Hot Water Heater Troubleshooter

Having trouble with your hot water heater? Here is a list of troubleshooting techniques used by the pros. Are you getting hot water? Is the water hot for a bit then cools off fast? Getting leaking around the base? Pilot light keeps going out? Let’s go over some of these.

Are You Getting Hot Water?

This is a common call, I have no hot water, help! Some of the causes of this are your pilot light has gone out, the gas valve has shut down, the element is no good in an electric hot water tank, the temperature is set too low, the water heater was turned to off. I have seen all of these. Of course in these cases there is water coming out of the hot tap, it just is not hot. In some cases there is no water coming out of the tap. Then maybe the hot water valve is off or faulty. These are the questions I ask when I am on the phone, that way I can give some kind of an idea of what the cost will be to fix. The next question I ask is the most important. How old is the water heater? If they tell me it is 10 years old or older then I tell them let’s replace it, the cost to fix and the cost to replace is about the same, except if you replace you have now fixed everything.

Is the water hot for a bit then cools of fast?

The most common problem here is that yours has built up so much scale that it can not keep up to demand. This happens in areas of very high hard water parts in the water. This scale comes out of the water at higher temperatures and then forms as a scale on the metal inside your tank. Only a one eighth of an inch of scale will reduce your capacity by 14 percent. For a standard 40 gallon water heater you now only have about 34 gallons. One remedy is to install a low flow shower head. The less flow means less water being used therefore will stay hotter longer.

Getting Leaking around the Base?

If this is happening the first thing to do is check to see if the leak is coming from the water heater or if it is coming from another source and is just pooling around it. If it is coming from the tank, then get a new one and quick, shut off the water, and the gas or electricity and get a plumber or go and buy a new one. I have had people call me and say the tank was leaking for 3 weeks, and others have said it was leaking for a day before it burst and flooded their basement. This is not worth waiting for get a new water heater. But if the water is pooling then try to find where it is coming from. I have gone in and found water coming from the humidifier, upstairs bathroom, kitchen, all in different circumstances, but not from the heater. And these people all said it was from the heater.


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