Nothing feels better than a hot shower during the cooler months, but a lack of hot water can put a real damper on those plans! It’s never fun to lose access to heated water, but this common occurrence can result from a multitude of reasons. So, if you go to turn on the hot water only for it to be freezing, one of these occurrences may be the source of your problem.
A water heater needs water to do its job properly, so there’s a problem if the tank is empty. If you experience a loss of hot water the first thing you should do is go and inspect your water tank. Not only is an empty tank not energy efficient, but it can be a big problem.
Take a close look at the connections between the appliance, valves, and pipes. If everything looks alright, then move to check the tank’s compartment. If it’s completely empty, then it’s a sign that it’s time to invest in a new water heater.
The gas used in water heaters is naturally colorless and odorless, so a foul-smelling gas called mercaptan is added as an odorant. Because of this, you’ll be able to detect if your water heater is having a gas leak by smell. If you smell rotten eggs or sulfur you need to switch off or lock your gas valve and call your gas company immediately. They will assess the problem on their end, but you may also need to call a plumber to come and repair the gas valve.
Electric Water Heater Malfunction
As with most electrical appliances, sometimes electric water heaters malfunction due to lack of electricity. If you suspect a malfunction, simply turn off your hot water heater and then reset the circuit breaker of your home. Your breaker may have been tripped, if so, you’ll receive hot water again in about an hour. If this problem persists you should contact a certified electrician to come look at your system. A frequently tripped breaker can be a bad sign of something to come.
Thankfully, thermostats are less prone to breaking than heating elements, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check them if your hot water goes out. If you have a single element heater and your thermostat goes out, then you won’t have any access to hot water. If you have a two-element heater then you may have a thermostat for each element. If your upper thermostat goes out then you won’t have access to your hot water, but if your lower thermostat goes out the water heater will still produce a limited quantity of hot water.
Your thermostat should be sitting between 122- and 140-degrees Fahrenheit. If it goes about 180, the heat-limit switch will pop out. Use this reset button to try and reduce the water temperature. If the heat-limit switch continues to pop out it indicates a faulty thermostat.
Having a tank that is too small for your household can reduce energy efficiency of your heater and cause you to run out of hot water quicker. If you find your family is using more hot water than your water heater can support, it might be time to upgrade to a larger heater. Look into both electric and gas water heaters, but keep in mind that electric water heaters may take a bit longer to warm up.
Check the Pilot Light
If you have a gas water heater, you have a thermocouple or thermopile which allows the pilot light to stay lit. If this light goes out, the gas valve will close to prevent the buildup of dangerous gas. Luckily, an unlit pilot light is an easy thing to fix. Just relight it! However, some newer water heaters feature glow plugs or spark ignitors instead of pilot lights, meaning you’ll either need to contact a professional or consult your owner’s manual to get it fixed.
There are multiple reasons a pilot light can go out. Sometimes the thermocouple or thermopile fails, or something as simple as a draft or disruption in gas service causes it to waver. The most worrying of these causes would be a corroded or defective gas valve. If you notice this, call a professional to have it replaced.
If you experience any problems with your hot water system don’t hesitate to give us a call! We’re more than happy to help with any questions you have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!