“Honey, there’s no hot water!” Though you never want to hear those words, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll run across this at some point. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to troubleshoot a hot water supply problem. Here are a few to try when you’re water is not so hot.
What Kind Of Water Heater Do You Have?
Water heaters heat water using different methods, so here is an overview of some of the most common:
A conventional storage tank water heater is one of the most common, storing a certain number of gallons and keeping it hot. With technology going back 100 years, this type of heater can be tied into an electrical or gas-fueled heating system or may provide auxiliary heating to a solar water heating system.
A tankless water heater is very similar to a conventional storage tank heater, but rather than heating a set amount of water ahead of time, it heats the water as it flows through the heater. It will look like an average utility box similar to a breaker box with a couple pipes leading into and out of it.
You’ll probably know if you have a system that is different from these, which can include solar water heating, geothermal heating or heat pumps, but these two styles cover almost all water heaters used.
Issues With Gas-Fueled Water Heaters:
Gas-fueled water heaters typically use propane or natural gas as a fuel that is burned to heat the water. They can have some different problems than electric water heaters:
- Pilot: Though some water heaters have pilot lights, others use an electric ignition. If the electricity is out, you may not be able to light your burner. If you do have a pilot light, it will need to be lit before the burner will light. There should be basic directions on how to light your pilot light on the water heater itself. You should note that if the fuel has run out, it may take longer for the fuel to reach the water heater than the water heater recommends.
- Fuel: The first thing to notice is whether you smell fuel, typically a rotten egg smell. If you do, leave the home immediately and call a professional. A spark from a flashlight, electrical system or cell phone can cause an explosion. If you don’t smell fuel, you can proceed. Does the water heater have fuel to it? Has the fuel run out or been cut off for some reason? Is it exceptionally cold outside or has there been exceptional consumption that a smaller tank or the lines have frozen up?
- Exhaust: Has the exhaust vent been blocked up? If the vent is blocked and is preventing a draft from continuing to provide oxygen to the flame, it can prevent the flame from staying lit.
Issues With Electric Water Heaters:
Electric water heaters use a resistance coil to heat the water. When the electricity runs through the resistance coil, it heats up, warming the water. Here are some common issues that occur with electric water heaters that may cause an absence of hot water:
- Resistance Coil: If the resistance coil goes out, it will need to be replaced.
- Anode: Because of issues with minerals in water, an anode rod is put into a hot water tank to intentionally corrode rather than those minerals causing corrosion to the tank itself, which could cause a failure and a lot of water damage from the tank leaking.
Issues With Either Type Of Water Heater:
There are some components and problems to both types of heating:
- Thermostat: The thermostat controls when the element or burner is heating the water. If it is not functioning properly, it can keep the water from being heated.
- Dip Tube: A dip tube carries the cold water from the inlet at the top of a storage tank water heater to the bottom to be heated by the burner. If it is broken, cold water may be leaving the tank without being heated.
If you’re not comfortable dealing with any of these issues or want a professional opinion, please feel free to contact our office. Our trained professionals would be happy to help you!