The Handyguys Podcast - Working Together on that Honey Do List Home Energy Savings Tool tests

Water Heater Repairs and Basic Maintenance

by The Handyguys

in Audio Podcasts

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The Handyguys answer questions about Hot water heaters (or is it “cold water” heater?) and discuss basic water heater maintenance.

Please note: The Handyguys apologize for some technical difficulties which led to a broadcast with some snap, crackle and pops. We expect next week’s podcast to have this problem corrected.

Natural Vent gas hot water heaterBasic components of a water heater, T&P, expansion tank, water supply, gas lineGas Valve and drain valveGas shut-off valveBrian and Paul discuss the maintenance of your hot water heater. Everyone owns one but you don’t always get instructions on how to maintain the heater in your home. We just expect it to work and it usually does. However, every hot water heater will fail at some point and you will typically discover this one day when you have to settle for a cold shower. Even worse, you end up with water leaking all over your basement floor from the hot water tank.

The Handyguys own gas water heaters but much of what they discuss in this episode applies to both electric and gas water heaters.

T&P ValveThermocouple, Pilot and ignitionWhat are the key components of a hot water heater? How do you maintain the heater? Are there maintenance tips to prolong the life of our heater and avoid the expensive plumber bill? The Handyguys discuss these basic questions in the first half of the podcast. In addition to basic water heater maintenance, a sad story about an electrocution caused by a faulty water heater is discussed.

The Handyguys also answer a couple listener questions about finicky gas hot water heaters with pilot lights that keep going out. Check out this weeks podcast on hot water heaters.


As always – you can click on a thumbnail image for a full size view. If you like our podcasts please consider shopping in our Amazon store for your next online purchase or support our advertisers. Thanks – The Handyguys

Need appliance parts? Just enter a part or model number:


{ 87 comments… read them below or add one }

Gina June 13, 2008 at 1:39 pm

I heard some strange pinging noises coming from the basement the other day and was afraid it might be the hot water tank.

I have visions of it spewing out water (like our old one did) when I’m here by myself and I wont’ know what to do. I’ve read the emergency instructions on the tank…but in an emergency will I know what to do…LOL.

Your blog is full of great information and I’ve subscribed.

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The Handyguys June 13, 2008 at 4:23 pm

Thanks for your kind words about our podcast. Pinging of hot water pipes is usually caused when pipes heat a cool they expand and contract. The expansion and contraction will cause a little rubbing where they are attached to joists. Its usually nothing to worry about. Regardless – Its always a good idea to be familiar with the operation of the systems in your house, especially where to turn off the water, electric and gas.

The Handyguys

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Sandra February 7, 2010 at 11:53 am

My hot water heater bowed at the bottom of the tank and forced the tank upward which caused the pipes to leak. Could you tell me what would cause this?

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The Handyguys February 7, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Sandra – Time for a new water heater. It was caused by too much pressure in the tank. In this post there is a picture of a T&P (temperature and pressure) valve. The valve failed to open or is missing. The pressure could have been caused by excessive heat (bad thermostat) or excessive water pressure in the house. Check out our show where we talk about too much water pressure.
http://www.handyguyspodcast.com/902/episode-97-water-pressure-fixing-a-wall-and-a-new-tool

Good luck and let us know if you have any further questions.

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Ted Ramsey July 15, 2011 at 11:01 pm

I have a question so stupid that I would be too embarrassed to ask anyone I know face to face. I work a maintenance in a trailer house park in deep south Texas where it never freezes well hardly ever. Anyway I hook up new homes. I hook up only one pipe to the house and that’s the one to the water heater. I can not figure out where the cold water comes from if all the water is run through the heater. See I told you it is a really stupid question.
Ted

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The Handyguys July 18, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Well, I assume that no one is complaining they don’t have unheated water. As long as they do have cold water then there MUST be a tee fitting splitting the cold from the supply to the water heater.

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Roger September 10, 2011 at 9:34 pm

We have an A.O. Smith water heater 75 gal circa 2000 and have been getting small white crystals caught in our filters. Neighbors do not have this problem and the water company says this is the water heater with the elements dissolving. Also the water in the shower goes cold if someone is using the sink

Please advise – is this a safety issue?

Roger O’Callaghan

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The Handyguys September 12, 2011 at 10:56 am

Yes, this is either the anode rods nearing end of life or the heating elements (if its electric).

