5 Summer-Related Water Heater Issues & Quick Fixes

Winter is infamous for being the season you might typically experience significant issues with a water heater. However, summer can wreak havoc on your system if you’re not careful. The good news is with hot weather-related water heater problems come their counterpart solutions. And our team at Mr Rooter of South Jersey has your inside scoop.

Issue 1: Hot Water Turns Cold Fast

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), families use an average of 320 gallons of water per day. In the summer, that number significantly jumps to an average of 1,000 gallons per day. Because water usage increases during warmer weather, you may notice your hot water turns cold much faster than normal.

The Quick Fix: Conserve Water

Yes, we know, conserving water sounds like an easy fix for the problem, and it is. Still, that’s barring there are no other mechanical issues to address. Overuse, especially with a tankless water heater, can deplete hot water or create temperature fluctuations that we call “a cold-water sandwich” when you intermittently get hot and cold water. This phenomenon is common if your family tends to operate water-related devices or take showers simultaneously using a tankless water heater.

Tankless water heaters offer hot water on demand and are energy-efficient and cost-saving. They work well for smaller families because the tank can only heat so much water at a time. Therefore, you have to be strategic about usage; otherwise, the water temperature will fluctuate.

Issue 2: Water is Too Hot

You probably never thought a water heater issue you would experience in summer would be extreme temperatures. Still, this issue isn’t reserved for summer. There are several reasons your water heater is trying to send you to the ER, including a broken pressure relief valve, sediment buildup, faulty thermostat, and failing heating element.

The Quick Fix: Various Solutions

Unfortunately, there isn’t a quick fix for water that’s too hot because multiple things could be ailing your water heater. Try some of the remedies below when your water temperature is dangerously hot.

Check the Pressure Relief Valve

Every electric water heater has a pressure relief valve that helps regulate temperature by releasing water if there’s excessive pressure inside the tank. This safety measure keeps your water heater from overheating and potentially bursting. Water pressure inside your tank should always be around 50 to 60 psi.

To test your pressure relief valve, place a bucket under the drainpipe and lift and lower the valve several times to open the brass stem. Hot water should release from the drainpipe into the bucket. If you have a small trickle of water or no water coming from the drainpipe, you need a professional evaluation to ensure the valve is working properly.

Remove Sediment Buildup

High concentrations of calcium and magnesium create sediment buildup in your water heater, resulting in hard water with a pH level above 8.5. Typically, your water pH should be 6.5 to 8.5. To help bring your water’s pH back to normal and eliminate sediment buildup, invest in a water softener or (to save money) turn off the water heater, let it cool down, and flush the water to remove contaminants.

Evaluate the Thermostat

We recommend keeping your water heater thermostat between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If your thermostat is currently set to 140 degrees, try lowering it and checking your tap water. If that doesn’t work, a professional may need to evaluate and replace it.

Replace a Dying Heating Element

When your heating element starts to fail or ground out, it may stay on, causing the water to overheat. The best thing to do with a failing heating element is to replace it as soon as possible.

Issue 3: Gas Combustion

Most people hear the word “combustion” and go running in the other direction. When it comes to a water heater, combustion air helps your water heater operate efficiently. A lack of sufficient combustion air can produce carbon monoxide gas, putting you and your entire family’s safety at risk.

You can check for improper gas combustion by looking at your gas flame through the sight window. You should be good if your flames go from light blue to yellow and then red. However, improper gas combustion will cause the flame to seemingly light correctly but then flatten.

The Quick Fix: Convert to an Electric Water Heater

Combustion gases will always be an issue if you have a gas water heater. The quickest fix is building a sealed combustion closet if you want to keep your gas water heater. Believe us, replacing your gas water heater with an electric one is much cheaper than creating a separate space that requires you to relocate the unit. Some advantages of an electric water heater include:

Issue 4: Pilot Light Goes Out on Water Heater

Most modern water heaters aren’t equipped with a pilot light anymore. Instead, an electric ignition ignites the water heater flame. However, gas water heaters usually have pilot lights, and you might notice that yours go out in summer when the temperature reaches or exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Why? There are two common reasons for this:

  1. Failing gas valve – The gas valve is in charge of opening to light the main burner. The valve can fail to open when you have sweltering temperatures, producing an inadequate pilot flame that can’t sustain itself. As a result, your pilot light goes out or won’t turn on.
  2. Poor ventilation – When you have poor ventilation in the space your water heater is located, it can result in gas combustion issues. Basically, a spike in heat causes the hot air to rise and take all the oxygen with it. Without that much-needed oxygen, the main burner can’t light, and you’ll have a malfunctioning pilot light.

The Quick Fix: Install Vents or Fans

Water heaters should always be in areas with proper ventilation, or you may have issues with your pilot light. Some contractors install water heaters in attics, garages, and basements, often the worst spaces for adequate air circulation.

Combat extreme temperature fluctuations in summer by installing vents or adding an industrial fan. This is the least expensive resolution. Nevertheless, you may continue to experience issues with your pilot light because of significantly hot temperatures. A more permanent (and costly) fix may be to relocate your water heater to a better-ventilated area in your home.

Issue 5: Lack of Hot Water Heater Maintenance

When you go years without water heater maintenance, you may be one of the lucky few who hasn’t ever had an issue. However, luck won’t help you if your water heater stops producing warm water when you want to wash away the day’s sweat.

The Quick Fix: Call a Professional South Jersey Plumber

Whether you have a tankless, traditional, solar, heat pump, or condensing water heater, they need annual maintenance. Only a professional plumber is licensed to perform thorough routine water heater maintenance for all types of units.

Let Us Support You Amid Hot Weather-Related Water Heater Problems

The team at Mr Rooter of South Jersey is more than happy to assist you with any water heater problem, from your water heater turning off by itself to the pilot light going out. Our South Jersey plumbers have years of expertise to help you get the average 8- to 12-year lifespan from your water heater.

Call us for more information or request an estimate today!