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You are in Phoenix. We also have a Tucson site.

You are in Phoenix. We also have a Tucson site.

What to do When Your Hot Water Heater is Not Working




If you’re enduring the discomfort of chilly showers due to a malfunctioning hot water heater, our guide is here to help. We’ll explore the typical reasons your hot water might be failing and provide step-by-step troubleshooting methods. A common starting point for troubleshooting is the hot water faucet, as issues here often indicate problems with the water heater. We’ll help identify common problems and their fixes, ensuring that your water heater is back to delivering hot water in no time.

Key Takeaways

  • Regular maintenance is crucial for water heater longevity, especially in challenging conditions like Arizona’s extreme temperatures and hard water supply.

  • Common issues with water heaters include power supply problems, sediment buildup, thermostat malfunctions, and for gas models, pilot lights and gas leaks.

  • Water heater efficiency can be improved with energy-efficient models and maintenance tips like lowering the thermostat, insulating the tank, and installing heat traps.

Hot Water Heater Not Working?

Are you dealing with a hot water heater that's giving you the cold shoulder? You're not alone. A lot of us face issues like pilot lights that won't stay lit or confusing electrical problems that leave us in the lurch without any hot water.

When these problems pop up, they throw a wrench into our daily tasks like taking a shower, washing dishes, or doing laundry. Being stuck using cold water when you're expecting warm can really mess with your day (and your mood). Keep reading to figure out what's going wrong and how you can fix it.

Try This Simple Step First

If you wake up to find that your hot water is gone, don't panic. Start by ensuring that your water heater is getting power, as a common issue is simply a lack of power to the unit. If you have an electric water heater and it's not heating up, try resetting it: turn off the power for a moment and then switch it back on.

Next, check the thermostat on your water heater to make sure it's set to a heat-producing temperature. If the power is on and the thermostat is set correctly, but there's still no hot water, then it's time to look for other potential issues that might be preventing your water heater from delivering warm water to your home.

Identifying Your Water Heater Type

Determining if your water heater is powered by gas or electricity is essential when troubleshooting potential problems. You can discern the type of water heater you have by inspecting its model or observing if there’s a pilot light present. Knowing whether you have an electric heater or a gas heater is crucial, as each type requires different troubleshooting steps.

Each category of water heaters comes with its unique challenges, whether it’s recurring extinguishment of the pilot light, electrical complications, or issues with thermostats. For gas heaters, issues can vary and may include checking the thermostat settings and the pilot light. We’ll explore the particular troubles associated with each kind of water heater as they can cause inconsistent heating and affect your hot water supply.

Electric Water Heater Woes

Electric hot water heaters are generally reliable, but sometimes things go wrong. If you find yourself without hot water, the first thing to check is your circuit breaker—maybe it's just a tripped switch. If that's not the issue, look for a reset button on your heater and give it a press.

Occasionally, the heating elements inside your electric water heater might fail, which stops it from heating water. Before you do anything, make sure to turn off the power for safety. Then, use a non-contact voltage tester to double-check that there's no electricity flowing before you inspect the heating elements for damage.

Disclaimer: Before attempting to check for leaks, always ensure your safety by turning off the power and verifying that all electricity to the unit is completely disconnected. Be vigilant for any signs of water near the heating elements, as this could signify a leak that may require professional attention.

Gas Water Heater Glitches

On the other hand, gas water heaters can experience unique issues, particularly with the pilot light. If the pilot light goes out, the water heater cannot maintain the necessary gas pressure to heat the water. A frequently extinguishing pilot light may require adjustments or replacement of the thermocouple.

For gas water heaters, a gas leak is not just a significant issue—it's a serious safety concern. It's vital to regularly inspect for any signs of leaks and to check that both the inlet and drain valves are in good working order to avoid dangerous situations.

If you find that your water heater isn't producing enough hot water, it could be due to a malfunctioning burner assembly or a problem with the gas control valve or the hot water taps. These components may need to be replaced to ensure your water heater functions correctly and provides a consistent supply of hot water.

When Your Water Heater is Leaking

When you spot a leak in your water heater, it's important to act quickly. Leaks can come from the tank itself or the pipes connected to it, and they can lead to further damage or safety hazards. One telltale sign of a leak is the sound of water dripping or running when it shouldn't be. The most common places for leaks are at the top where the inlet and outlet pipes are, or at the bottom of the tank.

Here's what you can do if you notice a leak:

  1. If there's water on top of the tank, the inlet or outlet connections may be loose. Try tightening them to see if that stops the leak.

  2. Check all the valves to make sure they're completely closed. If they seem damaged or worn out, they might need to be replaced.

  3. While you wait for a professional to arrive, turn off the power to your water heater and shut off its water supply to prevent further leaking.

  4. If the leak is coming from the sides or bottom of the tank, this could be a sign of internal damage or rust, and you might need to consider getting a new water heater.

Sediment Buildup: A Silent Hot Water Killer

Sediment buildup is like a sneaky villain for hot water heaters, quietly collecting at the bottom of the tank. It forms a barrier that makes it hard for the heat to get through, leading to lukewarm water and a less efficient heater.

