A guide for gas water heater troubleshooting. The most common problems; symptoms and causes. Troubleshooting low performance, insufficient hot water, pilot light problems, improper gas combustion and other common issues.
Gas hot water heater troubleshooting guide will assume that the unit has been correctly sized, professionally installed, per codes and manufacturers' instructions. The problems such as leaking, smelly water, noise, corrosion and other, similar to the problems found in electric units are described here.
Note: before contacting a plumber or the licensed HVAC technician for the problems related to your gas water heating, the recommendation is to read the gas water heater troubleshooting guide found here, and the instructions from the manufacturer manual (if you still have one).
Smoking and carbon formation and the combustion odor are water heater problems that are very dangerous for its owners, if not resolved. This is why the gas water troubleshooting article puts these problems at the top of the list. Such problems should be carefully analyzed and treated with caution.
If you find smoking and carbon deposits and smell the burning gas inside your home or room where the gas water heater is installed this is what you should check: check for any obstruction in the vents, flue baffle, and burner. The venting path should be clean of any dirt, dust, and deposits. Preventive inspection and maintenance can reduce the cause.
An insufficient fresh air supply, which can happen in the confined spaces, is another major cause of the sooting and combustion odor. Properly sized openings on the outside wall for the fresh air intake is one of the solutions. The manufacturer usually recommends the size of the openings, and how much air is needed for the proper combustion.
If the burner flame floats, lifts off the ports or is too large, you might have an incorrectly installed burner orifice (too large) or the vent system is blocked.
For the yellow lazy flame, clean the dirt from the burner gas supply line, clean the orifice, vent system and provide sufficient fresh air to the water heater.
There are three, the most common causes of the condensation problem on gas tank water heaters:
A new gas water heater is filled with the cold water and runs for the first time.
The great amount of hot water is used in short period of time, and the tank is refilled with the cold water. This is common on undersized gas water heaters.
Most of the today's heaters are energy efficient, high efficient or Energy Star water heaters, and since they work with the lower temperatures of the flue gases, condensation forms more often. Good venting is very important to carry away the flue gases and water vapor safely.
Keep also in mind that the flue gases contain a large amount of water vapor, which is by its nature acidic. The acidic condensate can affect the metal surface by corroding it. It can usually be seen around the draft hood.
Condensate problem should be eliminated or at least reduced, as the excessive condensation can cause the pilot light outage, sizzling noise on the burner and puddle of water under the unit.
One of the simplest solutions for the water heater condensation is to increase the temperature settings if the temperature is too low.
This gas water heater troubleshooting guide is not meant for one specific brand or model; but it covers popular manufacturers such as Rheem, AO Smith, Bradford White, State, GE, Kenmore, American and other.
If you find problems, which are not presented in this troubleshooting guide, and you cannot solve them, it is recommended to contact a licensed plumber. If looking for the replacement parts use the genuine elements or from the trusted name, with the same characteristics and per manufacturer's specs.
Regular maintenance and clean heater's environment should be the first thing to consider when troubleshooting a gas water heater.