Both are easy to replace. I would first start with the anode rods. An anode rod is a sacrificial rod that dissolves before corrosive water can damage other internal parts to the water heater.
See http://www.waterheaterrescue.com/pages/WHRpages/English/Longevity/water-heater-anodes.html
If the rod is completely gone and you have an electric water heater you may also need to replace the element(s) (Probably two, one near the top, one near the bottom)
http://www.applianceblog.com/mainforums/water-heaters/21931-there-anything-wrong-my-o-smith-heater-2.html

Also, while working on the water heater, you should drain the tank to remove sediment from the bottom.

Good luck
Handyguy Brian

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Gab October 19, 2011 at 7:32 pm

I was trying to shut off the main valve for water running into the house and turned the knob on the cold water pipe that goes into the water heater. It doesnt matter which way i turn the knob its leaking. What do i do?

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The Handyguys October 21, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Righty tighty to shut it off (Clockwise). If it doesnt shut off it will need to be repaired or replaced. You will need to shut off your main supply to do that job.

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KRISTINE March 31, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Hi!

I think my problem might be answered above, but thought I better ask anyways. I just had a 40 gallon AO Smith gas water heater installed on my second floor and for the first few weeks it worked great. Actually it still works great, but whenever the pilot light comes on, it makes this loud noise. Sometimes it sounds like a ping and sometimes its a vibration and mostly it’s just a loud noise for a few seconds. It only happens when it lites and the hot water starts coming out of the faucet. The guy who installed it said he didn’t know what it was, but claims to have talked to the manufacturer and they said its a common problem due to something being the way. They are supposedly going to call me and send a technician out, but when I spoke to them yesterday they said they don’t do that. Any ideas on what this noise might be?

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The Handyguys April 1, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Yes, its likely caused by the expansion of the pipes as they warm up. See if you can identify roughly where the sound comes from. if its from the pipes or near the top of the tank then that’s likely the issue.

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Kristine April 2, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Thanks for the response! I can’t tell where the sound is coming from, but it only happens after the heater has been sitting for awhile. If you relight the tank over and over again, you won’t hear the noise. If it is the metal expanding, will the sound ever go away? It’s a very creepy sound. I also received a call from the guy who installed it saying he talked to the manufacturer about it. They supposedly claim they know of this problem and will send a technician out to fix it. Something about a piece being in the way, which causes it to make the noise. It’s been a week since he told me they would call and nothing so far, so I think he’s just making up stuff at this point.

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The Handyguys April 3, 2012 at 10:17 am

Kristine – I’m not sure what you mean about re-lighting the tank over and over again. There should be a pilot light or an electronic igniter that does its thing automatically.

Once the burner ignites it begins heating the water. This happens automatically based on a thermostat. When the water cools the burner comes on, it goes off when the water reaches the set temp.

When metal gets warm it expands, when it cools it contracts. When you take a shower, run a dishwasher or otherwise draw hot water, the pipes that were cold now become warm and they expand a bit. Sometimes you can hear this expansion. It can be sudden all at once sounding or it can be a more subtle sound. The sound it makes will depend on what the pipe is touching as it expands or contracts. Sometimes it sounds like the sound that crumpling aluminum foil makes. Sometimes it sounds like the sound tapping a screwdriver to a pipe would make.

It would be really cool if you could make a recording of the sound and email it to us. We could play it on the show.

Is this a new sound? Did it make it with the old water heater? Is the sound inside, underneath or above the water heater? Is the sound near the water heater but not from any part of the water heater?

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Kristine April 18, 2012 at 4:29 pm

I talked to the manufacturer and it sounds like a common problem with their water heaters – A.O. Smith. Their response is below.

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When I asked if this was something I could do myself, their response was….”It is not, the burner has to be removed to access the brackets and the spring. ” If the burner has to be removed, does that mean I have to drain my water heater or at least shut it down?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned since installing my water heater, it’s that the warranty really doesn’t cover anything besides the parts, so it’s basically useless. If I call a service company to come fix this issue (that is obviously a design problem that A.O. Smith should be handling), it will cost me another $200 if not more. So much for this being a quality product.

