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What Are the Most Common Issues with Gas Hot Water Systems?

16 November

Gas Water Heater Not Working

Gas water heaters have been relied upon for hot water in homes across Australia for decades. However, as these durable gas appliances operate year after year, certain issues tend to develop that can affect their dependability and efficiency. 

Fluctuating hot water temperatures, a water heater pilot light that refuses to stay lit, and a buildup of rust and corrosion – are among the most widespread problems reported by gas water heater owners. While units may function reliably at first, continuous use and exposure to water and combustion gases inevitably lead to some level of wear and tear on components. 

This article will investigate the ten most typical trouble spots owners have experienced with their gas hot water systems over time. We’ll explore the underlying causes, early warning signs, and simple diagnostic tests and repairs you can do yourself to counter common issues before replacement becomes necessary. Armed with this knowledge, you can better maintain your gas water heater and avoid unexpectedly large repair bills down the road.

Most Common Problems with Gas Hot Water Systems

Gas water heaters have provided hot water for homes for decades. However, over the years, certain issues tend to diminish their performance. From pilot lights that won’t stay lit to corroded components, there are signs of trouble owners should watch for.

1. Fluctuating Water Temperature

Unstable temperature control is one of the most frequently reported issues with gas water heaters. Homeowners may find the hot water temperature changing dramatically from shower to shower or at different times of day. This fluctuation can result in scalding hot or tepid water unexpectedly.

Several factors contribute to inconsistent temperature regulation. In older units, insulation may have degraded, so the water heater works harder to reheat the tank after each use. Sediment buildup inside the unit can disrupt the thermostat’s ability to read and maintain the set temperature accurately. Low gas pressure on the water heater will also cause the burner and pilot light to function less efficiently at heating water.

If you notice fluctuating water temperatures, check your water heater’s thermostat setting first. Adjust it slightly higher if needed to compensate. Look for signs of mineral deposits or corrosion that could impact the thermostat’s performance. Proper sediment removal from the tank bottom can also help the thermostat read temperatures accurately and eliminate fluctuations.

2. The Pilot Light Going Out Frequently

A pilot light that refuses to stay lit is a common frustration. Over time, dust and debris can accumulate on the pilot and disrupt ignition. 

Severe contamination may necessitate cleaning the pilot assembly. Don’t ignore outages; an unlit pilot poses safety risks if gas fills the area. 

Outages could also indicate low gas pressure impacting ignition. Check hoses and valves for kinks restricting flow. With accumulation issues, replacing an older pilot may be required for reliable ignition. Address promptly to avoid bigger problems.

Troubleshooting Pilot Light Problems In Gas Water Heating (1)

3. Rust and Corrosion Buildup

Unstable temperatures can yield unexpected scalding or tepid water. Older units need help maintaining consistent heat as the tank cools faster after use. Mineral deposits disrupt thermostat readings, leading it to over- or under-heat water. 

Cleaning the tank bottom yearly removes scale, allowing for accurate thermostat operation and stable temperatures. Addressing underlying causes helps prevent wide temperature swings.

4. Noisy Operation

Over time, normal operation can cause parts inside water heaters to wear down. Older units commonly experience noisy rattling and clanking sounds. 

This indicates repairs may be due. Loose components or corroded stainless steel parts often cause noises. Make sure the temperature and pressure (T&P) valve discharge pipe is secured properly – loose pipes can clang loudly. 

Debris in water lines may also be to blame. Isolate the source of noise by feeling along the tank exterior. Fixing or replacing worn parts prevents further degradation and future expensive replacements.

Water Heater Issues (1)

5. Inefficient Energy Usage

Components degrade and impact unit efficiency over 10-15 years of continual usage. Thermostats prone to failure escalate utility costs. Faulty thermostats are unable to correctly regulate temperature cycles burner excessively. Insulation cracks compromise containment. 

Check that the gas is turned on and working on other gas appliances.  Check thermostat operation by feeling the tank during the cycle – quick heating may indicate the thermostat is not turning off properly. 

It’s a common gas instant hot water system feature that mineral deposits in the heat exchanger could trigger a full system shutdown. When you turn on a hot water tap, a flow sensor is set off in your instant gas hot water system, and the heating commences. 

During this process, it is normal for the cold water to make it through the exchanger before it is fully fired and heating the water. Clean pilot assembly prevents the pilot from burning continually. Inspect insulation for cracks; repair or replace for improved insulation. Address faulty thermostat or insulation issues to optimise efficiency and save significant operating costs.

6. Old or Worn-Out Components

Prolonged usage puts strain on gas water heater parts, hastening wear. Indicators include noisy rattling, inconsistent ignition, and unpredictable heating. Over 15 years, corrosion accelerates component degradation. 

Inspect the tank interior for rust spots; corrosion weakens the metal and risks leaks. Test relief gas valve meter yearly; worn valves won’t release pressure safely. Replace worn anodes that protect the tank from corrosion inside. Updating components extends unit life safely and prevents potentially hazardous situations from ageing parts.

Maintaining Your Hot Water Heater (1)

7. Gas Leaks

Gas leaks pose serious safety risks over time. Check fittings and connections annually for signs of corrosion and leaks using soapy water solution. Bubbling indicates a leak requiring tightening or part replacement. 

Aged flexible gas lines particularly prone to cracking. Also, inspect the gas burner and pilot assembly. Leaks become riskier and unaddressed. Address even minor leaks promptly to prevent hazardous build-up exposure. Flames and sparks could trigger explosions.

8. Ignition and Flame Problems

A faulty ignition can drain the hot water supply. Inspect the pilot burner or igniter frequently for debris, corrosion or wear. Clean or replace as needed. Low gas pressure inhibits steady ignition as well. Check lines or valves for kinks restricting flow. 

2020 regulations require electronic ignition versus standing pilot. Still inspect for proper spark at igniter, blue flame on pilot or main burner. A yellow flame indicates an improper air or gas mixture needing adjustment. Address ignition issues right away to guarantee a reliable hot water system.

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9. Thermostat Issues

Another issue that can arise is lukewarm water coming through the pipes instead of hot water. The thermostat controls heating elements and is a common failure point. 

Check thermostat domes for cracks or wear that disrupt temperature readings. Test thermostat operation by feeling the tank – failure to cycle on or off properly worsens efficiency. 

Inaccurate temperature sensing from scale buildup requires careful cleaning. Replace stubbornly malfunctioning thermostats for consistent temperature maintenance. Proper functioning thermostats optimise efficiency and prevent temperature fluctuations from defects.

10. Water Pressure Problems

Low water pressure strains water heaters, shortening lifespan. Incoming pressure too low inadequately powers the unit and disrupts temperature regulation. Fluctuating pressure causes inconsistent burner cycling, raising utility bills. Check building gas supply pressure – falls under 40PSI stresses system. Water hammer accentuated by low pressure causes noisy hammering noises and pipe damage. Ensure pressure 50-60PSI for suitable operation conditions and quiet, damage-free performance.

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Keep it Heating and Problem-Free.

As this post has outlined, gas water heaters face several typical problems over their lifespan. Awareness of common issues like noisy operation, temperature fluctuations, thermostat defects, and more enables homeowners to maintain their units proactively. 

For reliable hot water service, contact the experts at Gold Coast Plumbing Company for inspection, repairs or replacements. Our licensed technicians can identify potential issues and recommend upgrades to keep your system in good working order for many years.