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Water Heater Problems

What is a water heater?

The a domestic water heater is a device for heating and storing water that comes from a municipal supply or underground source to provide hot water to bathrooms, kitchens, pools etc. Water heaters come in a variety of models and use different power sources. Some water heaters only heat water when needed and do not have storage tanks. These are called tankless water heaters. Because of the different types, capacities and complexities involved in different water heaters, troubleshooting questions can arise when a person encounters problems while using a water heater. Below are answers from Experts to some of the commonly asked questions about water heater problems and troubleshooting.

What does the “ROL” error code mean in a Rheem Raypack pool heater and how can it be fixed?

Case Details: The water heater is not working.

The ROL error code means the roll out switch needs attention. This is a manual reset switch that is placed outside the burners, possibly on the left side. There will be a red button on top that needs to be pressed for resetting it. If the error code still appears, check to see if the flame is not rolling out and causing the switch to trip. If this is the case, the burners may have debris buildup and need cleaning. If there is no roll out problem, the switch may be bad and need replacing.

How to troubleshoot a leak at the top of an electric water heater near the water connection to the tank?

If the leak is at the fitting, the fix could be quite simple. Turn off the power and shut off the water supply. Release pressure from the pop off valve. If there is any insulation around the connection, peel it off and then tighten the fitting. Once this is done turn on the water, wait till the water runs out of the pop off valve and then shut it. Turn on the power and the heater and see of the leak has stopped. If it is still continuing, it may be coming from the tank itself in which case you should get a technician to check it.

How to troubleshoot a water heater that produces cold water when the faucet is turned on and returns to 120 degrees F when the faucet is turned off?

Case Details: Make and model - Rheem tankless water heater model ECO-180XN. Error code displayed: P1 when faucet is turned on

This is a fairly common tankless water heater problem. The P1 error indicates inadequate water flow which is not enough to turn the unit on. If you have multiple faucets connected turn them on and see if the water is now hot. If this resolves the problem, check for blocked strainers incoming and also at the sinks. The unit requires 0.66 gallons per minute flow to work and if the flow is less than that it will shut off and give the error code. If there is a regulator, adjusting it to increase the pressure can also help to prevent this problem for recurring.

What could be the problem if the fan on my water heater start, the burner ignite and then both go off after a couple of seconds?

Case Details: It is a State gas water heater with a power vent. The cycle of turning on and off repeats twice more and then it stops trying. When I switch off and turn it on again, the same thing happens.

It sounds as if the flame sensor is the problem – it could be defective, grounded out or dirty. If you are comfortable with going into the chamber you can try cleaning it yourself. Your model probably has a pilot that ignites with an arc from an electrode. The flame sensor is typically in the electrode with the pilot flame. Clean it off with fine sand paper but be careful not to move it out of position. Once it is clean, vacuum out all the debris Check to see if all the electric connections to the sensor are okay. If this does not work, the sensor probably needs replacement but you will likely need to replace the whole burner assembly as you won’t be able to buy just the sensor.

What could be the problem if water heater does not heat the water?

Case Details: Make - Whirlpool. The pilot light comes on but it goes out as soon as I let go of the igniter button.

This could be a thermocouple problem and not a loose connection, if this is the case, the thermocouple will need to be replaced. The cost will depend on the style. If it is one of the older units a simple replacement thermocouple could cost around $10. If it is the new sealed combustion system, you will need a special pilot assembly that could cost in the range of $60. Most hardware stores stock both.

A water heater is essential to the smooth and comfortable running of a home, especially in winter. Because of the electric or gas power source and the fact that you are dealing with hot water, care must be exercised when tackling water heater issues. Always follow the advice given in your owner’s manual when dealing with water heater problems. If the manual does not deal with the problem you are facing, getting Expert advice is the best option.
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