5 Common Water Heater Problems And What Causes Them

After a long day, many look forward to getting home and jumping into a relaxing shower at the perfect temperature to wash away the day. The last thing anyone wants is for there to be an issue with the water heater.

Maybe the water is too hot or maybe it’s barely heating up at all. Could it be funny sounds coming from the water heater, such as rumbling, creaking or even popping sounds? Perhaps you’re facing issues of murky, discoloured or smelly water? Maybe there’s a leak?

Don’t start to worry just yet because these are all common water heater problems. You just need to figure out what’s causing them before you decide to call a water heater repair professional.

Before you start tinkering or poking around trying to figure out what’s happening to your water heater, it’s best that you know the type of water heater you’re dealing with. This ensures that you’re giving yourself or a professional a better idea of what could be wrong.

Types Of Water Heaters

The two most common types of water heaters in Malaysia are instant water heaters and storage water heaters. Each has specific characteristics and is preferred for different reasons.

Instant Water Heater

An instant water heater is powered by electricity, and when turned on it will instantly heat water that passes through it and out from the showerhead. You’ll continuously have running hot water as long as the power source is turned on. It is mounted onto the bathroom wall, in a designated shower area.

Instant water heaters are installed in the shower area

Storage Water Heater

Storage water heaters have been around since before the 1990s and come with water tanks. They are powered by electricity and the process of water being heated can be compared to heating a kettle of water. A water tank will often hold between 25 to 80 litres of hot water and can keep water hot for 1 to 2 days without power. The water is heated at a temperature up to 75 degrees celsius. These water tanks are too large to be placed in bathrooms and are often hidden away in the ceilings or attics.

Storage water heaters are usually installed in the top corner of the bathroom and sometimes concealed

Benefits Of Instant Water Heaters And Storage Water Heaters

The obvious benefit of an instant water heater is that the water is instantly hot when needed, while a storage water heater will need to be constantly turned on to keep heating water. There’s also the issue of running out of hot water during a shower when using a storage water heater.

Other Types Of Water Heaters

Some of the other types of water heaters include gas and solar-powered ones that aren’t as common in Malaysia. Gas water heaters work similarly to storage water heaters but run on gas instead of electricity. Solar water heaters work entirely different from other water heaters as cold water is pumped into solar collector panels that are installed on the roof where they are exposed to the sun. The cold water flows through panels that will heat up and then be stored for later use.

Solar-powered water heaters with solar panels installed on the roof

Common Water Heater Problems

1. There’s No Hot Water

First, you’ll need to make sure that you have an instant water heater and not a storage one installed in your home before you start to worry that you might not have hot water. Remember, storage water heaters can run out of hot water, or the hot water has cooled down after a couple of days of the power being turned off.

Now, with that in mind, there could be a handful of reasons why this is happening:

  • There could be an issue with the wiring, meaning that there’s no power being received. In this case, you’ll want to check the circuit breaker to see if it has been tripped, or you might replace a fuse that’s blown.
  • The heater itself is not receiving enough water to heat or the heating components are faulty, causing water to heat up slow or not at all.
  • There could also be an issue with the storage tank due to sediments, or where minerals built up in instant water heaters.

Though the first of the three possibilities can be fixed by you or an electrician, you will require a professional to help solve the other two.

2. The Water Is Too Hot

Water that is too hot is dangerous as it could burn your skin if hot enough, and so this issue should be dealt with as fast as possible.

  • The thermostat could be malfunctioning or set too high, and if either of these is the reason for water being too hot, you’ll want to get a professional involved instead of trying to reset it yourself.
Accessing the thermostat for instant water heaters will require dismantling it
  • Another reason could be that the pressure relief valve is blocked due to the build-up of mineral salts or rust n the water heater.

3. Sounds From The Water Heater

It’s always worrisome when you hear unfamiliar sounds coming from your water heater. Regardless of whether there’s rumbling, creaking or popping sounds, you want to make sure you know where it’s coming from and why.

The following are a list of possible reasons for sounds coming from your water heater:

  • This could be caused by water being heated and then moving through sediment buildup in the pipes and in the tanks of storage water heaters.
  • Certain components of the water heater could be worn out and becoming loose.
  • Continuous changes in water pressure.

4. The Water Is Discoloured And Smells

You know something is wrong when the water turns a shade of rust and there’s an unpleasant smell filling the bathroom from the moment you turn the faucet on and water runs through. This is another instance where a professional will need to be contacted in order to solve the problem, and as quickly as possible.

  • In the case of a storage water heater, the pipes or inner walls of the water tank could be rusty or contaminated with bacteria.

Try This: If you’re facing this issue with a new water heater try running cold water through it to clean out sediment inside the tank. Water heater manufacturers recommend annual maintenance of your water heater to keep components clean and the tank free of rust and mineral buildup. Plus, it also extends the longevity of the water heater.

5. The Water Heater Is Leaking

A leaking water heater is one of the more serious common water heater problems. You’ll want to get in touch with a professional plumber at the soonest available time. However, you should note that if storage water heaters leak this is most likely due to the Temperature and Pressure Relief (TPR) valve that is trying to relieve pressure and temperature by releasing drops of water.

But on a more serious note of leaking water heaters are:

  • Instant water might be leaking due to the narrow piping within the heater itself.
  • A sure first sign of trouble is a pool of water underneath your water heater. This is commonplace to find a leak and should be addressed quickly.

Though these are just some of the most common reasons for no hot water, noises, smells and leaks coming from your water heater, make sure to get a second opinion from a professional.

We all deserve a good shower

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