Your water heater is essential to the comforts of modern life in Denver, CO. There’s also a lot that can go wrong with it. These issues can prove inconvenient and cause you to have no hot water at all. With that in mind, let’s explore the most common water heater problems you may encounter.

Not Enough Hot Water

If you’re running out of hot water quickly, timing is a crucial factor. If you’re experiencing a water supply issue in the morning when everyone is taking showers, you likely have an undersized tank. You need around 50 gallons for a family of four at minimum. Many larger households will opt for a 75-gallon tank to ensure they always have enough hot water available.

If you run out of water at intermittent times, there are several potential causes. It could be that the thermostat on your hot water tank is failing. There may be too much sediment buildup in the tank, or you have a broken dip tube. The dip tube is what channels cold water to the bottom of the tank. If it malfunctions, it effectively lowers tank capacity.

No Hot Water

If you’ve ruled out other problems and have determined that you’ve simply run out of hot water, the usual culprit is the power source. If you have an electric unit, check the circuit breaker. If you have a gas unit, ensure that the pilot light is functioning. Electric units have a reset button. For gas units, you can relight the pilot.

If you can’t relight the pilot and have propane or fuel oil, check the supply to ensure it’s not empty. Otherwise, you’ll need to call a plumber to investigate the issue. There can be a myriad of reasons why a water heater isn’t heating water. These include a failed thermostat, gas line connection issues, a failed ignition or pilot light mechanism, or a faulty heating element.

Low Water Pressure

Generally, water pressure issues caused by water heater issues will affect only hot water. A buildup of sediment or minerals is a common cause. In the case of mineral buildup, it can affect the cold-water supply if it’s encroaching beyond the water heater. The reason can also be a malfunctioning shutoff valve or kinks in the flexible hoses connected to the water heater.

Discolored Water

Rust or other corrosion is the usual reason for discolored water coming out of your fixtures. It results in the water having a brown, orange or red hue. The anode rod may have failed. If you catch the problem early enough, a plumber can replace the rod. If the corrosion has compromised the tank, you’ll need to replace the entire water heater.

Discoloration can also be due to an accumulation of sediment or minerals. In these cases, your plumber needs to flush the tank. In rare cases, it can be bacteria that are causing the problem. In that scenario, your plumber can disinfect the tank and determine the cause to prevent it in the future.

Unpleasant Water Smells

Bad smells may be due to corrosion and a failed anode rod and may precede discoloration. It can also be due to a buildup of sediment or minerals. Bacterial growth can also cause it. If your water smells like rotten eggs, it’s due to hydrogen sulfide gas in the tank. If the hot water heater has gone unused for a while, you just need to run the hot water to flush the gas out. If the water heater has been in use, then you’ll need to call a plumber to inspect the anode rod.

Water Is Too Hot or Too Cool

If your hot water is too hot or cool in general, the likely cause is the temperature setting. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends 120° F for both safety and energy efficiency. If your water is suddenly too hot or too cool despite a proper setting, it probably indicates a failed thermostat. A plumber will need to replace it.

Inconsistent Temperatures

If you have an older water heater, temperature fluctuations can indicate it’s time to replace your unit. In a newer unit, it can often mean the thermostat is malfunctioning. First, rule out that you’re not overextending the water supply when you are experiencing inconsistencies. If that isn’t the case, you’ll need a plumber to inspect the valves, thermostat, pilot light, ignition and heating element.


Condensation on your water heater is different from a leak. Some describe it as the water heater sweating. This is most common in winter and early spring, when water coming into the home is at its coldest. If the condensation is substantial or you can’t rule out a leak, call a plumber right away. If the condensation is light and isn’t a frequent problem, you can just wipe it away. If it happens again, have a plumber install or replace insulation and reapply joint compound or plumber’s tape.


When a leak occurs at the top of a water heater, it often means you need to retighten the fittings. It may also be necessary to reapply the joint compound or plumber’s tape. If the water is leaking from the side, check the temperature. If a temperature correction doesn’t stop the leak, you will likely have a bad pressure valve. A plumber can replace it. If the leak is at the bottom, check the drain valve. If you could close it, that was likely the issue. If not, you may have a bad drain valve. Otherwise, it likely means a compromised tank, and you’ll need a new water heater.

Tripped Circuit Breaker

Electric water heaters draw a significant amount of power. An isolated tripped circuit breaker is typically not cause for concern. If the water heater continues to trip the circuit breaker, this is a serious problem. It can indicate a faulty thermostat or heating element. Damage to your electrical system is possible. In rare cases, your plumber may rule out the water heater. In that situation, you’ll need an electrician to replace the breaker.

Odd Noises

Most water heater noises are due to some sort of buildup in the tank. Sediment that you need to flush out periodically can cause rumbling. Limescale accumulation can cause popping sounds. In electric water heaters, sediment can cause sizzling, hissing or crackling. Occasional ticking is water pressure-related and not cause for concern. Screeching, screaming or singing indicates a substantial restriction of water flow. Banging or hammering indicates a serious pressure issue that demands immediate attention.

Pilot Light Is the Wrong Color or Keeps Going Out

A pilot light should be blue. If it’s any other color, disable the gas supply and call a plumber. If a pilot light keeps going out, there can be several causes. Often, it’s due to condensation, not enough air supply or improper venting. It can also be due to a dirty or malfunctioning thermocouple. Your plumber can clean or replace the thermocouple as needed.

Water Heater Pros in the Greater Denver Metro Area

If you need a water heater repaired or replaced in Denver or the surrounding areas, High 5 Plumbing, Heating & Cooling is here to help. We specialize in both tank and tankless water heaters. Our plumbers also clean drains, hydro-jet sewer lines and install sump pumps. Call us today or contact us online to schedule an appointment or to learn more about our products and services.

High 5 Plumbing

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