Trouble Shooting guides are intended for use by Licensed Professional Installers.

The following message is directed at homeowners that may consider doing work or repairs on a water heater:

While we do offer these simple troubleshooting guides for conventional, tank-type gas and electric powered waters, it is Bradford White’s firm belief that a licensed installer should perform most if not all water heater maintenance functions.

Bradford White has been involved with manufacturing water heaters for over 100 years. While many water heater manufacturers sell their products through high volume home centers to anyone who walks through the door, we will only sell our products through plumbing and heating wholesale supply centers. Why? Because we are committed to professional installation of our products.

While there are many fun and interesting do-it-yourself projects, installing and/or maintaining a water heater where gas, electric, open flame and carbon monoxide are involved is not one of them. We recommend that you rely on an experienced professional plumbing and heating contractor for water heater installation and maintenance. Not only will they install it correctly and back their workmanship, but they also have access to a full line of the highest-quality water heaters, with features that simply can't be found at retail centers. A professional will help you choose the right water heater for your application. It’s the right thing and the safe thing to do for yourself and your family. With these thoughts in mind, please consider the following guides as diagnostic tools only and not suggestive of operation you, as a homeowner, should perform.

There are often a number of different causes for the same condition, so be sure to check them all -- even after you have identified the main reason for the problem. Some may be on the verge of developing, while others may develop right after you have fixed the primary cause. So play it safe...CHECK ALL CAUSES! We recommend that you rely on an experienced professional plumbing and heating contractor for water heater installation and maintenance.

To Find Solutions, Choose From the List of Problems Below:

No Hot Water

REASON REMEDY
No power Check fuses or circuit breaker, replace or reset. Check with utility if necessary
Wrong wiring connections at heater terminal Correct according to manufacturer's instructions
Leaks around heating elements (1) Tighten element (2) If necessary, clean and replace with new gasket
Loose wiring connection Locate loose connections. Clean carefully (remove all oxidation). Reconnect properly
Lightning Inspect: (1) fuse (or circuit breaker). (2) Heater elements, and (3) thermostat, replace if necessary, see "grounding instructions" below
High voltage Check utility for correction
Short Locate short circuit and correct
Wrong piping connections Reconnect pipes to proper fittings according to manufacturer’s instructions
Undersize service wiring Check with utility co. or electrician
Improper calibration Replace thermostat
Faulty thermostat Replace
Faulty thermal cutout Replace
Open thermal cutout Reset
Top heating element burned out Replace

Insufficient Hot Water

REASON REMEDY
Undersized heater Replace heater with one of adequate capacity (for future as well as present needs)
Wrong wiring connections at heater terminal Correct according to manufacturer’s instructions
Leaking faucets, leaking heater nipples and or leaking tank drain Locate and correct
Insulation improperly replaced Adjust insulation to original factory condition (add new insulation if necessary)
Sediment or lime in tank Shut off power. Drain tank. Check to see if water treatment is necessary
Lime formation on elements Clean elements, (replace if necessary) check to see if water treatment is necessary
Thermostat not flush to and in contact with tank Position properly. Be sure insulation covers thermostat before replacing access panel
Loose wiring connection Locate loose connections. Clean carefully (remove all oxidation). Reconnect properly
Poor ground Install proper ground. See "grounding instructions" below
Thermostat set too low Turn temperature knob to desired temp. (warm-120°F. normal-140°F hot-160°F.)
Dip tube in hot water line Remove and replace in cold water inlet
Wrong piping connections Reconnect pipes to proper fittings according to manufacturer’s instructions
Long runs of exposed piping Insulate piping
Hot water piping in outside walls Insulate piping
Faulty thermostat Replace
Faulty thermal cutout Replace
Open thermal cutout Reset
Bottom heating element burned out Replace

