How to Troubleshoot Hot Water Tanks


If you have the tank type of hot water heater, you may experience some common issues from time to time. Unfortunately, hot water heaters only last an average of ten to twenty years and typically malfunction after this time frame. Hot water heater tank problems can cause you to lose hot water in your home, have discolored water or experience tank leakages. It's possible to do some basic troubleshooting of your hot water tank before calling in a plumber.

Things You'll Need

  • Hose
  • Extended lighter
  • Examine the exterior of the tank. If you notice holes on the tank, then it has rusted through and will likely require replacement.

  • View the area below the tank. If you see water, then it indicates a leak has occurred. Rust stains on the floor also point to this problem.

  • Listen to any strange sounds that could be emanating from the hot water heater tank. Any banging noises can mean that a build up of sediment has occurred and the tank needs to be flushed. To flush the tank, close the incoming water valve. You also need to connect a hose to the drain valve and open up the valve while running hot water from a faucet in your home. The hose should run to a bucket or drain to collect the sediment. Turn the cold water valve on and off until the water runs clear.

  • Check the pressure release valve by lifting its handle up and down. If water does not drain from the overflow pipe, it can mean that you have a build up of pressure inside of the hot water tank.

  • Look at the pilot light of the hot water tank if you have a gas version installed in your home. If it has blown out, relight it by turning the control knob to the pilot position. Place an extended lighter in the tube until it lights. Then return the control knob to the on position.

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