It is 2019, which means a new year is here! For many Edmontonians this means a future or recent move to a new community within the city. One of the struggles of moving into a “new to you” home is that the equipment is often outdated and will need to be replaced. One of the major pieces of equipment we often see new home owners having to replace is the hot water heater. As a general rule of thumb, a water heater will last 8-12 years. With proper maintenance you can sometimes double this, however most home owners do not service their equipment properly or often enough, which results in minor/major issues.  With an average replacement cost being $1100 (40-50 Gallon tank) and $3000 for a tank-less water heater, it is important to repair your hot water heater before a major issue happens. Here are 7 common water heater problems we see, how to diagnose them, and some solutions to fix them.

  1. NO HOT WATER – In the winter months your water heater has to work harder due to the freezing outdoor temperatures. This can result in it breaking down and not supplying any hot water at all. In this case, the source of the issue could be a variety of things such as a broken hot water tank, gas or electrical issue, however, persistently cold water is a sign that your hot water tank is in need of some repair or maintenance.

There are two types of heaters that we find most often in Edmonton homes: electric (tankless) and gas. Electric water heaters are much smaller and operate significantly different than gas water heaters. They are often more difficult to diagnose and repair as well.  If you have an electric water heater that doesn’t provide hot water at all, then we advise you to seek the help of our professionals.

However, if you have gas water heater and are not getting any hot water, the next step is to read some of the other causes/symptoms below where we will try to diagnose the issue and see whether you can repair it yourself or if you need to call a professional.

  1. NOT ENOUGH HOT WATER – In some cases, you will find you are getting warm/hot water but that it can’t keep up with your home’s hot water demands. If this is the case, check the dial on your water heater (typically located on the front ) and adjust it accordingly.

The other thing you can look for is a water leak. If your system is leaking, it may be operating fine but be struggling to hold the hot water it is producing, thus limiting the hot water available.

Another troubleshooting tip is to try running only one system at a time and see if it delivers enough hot water when used alone. If it does, then it is likely your tank is too small for your family’s home and upgrading to a larger tank could be the best option. You could also upgrade to an electric tankless water heater which can provide on demand hot water that you will never run out of.

  1. STINKY WATER/ODD COLOURED WATER – If you have not drained your water heater in a while, you may begin to notice discolored hot water. This is caused by a build up of copper, iron and other minerals/sediments in your system. This issue is often an easy fix and can be remedied with a new water softener and/or filter.

Before calling a professional for help, you can also try draining your water heater and flushing out the sediment. A flushing should be done at least once per year to avoid mineral build up. If you notice your water heater will not drain, this could be because of a clogged valve. Here is a great article with steps listed to flush out your water heater. If these steps do not work for you, we advise giving the Vigor team a shout and we can help you diagnose and resolve the issue.

  1. WATER HEATER TAKES TOO LONG TO REHEAT – You may notice that you have to wait 30+ minutes to take a shower after someone else has showered. If this is the case, there is likely a problem with your hot water tank’s heating element or thermostat. The good news is, these are fairly inexpensive and easy to replace! We do suggest using an expert since an error fixing these could create a major safety hazard for your home.
  1. WATER HEATER IS LEAKING – Water leaking is never a good sign! If you have an electric water heater and notice it is leaking from the top, there are a few reasons this could be happening. These include the failure of temperature & pressure relief valve, a loose inlet and/or an outlet pipe issue.

In contrast, if your water heater is leaking from the bottom, it is likely your temperature or pressure release valve causing the issue. There could also be a small amount of water being expelled through the overflow pipe to release excess pressure in the tank. In both cases, you can often repair the problem by merely replacing the broken parts/pipes. However, if there is an issue with the tank (like a crack) you will have to replace the entire tank.

Feel free to call our technicians for help diagnosing the problem or to schedule a time for them to take a closer look in person.

  1. WATER HEATER MAKES NOISES – Although most of us were taught by our fathers that a good old whack with a wrench can get rid of any weird noise, it doesn’t always work unfortunately. If you find your water heater making strange popping noises, most often it is caused by the expansion and contraction of the metal parts due to the changing water temperatures inside. However, in some cases there is a buildup of sediment inside the tank that is heating up and reacting. In any case, if the noises are extreme, try following the steps above to flush your water heater out. If this doesn’t work and the noises still seem unusually loud, give our local Edmonton plumbers a call and we would be happy to diagnose the issue.
  1. WATER HEATER MAKES A BOILING SOUND – Although you would think it is normal for a hot water heater to make a boiling sound, it is not. If you hear a bubbling sound coming from inside your tank it could mean that the water heater is overheating and the temperature control system is not working properly. If this is the case, the water heater is dangerous and poses a threat to your homes safety. Seek professional help immediately to avoid any major damage to your home.

The temperature pressure relief valve should be checked periodically to avoid this issue. You can quickly do this check on your own by lifting or lowering the lever on the valve. Let the water completely drain from the overflow pipe before shutting it.

Great! Now you know some of the common issues with your water heater. If you have read the article and believe it is time to replace either your electric or gas water heater, you have 2 options. You can schedule an appointment with our professional plumbing technicians in Edmonton or if you are a DIY kind of person, here are two great resources.

DIY Replacement & Maintenance

If you would also like some great tips and tricks to help extend the life of your water heater, here is a great article by The National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspections on how to properly maintain your water heater. Read it here!

In many cases it is better to hire a professional to do the work so that you are confident it is done correctly. This may also help to avoid causing more damage or from sustaining an injury. If that is the case for you, give Vigor Heating & Plumbing a call at (780) 489-9939 and let us know what problems you are having. Our team has been in business for over 18 years and has over 100 years of combined experience. We are trusted by many local Edmonton families and businesses for all their plumbing and heating needs. We offer 24/7 emergency service also to ensure we can complete your repairs as soon as possible!

Water Heater Issues