Slow Hot Water Recovery

SLOW HOT WATER RECOVERY

REASON REMEDY
Insulation improperly replaced Adjust insulation to original factory condition (add new insulation if necessary)
Lime formation on elements Clean elements, (replace if necessary) check to see if water treatment is necessary
Thermostat not flush to and in contact with tank Position properly. Be sure insulation covers thermostat before replacing access panel
Loose wiring connection Locate loose connections. Clean carefully (remove all oxidation). Reconnect properly
Poor ground Install proper ground. See "grounding instructions" below
Thermostat set too low Turn temperature knob to desired temp. (warm-120°F. normal-140°F hot-160°F.)
Dip tube in hot water line Remove and replace in cold water inlet
Wrong piping connections Reconnect pipes to proper fittings according to manufacturer’s instructions
Excessive mineral deposits (1) Flush tank thoroughly. (2) Install water filter if necessary. (Tank should be flushed periodically)
Improper calibration Replace thermostat
Long runs of exposed piping Insulate piping
Hot water piping in outside walls Insulate piping
Faulty thermostat Replace
Faulty thermal cutout Replace

Overheated Water-Steaming

REASON REMEDY
Wrong wiring connections at heater terminal Correct according to manufacturer’s instructions
No relief valve Install new approved T & P valve (temperature and pressure) relief valve
Thermostat not flush to and in contact with tank Position properly. Be sure insulation covers thermostat before replacing access panel
Thermostat set too high Turn temperature knob to desired temp. (warm-120°F. normal-140°F hot-160°F.)
Wrong piping connections Reconnect pipes to proper fittings according to manufacturer’s instructions
Improper calibration Replace thermostat
Faulty thermostat Replace
Faulty thermal cutout Replace

High Operating Costs

REASON REMEDY
Undersized heater Replace heater with one of adequate capacity (for future as well as present needs)
Leaking faucets, leaking heater nipples and or leaking tank drain Locate and correct
Leaks around heating elements (1) Tighten bolts (2) If necessary, clean and replace with new gasket
Insulation improperly replace Adjust insulation to original factory condition (add new insulation if necessary)
Thermostat not flush to and in contact with tank Position properly. Be sure insulation covers thermostat before replacing access panel

Drip From Relief Valve

REASON REMEDY
Sediment or lime in tank Shut off power. Drain tank. Check to see if water treatment is necessary
Excessive water pressure Install proper pressure reducing valve and proper pressure relief valve
Surge from automatic washer solenoid valve Install blind pipe air cushion
Improper calibration Replace thermostat
Faulty thermostat Replace

Excessive Relief Valve Operation

REASON REMEDY
Excessive water pressure Install proper pressure reducing valve and proper pressure relief valve
Surge from automatic washer solenoid valve Install blind pipe air cushion
Improper calibration Replace thermostat
Faulty thermostat Replace

Condensation

REASON REMEDY
Leaks around heating elements (1) Tighten bolts (2) If necessary, clean and replace with new gasket
Insulation improperly replaced Adjust insulation to original factory condition (add new insulation if necessary)

Tank Bulged-Reversed Heads

REASON REMEDY
No relief valve Install new approved T & P valve (temperature and pressure) relief valve
Excessive water pressure Install proper pressure reducing valve and proper pressure relief valve
Surge from automatic washer solenoid valve Install blind pipe air cushion
Check valve in water line Install proper pressure relief valve
Pressure reducing valve installed in water line Install pressure relief valve or "T & P" (temperature and pressure) relief valve
Faulty thermostat Replace

Element Failure

ELEMENT FAILURE

REASON REMEDY
Wrong wiring connections at heater terminal Correct according to manufacturer’s instructions
Loose wiring connection Locate loose connections. Clean carefully (remove all oxidation). Reconnect properly
Lightning Inspect: (1) fuse (or circuit breaker). (2) Heater elements, and (3) thermostat, replace if necessary, see "grounding instructions" below
Power surge Inspect: (1) fuse (or circuit breaker). (2) Heater elements, and (3) thermostat, replace if necessary, see "grounding instructions" below
Low voltage Check utility for correction
High voltage Check utility for correction
Short Locate short circuit and correct

