How to Problem Solve Hot Water Tanks

Written by michael davidson
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If you were looking forward to a hot shower and ended up with goosebumps and a chill, your hot water tank may be to blame. Hot water heaters enable showers, washing machines and dishwashers to have hot water. If the heater malfunctions, hot water can be compromised. While some hot water tank problems do require professional repair, others can be solved with some basic troubleshooting to figure out the cause of the problem.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Turn all the hot water off for at least two hours to give the tank a chance to restore its hot water supply. It's possible the tank was just overused and ran out of heated water.

  2. 2

    Examine the tank for any signs of leaking or corrosion. If there is a lot of water around the tank, you likely have a leak that will require repair. If there is a small area of rust, you might be able to sand it away with sandpaper before it eats through the metal. Larger areas of corrosion would require replacement.

  3. 3

    Look at the nipples at the top of the tank, which are threaded pipes that go into the heater. If the nipples are covered in calcium deposits, they'll likely need to be replaced since the water pressure can be negatively affected by the build-up.

  4. 4

    Adjust your thermostat. It could be set at an improper temperature and be affecting the tank performance. If the water temperature doesn't change once the thermostat's been adjusted, the thermostat itself may be to blame and require a replacement.

  5. 5

    Sniff the air around the tank to detect gas. If you have a gas-powered tank, a gas leak could negatively affect the tank's performance. Leaking gas is very dangerous and if you detect it, turn off the pilot light and close the gas valve until a professional can examine the problem.

  6. 6

    Relight the pilot light in accordance with the tank's instructions if it has gone out.

Tips and warnings

  • Always shut off the power to an electric water tank prior to doing any work on it, especially if there is water on the floor around the tank.

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