Kristine April 18, 2012 at 4:35 pm

These comments should have been listed in the above comments, but for some reason they didn’t show up. The response from the manufacturer was this…

“Based on the information provided that it sounded like the brackets that hold the burner in place during shipping is causing the noise, the brackets cannot be removed, but the spring inside the brackets can loosened to help with the noise.”

lori November 27, 2012 at 6:40 pm

I have the same problem. My 50 gal 2008 whirlpool gas water heater started making the hum/vibration noise as well. It’s REALLY loud – you can hear it through walls and the garage door, all the way across the house and even from the sidewalk. I’ve put my hands on the tank during the sound, and i can feel it vibrating – not a violent shaking, just a fuzzy buzz. It’s a big tall tank. The noise starts as soon as the heater lights up to heat the water. I can’t tell where the sound is coming from either – it fills the entire room. I was able to record it on my phone! Could I send it to you? I wasn’t sure if you were still figuring out this issue – but I’m still stumped. I’ve contacted whirlpool, but they don’t even make my model anymore.
I tried flushing the tank a few times until the water was clear, but I read the entire portion below the spout won’t come out unless you suck it out with a wetvac. That’s not something I’d like to do just yet…

Jennifer April 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Hi, I have a GE water heater and this morning we heard a very loud vibrating noise coming from the water pipe in the wall that leads to the tank. What is this? It sounds like a helicopter in our house.

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The Handyguys April 18, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Hmmm, could be several things

I would suspect a bad washer. Does it only happen with one faucet or shower? Washers can get worn and loose and vibrate or pulsate causing the water to pulse and surge causing a pipe to vibrate.

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Kathy Moore August 18, 2012 at 1:31 am

My electric hot water heater has been leaking directly on top of the tank around the nipple for over a month (just enough to fill up the small recessed area overnight). Today it just stopped leaking all of a sudden. The “hot” water at the faucet is now only lukewarm. I know that I need a new tank. Should I cut off the breaker & water pump(well system) immediately? Could the tank just let all the water go on the floor and continue pumping water into the house from well if I don’t? Please help!!!

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The Handyguys August 21, 2012 at 9:30 am

It sounds like it is time for a new tank. I would replace it as soon as possible.

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Wendy Underwood November 6, 2012 at 1:32 pm

The pipes on my hot water heater are extremely hot when touching them. Is this normal? Could something be wrong with it? Heating element just got replaced as well as the thermostat.

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The Handyguys November 12, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Its probably okay. Use a cooking thermometer and check the temp of the hot water from the nearest faucet to the water heater. It is often set at 115 – 120 degrees (low side) when you have a dishwasher that can heat its own water or about 140 degrees (hihger side) when you have an older dishwasher. Higher than that and you have a scalding danger. You can turn down the temp if its too high.

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Jackie November 8, 2012 at 7:39 pm

My electric water heater is about 20 years old. I am getting cold water when I take a shower. Is it time to replace my water heater. I do not have gas Do you suggest a tankless electric water heater over a traditional electic water heater?

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The Handyguys November 12, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Hmmm – I would say it depends. Do the math. Find out the typical anual cost of one over the other based on your actual cost of electricity. Then compare that to the additional cost to buy a tankless. If the tankless costs $1000 more and you save $100 per year in electricity then you have a 10 year return on investment. If it costs you $1000 for tankless and you only save $20 per year then your ROI is 50 years! Expect a tankless water heater to last for 15-20 years and a conventional water heater to last 6 years without maintenance and 10-12 years with maintenance.

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Pam November 11, 2012 at 7:37 am

I have a new G.E 40 gallon hot water heater. About 6 weeks after I had it installed I got a chlorination system. It has an 80 gallon holding tank. Every Sunday for the past month it is spewing hot water all over my basement floor. I could not get any help from the original plumber, Home Depot or G.E. I had to get a licensed plumber out here twice. First he thought the chlorination system was affecting the water heater. He put a Pressure Release /expansion tank on the water heater. Next Sunday same thing happened. He came back out and said the top elements were bad from the factory and replaced them. I got up this morning Sunday and water all over the floor again. I have more money in this hot water heater for labor and repair than I paid for the water heater. Not to mention my electric bill. Culligan put the chlorinator in and said my problem is not caused by the chlorination system. What can I do?

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The Handyguys November 12, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Pam – First off, if this is a new heater and the original plumber didn’t install an expansion tank then that is a big problem. It should have been done when the unit was installed if one didn’t previously exist.

I assume the water is coming from the T&P valve (see picture above). Those valves can be faulty. They are cheap, about $10-$15. They do their job in releasing pressure when something else is wrong.

If the T&P valve is good then the following are a couple possible issues:
1) Missing, defective or improperly installed expansion tank
2) Faulty thermostat (temperature getting too hot)
3) Extremely high city water pressure

Most likely the cause is related to #1 (it usually is) or maybe #2. #3 is possible but wouldn’t be my first guess.

