When you are experiencing problems with your hot water heater, it can seem like an overwhelming process to determine what is wrong. The professionals recommend a basic process of elimination to determine the cause and to create a solution for the problems.
Water heaters are fairly simple in nature: they heat water. When it comes to problems, you can usually categorize them into a few things. Your water heater may have little to no hot water, the water may have a funny smell or taste, or it may be leaking. If you suffer from any of these problems, it is important to start with a few precautions in order to stay safe. You should shut off any electricity or gas before touching the heater. In addition, you should shut the water off to prevent any disasters.
Once you have effectively prepared the area for troubleshooting, start at the beginning and work your way down to determine the problem. If you are struggling with little to no hot water, check the pilot flame. It might need reigniting or you might need to replace the control valve. If these solutions do not work, you could replace the gas thermocouple.
If you have strange colored water, you could install a magnesium anode rod rather than the existing sacrificial anode rod. The sacrificial rod causes corrosion inside the tank, which causes rust colored water.
If you have water that does not smell quite right, chances are you have bacteria in the water. A solution of 2 pints of hydrogen peroxide mixed with 40 gallons of water poured into the tank will rid the tank of the bacteria. If this does not solve the problem, you might need to replace the tank.
If your hot water heater suffers from leaking, you can start by flushing or replacing the temperature and pressure valve. If this does not solve the problem, you need to inspect the interior of the tank. Look for rusting or corrosion. If either is present, it is time to replace the tank.