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Home»Bradford White Defender Water Heater Troubleshooting

Bradford White Defender Water Heater Troubleshooting

bradford white defender water heater troubleshooting

Bradford white water heaters are well known for their durability and reliable performance, making them a common choice in the homes of Canada. However, despite this strong build, the water heater may need to be checked and repaired from time to time. It may be inconvenient to begin with but understanding how to troubleshoot those issues can prove to be highly beneficial.

In this article, we’re taking you through all the issues that you may face with your Bradford white water heater and telling you how to troubleshoot them easily and quickly to maintain water quality and avoid paying a high cost for service repairs.

Understanding the common issues with your Bradford Hot Water Heater

No Hot Water or Inadequate Heating

Bradford white has two kinds of water heaters – Electrical & Gas water heaters. Let’s look at the ways to troubleshoot them individually:-

For Gas Water Heater:

This is one of the most frequently faced issues with gas water heaters, especially in old models. The pilot light fails to stay lit due to underlying reasons such as a faulty thermocouple (a device that senses the pilot flame and controls the gas flow to the burner). If this is the case, the best solution is to get the thermocouple replaced. Another issue that gas water heater owners may face is a clogged pilot orifice. Although, this can easily be cleaned with a fine wire or needle.

Check if the gas valve is operational as you switch the gas valve from “pilot” to “on” by hearing a click sound as you turn the dial. If this is not the case, then there probably is a blockage in the gas supply or a broken valve in your heater. The operation can be affected by incorrect gas pressure, so it’s important to check that it’s correct according to the unit’s specifications. You can get more details in the service manual about this issue

For Electric Water Heaters:

Electric models can experience power outages due to blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers. If you find a breaker or fuse that has gone out in your home’s electrical panel, reset it or replace it.

Electric water heaters use heating elements to bring water temperature up to a safe level. These may eventually fail. Use a multimeter to make sure that the components are still connected. Ensure that you replace any defective parts following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Issues with the Water Temperature

If the water heater is not heating enough

For Gas water heaters:
Tankless water heater installing by a man
Thermostat/Gas Valve Setting

If the water is not heated to the desired temperature, it could be because the combination thermostat and gas valve is set too low. To raise the water’s temperature, turn the gas valve dial to the higher position.

Cold Inlet Water

During the winter months, in particular, the water that is brought into the system might be quite cold, making it difficult for the heater to reach the desired temperature. One option is to increase the temperature using the gas valve or thermostat.

High Demand

When demand is high, the water heater might not be able to keep up with the supply. You might want to reevaluate your consumption habits or think about getting a more powerful model if this keeps happening.

Calibration Issues

The water temperature could be affected if the thermostat or gas valve is not calibrated correctly or is not working properly. If the gas valve is malfunctioning, you should either replace it or refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for how to recalibrate it.

Dip Tube

Make sure the dip tube is in working order; it is responsible for directing the cold water to the tank’s base. The water production can be lower if the dip tube is damaged and mixes cold and hot water. If the dip tube needs to be replaced, do so.

For Electric Water Heaters

Lower Heating Element

Most of the water heating in dual-element versions occurs at the lower heating element. There can be a problem with the lower element if the hot water is running out. If it doesn’t work after being tested with a multimeter, get a new one.

High Demand

Electric units, like gas types, can get overloaded during peak demand times. You should think about increasing the tank size or stagger the use of hot water appliances and showers.

Thermostat Setting

Make sure to check the electric water heater’s thermostat. Not enough hot water will be produced if the setting is too low. Be careful not to scorch yourself at higher degrees, but adjust it as needed.

Dip Tube

The problem with the dip tube persists in both gas and electric versions. It is necessary to examine and, if necessary, replace the dip tube if it is defective.

If the water is too hot

For Gas Water Heaters
High Thermostat Setting

When the thermostat is set too high, it might lead to overheating. To lower the temperature, turn the gas valve/thermostat dial.

Faulty Gas Valve

If the water is still getting too hot even after adjusting the thermostat to the correct settings, it could be because of a faulty gas valve.

Insufficient Combustion Air Supply

If the air supply is insufficient, the burner may run excessively hot and lead to overheating. Before placing the unit, make sure it has enough air circulation.

Venting Issues

Overheating can occur due to venting issues, such as a clogged vent system or improper installation. Clean and check the vent system to make sure it follows the manufacturer’s instructions for installation

For Electric Water Heaters
Thermostat Malfunction

A broken thermostat is a common cause of electric water heaters overheating. A thermostat that remains stuck in the “on” position will cause the water to be heated constantly. If the problem persists after resetting the thermostat, try replacing it.

Element Grounding

Grounded elements can lead to overheating and continued operation. Use a multimeter to check if there is a continuous flow to the ground (water tank). To stop additional problems, replace the grounded element.

High Limit Switch (ECO)

As a preventative measure, the High Limit Switch (ECO) will turn off the electricity to the heating components if the water temperature rises too high. Check the ECO with a multimeter to see if it trips when the water becomes too hot, and if it doesn’t, reset or replace it.

