Nothing’s more annoying than going to take a shower and finding out you have no hot water. Sometimes problems with your water heater are simple ones you can fix yourself, and sometimes it’s necessary to call in the professionals. Either way, it’s good to do a little troubleshooting so you have some information ready if you need to call the pros. Checking a couple of things will give you an idea about what the problem might be.
Check the Thermostat
The thermostat controls the temperature of the water in your water heater. If the thermostat is malfunctioning, the water will be too cold no matter what you have it set at. The thermostat on your water heater is usually located lower down on the unit near the gas valve or heating element. It will be labeled with settings from cool to hot. Most people choose to have the water heater set at medium so the water won’t be too hot. If for some reason the thermostat settings have been changed, you’ve found your problem. If your thermostat is at the correct setting but the water is still not hot, or is too hot, you will need to call a repairman in to test the thermostat and other components.
Check the Pilot Light (Gas Water Heaters)
The heat level in a gas water heater is controlled by a gas valve that produces more or less heat as the water in the tank is used. This valve has a pilot light that is constantly lit so the gas can flare up or back down as needed. If the pilot light is out, no heat can be produced, and there can be a dangerous buildup of gas in your home. The pilot light is located down near the thermostat and gas valve. It will be a small blue flame if it is lit. If the pilot light is lit, your problem may be caused by a faulty heating element, by sediment build up in the tank, or by other problems.
If the pilot light is not lit, it may have blown out due to a draft, or have been extinguished by water spilling out of the water heater. If there is water surrounding the water heater, shut off the gas at the valve and call a professional. If the water heater is dry, light the pilot light and see if this solves the problem. If the pilot is out on a self-lighting system, shut off the gas valve and a call a professional. There may be a problem with the pilot light, with the lighter, or with the gas supply to your water heater. Checking your gas meter or contacting the gas company can rule out a problem with your gas service.
Check the Power Source (Electric Water Heaters)
If your electric water heater is not getting hot, there may be a problem with the heating element. Check your breaker or fuse box to see if the power source to the water heater has been tripped. If it has, reset the breaker and see if this fixes the problem. If it hasn’t, the problem may be with the heating element, and you will need to have a repairman take a look at it.