7 Common Reasons Why Your Hot Water Heater Isn’t Working

“Why is my water heater not working?” you ask yourself as you try, and fail, to get the shower to the perfect temperature. This is a particularly upsetting scenario when you’ve just stepped into the shower, ready for that invigorating rush of warm water.

Your first instinct could be frantically trying anything that might get your hot water heater going again. But slow down. Many water heater issues are too complicated, even dangerous, for DIY fixes.

Instead, take a few minutes to troubleshoot the nature of your hot water heater problem, using this guide to 7 common water heater problems with safe and practical solutions.

Why Is My Water Heater Not Working?

1. Water Gets Too Hot

Ouch! You wanted a hot shower, not boiling! If you have a newer model electric water heater, your water heater works with a thermostat (actually, two thermostats). If this thermostat has been jostled — or purposely reset — by someone in your home, the water flow will be much hotter than you expected.

FIX: Adjust the thermostat to a more moderate setting for producing hot water. Forty-nine degrees Celsius is recommended to prevent scalding.

2. Water Doesn’t Get Hot

This is the opposite of the previous problem, but it’s almost as bad. Your flow of “hot” water is merely lukewarm or even incoming cold water. Once again, an incorrect thermostat setting, or a faulty thermocouple in a gas water heater, could be to blame. Another explanation might be that there’s no power to the water heater (in the case of an electric heater) or the pilot light has gone out (if you have a gas unit).

FIX: Adjust your thermostat as necessary. If that doesn’t do the trick, check the power supply. Another possibility is the replacement of a damaged thermocouple in gas water heaters.

3. Leaking Water Heater

A leaking water heater (a sign may be low hot water pressure, or not enough hot water to shower) might be a reason to push the panic button… but first, take a few minutes to check where the leakage is coming from. Leaks near the top of the heater tend to indicate a problem with a valve, which won’t need a major repair. However, a leak from the water heater base is more serious.

FIX: You may need a qualified plumber to replace your drain valve or TPR (temperature pressure relief) valve. When your water heater is leaking from below, your plumber might be able to fix it if you call them soon enough. Otherwise, you will need to have a new water heater installed.

4. Noisy Water Heater

Sometimes your water heater might make some peculiar noises, loud enough to compete with your singing in the shower. Are these a cause for alarm? It depends on exactly what kind of sounds you are hearing. Sizzles and rumbles are both red flags, indicating a heavy sediment buildup in your hot water tank that might cause a breakdown in the near future. In addition, banging is a sign of a water hammer, which can lead to serious damage to your pipes.

FIX: To stop sizzling or rumbling, turn off the tank and have it flushed by a reliable plumbing company ASAP. Ask your plumber to install a water hammer arrestor to quiet down the banging and save the pipes.

5. Pilot Light Keeps Going Out

Many pilot lights go out once in a while, but when your water heater pilot light keeps going out continually, it’s a problem. And the chances are good that that problem stems from either a shortage of combustible air or a malfunctioning thermocouple.

FIX: Increase the air supply around your water heater by cleaning dust and lint off the appliance and clearing any clutter from the area around it. A bad thermocouple will require expert plumbing repair and is more than basic gas water heater troubleshooting.

6. Water Smells Bad

The water from your residential plumbing pipes should smell neutral. If it has a strong unpleasant odour, something’s wrong. To check whether your water heater is at fault, turn on a hot water faucet and let it run for a few minutes. And, yes, use your nose to determine exactly what you are smelling.

FIX: For a garlicky odour, relight the pilot light on your water tank. When you detect the scent of garbage, you’ll need a professional plumber to flush the hot water tank and possibly replace the anode rod. A strong smell of rotten eggs could signal a hazardous gas leak; turn off the gas supply if possible, get everyone out of your house, and make an emergency call to the gas company.

7. Water Looks Brown Or Rusted

The first thing to do is ask yourself, “Is the brown, rusty-looking water coming only from my hot water taps?” If the answer is yes, then most likely, either the anode rod or the water heater interior is starting to rust, especially if your hot water heater is nearing the end of its life expectancy. (A “no” answer means the issue does not originate from the hot water heater but rather from the water supply.)

FIX: Contact a plumber to inspect the water heater. If you catch the problem quickly enough, it might be fixable. Otherwise, you’ll need a water heater replacement. Consider installation of an efficient new tankless water heater.

Husky Has The Answers To Your Water Heater Problems

Whatever issue you have with your water heater, low water temperature, potential mineral deposits, or poor water pressure, it’s good to know that Husky is just a phone call away. We offer professional water heater tank repair and replacement in Vaughan.

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