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Water Heater Troubleshooting Guides

Our comprehensive troubleshooting guide offers step-by-step solutions to common issues. From heating failures to airflow problems, we've got you covered."

If there is leaking Water

  1. Heating Element and Tank Seals (Electric) or Drain Valve (Gas):

    Seals around electric heating elements and gas water heater drain valves can fail, leading to leaks.

  2. T&P Valve:

    Overpressure or a malfunction in the temperature and pressure relief valve can cause leaks in both electric and gas models.

  3. Loose Connections:

    Inlet and outlet connections that have loosened over time could be sources of drips and leaks.

  4. Internal Tank Corrosion:

    Corrosion inside the tank is a common issue for both types of heaters and typically necessitates full unit replacement.

  1. Tighten or Replace:

    Tighten connections at the inlet, outlet, or around the heating elements. Replace the heating elements or drain valve if these are the sources of leaks.

  2. T&P Valve Inspection:

    Test the T&P valve by lifting its lever. Continuous water flow after testing indicates a need for replacement.

  3. Tank Assessment:

    If there is tank leakage due to corrosion, the water heater usually cannot be repaired and must be replaced.

Sediment Buildup in Water Heaters

  1. Hard Water: Minerals in hard water precipitate and settle at the bottom of the tank, forming sediment layers.

  2. Component Coating: Sediment buildup can coat the heating elements in electric water heaters and the burner assembly in gas models, hampering their function.

  1. Regular Flushing: Drain and flush the tank annually to remove sediment buildup. This helps maintain heating efficiency and prolongs the life of the water heater.

  2. Element and Burner Cleaning: Inspect and clean the heating elements and burner assembly as needed to remove any sediment affecting their operation.

Bradford white defender water heater Error Codes

For Gas Water Heaters


Neither the pilot light nor the heater is functioning properly if there is no LED. The solution is to adhere to the lighting directions that are printed on the water heater.

One Flash & Three Second Pause

The knob is either in the pilot position or the thermostat is content. Unless there is no hot water, there is no need to take any action.

Two Flashes & Three Second Pause

Weak pilot signal detected. Solutions include verifying that the pilot is lit, checking thermopile voltage output, and inspecting wire connections at the gas valve​.

Three Flashes & Three Second Pause

The gas valve has not seen a temperature rise in the expected time. Check the temperature probe ohms and ensure no water is flowing unnecessarily​.

Four Flashes & Three Second Pause

This indicates a high tank temperature. Check temperature probe ohms and water temperature.

Five Flashes & Three Second Pause

There is an issue with the thermostat sensor. Check the temperature probe ohms and check the water temperature, just like in the four flashes issue.

Six flashes & three-second pause

Water leak detected by the accessory module (if installed). Refer to troubleshooting for the accessory module.

Seven Flashes & Three Second Pause

Gas valve fault. Reset the gas valve; if the problem persists, replace the gas valve​.

For Electric Water Heater

OFF (LED Not Flashing)

No power is present to the control. Solutions include ensuring the power is connected and checking the control power connector​.

Alternating Green and Amber Flashes

Control is in StartGuard™ Mode, which runs before the first heating cycle or after replacing a failed heating element​.

Solid Green

Thermostat satisfied; no faults. Indicates normal operation​.

One Flash Green then Off for 4 Seconds

Element is on, heating water. Indicates normal operation​.

Two Flashes Amber then Off for 4 Seconds

Heating element fault detected. Solutions include checking and possibly replacing the heating element​.

Three Flashes Amber then Off for 4 Seconds

Power Switch Module fault detected. Ensure tight coupling to the tank wall or replace it if faulty.

Four Flashes Amber then Off for 4 Seconds

Temperature Sensor fault detected. Check the connections and replace the sensor if necessary​.

Five Flashes Amber then Off for 4 Seconds

Controller fault detected. If cycling the power does not resolve the issue, the control module may need replacement​.

Six Flashes Amber then Off for 4 Seconds

Demand Response Event active. Adjust the Setpoint Knob to temporarily disable this mode if performance is affected​.

Seven Flashes Red then Off for 4 Seconds

High temperature detected. Check the high limit or temperature sensors and ensure the tank is not overheating​.

Who should you contact if these troubleshooting steps don't work?

You should consult a professional plumber or HVAC expert who is authorized to handle the maintenance, repair issues, and other performance issues with your heat pump, water heater, and more. In such cases, Comfort Union can be a great choice to handle all your water heater problems. Here’s why:-

Our Experienced Technicians:

Our professionals have extensive expertise and extensive training in addressing a broad variety of plumbing and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system problems, which guarantees that we will only provide quality service.

Our Holistic Services

We deliver the highest quality and value to our customers. Comfort Union offers a wide range of services to homeowners, ranging from basic maintenance to emergency repairs, to meet all of your plumbing and HVAC needs.

We’re always available

With our services ranging from quick and emergency repairs or troubleshooting to maintenance and replacement of an old system for a new water heater, we make sure that we’re always available for our customers when they need us.

Want to know more about our services? Feel free to reach out to us anytime if you have any additional questions!

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