Is your electric water heater not working, and you don’t know why? Listed here are some problems you may be having and how to troubleshoot and repair them. This is Part II of a two-part Charlotte plumber DIY guide on potential water heater problems and solutions. Read the other half of the guide here.
Problem 4: Water leaks
- Defective temperature and pressure (T&P) valve
- T&P valve leak from excessive pressure, overheating, or is stuck
- Leak from overhead or nearby plumbing connection
- Leak from bad gasket or loose heating element bolt(s)
- Leaking water tank (corrosion likely)
- Put a bucket underneath the overflow pipe. Open and flush the T&P valve clear of debris. If a leak continues from the valve, replace the T&P valve.
- Reduce the thermostat setting to prevent tank from overheating
- If leak is coming from a pipe connection such as water inlet or outlet or T&P valve threaded connection, tighten the connection using an adjustable wrench to simply make the connection tighter. Be sure to not over-tighten!
- If leak is from heating element, try to tighten the heating element mounting bolts with the water and power to the water heater turned off. Make sure they are tighter, but again, do not over-tighten.
- If heating element leak persists after snugging bolts, detach the heating element and exchange the gasket.
- If the leak is coming from a corroded water heater storage tank then the water heater needs to be replaced.
Problem 5: Rust colored water
- Corrosion occurring inside glass lined tank
- Sacrificial anode rod is worsening (purpose of anode rod is to dissolve slowly to prevent rusting in the tank)
- Exchange sacrificial anode rod with magnesium anode rod. Anode rods are available from a plumbing supply house.
Problem 6: Rotten egg odor
- Hydrogen gas created from decay of sacrificial anode feeding bacteria in the tank and creating sediment
- Flush water heater
- Treat tank and run some of the solution into water lines, using a hydrogen peroxide solution of 2 pints 3% peroxide to 40 gallons of water.
- Let peroxide solution set in tank and pipes for 2 hours. Solution is not toxic and requires no rinsing.
- Exchange anode with a zinc-alloy anode, if problem continues.
- Exchange water heater with a plastic lined tank type, if problem is still present.
Problem 7: Low rumbling or popping noise
- Noise heard is the sound of boiling water. Excessive amount sediment buildup in bottom of tank is causing overheating of tank bottom and boiling of water to occur.
- Remove sediment by flushing water heater.
Problem 8: High pitched whining noise
- Buildup of scale material on electrical heating elements
- Flush water heater
- Clean scale from water heater tank and elements
- Install low-watt density heating elements that have larger surface areas to transfer heat to water more efficiently, conducting less electrical wattage per square inch than a standard high-wattage element.
How ER Services Can Help
Still unsure what is wrong with your water heater? Check out Part I of our water heater troubleshooting series here.
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Quick question & answer: How do I get rid of the high pitched whining noise coming from my water heater?
High pitched whining noises coming from your water heater are caused by buildup of scale material on electrical heating elements, but can be fixed with the following steps. Flush your water heater, clean scale from the water heater tank and elements, and install low-watt density heating elements that have larger surface areas to transfer heat to water more efficiently.