Nicolette Forbes

By: Nicolette Forbes on September 5th, 2022

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5 Common Problems with Hybrid Water Heaters

Hybrid Water Heaters

Are you interested in purchasing a hybrid water heater but want to know what problems homeowners are facing when dealing with a hybrid tank? Then you’ve come to the right place!

Hybrid water heaters are becoming more popular with homeowners across the country due to their high efficiency and ability to deliver hot water to households. It is important to understand the common problems faced by homeowners with hybrid water heaters so that you are aware of what lies ahead if you don’t already have a hybrid water heater. And if you do decide to get a hybrid model, understanding the common issues will help you better address the situation if and when it arises.

We here at Monkey Wrench Plumbing, Heating & Air have helped thousands of clients with their water heater needs, questions, and concerns for over 15 years. And with hybrid water heaters on the rise, we thought we would get ahead of the curve and create content like this to help you better understand the most common problems faced with hybrid water heaters.

In this article, we will discuss: 

  • What is a hybrid water heater
  • 5 common problems experienced with hybrid water heaters
  • Basic troubleshooting/maintenance tips for hybrid water heaters


What is a Hybrid Water Heater?

Before we dive into the issues faced with hybrid water heaters, let’s first understand what they are and how they work.

A hybrid water heater, also known as hybrid heat pump water heaters or heat pump water heaters, is a tank-style water heater that combines a traditional water heater and a tankless heater. A hybrid heater uses heat from the outside air to heat the water that comes into your home with the help of a heat pump. But how does the water heater do that? 

A Rheem brand hybrid water heater.

A common misconception about hybrid water heaters is that they run on both gas and electricity, similar to how hybrid cars run. But the truth is, a hybrid water heater solely runs on electricity to give you the hot water you want in your home

Similar to a tank-style water heater, hybrid water heaters have a large cylinder and can hold between 40 to 80 gallons of water, meaning they can be suitable for households of all sizes. 

Check out this article here as we dive deeper into the differences and similarities between the tank and tankless water heaters.


5 Common Problems with Hybrid Water Heaters

Hybrid water heaters are the wave of the future but if you could peek into the future, wouldn’t you want to know what problems could arise so that you’re prepared? Us too! 

Some of the most common problems hybrid water heaters encounter are:


Water Leaking Or Dripping

Water leaks are one of the most common issues hybrid water heaters face, but the issue also extends to any water-based appliance. It probably won't come as a shock that the majority of appliances aren't supposed to drip. If you notice your hybrid water heater dripping, you can take that as a sign that something isn't working correctly. 

In the case of a hybrid water heater, dripping water on the outside of the tank can point to a loose part or a clogged or dirty drain. A clogged or dirty condensate drain can cause water to drain or leak from your hybrid water heater. 

A hybrid water heater leaking and about to be fixed.

We recommend that you service your water heater at least once a year to prevent backups, along with any leaking or dripping.


Lack Of Hot Water

This one is a head-scratcher because a lack of hot water could mean a few different things. It's possible that there's a lack of hot water in general, no hot water at all, or not up to your standards. 

One cause for a lack of hot water could be limescale or other types of sediment buildup in the tank or the heating elements themselves. In this case, the buildup prevents heat transfer, which is what produces hot water. 

Hard water, (typically found in Los Angeles County) is full of minerals that can cause buildup. For this reason, you might want to look into water softeners as a potential deterrent. 

Check out this article here as we talk more about the different types of water filtration systems available and how they can benefit your home. 


‘Too Hot To Handle 

Overly hot water can also be a sign that there's an issue with your hybrid water heater. Now before you hit the imaginary ‘panic’ button, we recommend that you check the thermostat first, as it could have gotten adjusted accidentally.

Another reason the water could be too hot coming from a hybrid water heater is a broken electronic control panel. In this case, we recommend you call a technician to get your hybrid water heater running normally.

Hot water coming from a faucet.


‘Make Some Noise

Hybrid water heaters are noisier than their electric counterparts. But if you hear clunking or an unreasonable amount of noise, you'll want to check to see if there's a problem.

Clunking, cracking, popping, or gurgling typically point to mineral buildup or excess sediment.

To check if there's any mineral buildup, you'll need to ensure components like the drain pipe and filter are clear. Buildup in these places is a likely culprit of excess noise. If you don't see any issues and the noises persist, then it's time to get a technician involved.


Smelly/Discolored Water

If your water has an unpleasant smell or color, there are fairly simple fixes to these issues. Excess sulfur levels can lead to your water smelling like rotten eggs, which is the common scent of dirty water. 

Discolored water coming from a faucet.

Most hybrid water heaters use an anode rod, similar to the ones found in tank-style water heaters. If you have discolored or smelly water, this is the first thing you should check. Anode is known to corrode, which causes the water to take on a muddy brown color. Gas buildup in pipes can also cause water to appear milky or white, which will also require a technician to address properly. 


Troubleshooting/Maintenance For Hybrid Water Heaters

Now that you understand those key problems, we think it’s only fair to share how to address or further recognize issues with hybrid water heaters. 

It’s important to note that these are not meant to fix issues, but more to diagnose them. We recommend that you get maintenance done on your hybrid water heater at least once a year to avoid running into some of these issues.

Error Codes

Error codes may appear on your hybrid water heater, indicating a specific issue. You'll want to check what the code means and attempt to resolve the issue if is within your means. While you can reset your unit (and it will usually clear the code) knowing why that happened and fixing it will help prevent your unit from early breakdowns. If the error code persists, then it is likely an actual error that can either be addressed by you or you can call a certified technician for help. 


Cleaning and Replacing Filters

While air filters are easy enough to maintain, they are one of the most important components of a hybrid water heater. There should be a recommended period for the filter to be replaced or cleaned. Not every air filter is the same, so be sure to check with your technician or a customer service representative from the manufacturer. 


“I Got 99 Problems But My Hybrid Ain’t One”

Hybrid water heaters are rising in popularity but before you jump to buy yourself one, it’s important to understand what you’re getting into. And how do you do that? By knowing the problems to expect! 

Hybrid water heaters can leak, make some noise, make your water way too hot, give you no hot water, or give you smelly or discolored water if it’s having some problems. To avoid running into these problems earlier than expected, we recommend that you keep up to date on your yearly maintenance.

Want to learn more about water heaters? Check out the articles below as we dive into the differences between tank-style and tankless water heaters, as well as the costs involved with purchasing a tank-style water heater.

Differences Between Tank-Style and Tankless Water Heaters

How Much Does a Water Heater Cost?

We here at Monkey Wrench Plumbing, Heating & Air want to help you make the best decision for you and your home. If you live in the Los Angeles area and have any other questions regarding hybrid water heaters, feel free to call us at 310-853-8690, and one of our call center representatives would be happy to help you.CALL