4 Tips to Diagnose Water Heater Issues

4 Tips to Diagnose Water Heater Issues

Cold water coming out of your faucets or shower head is one of the worst ways to start the day, but how can you tell what’s actually gone wrong? We’re going to take a look at some of the most important things to know when trying to diagnose the issues you’re having, so you can figure out what kind of water heater repair you need.

Fortunately, most of the common problems water heaters suffer from are very fixable, as most modern heaters are designed to last for many years.

4 Tips For Diagnosing Water Heater Problems

So, what should you be aware of when you’re trying to find out why your water isn’t heating up the way that it should?

1.  Consider What Kind Of Heater You Have

There are a number of different types of water heaters on the market, and some are more likely to have certain problems than others. Rather than blindly taking a stab in the dark, make sure that you know the components and processes that are involved, so that you have a better understanding of what might have gone wrong.

The main types of water heaters on the market are:

  • Storage or tank heaters
  • On-demand heaters
  • Heat pump heaters
  • Tankless coil heaters
  • Indirect heaters
  • Solar heaters

You also need to consider whether you’re dealing with an electric or gas heater – which is particularly important for safety. You have to make sure an electric heater is completely switched off at the breaker before you do any major investigations, and you should turn off the gas supply to a gas heater before working on one.

2.  Look At Your Power Supply Or Thermostat

More often than not, the problem is not caused by a failure in the water heater itself, but by how it is powered or controlled. The first things that you should check are the power supply that should be making your water heater run, and the thermostat that tells it when to be on and how hot to get.

Look for tripped circuit breakers and try resetting those, then make sure that the power indicators are telling you that the heater is actually on and running as expected. After that, take a look at the thermostat itself and see what the settings are telling you.

3.  Check For Leaks

An unfortunate and slightly more troubling issue that might have occurred is a leak somewhere within the system. Because the entire heating process constantly has water and/or gas running through it, there are a lot of different places that can spring a leak if you’re unlucky.

Many of these are quite risky to deal with yourself, and even basic replacements are best left to a professional.

4.  Look and Listen

If you can’t spot any immediate power problems, thermostat malfunctions, or leaks, then you can try investigating further with your eyes and ears. You would be surprised by what you can see just by looking, and how much you can tell from the sounds your heater is making.

Any discoloration in the water, for example, can mean that some corrosion has occurred in the heater’s lining, which means that the anode rod will probably need to be replaced. Also, certain sounds can tell you that sediment has built up somewhere and needs to be flushed out.


So, what should you keep in mind when you’re diagnosing issues with your water heater? First, make sure that you are aware of the type of heater you have and the basics of how it works. Then, the power supply and thermostat are the first places to check.

You can also look for leaks throughout the system or discoloration in the water, and you can listen out for particular noises that might indicate what is wrong.

Ultimately, the easiest option is to have a professional diagnose the problem for you, and many water heater repairs will need a specialist.