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Common Water Heater Problems

Williams Water Co.
Williams Water Co.
April 29, 2024
What Are Some Common Water Heater Problems?

Is your water heater acting up? Several issues can disrupt your hot water supply, from foul odors and inconsistent temperatures to pesky leaks. Below, we’ll dive into some of the most common water heater problems and offer tips on diagnosing and resolving them—saving you time, money, and the inconvenience of cold morning showers!

Water Isn’t Heating Up

If you have an electric water heater, check your breaker box to see if you’ve tripped a circuit breaker. If so, reset it. If not, you may have a faulty heating element on your hands.

For those with a gas heater, check the pilot light first. In many cases, drafts or breezes can be strong enough to extinguish a pilot light. Pilot lights can also go out due to bent or dirty thermocouples or a faulty gas valve. Call a professional to assess your heater if you cannot relight the pilot or it continues to go out.

Foul Odors

When asking, “What are some common water heater problems?”, many homeowners mention foul odors. While various factors can cause foul odors, water heaters are often to blame. This is particularly true when your water heater is set at a low temperature (below 140°F), as it allows bacteria to grow inside the tank, producing a rotten egg smell.

Sediment buildup may also cause foul odors. Over time, minerals accumulate at the bottom of the tank. If not flushed regularly, this sediment will compound and give off a foul odor.

Generally, the best solution is to drain and refill the tank, increase the temperature, or further inspect to see if the tank’s anode rod is corroded. Our technicians can help you with all of these plumbing tasks.

Lime Buildup

Limescale buildup is common, mainly if you live in a region with mineral-heavy (hard) water. This buildup can reduce energy efficiency and water pressure, while also clogging or damaging valves, causing foul-smelling water, and leading to premature water heater failure. Here’s why:

As the lime builds up on the heating element or heat exchanger, it acts as an insulator, making it harder for the water heater to transfer heat to the water. This reduces efficiency and leads to higher energy bills. Excessive lime buildup can also cause overheating and hotspots in the tank, which may cause cracks or leaks.

There are several ways to address or prevent buildup:

  • Regularly flush the water heater tank
  • Install a water softener
  • Use a lime-resistant or high-efficiency water heater

Our technicians can help you with all of these tasks.


Leaks are another common issue when discussing some common water heater problems. If your water heater is leaking, check:

  • The drain valve: This is located at the bottom of the tank. It’s not uncommon for these to loosen or become damaged over time
  • The temperature and pressure relief valve: If your valve was triggered due to excessive pressure or water temperature, it could cause water to leak from the valve or discharge pipe
  • The water heater tank: Over time, water heaters can rust and crack, often due to sediment buildup, chemical reactions, improper ventilation, high water pressure, or age
  • The gasket or seal: Often, the gasket or seal around the heating elements can deteriorate and cause leaks
  • Water pressure: Check the water pressure when you turn on a faucet. If it’s too high, it could damage your water heater and, over time, cause the tank to leak

If It Involves Hot Water, Williams Water Co. Can Do the Job

Your comfort depends on a consistent flow of hot water. That’s why Williams Water Co. offers a complete line of water heaters and full-service solutions. Whether you need routine maintenance, repairs, or want to upgrade to an energy-efficiency model, we’re here to help. Contact us today!

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