Common Hot Water Heater Problems & How to Solve Them


Your water heater works hard in your entire home. It provides hot water for all of your appliances and taps. Sometimes, it may work a little too hard. Or, perhaps, not hard enough. 

Is your water too hot? Too cold? Do you notice leaks or problems with your water like discoloration? None of these signs should be ignored. No matter if you just had your water heater installed, or if you’ve had it for years, it will eventually need some kind of maintenance. And having these problems addressed quickly after they happen is the best way to ensure you don’t end up with any lasting damage to your home. 

Our expert team has run into many issues with our customers’ hot water heaters. Continue reading to learn about common hot water heater problems, their causes and how to handle them:

Water temperature problems

Problems with your water temperature are probably the most common type of problem you will run into; what the issue is, however, will determine how it needs to be handled. For example, 

  • If your water is cold, this is usually caused by low power, a faulty thermostat or a bad heating element. The first step you should take is to check your breakers and circuits. Reset any you see that are tripped and replace any blown fuses. Make sure all of your power switches are on, and check your thermostat to make sure it is connected to a power source. 
  • If your water is warm, but won’t get hot enough, you could have an undersized water heater, crossed connections or a faulty heating element or thermostat. You can rule this out by turning off your water supply and turning on a hot water faucet. If water runs while the supply is off, you could have a crossed connection. If it doesn’t (or if it does) be sure to reach out to our team of experts to check the heating elements, thermostat and water heater size in relation to your home and its needs. 
  • If your water is too hot, it usually means your thermostat is set too high. Check your owners’ manual for adjusting the temperature, or reach out to our team for assistance.

A leak in your hot water heater

This can be caused by any number of things, including

  • Overheating
  • A stuck valve
  • A leak from another plumbing connection
  • Loose heating element bolts
  • A bad gasket
  • A Leaking water tank
  • Incorrect water pressure
  • and More

An important step to take is to check for loose plumbing connections. If you can visibly see a leak, check your connections, and tighten them if you are able. If your plumbing connections are fine, check your heating element bolts and tighten them if needed as well. If the heating element continues to leak, your will more than likely need to replace your gasket. If there are no issues with your gasket, check for leaks around your storage tank—storage tanks tend to corrode from the inside, so if it is leaking, you will need to replace your water heater soon. 

A great option to avoid tank leaks altogether is switching to a tankless water heater. A tankless water heater lasts about twice as long as a regular water heater and uses significantly less space in your basement—a win-win!

Discolored water 

If you notice any discoloration in your water, reach out to our team as quickly as possible so your tank can be inspected. Dirty water can be an indication of rust and corrosion in your tank’s inner lining. Armstrong’s team of professionals can help you determine what the root issue is, as well as if it will be a simple fix, or if you’ll need to replace your entire water heater. 

Strange noises coming from your water heater

A buildup of sediment in your water heater is a common cause of strange noises. You can attempt to fix this by flushing you water heater, or feel free to reach out to our team so we can see it for ourselves. If you do choose to flush it yourself and the sounds continue, be sure to reach out to the team at Armstrong Plumbing—we will examine the issue and offer a solution. 

Reach out to Armstrong Plumbing

DIY-ing your home’s plumbing might seem like a good idea, but Armstrong Plumbing does not recommend trying to fix your plumbing issues yourself. Checking valves and connections yourself helps you know if you have a problem, as well as helps you let our team know what your problems are. Your home’s plumbing is our expertise, and we want to ensure each of our customers has a product that will work properly and last. 

The team at Armstrong Plumbing wants the best for each of our customers—give us a call whenever you have any hot water heater issues in the St. Louis area, or any other plumbing issues. Our hot water heaters work hard in our homes and, no matter how well-maintained it is, it will need to be replaced one day. Our team has decades of experience that enable us to properly install, maintain, and repair your appliances. Reach out to Armstrong Plumbing today at (636) 538-5179, or fill out a form for more information.

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