To fight off this sneaky enemy, it's important to schedule a professional drain and flush with a local plumber at least once a year. While you can hook up a garden hose to wash away the sediment yourself, having an expert ensures that all systems are thoroughly checked and serviced properly. This not only keeps your heating system running smoothly but also prevents damage that could lead to breakdowns, extends the life of your heater, and guarantees optimal performance.

Trouble with Water Being Too Hot?

The thermostat on your water heater makes sure your water is just the right temperature. It's best to keep the thermostat set between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the water feels like it's scalding, the thermostat might be set higher than necessary. To fix this for tank-style water heaters, whether they're powered by gas or electricity, you'll need a screwdriver to adjust the thermostat under the access panel. For electric water heaters, you'll find two thermostats – set them to similar temperatures, with the top one slightly higher than the bottom.

For those with tankless water heaters, you can easily change the temperature using the digital control panel that's built right into the unit.

The Lifespan of Your Water Heater

On average, a hot water heater is designed to last between 8 to 12 years. However, over time, essential parts like the heating elements and anode rod can wear out. This wear and tear can lead to your water heater not working as well, and it might even start to rust or corrode.

When your water heater gets old, you have to decide whether to fix it or buy a new one. It's important to think about how well it's currently working, how old it is, and how much it would cost to repair it. If your water heater is over ten years old, getting a new one might save you from future leaks or breakdowns and could also be better for saving energy.

Local Insights: Arizona's Unique Water Heating Challenges

Arizona's intense temperatures pose challenges for water heaters. During the cooler winter months, the stark contrast between the cold outside air and the desired hot water temperature can greatly affect energy efficiency and the performance of your water heater.

The high heat of Arizona summers can also strain your water heater, as it works overtime to ensure that your showers, dishwashing, and laundry all have the hot water necessary. The relentless sun can heat your water storage tank, which might seem beneficial, but it can actually lead to overheating and, consequently, additional stress on the system's components. Moreover, the dry climate can cause wear on parts and seals, potentially leading to leaks or system failures if not properly maintained.

The presence of hard water in Arizona can be particularly taxing on your hot water heater. Hard water contains high levels of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, which can accumulate and form scale inside the heater, reducing its efficiency and lifespan. This scaling can act as an insulator, preventing efficient heat transfer and forcing the heater to work harder, which can lead to increased energy costs and the potential for overheating. Regularly addressing hard water buildup is essential to maintain the heater's functionality and to prevent premature wear and tear that could culminate in costly repairs or the need for an early replacement.

Regular maintenance is more than a suggestion—it's a critical practice to ensure your hot water heater can cope with the rigors of hard water and continue to run smoothly. By regularly servicing your water heater, you're not only extending its lifespan but also promoting better performance and energy efficiency. This involves checking for any signs of wear and tear, replacing parts as necessary, and cleaning out any sediment that may have accumulated. It’s a proactive approach to prevent the inconvenience of unexpected cold showers and the potential expense of emergency repairs.

Boosting Efficiency: Upgrades and Maintenance Tips

There are always opportunities to boost the efficiency of your water heater. By switching from older, less efficient models to contemporary water heaters that bear the ENERGY STAR label, homeowners can achieve considerable energy conservation and enjoy reduced monthly bills.

To ensure your water heater operates at peak efficiency, regular maintenance is key. For better performance consider these guidelines:

  1. Set the thermostat on your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to save energy while also mitigating mineral deposits and corrosion.

  2. Apply insulation to both the water heater tank and nearby piping in order to minimize heat loss.

  3. Fit heat traps on your system which help avoid superfluous heating cycles thereby cutting down on overall energy use.

Need Immediate Assistance? Call Parker & Sons

Whether you're facing an urgent water heater issue or require routine maintenance, Parker & Sons is ready to assist! Our experienced plumbers are ready to help today!

We pride ourselves on utilizing high-quality parts and materials to ensure durable repairs and installations for your water heater. Contact Parker & Sons today to book your service appointment!

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I identify if my water heater is electric or gas?

To discern whether you have a gas or electric water heater, examine the model information or search for the presence of a pilot light. These signs will help you ascertain the nature of your water heater.

What should I do if my electric water heater is not producing hot water?

Attempt to reset the heater by switching it off, pausing for a few minutes before powering it on again. Should this fail to resolve the issue, there’s a possibility that the heating element could be malfunctioning.

What should I do if my gas water heater's pilot light keeps going out?

Ensure to inspect and, if necessary, calibrate or substitute the thermocouple for your gas water heater’s pilot light.

Should the problem continue, seek support from an expert.

How often should I flush my water heater to remove sediment?

You should flush your water heater once a year to remove sediment buildup.

This helps maintain its efficiency and prolong its lifespan.

What should I do if I suspect a leak in my water heater?

Shut down the power and water supply before reaching out to an expert for help with the apparent leak in your water heater. Additionally, check the drain valve as it plays a crucial role in safety and maintenance by releasing pressure and preventing scalding, which is essential when troubleshooting leaks.

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