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Rae November 11, 2012 at 9:50 am

We replaced our water heater with a tankless unit a few years ago. Since the spring, every time the water heater runs, it causes the exhaust pipe running out the wall of the house to vibrate. We had a plumber come out in Sept to take a look at it, and he added an extra strap connecting the pipe to our floor joists because he thought that the original tie-down had simply gotten loose; however, that didn’t solve the problem. It has gotten progressively worse, to the point that now every time the water heater runs, the entire floor of my bedroom (which is immediately above where the exhaust pipe runs) vibrates and shakes, and the noise wakes me up if the heater runs during the night. I’ve been downstairs when the tank is doing this, and it’s the top of the water heater itself that is causing the vibrations – the exhaust pipe is just a symptom of whatever is wrong with the heater. Any ideas on what might be wrong with the heater that it’s doing this and whether there’s anything that I can do to fix it, or do I need to bring in a (different) professional? Thanks!

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The Handyguys November 12, 2012 at 2:42 pm

This just started? Perhaps a call to the manufacturer is in order. See if they know of the issue. Let us know what they say. If it is normal there may be a few things you can do (or have a plumber do) to isolate the vibrations.

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Pam November 14, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Hi, Pam again. There is a Pressure Release Tank on the electric hot water heater that the second plumber put on. I do not have city water. I had Culligan here today and he said the water temperature is 130. He cannot understand why this is happening either. I could not find anything on your site above about the T & P valve? Afraid I am going to have the licensed plumber back here again and I will tell him what you think. At the same time, I may take this hot water heater out and get a Bradford White. I hear they are the best. Any other ideas?

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The Handyguys November 14, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Hi Pam – You can see the picture here
http://js.handyguyspodcast.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/dsc_0002s.jpg

The water heater in the picture is gas but many of the components are the same (pressure tank and T&P valve).
I am assuming your ‘leak’ if from the pipe connected to the T&P valve. The valve opens when the temperature gets too high or the pressure gets too high. It can also open up if defective. If the expansion tank is correctly sized, not defective, and has the correct air pressure in it (all things to check). Then the issue is either your thermostat (temperature getting too high, intermittently), faulty T&P valve, or your well pump generating too high a pressure. A good plumber can check all these things. I would start by checking the water pressure. Thats quick and easy to do if you have the correct tool. I would then replace the T&P valve. The valve is cheap and only takes a few minutes to swap out. If the thermostat in the water heater is bad then the manufacturer should pay for replacement under warranty.

I wouldn’t swap the heater for a new one yet. If the well pump pressure is incorrect then a new heater wont solve the issue.

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Brenda November 28, 2012 at 8:09 pm

Hi! I live in an old house (100 yrs old), and we have the same problem every year: as it gets colder outside in the fall and wintertime, the shower water is colder in the morning. Last year, we were able to run the shower the night before, and get a decent (somewhat) warm temperature. This year, running water the night before no longer works for warm water in the morning. We have to run water in the morning, wait for about 20 minutes, and then take a shower.
We have a water heater blanket, and the pipes to the first floor shower are not super long, but are not insulated. The paperwork that I found in the house when we moved in 4 years ago is for a gas water heater from 1999. I’m not sure if there was a new one installed since then, but I’d guess probably not. Do you think we need a new water heater, or is that not the problem at all?

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The Handyguys November 29, 2012 at 11:57 am

Brenda – Is this a gas or electric water heater? Once hot, is the temperature hot enough (normal hot)?
It may, or may not be, time for a new water heater.

If its electric – I would suspect, depending on design, one bad heating element. If its gas, I suspect sediment at the bottom of the tank. Both of these possible issues, combined with un-insulated, and perhaps over sized, supply pipes could contribute to the issue you describe.

The second issue of uninsulated and/or oversized pipes cant be fixed with a new water heater. An ideal solution would be to insulate the pipe between the water heater and the shower. If the pipe is 3/4″ replace it with a 1/2″ supply. That can be a lot of work. You may also be able to install a re-circulation system. This pump setup will circulate the cold water in the pipes back to the water heater. When you then turn on the shower the water is hot within seconds.

The re-circulation system may require a plumber and maybe an electrician.

Back to the first part of the problem. if an electric water heater, have your plumber check the heating elements and replace any defective ones (I suspect one of two may be bad). If a gas water heater, follow the manufactures instructions for draining the tank to clear any sediment that is restricting the heating process. If you cant drain the tank because its too clogged up then its probably time for a new heater. If you cant replace the electrical elements then again, maybe replace the heater. Heaters have a limited lifespan and yours is nearing that point.

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Marsha December 11, 2012 at 4:11 pm

I have just moved a trailer house about 4 years ago. I have bought and paid for the trailer and not sure of the records of the plumbing and things, and not sure about these plumbing kind of things. I have an electric water heater and so my question is – How do I know if it is just the element or the whole water heater that has quit working? My son took a shower in the morning before school and by lunch – there was no hot water. I haven’t heard any strange noises or anything so I am really unsure of what exactly that needs to be replaced. Any ideas?