Blown Fuse or Circuit Breaker Cutout

REASON REMEDY
No power Check fuses or circuit breaker, replace or reset. Check with utility if necessary
Wrong wiring connections at heater terminal Correct according to manufacturer’s instructions
Loose wiring connection Locate loose connections. Clean carefully (remove all oxidation). Reconnect properly
Lightning Inspect: (1) fuse (or circuit breaker). (2) Heater elements, and (3) thermostat, replace if necessary, see "grounding instructions" below
Power surge Inspect: (1) fuse (or circuit breaker). (2) Heater elements, and (3) thermostat, replace if necessary, see "grounding instructions" below
High voltage Check utility for correction
Short Locate short circuit and correct
Undersize service wiring Check with utility co. or electrician

Service Wires Charred or Hot

REASON REMEDY
Wrong wiring connections at heater terminal Correct according to manufacturer’s instructions
No relief valve Install new approved T & P valve (temperature and pressure) relief valve
Poor ground Install proper ground. See "grounding instructions" below
Lightning Inspect: (1) fuse (or circuit breaker). (2) Heater elements, and (3) thermostat, replace if necessary, see "grounding instructions" below
Power surge Inspect: (1) fuse (or circuit breaker). (2) Heater elements, and (3) thermostat, replace if necessary, see "grounding instructions" below
High voltage Check utility for correction
Short Locate short circuit and correct
Undersize service wiring Check with utility co. or electrician

Continuous Operation

REASON REMEDY
Undersized heater Replace heater with one of adequate capacity (for future as well as present needs)
Thermostat not flush to and in contact with tank Position properly. Be sure insulation covers thermostat before replacing access panel
Thermostat and elements not properly insulated Adjust insulation to cover thermostat and element terminal. (Add insulation if necessary)
Thermostat set too low Turn temperature knob to desired temp. (warm-120¾F. normal-140¾ hot-160¾F.)
Return circulating lines Recommend change to one pipe system
Improper calibration Replace thermostat
Faulty thermostat Replace
Faulty thermal cutout Replace

Singing Elements Producing Noise

REASON REMEDY
Lime formation on elements Clean elements, (replace if necessary) check to see if water treatment is necessary

Singing Thermostat Producing Noise

REASON REMEDY
Thermostat not flush to and in contact with tank Position properly. Be sure insulation covers thermostat before replacing access panel
Loose wiring connection Locate loose connections. Clean carefully (remove all oxidation). Reconnect properly

Wet Insulation

REASON REMEDY
Leaking faucets, leaking heater nipples and or leaking tank drain Locate and correct
Leaks around heating elements (1) Tighten bolts (2) If necessary, clean and replace with new gasket

Thermostat Failure

REASON REMEDY
No power Check fuses or circuit breaker, replace or reset. Check with utility if necessary
Loose wiring connection Locate loose connections. Clean carefully (remove all oxidation). Reconnect properly
Lightning Inspect: (1) fuse (or circuit breaker). (2) Heater elements, and (3) thermostat, replace if necessary, see "grounding instructions" below
Power surge Inspect: (1) fuse (or circuit breaker). (2) Heater elements, and (3) thermostat, replace if necessary, see "grounding instructions" below
Low voltage Check utility for correction
High voltage Check utility for correction
Short Locate short circuit and correct

Smoking Wiring

REASON REMEDY
Lightning Inspect: (1) fuse (or circuit breaker). (2) Heater elements, and (3) thermostat, replace if necessary, see "grounding instructions" below
Power surge Inspect: (1) fuse (or circuit breaker). (2) Heater elements, and (3) thermostat, replace if necessary, see "grounding instructions" below
Low voltage Check utility for correction
High voltage Check utility for correction
Variable voltage Check utility for correction
Undersize service wiring Check with utility co. or electrician

