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Troubleshooting the Hot Water Heater - Part 2

by The Jana Caudill Team

(continued from last blog…) 

Last time we dealt with stinky and discolored water from your Crown Point, Munster, or Cedar Lake hot water heater.  Today we’ll cover little hot water and no hot water at all.

Little hot water:  The first question is, does your water heater have a large enough capacity for the demand in your household?  Remember as a teenager when Dad complained about not having any hot water when he took his shower after the rest of the family had already taken theirs?  Use this handy hot flow rate calculator to find out if you have an undersized unit for your family’s needs.  Also check that you don’t have hot and cold water lines crossed somewhere in the house.  If you have a crossed line from the water heater to the washing machine, for example, you’re unintentionally using hot water where you don’t need it.

No hot water:  You’ve got either a faulty gas pilot, thermocouple, or pilot control valve.  First off, is the pilot light off?  If so, follow these directions to safely light.  If you’re unable to light the pilot light it might need replacing.  The thermocouple’s job is to sense when the pilot is on and hot enough to ignite natural gas.  If the pilot’s out the thermocouple will not open, as may also be the case if the thermocouple is defective.  Again replacement the defective part.  Same goes for the pilot control valve.

If you have water appearing externally around the base of the heater it’s more than likely one of three things.  One, you have a faulty temperature and pressure control valve which you can flush clean, re-check, and replace if leaking persists.  Two, with tank corrosion you should be able to see the area where corrosion has begun to eat through the tank in which case the tank will need to be replaced.  Three, leaking connective plumbing.  Again, easy to locate.

You’ll have to decide if you’re going to do any of these repairs yourself or call in a plumber.  Just because you know how to identify the problem doesn’t necessarily mean you’re the best person to fix it.  BE SAFE.

Troubleshooting the Hot Water Heater - Part 1

by The Jana Caudill Team

All of a sudden – or more likely the problem started small and got worse with time – you have an issue with your water heater.  There’s not enough hot water, or NO hot water.  Maybe your hot water smells a little funny or has a rust colored tinge to it.  Maybe you even have water on the floor of your Crown Point, Chesterton, or Dyer basement.

Ok, first things first.  BE SAFE.  This article is on troubleshooting water heater problems, and although I’ll suggest how to fix the issue, this is by no means a comprehensive step-by-step repair plan.  If at any point you become “a little iffy” around a troubled water heater call in a professional.  You may very well be an accomplished do-it-yourselfer, but accidents do happen, and more often than not they happen at home.  Now, if you’re one to dig a little deeper into the issue a little home safety review is in order.  If you have an electric water heater be sure to turn it off by cutting power at your circuit/fuse box.  For gas water heaters turn the burner setting to pilot.  Then, for all heaters turn off the water supply to the heater.  On to the diagnostics:

Rust colored water:  Either the sacrificial anode rod has deteriorated (by design) to the point of necessary replacement or there is corrosion inside the water tank.  Most often this can be fixed by replacing the old rod with a new magnesium anode rod.

Smell:  The rotten egg odor you have is a bacteria growing on the inside of the tank.  The bacteria is being kept alive by feeding off the hydrogen gas emitted by the corroding anode rod.  You’ll need to flush out the tank with hydrogen peroxide and probably also replace the old anode with a new magnesium anode.  If the problem persists you may have to replace the tank lining as well.

We’ll continue the diagnostic next blog with the issues of little and no hot water, and discuss leaking water collecting at the base of the heater.

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