5 Typical Water Heater Problems and What to Do About Them

Did you know that nearly every home in the United States has a water heater? We often take hot water on demand for granted, but anybody who has taken a chilly shower in the winter knows how crucial it is. Unfortunately, not all water heaters work well – many types are more than ten years old. If you have problems with your water heater, you must solve them as soon as possible.

Otherwise, it will be more expensive to fix or replace — and may endanger your property or you. In this article, we’ll go through some of the most typical problems. Hopefully, we can assist you in resolving the issue on your own.

However, if you can’t figure it out, you’re better off hiring an expert. Let’s get this party started!

What are the most common problems, and how do you resolve them?

1. Fluctuating Water Temperatures

It’s a common trope that certain showers come in two temperatures: scorching hot and icy cold. Unfortunately, this typical trait might be part of a larger issue.

If you observe this temperature shift while showering or doing the dishes, check the thermostat on the side of your water heater. First, make sure it’s set to the temperature you want.

If the temperature variations are still extreme, you may need to replace the device’s thermostat or the heating unit. The issue might potentially be related to the product’s size. Keep in mind that tanks should carry around 20 gallons of water for each person living in the home.

2. Dirty or Smelly Water

Smelly or unclean water might indicate contamination in the tank. Smells created by hot water are usually caused by microorganisms in the tank. Flushing the tank may be a solution, and it is recommended to do so 1-2 times a year to maintain a healthy water heater. If odors are coming from both hot and cold water, the problem might be caused by anything other than the water heater. In either instance, if the odor persists, it is better to contact a professional plumber.

If the water is unclean or murky, it is most likely due to sediment buildup and mineralization inside the tank. Any accumulation of debris inside the tank might impair its efficiency. Rust-colored water may indicate that the anode rod needs to be replaced, as its primary role is to minimize sediment inside the tank.

3. Rumbling Noise

A noisy water tank might suggest various issues, and determining the source of the noise can be challenging. Hissing, popping, and banging in a gas water heater might indicate that the tank’s heating elements are burning sediment in the tank or that the elements themselves are burning out and need to be replaced. It is advised that the tank be flushed to eliminate silt.

4. Low Water Flow

A low water flow might occur due to sediment buildup inside the tank, creating a moldy smell. Sediment removal is crucial for the proper functioning of the water heater. Flushing the tank is the most appropriate solution. If a completely clogged tank is suspected, it is best to replace the old water heater with a larger one.

5. Leaky Water Heater

If the tank is leaking water, the noise will most likely alert you to the problem. If it does, you should immediately contact a professional plumber to inspect the tank. Leaking water contains potentially harmful microorganisms, possibly initiating a mold problem in your home.


Modern water heaters are a luxury, and failing to maintain them can be expensive. However, water heater issues don’t have to be too expensive to repair.

The most common repairs are replacing old parts and flushing out sediment from the tank. Replacing the thermostat or heating element can also fix low water temperature problems.

In the end, if you experience water heater issues, then you should check for these issues first. If you still experience problems, then you’d be better off going with a professional.

If you’re looking for quality plumbing services in Columbiana, AL, you’ve come to the right place! Professor Plum is a veteran-run company fully licensed, insured, and bonded with over 20 years of experience. Get in touch with us and get a quote today!

Scroll to Top