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Water Heater Troubleshooting Tips

Serving Hillsboro | Beaverton | Northwest Portland | Southwest Portland


Nothing’s worse than starting your day with an ice-cold shower. If your water heater keeps acting up, you want to find and fix the problem as quickly as possible. Though some issues require professional attention, others are quick and simple fixes that you can take care of on your own. Read on to discover All Pro Plumbing’s best water heater troubleshooting tips. 

Signs of Water Heater Failure

In most cases, it’s pretty easy to tell when your water heater is having problems. However, there are some symptoms that many people overlook or attribute to other plumbing issues. Knowing when your water heater needs attention is the first step in troubleshooting, so keep your eye out for these signs:

  • Water tastes or smells “off”
  • Water takes a long time to heat up
  • Water only gets above a certain temperature
  • There are leaks or low water pressure
  • The water temperature fluctuates frequently

Common Water Heater Problems and How to Fix Them

Most of the time, water heater malfunctions are small errors that you can easily fix. Knowing what to look for will make water heater troubleshooting a fast and easy process. Here’s how to fix the most common problems, as well as signs that you may need professional assistance:

Discolored, Smelly, or Bad-Tasting Water

This problem usually indicates that your tank’s inner lining is beginning to corrode, which happens once the anode rod fails. The anode rod is a piece of metal inside of the water tank that is usually made from magnesium, aluminum, or a zinc alloy to draw minerals in the water away from the side of your tank. Replacing the anode rod at least once every 3-5 years can help avoid this problem.

If you are already dealing with discolored or rusty water, then simply replacing your anode rod may not be enough. The corrosion could already have caused a lot of damage. A professional plumber will be able to examine your tank and determine if you require additional repairs.

Water Doesn’t Heat Up

A variety of issues could cause your water heater to stop putting out warm water. Thankfully, some of them are easy fixes. If your water is always cold, follow these steps:

  • Reset the circuit breaker and check for blown fuses: Most of the time, water heaters stop producing warmth when the power supply is disconnected. Resetting the circuit breaker and replacing any blown fuses will ensure your tank has the power it needs to function properly.
  • Check that power switches are on: Make sure all of the power switches are on and that the power indicator light is lit. If the switches are on and the indicator light isn’t working, then there may be a deeper problem in your system that requires an expert’s insight.
  • Inspect the thermostat: Sometimes, the thermostat simply isn’t turned up high enough. Make sure the thermostat is at the right temperature and that it’s receiving enough power.

If none of these solutions are working, then it’s time to get in touch with a professional. 

Water is Warm, But Not Warm Enough

If you always seem to run out of hot water before the day is over or your water doesn’t get hot enough, then your system may not be large enough to handle your household’s needs. It could also be at the end of its lifespan. Either way, investing in a new system may be the best course of action. A water heater expert can examine your specific situation to determine if there are any repairs or other cost-effective solutions you can try first. 

Water is Too Hot

More often than not, scorching hot water simply means that your thermostat is turned up a little too high. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a temperature around 120° F is ideal for balancing comfort with efficiency. If your thermostat is around that temperature or it won’t cool off despite turning it down, then you should get in touch with an expert to determine the root cause of the problem.

Tank is Leaking

A tiny leak may not seem like a big deal, but it could cause a whole host of problems for your home – from water damage to mold growth. To fix this problem, you’ll want to examine your water heater for signs of problems such as:

  • Stuck values
  • Loose bolts
  • Bad gaskets
  • Loose connections

If you spot an obvious problem that is simple to fix, then you’re good to go! Otherwise, it’s best to contact a professional. Leaks can be a sign of a much bigger problem with your system. An expert has the tools and experience needed to diagnose and fix the root cause of the leak.

Tank Makes Loud or Unusual Noises

Loud banks or creaks are disruptive. If you hear these sounds coming from your water heater, it could mean that your tank is full of sediment. Flushing your tank should take care of the problem. Though it’s certainly possible to flush your tank on your own, a professional can provide assistance if you aren’t comfortable performing this task on your own. 

How to Prevent Water Heater Problems

The best way to prevent water heater breakdowns and malfunctions is to invest in regular maintenance. Flushing your tank annually, routinely changing the anode rod, and inspecting various parts will help you avoid catastrophes. If you aren’t sure where to start when it comes to water heater maintenance, don’t worry! An expert can help you create a great schedule that will ensure all parts of your system are taken care of.

Your Local Water Heater Experts

At All Pro Plumbing, we know that when your hot water heater goes out, you want it fixed fast.  Whether you have a natural gas, electric, or tankless water heater, we can determine exactly what’s going wrong with your water heater, helping you decide whether to repair, restore, or replace your existing water heater to get hot water flowing again. We’ve been repairing and installing water heaters for over 20 years, and we service all brands and models. If you’re concerned about your water heater functioning properly, or want to explore new installation options, call us today to set an appointment!

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Water Heater Troubleshooting in Northwest Portland, Southwest Portland, Beaverton & Hillsboro OR

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