Helpful Plumbing Videos: Troubleshooting Water Heater Problems

  1. If you have a gas water heater with an igniter, remove the cover plate at the bottom of the water heater and look through the small window. If you don't see a glow, your pilot light has gone out. Turn the control knob to the OFF position and wait 30 seconds. Turn the knob back to the PILOT position and press the red button. Check to see if the pilot light is on; if not, press the red button again. Once the pilot has been re-lit, turn the control knob to the ON position.
  2. For electric water heaters, the problem may be a thrown breaker. Go to your electric box and find the breaker for the water heater — it should be clearly labeled. Turn the breaker off, then back on.

Bob Cole's Tips

  • Before working on a gas water heater, always check for the smell of gas. If you smell gas, contact your gas supplier immediately.
  • Never store paint, gasoline, kerosene or other flammable chemicals near a gas water heater. The vapors may combust and start a fire.
  • A leaky, rusty water heater cannot be repaired. The interior lining has most likely been eroded by hard water — a common problem here in the Valley.
  • If your water heater is making a high-pitched whining noise, it may be caused by the build-up of sediment on the heating elements. The heater should be flushed to remove the sediment. Scale-encrusted elements may need to be replaced.
  • A rumbling or popping noise can indicate that the water in the tank is boiling. This is also caused by a build-up of sediment and the heater needs to be flushed.
  • If your water is too hot or too cold, try adjusting the thermostat settings on the water heater.
Please note that Cole Plumbing provides this information as a courtesy to the public and cannot be held responsible for any problems or issues that may be caused by do-it-yourself repairs. If you are uncomfortable working on your plumbing yourself, we strongly suggest that you contact a professional plumber and have them do it for you.

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