Your water heater is an essential part of creating a comfortable environment for you and your family. When your access to hot water is disrupted, you may call in an expert right away. But Aris Parviz of Virginia’s Able Air-1, Inc. says that with a little investigative work, you may find that the problem can be easily corrected without professional intervention. Here, he talks about some common water heater issues and the steps you can take to determine the causes.
Like all major appliances, your water heater sometimes doesn’t function properly. When it is acting up, you can take a few simple steps to diagnose the problem youreself. But we highly recommend that you call a contractor for service if the following troubleshooting tips don’t yield the results you’re hoping for.
Water Heater Leaks
Unfortunately, a water heater leak is a potentially serious situation. Water pooling around the base of your water heater doesn’t always indicate a leak, but identifying the source of the water can be challenging. Because any water around an electric water heater presents a risk for electrical shock, be sure to shut off power to the unit immediately and contact a professional.
Sometimes leaks can be fixed by tightening fittings or piping outside the unit. But if the unit is leaking from the tank, little can be done. Water heaters have a fairly short life (usually about 10 years), and in most cases, a water heater that is leaking from the tank will need to be replaced rather than repaired.
No Hot Water
A total lack of hot water to the home is the most commonly reported water heater problem, and often is the one with the simplest solution. You may be able to avoid a costly and unnecessary service call by simply checking your water heater’s settings at the first sign of trouble.
If no hot water is coming from the taps inside your home, look at your water heater’s controls first. Most water heaters have a manual on/off switch as well as a thermostat. Be sure that the water heater is switched to “on, ” that the thermostat is set to the correct temperature, and it’s not on “vacation” mode. Although it may seem silly, it’s common for homeowners to leave home for an extended period, put their water heaters on vacation mode, and then forget to return them to a normal setting when they return home.
If you have a gas-fueled water heater, check the pilot light. If the pilot light is lit, you can assume that gas is flowing to the unit. If the pilot light is not lit, check to see if the gas has been shut off. If the gas has not been shut off and the pilot light isn’t lit, you can attempt to relight it according to the manufacturer’s instructions, which are generally posted on the unit. However, we generally do not recommend that a homeowner attempt to light a pilot light more than twice. If you are unable to re-light the pilot light yourself, contact a professional for service.
If you have an electric water heater, it is usually more difficult to troubleshoot this type of problem. If your thermostat is set to the appropriate temperature and your unit is on, we generally recommend calling in a contractor to help diagnose the problem.
Inadequate Hot Water.
When not enough hot water is coming into the home, again, the simplest solution may be the best solution. Are there simply too many people or appliances using hot water at once? If so, you may just have an inadequate water heater for your needs. If you can’t reduce consumption, you may consider investing in a higher-capacity water heater. On the other hand, if your family isn’t consuming a large amount of hot water, the problem may simply be your thermostat setting. Try raising the temperature setting slightly to see that it corrects the problem. If not, it’s probably time to call in your contractor.