Thanks!!

Marsha

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The Handyguys December 12, 2012 at 8:46 am

The first check is to confirm you have electricity to the water heater. Make sure a breaker is not tripped. Second would be to see how old the water heater is. If its over 12 or 15 years old its probably due for replacement. If its relatively new I would suspect one or two bad heating elements.

I cant go into all the details here but the basic procedure of replacing heating elements is:
1) turn off power, confirm its off.
2) Turn off water
3) drain the tank
4) remove the bad elements
5) take the old elements to the plumbing supply to ensure you get proper replacements.
6) Install new elements
7) refill tank
8) turn on the water

All this assumes the elements are bad. It could also be a bad thermostat.

Again, if the tank is old, it could also be prone to leaks. If its old, just replace the entire unit.

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Eddie December 16, 2012 at 2:18 am

Hello guys,
My old electric water heater burst in Oct.10 and was replaced with a RUUD. Now, in Dec.12 this new water heater is leaking from the lower element access panel. The water is not coming from the element fitting. It appears to be welling up to the access panel level and leaking out. There was no expansion tank installed.
Side note, I have the new High Efficiency washing machine. When it goes through it’s cycling of turning water on and off I can hear the pulse in the pipes in the walls.
Could this pulsing with the absence of the expansion tank be causing the water heater failures and I should expect a replacement to fail prematurely as well?
Thanks!

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The Handyguys December 16, 2012 at 8:26 am

2 years for any water heater is not normal. First this is to check what warranty the unit has. The sound you hear is wafted hammer. Yes, this can cause issues with many different appliances. An expansion tank may help minimize the effect. Are you on city water or well? My guess is city water.

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Eddie December 17, 2012 at 2:08 am

There is a 6 year warranty on the tank and parts and yes I am on city water.

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The Handyguys December 17, 2012 at 9:56 am

Yeah, have it fixed under warranty and yes, definitely have an expansion tank installed at the same time.
Newer connections to city water have what is called a back-flow preventer. These devices keep water that has entered your residence from going backwards into the city water system. As we know, when water heats up, it expands. When a backflow preventer is installed it has no place to go and can cause leaks, or at least exacerbate a leak that may have gone unnoticed. The expansion tank will allow for that expansion and not put undue pressure on your systems.

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Eddie December 17, 2012 at 3:17 pm

The house was originally build in 1960 and was remoded in 09 when I purchased. The water meter is located in the house, however I have located a water meter cover plate in my yard. I don’t know if the meter was relocated recently or why it would be relocated in the first place. I will check with the utility company but is there a quick way to do a visual check if a backflow preventer is on my system/water meter?

angie December 24, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Hi Just wondering if you can help me out… my water heater works fine, only problem is we have enough water for a shower and maybe some dishes then the water starts to go cold. I do know we have the temp setting at high. Could this affect how much hot water we are getting?

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The Handyguys December 26, 2012 at 10:58 am

You could try a low flow shower head. I like the speakman shower head http://astore.amazon.com/handyguys-20/detail/B0055JJ5WK

Another possible issue is a buildup of sediment at the bottom of the water tank. You could try draining the tank to flush it out and see if that helps. Also, if it is an electric water heater, I have heard that if one element has failed then it seems like only a half tank capacity. Try the shower head first, its cheap and easy.

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amanda January 8, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Awesome information! Very useful. Hot water heater’s leaking can lead to mold damage! It’s great to know how to prevent mold before it occurs like you guys explain in your podcast!

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Keisha January 8, 2013 at 10:36 pm

Hi, I am hoping you can help me out with a recent issue we are having. We have an electric water heater, a pressure regulator and a water softener in our basement. Recently we have been having trouble with our hot water, usually we never run out of hot water, regardless is we have had the dishwasher going, taking showers etc. About a month ago our pressure dropped off so we thought it was time to replace the pressure regulator, we also wanted to replace the pipes to the water softener since there is a small leak. So we let the water softener run down on salt so we can move it. These last two days a new problem has occured. Both my daughter and I take our showers at night and the last two nights we’ve had to keep turning the hot water knob hotter and hotter to get just mild warm water, then tonight my shower ended up freezing. We haven’t done anything out of the ordinary, and I’ve never messed with a water heater before. Any insights you can provide would be great! Sorry such a long comment, just wanted to give you the full layout. Thanks!

