Water Heating Systems

August 6th, 2012

How to Troubleshoot?

There are several ways to provide hot water to your home. Like most home installations, they each have their own advantages and disadvantages. The variables are many including the size of your home, your water heating needs, pre-existing home heating installations, and other regional differences such as local fuel prices. Even this list of hot water tanks and water heating systems is far from exhaustive explains Plumber Salt Lake City. Solar hot water tanks, for example, can be a great home addition for many homeowners in selective areas. The best idea is to talk to a hot water contractor about the best available options for you.

Tankless Water Heating System

This system is the cheapest in terms of both installation and operation, but isn’t without other advantages as well. Because these systems heat water on the spot, there’s essentially an unlimited amount of hot water, albeit at a slow flow rate. This slow flow rate means the temperature of the water can fluctuate during use. If you’re in the shower while someone flushes the toilet and the water in the shower suddenly jumps to uncomfortable or dangerous levels, you probably have a tankless water heating system.

Hot Water Booster Tank

A hot water booster tank is an addition to the basic tankless water heating system. The booster tank increases the performance of the water heating system but is more expensive to run. You should probably also hire a professional to install your hot water booster tank. Improper installation of the booster tank will render it ineffective. Keep in mind, too, that even with a booster tank you may still run the risk of scalding water.

Hot Water Storage Tank

Hot water storage tanks will also improve the performance of your water heating system. Often, hot water storage tanks are installed when a tankless water heating system becomes less efficient with age. Supplementing a hot water storage tank to an old system is less expensive than replacing the entire system. Again, you should probably hire a professional to install the tank.

Alternate Hot Water Heating Systems

Instead of a tankless water heating system, you might consider a gas, oil, or electric water heater. These systems generally require less maintenance, are still relatively cheap depending on fuel availability, and can offer more reliable hot water to your home. You might want to talk to a hot water contractor about the viability of these systems in your area.

Hot Water Tank Insulation

Hot water tank insulation is a great idea to reduce the energy demands of your hot water tank. For a negligible price, you can cut your water heating cost by as much as 10%. An insulation jacket is wrapped around your hot water tank to produce the necessary insulation. Be careful, though, to leave your hot water thermostat uncovered and to keep your hot water set no higher than 130 degrees to reduce the risk of damage to your wiring. Insulating the pipes will also increase your energy savings and can help your hot water last longer for homeowners who like to take extended showers explains Plumber Salt Lake City. Placing a rigid insulation board under your hot water tank can double total insulating effect, but this insulation usually needs to be installed with the water tank to be reasonable.

Possible Problems that can Incur with Water Heaters:

  • No hot water
  • Inadequate hot water
  • Rust colored water
  • Rotten egg odor
  • Low rumbling or popping noise
  • Higher pitched whining
  • Water leaking around base of heater


Before any troubleshooting is done on the water heater, make sure to prepare safely for the job by doing the following:

  • Turn off power to an electric water heater. Do this by turning off the circuit breaker or fuse powering the heater.
  • Turn the gas pilot control valve to “pilot” setting.
  • Shut off water supply to water heater.

No Hot Water is Produced Possible Causes

  • Faulty gas pilot
  • Faulty gas thermocouple
  • Faulty gas pilot control valve

Possible Repairs

  • Check gas pilot flame and pilot operation.
  • Re-tighten, reposition or replace the gas thermocouple.
  • Replace the gas pilot control valve.

Inadequate Hot Water Possible Causes

  • Unit is undersized for water heating demands
  • Broken or damaged dip tube allowing cold and hot water to mix in tank
  • Faulty plumbing installation has crossed cold and hot water connections
  • Gas supply or control problems

Possible Repairs

  • Make sure water heater is not being overtaxed by hot water supply demands. The water heater should have 75% of its capacity as hot water (e.g., a 40 gallon WH should be used for a demand of 30 gallons). To determine required capacity see Calculating Fixture Flow Rates.
  • Undo cold water inlet and pipe nipple and remove dip tube. Check condition and get replace if required by Plumber Salt Lake City.
  • Check for crossed connection by turning off water supply to water heater. Open a hot water faucet. If there is water flow, then there is a crossed connection somewhere. Check for a hot water line connected to a cold water connection on the water heater or appliances such as washer, dishwasher, faucet or shower valves.
  • Check for proper flame from burner. A natural gas flame should be a bright blue with the tip of the flame having just a tinge of yellow. A propane flame should have a bluish green flame with a tinge of yellow at the tip.

Rust Colored Water Possible Causes

  • Corrosion occurring inside glass lined tank
  • Sacrificial anode rod is failing (anode rods dissolve slowly to prevent rusting in the tank)

Possible Repairs

  • Replace sacrificial anode rod with magnesium anode rod. Anode rods are available from a plumbing supply house.

Rotten Egg Smell Possible Causes

    Bacteria in the tank sediment fed from hydrogen gas created from decay of sacrificial anode.

Possible Repairs

  • Flush water heater
  • Using a hydrogen peroxide solution of 2 pints 3% peroxide to 40 gallons of water, treat tank and run some of the solution into water lines.
  • Let peroxide solution set in tank and pipes for 2 hours. Solution is not toxic and requires no rinsing.
  • If problem persists, replace anode with a zinc-alloy anode.
  • If problem still remains, replace water heater with a plastic lined tank type.

Low Rumbling or Popping Noise Possible Causes

  • Noise heard is sound of boiling water. Excessive buildup of sediment in bottom of tank is causing overheating of tank bottom and boiling of water to occur.

Possible Repairs

  • Remove sediment by flushing water heater.

Water Leak around Base of Heater Possible Causes

  • Faulty T&P (temperature and pressure) relief valve
  • T&P valve leak due to excessive pressure, overheating or stuck
  • Leak from overhead or nearby plumbing connection
  • Leaking water tank (corrosion likely)

Possible Repairs

  • Place bucket under overflow pipe. Open and flush T&P valve clear of debris. If leak remains from valve, replace valve.
  • Reduce thermostat setting to prevent tank overheating and opening T&P relief valve.
  • Inspect bottom of tank by looking through combustion chamber. If water marks or heavy rusting is noticed or if water is noticed setting in combustion chamber bottom, then the water heater needs to be replaced.

If you’re not sure if you need insulation for your hot water tank, check it by placing your hand on the tank. If it feels warm, you could probably benefit from an insulation jacket. Installing the insulation is a simple project for an electric hot water tank, but if you own a gas or oil-fueled tank, you should probably hire a professional at Plumber Salt Lake City to ensure safe installation of the insulation jacket.