Your water heater makes cooking, cleaning, and bathing more convenient, but it can be a major inconvenience when it breaks down. If your water isn’t heating up, you may be able to troubleshoot the problem by understanding the top reasons why water heaters stop working.
No Hot Water? Try These Tips First
No one likes a cold shower. If the water refuses to get hot, start with these troubleshooting tips:
- Wait for the water to reheat: A lack of hot water commonly means that you have simply run out of hot water in your water heater’s storage tank. This can happen if people take showers back-to-back or if you attempt to shower while the washing machine or dishwasher is running. Before you get worried, try waiting 10 minutes to see if hot water returns.
- Understand your water heater’s limitations: Water heaters can have a limited flow rate, capacity, and recovery time. That can mean you may need to stagger your hot water activities to help the tank keep up with your demand. If you routinely run out of hot water, your tank might be too small, which could warrant replacing your water heater.
Why Is My Water Heater Not Working?
If waiting it out doesn’t solve the problem, something more serious could be at play. Gas and electric water heaters work differently, so the issues they face can also differ. Before calling a plumber, follow the troubleshooting tips below for the type of water heater you have.
Reasons for No Hot Water from a Gas Water Heater
- There’s no gas supply: Sometimes, the fuel line can be blocked or turned off accidentally. To check the gas supply, turn the control knob to PILOT and make sure the inlet valve is open. Then, remove the cover at the bottom of the water heater and check if there’s a lit flame inside.
- The pilot light has gone out: If you don’t see a flame when checking the gas supply, this could mean you need to relight the pilot light. Follow the instructions in your owner’s manual. If you can’t get the pilot light to remain lit, you could have a defective thermocouple, which will need to be replaced. Keep in mind that many newer water heaters use a spark igniter or glow plug, instead of a pilot light. Check your owner’s manual to find out which feature your system has.
- The burner doesn’t ignite: First, make sure the burner isn’t lit. Then, turn up the thermostat on the water heater and open a hot water faucet. Watch the burner to see if it ignites. If not, you may need professional water heater repair.
Reasons for No Hot Water from an Electric Water Heater
- A breaker has been tripped: Check the circuit breaker box and reset any tripped breakers you find. If the breaker keeps tripping, contact an electrician to find out more about installing a dedicated circuit.
- The high-temperature cut-off switch has been tripped: If this safety device engages, your water heater may stop Open the panel on the side of the tank and press the reset button. If this doesn’t restore power, you may need a new high-temperature cut-off switch.
- The tank is leaking: Pools of water around the tank or inside the compartment could mean the water heater is leaking. If water leaks into the thermostat, it could cause a malfunction and result in no hot water.
- The heating elements are defective: This is one of the most common problems with electric water heaters over the course of their service life. Remember, these appliances last about 10 years, so if the heating elements have gone out on your older unit, replacing it might make more sense than repairing it.
Water Heater Still Not Working? Call Penguin Air for Water Heater Repair
If you attempt these troubleshooting tips but your water is still not heating up, you may need professional maintenance or repair help. The plumbers at Penguin Air, Plumbing & Electrical have experience servicing all types of water heaters, including gas, electric, and tankless units. We’re available 24/7 and offer same-day service to ensure you’re not left without hot water for long!