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The Handyguys January 9, 2013 at 11:20 am

Its hard to say exactly where the issue may be. I’m not sure if the water softener is part of the issue or not.

I’m going to guess the issue is with the water heater itself. I say this because not plumbing changes were made during the most recent time you have seen the water temp drop off. I could be wrong but I would start by looking at the water heater.

If the water heater is more than 10 years old it may just be time to replace it. See if you can figure out when it was installed or manufactured. if yours is old, a newer one will safe a couple bucks on electricity every month.

If the water heater is newer, check for warranty first. if under warranty then go that route for repair. If it doesn’t have a warranty there are only a few likely things that can cause the issue internal to the water heater. The thermostat and the heating element(s). Both are relatively inexpensive parts.

Let us know if you have further questions or want more details.

Good luck

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Kellie August 31, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Hello, question regarding my 2004 AO Smith Power Shot system. It stopped working had plumber come out they said need new one @ cost of @ $1,800.00 for system & labor. It started working again in less than 24 hours. Is this normal, should I replace … I decided to hold off purchasing the new one for now. Thanks.

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The Handyguys September 3, 2013 at 10:04 am

How old is the existing water heater? If its more than 10 years old I would consider replacement. Since its now working again you can save up the cash and take your time to shop for the best price. Did the plumber say what was wrong?

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kellie September 3, 2013 at 2:03 pm

thank you for the reply back … the water heater is a 2004, so only about 9 years old. The plumber did not say what the problem was, he simply said this can happen and in his professional opinion I need to replace it … is it normal for a water heater to stop working, then just start back again? also, he quoted me $1,800 for parts and labor, is that expensive?

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The Handyguys September 3, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Depending on if its gas or electric the list of potential issues would vary. Its not common for there to be a failure and then it to be fine again. It could have been something dumb like a tripped breaker or loose wire (electric) or dirt in the pilot or igniter (gas). $1,800 for parts and labor might be a good price for a new unit or it may be high. It would depend on the specifics of the new heater. If its a basic cheap water heater then the price is high. If its a fancy large capacity heater then the price if probably okay.

I would recommend not to worry about rushing into a replacement unless you are leaking water. Shop around, call several different plumbers and get their prices. Find a good price and an installer you feel good about. Start saving for the replacement a couple years down the road (or sooner if it dies again). Around my neck of the woods you can have a basic replacement water heater installed for about $1000 ($600 for 2 hours labor 2 men, $300 for the water heater, $100 for other parts). On the other hand a new water heater alone could cost $1200 or more.

Good luck

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Joe November 2, 2013 at 12:14 pm

After installing a new Whirlpool gas water heater, my water lines vibrate (sounds like a fog horn) every time the hot water is turned on from any where in the house. I didn’t have this problem with the old heater, what is causing this?

Thanks, Joe

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The Handyguys November 2, 2013 at 11:19 pm

First try the easy stuff….
1) make sure your shut-off valves are fully open. Lefty loosey, righty tighty.
2) If they are the types of valves with washers you may have a bad washer or a loose washer screw.

Let us know if this fixed it, if not we can dig deeper.

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Joe November 7, 2013 at 9:59 am

The valves are not the washer type they are a type of gate valve and they are fully open. The noise is intermittent and seems to be coming from the bottom of the water heater. I tried to flush any air from the pipes by turning on all the faucets for 3-4 minutes, but still have the noise. This not only happens when the water is running but also just after the water is shut off.

Thanks again, Joe

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The Handyguys November 7, 2013 at 11:28 am

Very weird. Are the pipes soldered at the top of the tank? Perhaps swap that to a flexible connection. That would isolate the water heater a bit from the rest of the system. I used something like this on my last water heater install > http://www.sharkbite.com/product/flexible-water-heater-connectors/

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Joe November 8, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Guys I figured it out, it’s the gas line to the burner. As soon as the burner fires up the gas line starts to vibrate and make the noise. I’ll have to call Whirlpool and have them take a look at it, it’s under warranty.

Thanks for the help.
Joe

John December 10, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Hey guys, very happy to find this thread. I have the exact same problem Joe is describing, BUT I have an electric Whirlpool water heater?? Any ideas? I will check the valves when I get home, but it sure seems odd that Joe’s fix is in the gas line.

Thanks,

John

Joshua December 11, 2013 at 4:22 pm

I have this same type of noise with my brand new Whirlpool water heater that is maybe 6 months old now. In the summer when I installed it, I never heard this noise. But as the weather has gotten colder I have began to hear a loud fog horn (not as loud as a fog horn), sounding noise whenever I turn hot water on at any faucet in the house. Today I was on the phone with Whirlpool and I turned a faucet on and held my phone next to the water heater so they could hear it. They said they’d send a tech out to look at it, but I’m a bit nervous if the noise is found to “not be their problem”, and I really don’t want to shell out a couple hundred bucks right now.

