Customers often call us and ask, “Why is my hot water heater not working?” There are many answers to this question. The exact reason may depend on the symptoms that are occurring. We’ll walk you through a few common water heater problems to help you understand the reasons and perhaps troubleshoot the issue.
3 Main Reasons Why My Hot Water Heater is Not Working
1. There’s No Hot Water
Your water heater may not be producing hot water because the limit switch has tripped, or the unit isn’t receiving power. If the system doesn’t seem to be running, check the service panel for whether the water heater’s circuit breaker has tripped. If so, switch the breaker off and then back on.
When the issue doesn’t originate at the breaker, try resetting the high-temperature limit switch on the water heater itself. First, switch off the breaker to the appliance’s circuit; then remove the upper heating element’s access panel. Then remove the insulation and plastic, and safety guard. You should now see a red button; pressing it will reset the high-temperature cutoff. Replace the components removed and turn the power back on.
2. Not Enough Hot Water
Too little hot water often means the water heater is undersized and has too low a capacity for your home. Other causes can include crossed hot and cold connections. These can be found by turning off the hot water supply; if you turn on a hot water faucet and still get water flowing, the connections need to be adjusted. Insufficient amounts of hot water can be caused by a faulty thermostat or failing heating element as well.
To address the problem, contact a technician to troubleshoot and repair the water heater. You can also try staying within the unit’s capacity rating by using low-flow showerheads and limiting the length of time for showering. Running the laundry and dishwasher separately can help as well.
3. The Water Is Too Hot
This is usually a sign the thermostat is set at too high a temperature. Adjusting the thermostat, based on the manufacturer’s instructions, can resolve the problem. A thermostat setting of 120℉ is recommended by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Other Reasons for Hot Water Heater Trouble
- Pilot Light Problem: Gas water heaters have a pilot light; if the flame goes out, you won’t get the combustion needed to produce hot water. You can try relighting it. But if the pilot keeps going out, there may be a dirty or clogged orifice or a defective thermocouple. If it won’t light at all, there may be air in the gas line, the gas valve on the supply pipe may be off, or gas pressure from the utility may be low.
- Burner Won’t Ignite: If the pilot light is lit, the burner should ignite. If not, the thermostat may be set too low or there may be a problem with the thermostat or gas valve. Turn off the gas supply valve if there’s a strong gas smell that won’t go away; then ventilate the space, leave the premises, and call the utility company or a plumber. There may be a dangerous gas leak.
- Electric Water Heater Damage: If your system is powered but not functioning properly, the high-temperature cutoff may need to be reset, or it may be damaged. The thermostat can be damaged if water gets inside the compartment. The only solution for leaking water is to replace the water heater.
- Water Leak: The sources of a hot water heater leak can include a faulty temperature and pressure relief valve, improper water pressure, or a nearby plumbing leak. When overheating, loose bolts on the heating element, or a bad gasket can cause one as well. This can severly damage the water tank. Loose plumbing connections and heating element bolts can be tightened, but you’ll need a professional to replace the gasket or check for corrosion inside the tank.
- Discolored Water: If the water from your faucets looks rusty, the water heater tank’s inner lining may be corroded. This is often a sign that the anode rod is failing; it can be replaced depending on what your repair contractor recommends.
- Noisy Water Heater: When your hot water heater becomes increasingly noisy, it’s likely sediment is building up in the tank. Flushing the tank should resolve this (whether you do it on your own or hire a professional). If the issue persists, there may be too much sediment or major damage.
Also, a water heater may not work because mineral deposits have blocked water flow in the pipes, or the pipes have frozen. A defective check valve in a water recirculating pump system can cause issues as well. And if the water heater and fixtures are too far apart (and pipes pass through an unheated space) water may come out cold. This can be fixed by insulating the water pipes, moving the water heater, or adding a second water heater or recirculating pump.
At IRBIS Heating Cooling Plumbing, we can help troubleshoot and fix water heater issues and address faulty thermostats, ductwork problems, and indoor air quality concerns. Our AC and furnace technicians are available to assist you as well. Continue browsing to learn about our services, special offers, and financing; to request service, book an appointment online or call 669-266-5464 today.