacity.

4. Adjust the water heater temperatures

Adjust the water heater temperatures

When the water temperature is either too hot or too cold, some homeowners jump to the conclusion that their water heater broke down and it requires HVAC maintenance. However, it is also possible that your water heater has no outstanding problems. Instead, the current thermostat settings are just not optimized to your liking.

If you notice your water temperatures are higher or lower than usual, you should call a technician to double check your mixing valve and aqua stat. These should be functioning properly to ensure the hot water temperature is supplied correctly.

5. Monitor the water heater for leaks

Monitor the water heater for leaks

Have you noticed any strange puddles on the floor? There is a chance that your water heater could be leaking. This is a serious development that you need to tackle as soon as possible. Start by checking each of the different valves and outlets in your water heater. One (or more) of these valves has probably come loose, which caused the leakage.

If you checked all the valves and found nothing wrong, the problem is probably within the water heater tank itself. You should have a replacement ordered and installed as soon as possible.

6. Examine the colour of the water

Examine the colour of the water

You may be horrified to find muddy or rusty water coming from your pipes. Sometimes, the problem could lie with your ill-maintained water heater. If you notice any discoloured water, there is probably a build-up of rust and other sediments inside your water heater. Keep this problem at bay by flushing out your water heater, which should hopefully clear up the problem.

7. Do a smell test

Do a smell test

Does your water suddenly smell funky? There may be a problem with your water heater that is causing these weird odours. If the smell only occurs when you use hot or warm water, then your water heater is almost certainly the culprit.

The odour is caused by bacteria that has accumulated within the water heater. A simple fix would be to clean the water heater with bleach or hydrogen peroxide. Additionally, you will want to check the anode rod and replace the part if necessary.

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