Anyhow, I notice the sound is coming from the bottom, about a minute or so after the burner kicks on. It makes the noise for about 15 seconds, then stops. I let the burner stop burning and turned the hot water back on, and this time after the burner kicked on, there was no humming noise. If I waited a bit longer, then turn the hot water on, the noise comes back again after the burner kicks on.

The noise is definitely not from water pipes, nor the flex gas line going to the heater, it is something in the water heater, but I don’t know what it is.

Have you had a tech look at it and if so, what was it?

John December 12, 2013 at 11:24 am

A technician is coming out on Monday, but I’m pretty sure it’s the extreme temps coliding and the heating elements in these models vibrating away and becoming tuning forks…
http://video.about.com/homerepair/How-to-Fix-a-Tank-Type-Water-Heater–Higher-Pitched-Whining.htm

Dick Whitney November 5, 2013 at 7:17 pm

where does the power on a gas hot water heater , get its source for the
blinking LED light

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The Handyguys November 6, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Ahh, its a mystery! Actually it depends on the water heater and its features. If there isn’t a power cord the the power for the blinky light comes from the thermocouple or a similar thing called a thermopile. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilot_generator http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermopile

Handyguy Brian has a gas fireplace with a remote control. The remote can still be used to turn on the fireplace during a power outage. The thermocouple supports the radio frequency receiver and the gas valve controls.

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Julia December 14, 2013 at 8:56 am

I just bought a new hot water heater and the water doesn’t get hot I called the plumber and he told me it was an electrical issue please help

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The Handyguys December 14, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Well, first. Make sure its connected correctly. Then, make sure the breaker is turned on. If neither of those work then call an electrician.

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debwesley December 28, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Put new elements in kenmore 40g electric. Bottom element never comes on. Any ideas.

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Brian Misch January 22, 2014 at 9:53 pm

My shower I will turn the water to warm and it go back and forth from warm to HOT and there is a dripping noise inside the gas water heater

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The Handyguys January 23, 2014 at 4:34 pm

Weird – How old is the water heater? If its 10+ years old, I would consider a replacement. You may also want to consider an anti-scald shower valve upgrade.

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Charlet January 23, 2014 at 10:08 am

2 months ago the water pipes under my apartment were replaced now there is a humming sound coming from the floor-I am the apartment manage and have called the plumber he comes out changed the pump-the water lines are tied to the wood floor jousts –could the problem be that the sound is going through the wood ?

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The Handyguys January 23, 2014 at 10:53 am

Sometimes the humming comes from a loose washer in a shutoff valve. An easy thing to do is to make sure the valves are all open. After that, if you can identify a valve close to the vibration, change the washer on that valve (if it has one). Also, ensure the pipes are secured to the structure.

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Ron kessler January 26, 2014 at 9:39 pm

We have had to increase our hot water tank capacity by adding a second 75 gal hot water tank
What is the most efficient plumbing method, in series or in parallel?
We have a recirculating pump on one tank currently.
I realize the plumbing height and distances for outlets have to be identical.
I am concerned that we will not get equal pull and loose pressure by setting up in series. Please comment

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chi ho February 9, 2014 at 8:44 pm

Shower intermittently releases either hot or cold water instead of warm water. Is this something wrong with my gas water heater?
Your help is appreciated.

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The Handyguys February 10, 2014 at 5:54 pm

Its more likely an issue with the shower valve.

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chi ho February 10, 2014 at 7:54 pm

Thank you very much.
Chi

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The Handyguys February 11, 2014 at 8:55 am

no problem.

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Suzanne March 8, 2014 at 6:36 pm

This website has great information. I am hoping you can help me with my water heater.
I have a gas water heater. I was hearing a consistent clicking noise for several weeks. It has stopped. I haven’t heard it for several days. Do you know why I was hearing the clicking noise and why it has stopped?
I have a weird feeling that something is wrong!
Thank you for any guidance you can give me.
Suzanne

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The Handyguys March 11, 2014 at 9:02 am

Do you still have hot water? No leaks? I wouldn’t worry about it. It was probably just normal some expansion/contraction of the pipes.