Odor and/or Taste in Water

REASON REMEDY
Gas from magnesium anode rod Replace with aluminum anode rod

Fluctuating Temperature

REASON REMEDY
Undersized heater Replace heater with one of adequate capacity (for future as well as present needs)
Insulation improperly replaced Adjust insulation to original factory condition (add new insulation if necessary)
Thermostat not flush to and in contact with tank Position properly. Be sure insulation covers thermostat before replacing access panel
Thermostat and elements not properly insulated Adjust insulation to cover thermostat and element terminal. (Add insulation if necessary)
Loose wiring connection Locate loose connections. Clean carefully (remove all oxidation). Reconnect properly
Dip tube in hot water line Remove and replace in cold water inlet
Wrong piping connections Reconnect pipes to proper fittings according to manufacturer’s instructions
Long runs of exposed piping Insulate piping
Hot water piping in outside walls Insulate piping
Faulty thermostat Replace
Faulty thermal cutout Replace

Rusty or Discolored Water

REASON REMEDY
Sediment or lime in tank Shut off power. Drain tank. Check to see if water treatment is necessary
Lime formation on elements Clean elements, (replace if necessary) check to see if water treatment is necessary
Rusted supply lines (1) Thoroughly clean and flush entire system. (2) Replace rusted lines if necessary
Water too soft Install (or replace) anode rod to protect tank
Excessive mineral deposits (1) Flush tank thoroughly. (2) Install water filter if necessary. (Tank should be flushed periodically)
Air trap in water system Locate and eliminate
Dissipated anode rod Replace
Faulty tank Contact your water softening supplier

Rumbling or Pounding Water Heater

REASON REMEDY
Sediment or lime in tank Shut off power. Drain tank. Check to see if water treatment is necessary
Lime formation on elements Clean elements, (replace if necessary) check to see if water treatment is necessary
Return circulating lines Recommend change to one pipe system
Excessive water pressure Install proper pressure reducing valve and proper pressure relief valve
Gas from magnesium anode rod Replace with aluminum anode rod
Surge from automatic washer solenoid valve Install blind pipe air cushion
Check valve in water line Install proper pressure relief valve
Pressure reducing valve installed in water line Install pressure relief valve or "T & P" (temperature and pressure) relief valve
Wrong piping connections Reconnect pipes to proper fittings according to manufacturer’s instructions
Air trap in water system Locate and eliminate
Dissipated anode rod Replace
Faulty thermostat Replace
Faulty thermal cutout Replace
Spirits Kidding

National electrical code requires two grounds: (1) to water system. and (2) to metal stake driven in ground. Be sure all wiring is sufficiently heavy. Connections are clean and secure. There is no excuse for poor grounding: Better to be safe than sorry.

There are often a number of different causes for the same condition, so be sure to check them all -- even after you have identified the main reason for the problem. Some may be on the verge of developing, while others may develop right after you have fixed the primary cause. So play it safe...CHECK ALL CAUSES! We recommend that you rely on an experienced professional plumbing and heating contractor for water heater installation and maintenance.

To Find Solutions, Choose From the List of Problems Below:

Identifying Gas Leaks

Burner Flame Floats--Lifts Off Ports

REASON REMEDY
Excess primary air Adjust air shutter to reduce air supply -- if supplied
High gas pressure Check with utility
Flue clogged Clean -- check for source of trouble and correct
Heater installed in confined space Provide ventilation by use of louvers in wall or door
Heater not connected to flue Provide and connect to proper flue
Excess draft Check source and correct
Cold drafts Check source and correct

Burner Flame Noisy

REASON REMEDY
Excess primary air Adjust air shutter to reduce air supply -- if supplied
High gas pressure Check with utility
Flue clogged Clean -- check for source of trouble and correct
Heater installed in confined space Provide ventilation by use of louvers in wall or door
Heater not connected to flue Provide and connect to proper flue
Excess draft Check source and correct
Cold drafts Check source and correct

Burner Flame Too High

REASON REMEDY
Insufficient primary air Adjust air shutter to increase air supply -- if supplied
Insufficient secondary air Provide ventilation to heater
High gas pressure Check with utility
Heater not connected to flue Provide and connect to proper flue

