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7 Reasons Your Water Heater Isn't Working

Posted on July 28, 2015
by Appleby Systems

There's nothing worse than stepping into the shower on a cold winter morning and finding that your water simply won't heat up. Or you may find that you are getting hot water for about a minute before it turns cold. This isn't much better! These problems are occurring because your water heater isn't working properly. The following are the most common reasons your water heater may be behaving erratically

  1. The pilot light is off - Checking the pilot light of your water tank isn't too difficult. Go through your owner's manual for help finding it. If the pilot light is off, then re-light it by following the instructions in your owner's manual. If the pilot light won't re-light, there could be an issue with your gas supply. If it lights but then goes out right away, you probably have a problem with your thermocouple or gas control valve.
    Circuit Breaker
  2. The circuit breaker has tripped - If you're not getting any hot water and you have an electric water heater, it could be the result of a tripped circuit breaker. Reset your circuit breaker by flipping it off and on. If this doesn't do the trick, you may need to reset the ECO switch (the heater's high temperature cutoff).
  3. There's a leak in your gas line - If you have a gas fueled water tank, the issue might be the result of a leak in the gas line leading to the water tank. You can identify a gas leak by the odor of rotten eggs near the water heater. This is dangerous, so if you notice this odor make sure that you contact a professional immediately.
  4. The heating element needs to be replaced - This occurs if there isn't enough hot water or your water simply isn't heating up very much (such as if your shower is lukewarm at best). There's a good chance the water tank's heating element will need to be replaced.
    Hot water from shower
  5. The dip tube needs to be replaced - The dip tube is a plastic tube in your water heater that directs cold water to the tank's bottom. If the dip tube is damaged, then cold water can leak into the hot water that's flowing out of your water heater.
  6. There's sediment buildup - Sediment will buildup at the bottom of your water tank over time. You can clean the tank by draining and flushing it. Use vinegar or a de-liming product to remove scale build up on your heating elements. Try using a water softening agent or reducing the temperature to 130 degrees Fahrenheit as well to prevent sediment from building up. If the tank is rusty, you'll have to replace the entire thing.
  7. The thermostat needs to be adjusted - If your water isn't getting as hot as you want it to, a simple solution might be to just raise the temperature on the water heater thermostat. If the thermostat's temperature is already set high, then the thermostat itself may need to be replaced.

When you're looking forward to a hot shower, the last thing you expect is cold water. Check your water heater for these possible issues and contact us at Appleby Systems for more tips concerning your water tank.


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