Common Gas Water Heater Problems

Common Gas Water Heater Problems (FAQs)

There are two types of water heaters that we get a lot of general questions about:

  1. Gas Water Heaters
  2. Electric Water Heaters

In this post, we will create a frequently asked questions guide to solving many of the gas water heater problems you might have or might encounter in the future. Our plumbers have seen everything from burst water heaters to leaking water heaters. This guide will let you know whether a replacement water heater is needed or if your problem can be solved with a simple repair.

The Life Expectancy of Gas and Electric Water Heaters ranges between 10-15 years.

The common problem associated with handling gas water heaters is the immediate risk involved when handling equipment that handles natural gas. Before we go over some common issues, we need to understand that water stored within a water heater can be as hotter than the recommended 120-degree temperature. This is hot enough to cause burns to the skin, and whenever we deal with gas, there is always the risk of an explosion.

Before handling any problems with a gas water heater, please, ensure that the gas is turned off.

How Does a Gas Water Heater Work?

Gas water heaters use a burner to heat the water in the tank. These burners are located at the bottom-center of the gas water heater. You can set the temperature you want your gas water heater to heat the water to, and when the water has reached this temperature, the burner will simply cycle off. The temperature you want to set for your gas water heater can be determined by factors such as the size of your residence and the amount of people using the water every day.

For a gas water heater to operate effectively, it will require:

  • Tank
  • Combustion
  • Air Flow

Gas water heaters transfer heat to the water using combustion of either Natural or Liquid Propane gas. Typically, a burner in a combustion chamber ignites the gas through the use of a pilot light, with combustion air supplied through a safety feature in the bottom of the combustion chamber called the flame trap.

Water heaters with gas burners need to exhaust the fumes containing carbon dioxide to the outside of the home. The exhaust goes through a backdraft insert and flue. The flue allows the fumes to be exhausted to the outside of the home.

Problem: Gas Water Heater Burner Won’t Light, or Pilot Won’t Stay Lit

Gas Water Heater Thermocouple Location

The problem here usually stems from a broken thermocouple. The thermocouple is a safety device that senses when the pilot light is on.

A broken thermocouple will send the wrong signals to your gas valve.  If the thermocouple tells the gas valve the pilot light is off, the gas valve will respond accordingly by shutting off the gas. No gas means no burner, and no burner means no hot water for your home.

If the cause of this problem does stem from the thermocouple, the repair can be done fairly quickly it will be just a matter of:

  1. Removing the burner assembly
  2. Removing and replacing the thermocouple

You can call one of our plumbers to have this done for you the repair will not take long and will have your home’s hot water back in no time.

If you have replaced your thermocouple and it has been properly installed, and the pilot light still won’t light, then the problem is your gas control valve.

The gas control valve cannot be repaired, it must be replaced, and a professional plumber should do this.

Problem: Gas Water Heater Won’t Heat or Not Enough Hot Water

No Hot Water: Check the pilot light, is it on? Check the gas, is it on?

If the pilot light is off you can attempt to relight it. The water heater manual that came with your water heater should have the proper instructions on how to do this. You can also use an ignitor to light the pilot light

Not Enough Hot Water: Check the thermostat. While this may not be the cause of your problem as thermostats very rarely malfunction, it is not a bad place to start.

Your home not having enough hot water could be due to a

  • Improper thermostat setting
  • Improper Size
  • Gas Valve needs to be replaced

Problem: Gas Water Heater Using Too Much Gas

The problem could be a gas leak or several gas leaks.

The solution can involve replacing the flue piping.

Another issue can be your water heater needs to be properly drained and have debris removed. If there are too many minerals forming at the bottom of the tank, the water heater will require more energy to operate. Try adjusting the temperature dial and see if it is on a setting hotter than what you and your household needs. Gas water heaters have temperature dials ranging from Hot, Warm and Vacation. Turning this down will reduce the amount of energy your water heater will need to operate and save you money on energy bills.

Problem: Gas Water Heater is Making a Clicking Noise

Your water heater making a clicking noise can be caused by a build up of sediment on the bottom of the water heater. This build of sediment insulates the water and prevents the water heater from warming up the water properly and will even cause overheating in some cases.

This can be fixed by draining the water to remove the sediment, if after doing this, the noise continues then your problem may be blockage caused by lime. Limescale is going to occur naturally in your water heater.

It is best to call a plumber to come to your home to flush out all the lime in your water heater; your water heater needs to be flushed out yearly to prevent lime build up.

Problem: Water Heater is Leaking Water

gas water heater components

A leaking water heater is a serious problem and one that requires immediate attention from a trained plumbing professional. This problem means the water heater needs an immediate repair or it needs to be replaced, or you may be risking property damage and the water heater will be a safety hazard.

What to do?

  1. Locate the source of the leak: the location will describe the severity of the problem and whether a simple repair or a whole replacement is the solution.
  2. Turn off power to your water heater immediately
  3. Turn off the water supply – Before closing the valve, make sure you can get to it safely without coming in contact with any water.

The leak can be coming from some places here a few common areas

  • If the leak is coming from a cold water inlet and the hot water outlet connections, then the fix can be as simple as tightening of a loose connection.
  • Pressure Relief Valve: Every water heater has a temperature and pressure relief valve located on the side of the tank with a pipe running down to the floor.
  • Heater Drain Valve: Check the drain valve, located near the bottom of the tank.
  • Bottom of the hot water tank – This problem with your gas water heater means the problem is coming internally. You will need to replace the water heater if this is the problem.

Call Benjamin Franklin Plumbing of Cedar Rapids to handle your any plumbing repairs or installations you need. Our plumbers are on call 24/7 and have experience dealing with plumbing leaks, floods, or troubleshoot issues.

(319) 365-6792