Burner Flame Yellow--Lazy

REASON REMEDY
Insufficient primary air Adjust air shutter to increase air supply -- if supplied
Insufficient secondary air Provide ventilation to heater
Low gas pressure Check with utility
Dirt in main burner orifice Clean orifice -- check for source of dirt and eliminate
Venturi clogged Clean -- check for source of trouble and correct
Flue clogged Clean -- check for source of trouble and correct
Main burner line clogged Clean -- check for source of trouble and correct
Heater installed in confined space Provide ventilation by use of louvers in wall or door
Heater not connected to flue Provide and connect to proper flue

Burner Pops When Turned On Or Off

REASON REMEDY
Excess primary air Adjust air shutter to reduce air supply -- if supplied
Low gas pressure Check with utility
Dirt in main burner orifice Clean orifice -- check for source of dirt and eliminate

Burner Will Not Ignite

REASON REMEDY
Excess primary air Adjust air shutter to reduce air supply -- if supplied
No gas Check with utility
Dirt in main burner orifice Clean orifice -- check for source of dirt and eliminate
Dirt in gas lines Notify utility -- install dirt trap in gas line
Venturi clogged Clean -- check for source of trouble and correct
Pilot line clogged Clean -- check for source of trouble and correct
Main burner line clogged Clean -- check for source of trouble and correct
Defective thermocouple lead Replace with new thermocouple lead
Defective thermostat Replace
Defective magnetic valve Replace entire control
Thermostat set too low Turn temperature knob to desire temperature
Heater installed in confined space Provide ventilation by use of louvers in wall or door

Combustion Odors

REASON REMEDY
Excess primary air Adjust air shutter to reduce air supply -- if supplied
Insufficient primary air Adjust air shutter to increase air supply -- if supplied
Insufficient secondary air Provide ventilation to heater
High gas pressure Check with utility
Dirt in main burner orifice Clean orifice -- check for source of dirt and eliminate
Venturi clogged Clean -- check for source of trouble and correct
Flue clogged Clean -- check for source of trouble and correct
Heater installed in confined space Provide ventilation by use of louvers in wall or door
Heater not connected to flue Provide and connect to proper flue

Condensation

REASON REMEDY
Excess primary air Adjust air shutter to reduce air supply -- if supplied
Dirt in main burner orifice Clean orifice -- check for source of dirt and eliminate
Flue clogged Clean -- check for source of trouble and correct
Heater installed in confined space Provide ventilation by use of louvers in wall or door
Heater not connected to flue Provide and connect to proper flue

Drip From Relief Valve

REASON REMEDY
Thermostat set too high Turn temperature knob to desire temperature
Sediment or lime in tank Drain-check to see if water treatment is necessary
Excessive water pressure Use Pressure reducing valve and pressure relief valve
Surge from automatic washer solenoid valve Install blind pipe air cushion
Heater stacking Install adequate heater -- install relief valve

Excessive Relief Valve Operation

REASON REMEDY
Thermostat set too high Turn temperature knob to desire temperature
Excessive water pressure Use Pressure reducing valve and pressure relief valve
Surge from automatic washer solenoid valve Install blind pipe air cushion
Heater stacking Install adequate heater -- install relief valve

Flame Burns In Venturi

REASON REMEDY
Excess primary air Adjust air shutter to reduce air supply -- if supplied
Low gas pressure Check with utility
Dirt in main burner orifice Clean orifice -- check for source of dirt and eliminate
Defective thermostat Replace

High Operating Costs

REASON REMEDY
High gas pressure Check with utility
Dirt in main burner orifice Clean orifice -- check for source of dirt and eliminate
Venturi clogged Clean -- check for source of trouble and correct
Flue clogged Clean -- check for source of trouble and correct
Thermostat set too high Turn temperature knob to desire temperature
Sediment or lime in tank Drain-check to see if water treatment is necessary
Heater too small for job Install adequate heater
Wrong piping connections Correct piping-dip tube must be in cold inlet
Leaking Faucets Repair faucets
Gas leaks Check with utility -- observe safety instructions
Excess draft Check source and correct
Cold drafts Check source and correct
Return circulating lines Recommend change to one pipe system
Long runs of exposed piping Insulate
Hot water piping in outside walls Insulate
Heater stacking Install adequate heater -- install relief valve
Dip tube in hot water outlet Remove and replace in cold water inlet