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Cory March 27, 2014 at 3:06 pm

My water heater is only a year old, and my first shower in the morning is colder than usual (around 95-100). 30 minutes after the first shower, the 2nd shower is just fine (around 125-130). I was told by a friend my water heater temperature is drifting down over night and my gas valve doesn’t start heating untill my first shower “wakes it up”. After the first shower, my gas valve heats the tank like normal. He said I need a new gas valve. The tank is only a year old, do you think the gas valve is bad??

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The Handyguys March 27, 2014 at 9:03 pm

It could be the gas valve, it could also be the thermostat or it could be other issues. The unit probably has a warranty on it. Contact the manufacturer for repair. If this has always done this you may want to look into insulating pipes.

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Anees Ashraf March 29, 2014 at 7:28 am

i have a electric heater used to heat natural gas. it is 5 years old and started to vibrate now. i noticed that vibration is more during noon time . Please help me

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The Handyguys April 1, 2014 at 9:24 am

I don’t really understand what you have. If you have vibration make sure whatever is vibrating is firmly attached to something that doesn’t vibrate.

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Anees Ashraf April 1, 2014 at 11:39 pm

i am working in a gas plant. we have a electric heater skid to heat our gas. all the structures are firmly tightened. in the line there is a heter , two ball valves and filter. we have cleaned the filter and also the valves . but still vibration is there

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The Handyguys April 2, 2014 at 9:36 am

No idea, sorry.

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RJB June 2, 2014 at 11:27 am

My hot water heater was pulling and stopping every 30 seconds or so.
I ended up unplugging it.
What could be the cause of this issue?

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The Handyguys June 2, 2014 at 1:22 pm

@RJB – Not sure I understand what your symptoms are.

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RJB June 2, 2014 at 1:42 pm

OH! Thank you SO much for getting back to me.
My 64 ga hot water tank was seemingly pulling for more hot water every minute+ for at least 18 hrs.
I went down to the basement (1 house; 3 floors; 1 condo per floor / each unit has separate hat water heater / boiler). I am on Floor 3; Floor 1 notified me on the noise. Mine was the only one doing this.
I went to check it out and it indeed was now pulling for water every 30+ sec. I turned the little blue switch to off and unplugged the unit.
My roommate said his shower was not HOT (taken before the unit was unplugged); mine was definitely warm-ish. Im assuming (I know what that means) that the boiler was not filled with HW backup.
Does this sound like something ‘normal’ as I have yet to find anything on the web.
What do you suggest I do besides calling the 1-800 # on the boiler or having a plumber come.
Is this an emergency?

Thank you SO very much!,
RJB

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The Handyguys June 2, 2014 at 4:48 pm

@RJB – A few thoughts….
- 64 gallon sounds wrong and if its not wrong is certainly HUGE for a condo.
- “pulling for more hot water” – I don’t really know what that means. If it means that you hear water running through the pipes then you need to check for something on, running, or a leak.
- Cold showers could be a result of something using the hot water from the tank, I cant imagine what though.
- It is definitely not normal.

I’ll do a bit of assuming too….
1) The “pulling” you hear is normal, just people running water somewhere in the building.
2) It could be possible that water lines are mixed between units and a different tenant is using your hot water.
3) You are not a DIY/handy type person (no shame in that)

What I would do if I were you….
Do NOT call the number on the water heater. Call a plumber. Now that you have turned off the hot water ask the other neighbors if they have lost, or seen a decrease, in their hot water. That will be good info to know when your plumber comes out. Ask your friends for a recommendation for a plumber and have them out to take a look.

If a plumber wants to put in a new water heater ask them what is wrong with the old. If they say thermostat then ask them why not just fix it, if they say heating element, ask them why not just put in a new heating element. If the water heater is over 10 or 15 years old then take their advice and replace it, if it isn’t that old have them fix it.

Good luck

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The Handyguys November 28, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Lori – go ahead and send us the recording. [email protected] Also, send us some pictures that show the shutoff valves above the water heater.
Try and identify where the sound comes from and when it makes the noise. Is it only when certain faucets or appliances are used or when anything using hot water is run? When its vibrating, try touching different parts (shutoff valves, T&P valve, pressure tank) to see if the vibration/sound originates at those components.

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The Handyguys December 17, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Usually a blackflow preventer is connected just to the city side of a water meter.

Backflow preventor with pressure regulator

It doesn’t matter too much if you have one or not. Replacement water heater plus an expansion tank and you should be good to go for many years.

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The Handyguys November 11, 2013 at 9:21 am

Glad you found the issue. Let us know how they fix it. I suspect they will replace the gas valve.

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The Handyguys December 11, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Yeah, something is vibrating or resonating. Joe’s problem was unusual. It is usually a bad washer in a valve or an unsecured pipe.

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