5 Most Common Water Boiler Problems and How to Fix Them
There is nothing more unpleasant than waking up in the morning, crawling out of your warm bed, and hopping in the shower, just to be surprised with a gush of freezing water or a surge of a brown-coloured liquid that will sure promise to put a negative start on your day. Although most water boilers are quite reliable and don’t cause problems often, they can sometimes fail for various reasons, and you should be able to identify the most common issues in order to fix them quickly and continue with your daily routine.
There are several signs that could mean your water boiler needs attention. The most obvious one will surely be if there is no hot water coming out, but water could also not be heating up enough or is heating up too much, it could have a rust colour, a rotten-egg smell, or the tank itself could be making noises.
These are all fairly common problems you may run into with your water boiler, whether gas or electric, at some point or another, which is why you should follow these simple guidelines to fix them in no time:
- No Hot Water
The most common causes for your tank not being able to heat up water are problems with the heating element on your electric system, or the gas pilot and the components connected to it, that is the gas thermocouple, which is basically a sensor that determines when to open or close the gas control valve, or the gas control valve itself.
Check the pilot light or flame to be working properly and check these heating components to see if there is any visible damage. You can try re-tightening or repositioning the thermocouple next to the gas pilot. If this does not work or if you find the heating element is not working, you can find a replacement in any hardware store for you to easily install.
- Water is Too Hot or Too Cold
You might find that the water in your shower or kitchen sink might not be hot enough, even when fully opening the faucet, or maybe you find that the water is too hot, even if you don’t open the hot water faucet much.
This could mean that the thermostat could be damaged, for which you should compare the temperature shown on it to the actual temperature the water is coming out. Replace the thermostat if there is a significant difference between both temperatures.
Another cause might be a clogged vent or flue, which is the top wide pipe that lets hot air out. A clog could even result in your boiler to burn, which is why you should check the vent and clear it out.
If this does not seem to fix the issue, you could also check the dip tube, which is the tube inside the tank that lets cold water in to be heated. It could have cracks or have become rusty; in which case you must replace it.
- Pipes Have a Rotten Egg Smell
You may think that the source of that awful smell must be something horrible rotting underground, but it probably is coming from a smelly water boiler that has accumulated debris through time. Bacteria feed on the hydrogen that is released by the anode rod inside the tank when it dissolves and will make the water smelly and unhealthy. Legionella is a common bacterium found in water boilers, and if it grows uncontrollably, it can cause a serious disease like pneumonia called Legionnaire’s Disease that has been known to affect children the most.
To fix this problem, you will first need to drain the tank completely. Then, purchase about 2 pints of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution and pour it into your tank. Let it sit for about 2 hours to kill all the bacteria, then proceed to draining it again and refilling it with clean water. For you to prevent the door from coming back, you should buy a zinc alloy anode rod that will not decay the same way as the aluminium and magnesium rods do and replace it. If you have softened water, the smell problem probably won’t go away with a zinc rod either, in which case you should consider investing in a powered rod that would not need replacement since it doesn’t dissolve, and therefore doesn’t feed bacteria.
- Water Has a Rust Colour
There is nothing more dreadful than going to the sink and opening the faucet only to find black- or brown-coloured water coming from it. Rusty water can be a real health issue for you and your family if not taken care of immediately, which is why you will have to check inside your tank for the source of the rust.
You should first determine the condition of the sacrificial anode rod inside the tank. It is usually an aluminium rod that is placed in glass-lined tanks that slowly dissolves through time, and it protects your boiler precisely from getting rusty. However, if the anode rod has dissolved completely, your boiler might start accumulating rust that will then come out through your faucet. If the anode rod no longer works, make sure you clean out the rust, replace the anode rod, preferably with a magnesium rod, and check if there are not any other corroded parts.
- Tank is Making Noises
You might notice that your water tank makes a low rumbling or a popping noise. This is caused by build-up in your tank burning up, making the bottom of the tank to overheat and the water to boil instead of just heating up.
For you to get rid of build-up you will have to drain the tank completely, scrub it out, and refill it with clean water. Do this procedure regularly to prevent build-up from forming in the first place.
In case your water boiler is leaking or there is already a pool of water formed around it, you will have to replace it since it might be corroded beyond repair. Just like other appliances and systems in your home need constant maintenance and care, your water boiler will benefit from special attention, that will later save you tons of money in repairs and will increase the longevity of the unit. Remember that an annual flushing and scrubbing of the tank, its tubing and components will prevent most problems that could come up, and you will not have to worry about it malfunctioning in a long time.
Edinburgh Central Heating Services offer free estimates and range of skills. A 24-hour emergency plumbing service is also offered. For more information visit www.edinburghcentralheatingservice.com or telephone 0131 5102418