Why Is My Water Heater Not Working?
Have you ever turned on the shower, only to jump out from the cold water? With your water heater not working, you know that you have a problem that calls for immediate attention. With this guide, you will understand the common problems, their likely causes and what you can do to keep them from ruining your day.
Common Water Heater Problems?
There are a few ways you may observe your water heater is not working. You may not know the immediate cause, but you can sense what may be wrong. Here are typical water heater problems, the likely causes and a few ways to see what might be going wrong:
- When you turn on the water, hot water never comes. This usually results from a faulty power connection or a pilot light that went out. Look at the pilot light or an electric connection. Is the pilot lit? Look at the circuit breaker and see if the power to the water heater has not been turned off by accident.
- There is hot water, but not enough of it. If this is an occasional concern, you may just need to adjust the hot-water-using appliances that are turned on at the same time. When it becomes consistent, you may have a bigger problem. The dip tube sends cold water to the bottom of the tank for heating. If it is cracked, the cold water stays at the top and goes to your faucets first. An alternative cause could be a build up of sediment in the tank. Water carries minerals in it, which often remain in your tank. Over time, that sediment can build up and steal gallons of available space for heated water.
- The maximum temperature is either too hot or too cold. Your water heater has a setting to allow you to change the maximum temperature. Some advocates suggest turning your water heater temperature down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to save money and prevent burns. However, water at this temperature may not be enough to kill certain kinds of bacteria that could make you very sick. Set your temperature to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If the hottest water is still not hot enough, you may need professional service to fix the thermostat.
- The water heater is leaking. A leaking water heater requires immediate repair. The most common cause is a cracked tank that needs to be replaced. You might also have a leaking temperature pressure release (TPR) valve, which controls the pressure inside the tank.
- Your water or heating bill is too high. If you have had your water heater for many years, you may or may not notice the slow uptick in energy consumption from the appliance, as it loses efficiency. Over time, the water heater needs insulation to avoid losing as much heat through the tank or the pipes connected to the water heater.
You may suffer from one or a combination of these problems. Thankfully, most of them often have simple solutions, some of which you may be able to resolve on your own.
What Maintenance Does My Water Heater Need?
Regular upkeep is the most important job you can perform to ensure that your water heater keeps working well for its lifespan, with as few problems as possible. Your ability to complete these tasks depends entirely on your comfort with getting into the appliance and working with individual parts. There are several tasks that must be completed at least once a year. You can choose to do some of them on your own, and request professional maintenance services for the others:
- Inspect the pilot light. Lighting the pilot is one of the easiest tasks you can do. If you are having trouble getting it to stay lit, light it and watch it for a few minutes. If you see it flickering, you may have an air leak nearby that is causing it go out. When it will not stay lit, or if you suspect other problems with the electrical connection or fuel source, contact your plumber.
- Check the dip tube. When you observe little pieces of plastic caught in your faucet aerators, you have a problem with the dip tube. A broken dip tube needs to be replaced.
- Replace the anode rod yearly. The anode rod goes into the water to prevent corrosion. Corrosion can slowly but completely destroy your water heater. If the anode rod is eroded, you should install a new one.
- Drain the tank until it is clear of sediment. This requires draining and flushing. The tank must have all the water removed, and then water can be flushed through to stir up and remove the sediment at the bottom of the tank.
- Inspect the TPR valve. With power and water shut-off to the water heater, you can open the valve to see if it opens and closes properly. If it does not, you need to have it replaced.
- Insulate water heater and pipes. Insulation for your water heater is important for energy efficiency, particularly if your hot water heater is more than five years old. You can purchase a special blanket designed to cover your hot water heater. You may also choose to place insulation on the pipes connected to the water heater.
The benefit of hiring a plumber to complete this work for you is that you know it will be done professionally and accurately, without having to spend your time on it. Your plumber can also let you know about minor issues that are likely to get worse over time.
Do I Need to Repair or Replace My Water Heater?
At some point during the repair process, you have to decide if you want to fix your existing water heater or replace it. A typical water heater, with reasonable use and maintenance, lasts about 10 to 15 years before it should be replaced. Experts usually recommend replacing an appliance if the repairs will cost at least half as much as a new model. When your water heater is approaching the end of its lifespan but is still mostly functioning, you can ask your plumber if replacing it with a new, more efficient model will save you enough money on your utility bills to justify the purchase.
The water heater not working is an issue that can make your home’s function come to a grinding halt. Routine inspection, maintenance, repair and replacement when necessary are your keys to water heater happiness every day.
If you’re in need of a reputable Chicagoland plumber and would like to schedule a service call, contact the experts at Mendel Plumbing & Heating today!