Water Heaters

There are many common situations that you may face when installing or repairing a gas or electric hot water heater. Here are a few troubleshooting solutions for you to try if your water heater isn’t cutting it.

Troubleshooting a Gas Water Heater

If you get no hot water at all, check the following:

  • Lighting the pilot light (that is a small flame that should always be lit)
  • Monitoring the gas meter and the gas cutoff valve – your gas may not be on at all

If your pilot will not light and you know that the gas is on, you may try the following:

  • Cleaning the pilot orifice – it may be clogged
  • Checking the pilot supply line. If it is clogged or kinked in some way, you will not get a light. You may need to replace it if it is too rusted over or backed up.
  • Removing air from the gas line – This can be done by holding down the pilot button. Give the lighting process a couple of times to catch before striking this solution off of the list.

If your pilot lights but does not stay on, you may want to check the following:

  • Checking the thermocouple – Make sure that the thermocouple probe tip is squarely inside of the pilot flame. The thermocouple needs to be very tightly wound at the control valve as well. Check it for kinks. If everything checks out but you still get no light, you may need to replace the thermocouple.
  • Checking the gas control valve – If the valve is somehow deficient, a replacement is the only option. There is no way to repair a gas valve.
  • Checking the main burner for clogs – You may need to clean the assembly and clean it.
  • Windy days may cause a downdraft from the flue that puts out your light so check the weather.

If there is not enough hot water in your flow, try the following:

  • Adjusting the thermostat – This is the first and most obvious solution. Try this before moving into more in depth solutions.
  • Replacing the water heater – Your heater may not have enough power for your capacity. Space out your use of hot water and see if your heater can keep up. If not, you need a bigger one.
  • Cleaning the burner orifice – If the orifice is clogged, then you may need to remove and clean it
  • Checking the gas pressure – You may have an overall gas pressure problem. If so, call the supplier to fix it.

Troubleshooting an Electric Water Heater

If you are getting no hot water from your electric heater, check the following:

  • The circuit breaker or the fuse box
  • The water heater power
  • The reset button on your water heater (also known as a limit switch)
  • Your upper element and thermostat

If you do not have enough hot water, then you may need to check the following elements:

  • The thermostat – Setting the temperature too low is an often overlooked easy fix.
  • Loose wiring – If you have tenuous connections at any point, then you will have problems getting hot water. Turn off the circuit breaker before checking connections.
  • Checking the water heater fill tube and dip
  • Making sure the water heater is the appropriate size
  • Checking the elements

If the water is too hot, then troubleshoot it with the following tips:

  • Adjusting the temperature on your water heater
  • Fitting the thermostat tightly to the water tank
  • Checking for the thermostat function and for grounded elements

If you cannot get hot water for a long time after using it initially, then you may want to check the following:

  • Checking for sediment build up on your hardware – You may need a professional cleaning depending on how far the sediment has penetrated your heater.
  • Checking the wire connections – Make sure that your breaker is off when you do this.
  • Checking the thermostats, elements and initial temperature – If the initial temperature is somehow incorrect in the reading, then your heater is responding to false data.

When to Replace a Water Heater:

  • Each water heater will have a suggestion on how long it will work. The average is 8 to 12 years of service.
  • Factors that affect this lifespan are location and design of the heater, maintenance schedule and the quality of water in your area.
  • If the tank of the heater is leaking, working poorly or not at all, it is most likely time for a replacement.
  • You are certain that it is not a smaller problem with the electrical components.