Insufficient Hot Water

REASON REMEDY
Low gas pressure Check with utility
Dirt in main burner orifice Clean orifice -- check for source of dirt and eliminate
Thermostat set too low Turn temperature knob to desire temperature
Sediment or lime in tank Drain-check to see if water treatment is necessary
Heater too small for job Install adequate heater
Wrong piping connections Correct piping-dip tube must be in cold inlet
Leaking Faucets Repair faucets
Cold drafts Check source and correct
Return circulating lines Recommend change to one pipe system
Long runs of exposed piping Insulate
Hot water piping in outside walls Insulate
Dip tube in hot water outlet Remove and replace in cold water inlet

Overheated Water - Steaming

REASON REMEDY
High gas pressure Check with utility
Defective thermostat Replace
Thermostat set too high Turn temperature knob to desire temperature
Heater stacking Install adequate heater -- install relief valve

Pilot Flame Too Large

REASON REMEDY
High gas pressure Check with utility

Pilot Flame Too Small

REASON REMEDY
Low gas pressure Check with utility
Dirt in pilot burner orifice Clean orifice -- check for source of dirt and eliminate
Dirt in gas lines Notify utility -- install dirt trap in gas line
Pilot line clogged Clean -- check for source of trouble and correct

Pilot Will Not Remain Lit

REASON REMEDY
No power Check fuses or circuit breaker, replace or reset. Check with utility if necessary
Excess primary air Adjust air shutter to reduce air supply -- if supplied
Low gas pressure Check with utility
High gas pressure Check with utility
No gas Check with utility
Dirt in pilot burner orifice Clean orifice -- check for source of dirt and eliminate
Dirt in gas lines Notify utility -- install dirt trap in gas line
Flue clogged Clean -- check for source of trouble and correct
Pilot line clogged Clean -- check for source of trouble and correct
Thermocouple lead connection loose Tighten snug with fingers, then take 1/4" turn with wrench
Defective thermocouple lead Replace with new thermocouple lead
Defective magnetic valve Replace entire control
Cold drafts Check source and correct

Slow Hot Water Recovery

REASON REMEDY
Excess primary air Adjust air shutter to reduce air supply -- if supplied
Insufficient primary air Adjust air shutter to increase air supply -- if supplied
Insufficient secondary air Provide ventilation to heater
Low gas pressure Check with utility
Dirt in main burner orifice Clean orifice -- check for source of dirt and eliminate
Venturi clogged Clean -- check for source of trouble and correct
Flue clogged Clean -- check for source of trouble and correct
Thermostat set too low/td> Turn temperature knob to desire temperature
Sediment or lime in tank Drain-check to see if water treatment is necessary
Heater too small for job Install adequate heater
Wrong piping connections Correct piping-dip tube must be in cold inlet
Excess draft Check source and correct
Cold drafts Check source and correct
Dip tube in hot water outlet Remove and replace in cold water inlet

Smoking Or Carbon Formation

REASON REMEDY
Insufficient primary air Adjust air shutter to increase air supply -- if supplied
Insufficient secondary air Provide ventilation to heater
High gas pressure Check with utility
Dirt in main burner orifice Clean orifice -- check for source of dirt and eliminate
Venturi clogged Clean -- check for source of trouble and correct
Flue clogged Clean -- check for source of trouble and correct
Defective thermostat Replace
Defective magnetic valve Replace entire control
Heater installed in confined space Provide ventilation by use of louvers in wall or door
Heater not connected to flue Provide and connect to proper flue

Thermostat Fails To Close

REASON REMEDY
Defective thermostat Replace
Defective magnetic valve Replace entire control
Return circulating lines Recommend change to one pipe system