How to Troubleshoot Issues with Your Hot Water Heater

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Are you having problems with your electric water heater that are driving you crazy whenever you try to take a shower? You may notice a lot of inconsistency where the water is warm one moment and cold the next, or it may never heat up to your desired temperature at all. Sometimes, it may assault your senses from many different angles by producing water of a strange colour, accompanied by an obnoxious odour and with a terrible cacophony in the background. What on earth is going wrong with this system?

Safety First

Whenever you investigate a problem which involves water and electricity you do, of course, have to exhibit a lot of care. Be sure that you turn off the power by flipping the circuit breaker connected to the heater.

No Heat at All

If your machine is not producing any hot water whatsoever, this could be due to a failed thermostat or a faulty heating element. The thermostat will not be able to work at all if it's not receiving any power, so that will need to be tested before you actually look at the component. You may have to ask an electrician to provide the testing equipment and to look at the heating element to rule either one of those out.

Not Enough Heat

If you're shivering in the middle of your shower, then you may need to look at your hot and cold water connections. Sometimes these can be crossed over and there is an easy way to check. Turn off the water supply completely and then turn on a hot water tap nearby to see if you get any water, as if you do then you most likely have a crossed connection. If not, you may come back to issues with your heating element or thermostat, which may need to be swapped out.

Colour and Smell

Sometimes, you will notice rust-coloured water flowing from the unit and this may be caused by corrosion within the tank or indicate that your sacrificial anode needs to be replaced. It's best to put a magnesium version in to overcome this problem in the future, which is essentially caused by hydrogen as a byproduct of corrosion.


Next, you need to get to the bottom of the strange noises that accompany your morning ablutions. If they are high-pitched, it indicates a buildup of sediment on the heating elements inside the tank. This scale will need to be cleaned away from both the elements and the tank itself and you may need to replace the heating elements with versions that have a larger surface area for better efficiency. If the noise is more of a low-pitched rumbling sound, then you may have a buildup of sediment in the tank that can cause the water to overheat. This will need to be flushed out to rectify the issue.

Expert Maintenance

As you can see, many of these problems can be traced back, in one way or another, to the heating elements. If you need to get them serviced or replaced, always make sure that you call in a qualified electrical company, such as Smart-Safe Electrical Services, to do this.