If you can’t get a single drop of hot water from your home’s taps, you have an issue with your water heater’s heating element. Luckily, the most common causes of not having hot water are also the easiest to fix. If your home is suffering from a lack of hot water, you need to take action and get your water heater some TLC.
First things first: Troubleshooting
The source of your water heater issues might be very simple to fix. Perform these easy inspections before calling for water heater repair in your Alexandria, VA home.
- Visual Inspection. Whether your water heater is located in a basement, garage or utility closet, go check it out. You’re looking for anything that is obviously wrong: leaking or pooled water, parts fallen off, etc. This will tell you if you need to call a professional repairman immediately to prevent damage to your home from a broken water heater.
- Circuit Breaker. A common cause of no hot water is accidentally tripping the breaker. Try switching it back to the “on” position if it isn’t there already. Alternately, if your home has a fuse box, make sure the fuse for your water heater isn’t blown.
- Pilot Light. For gas water heaters, the pilot light must be lit at all times for it to function correctly. Check the pilot light and relight it with a long match if needed. If your pilot light goes out frequently, this part needs replacement.
- Age. A water heater (both gas and electric) should last 10-15 years before needing replacement. If you perform regular maintenance on your appliance, the crucial components should not have any problem meeting this lifespan.
Thermostat and Thermocouple Issues
If everything looks fine from your troubleshooting, there are a few more things that can explain your lack of hot water. From a broken thermostat to a malfunctioning thermocouple, you might be better off calling for water heater repair from a professional before attempting these repairs yourself.
For electric water heaters, a faulty thermostat can send false signals that it’s producing plenty of hot water, when it fact, it is produce none at all. This is a relatively easy repair and a good problem to have, since it doesn’t indicate damage to any other part of the appliance.
For gas water heaters, the thermocouple monitors the pilot light flame, and should alert you if it goes out. Take extreme caution if you have to relight a pilot light. The gas fueling the flame is colorless and hard to gauge how much has leaked out.
If you don’t know how to diagnose the issue, but are certain that there is no water heating happening, you can be at least be sure the problem is with the heating element before calling for professional repair.
Not enough hot water
If your home still gets hot water, but it’s just running out quickly, you might just need a larger water heater to handle the family’s needs. Between laundry, running the dishwasher, daily showers and handwashing pots and pans, American adults tend to use about 64 gallons of water every day. If you have a lot of adults in the home, it’s no wonder your water heater has trouble keeping up!
Before considering an upgrade, make sure you don’t have any leaky taps in the house. Another cause of low hot water supply is cross-connected hot and cold plumbing, which would cool the hot water in the pipes. A faulty heating element, electrical components or gas supply issues could also be the culprit.
Preventing water heater failure
Annual maintenance to your water heater can help you prevent problems before they happen. Tasks like flushing out the tank will help prevent bacterial infections which cause smelly water, and are especially good for homes with hard water.
When you notice discolored or rusty-looking water coming from any taps, this is a sign that your sacrificial anode rod needs replacement. The anode rod dissolves into the water as a notification that the tank itself is at risk of rusting. An anode rod typically lasts about five years. If you don’t replace it, you run the risk of spreading rust to your water tank and needing a whole new appliance far sooner than necessary.
Still scratching your head?
If you aren’t sure what is wrong with your water heater, call the professional plumbers at John C. Flood for water heater diagnosis and repair in Alexandria, VA. Our fast, courteous, well-trained experts will have hot water back in your pipes in no time.