There’s nothing worse than getting into the shower and finding only cold water running out of the faucet. A malfunctioning water heater is not the best way to start the day! Thankfully, water heaters can usually be repaired – but first, you’ll need to figure out what’s wrong with it. Let’s look at the five most common causes of water heater failure.
Your first port of call should be to check the switches on your breaker box. A power surge or overloaded circuit may have caused the breaker which supplies your water heater to trip. Flip any switches which are in the off position back on. If the breakers trip again, there may be a fault in your heater or another appliance, in which case you should call a licensed electrician for assistance. After checking your breaker box, you should also check your thermostat – if it is set too low, this may be why your water is colder than usual.
If you have an electric water heater, then a failed heating element could be the cause of your problems. If you’ve checked the breakers and thermostat and they are in working order, then a broken heating element is the likely culprit. Heating elements can be easily replaced by a licensed plumber.
If your heater runs on gas, then there are several reasons why it could malfunction. First, there may be a gas leak in the supply lines. If you smell any gas when you inspect your water heater, you should immediately call a licensed technician, as gas leaks can be very dangerous.
If a gas leak isn’t the problem, you should check whether the pilot light is working. The pilot light is the source of the flame which keeps your water hot. When your heater detects that it needs to heat up the water it is holding, a gas valve will open, causing gas to travel over the pilot light and ignite into a flame. You should be able to see this flame through a small window at the front of your heater – if you don’t, you may need to remove the access panel and relight it according to your heater’s manual. If it doesn’t stay lit, it is likely faulty and needs to be replaced by a technician.
Another issue may be that your gas heater’s thermocouple isn’t working. A thermocouple is a small probe that is located inside the pilot light’s flame. The thermocouple will cause the gas valve to close if it detects that the pilot light has gone out. Check that your heater’s thermocouple is free of any dirt build-up and that it is in the right position, because if it is dirty or knocked out of place this may cause your heater to malfunction.
Water leaks are a common cause of water heater malfunction. While a leak at the bottom of your heater is serious and will usually mean that your heater needs to be replaced entirely, there are some less serious leaks. For example, the in-line valve (which is located at the top of the heater and controls the flow of water into the tank) may be too loose. Try to tighten the nut that holds the in-line valve in place. If this makes the problem worse, it may be necessary to replace the in-line valve.
If your heater is still producing some hot water, but you notice that you are constantly running out of it, then a cracked dip tube may be the culprit. A dip tube is designed to channel cold water to the bottom of your water heater to be heated. If the tube is old and cracked, then it may be releasing cold water higher up in your heater, which means that you will continuously receive cold water instead of hot water. A cracked dip tube can be replaced, but this is a complicated process and should be done by a licensed plumber.
If you’re struggling to identify the cause of your faulty hot water heater, it’s best to get in the professionals. At Art Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Electric, our team of licensed plumbers has assisted countless clients with water heater repairs for many years, and they have diagnosed and repaired every kind of heater malfunction in the book.
Give us a call at 1-800-475-1504 and let us help you to restore your hot water supply a.s.a.p. – because nobody deserves a cold shower two days in a row!
For Immediate Emergency Assistance Call 1-800-475-1504