Nobody wants to be without hot water, and as it gets cooler the idea of a cold shower becomes even less inviting. Water heaters don’t last forever, and when they fail the damage can be catastrophic. (Think about your 80-gallon tank full of water one minute, and then empty the next. That water went somewhere – your basement floor!) Failure doesn’t always happen in such dramatic fashion, but it does happen, and it is not worth the risk of having to spend extra money fixing water damage or replacing any valuables that may have gotten soaked. There are ways to keep an eye on the status of your water heater so you know when to consider replacing, or when it may be something as simple as flipping a breaker.

No Hot Water Coming From Your Water Heater?

If you’ve got an issue with all of your fixtures (sink faucets, showerheads, etc) lacking hot water, then your water heater is not doing its job. These are some possible reasons why your water’s not getting to temperature:

It’s All Out! You’ve Run Out of Water

Water heaters have different capacities (50 gallons, 75 gallons, etc). If you’ve been running a lot of hot water, it’s quite possible that you have just run out. 

Before jumping to conclusions, you should wait and give your water heater some time to reheat the fresh water. If your hot water returns after 30-90 minutes, then it’s likely that it just ran out of its supply. If this seems to happen often, it may be a good idea to replace it with a larger capacity when the time comes or be mindful of the order in which you use water. It is estimated that each person uses an average of 60 gallons per day. However, that doesn’t always need to happen all at once! To help you understand how much water you are using throughout the day, here’s how much water usual household tasks use on average:

  • Approximately 20 to 40 gallons of water for one shower
  • Washing machines use an average of 25 gallons per load
  • The kitchen sink takes roughly 20 gallons per day for preparing food and washing dishes
  • The bathroom sink, used for washing hands, shaving and brushing teeth, requires about 15 gallons per day

No Supply or Power

Whether you have a gas or electric water heater, it needs those things to run.

 If your gas water heater is not working, make sure that the gas is making it to the heater. 

  • Turn the gas control knob to PILOT
  • Remove the cover where your burner and the pilot light is located (at the bottom of the water heater)
  • There should be a flame lit inside.

If there is no flame, it could mean that the pilot has gone out. You can refer to the manual for instructions on how to light the pilot on your specific water heater or call a plumber to assist with relighting the pilot.

If the pilot is lit and you are not getting any hot water (or not enough hot water), this could be due to a few different things. There could be an issue with the thermostats, the size could be wrong for your household and individual needs or the gas valve needs to be replaced. If you see that the pilot is on but it’s not up to temperature, still not heating or not giving you enough hot water, it is a good idea to call a plumber to diagnose the issue. It could be something as simple as replacing the thermostats, or it could be a disaster waiting to happen.

If you’re running an electric water heater, you need to ensure that it is getting power.

  • Check to see if your water heater has a power switch that has been turned off
  • Check your breakers! If it has tripped, simply reset the breaker.

If it continues to trip, it’s time to call a professional. There are different reasons why your water heater keeps tripping your breaker, from burnt heating elements to the thermostats being bad. Having it repaired as soon as possible would be the best way to keep this from continuing to happen.

If you discover the breaker is not the problem, and you aren’t getting any hot water, it could be the heating elements that have failed or the limit/reset switch may be tripped from the water being too hot or failure of the part. If you are experiencing the issue of just not having enough hot water, this could also be an issue related to the heating elements or thermostat, or it could just be an issue of not having a tank with the right capacity for your home.

The Water Heater Is Leaking!

A leak from the top or the bottom of the water heater can be serious.

A leak from the top can be caused by many things.

If you find your water heater is leaking from the top, it is very important to turn off the power to the water heater and discover the source of the leak. You want to turn off the power to the water heater so that the water does not leak onto any electrical elements and cause a further problem with the heater itself.

Once you have turned off the power, dry the top of the water heater and try to determine where the water is coming from. It may be coming from a valve above the water heater, or there may be a pinhole leak in one of the pipes that are connected to the water heater. Once you discover the source of the leak, you can determine whether you are capable of tightening a valve or if it’s something more involved that you will need to contact a plumber to assist you with.

A leak from the bottom can be a more serious issue.

First, make sure that the water heater doesn’t just have a leak from the top that is running down to the bottom. Look for any visible signs of a leak on the top of the water heater and all pipes leading to or away from the heater. You can also remove the access panels (on electric models) and check for moisture in the insulation.

Water heaters have a valve at the bottom of the unit that is used to drain the water heater. This could potentially be the cause of the leak. Look to see if there is moisture around it or if there is water dripping from the valve. If it seems to be leaking, make sure that it is completely closed by turning the valve clockwise. If this does not stop the leak, then the valve would need to be replaced.

If the leak is coming from the tank itself, then it is time to have the water heater replaced. The tanks will eventually corrode and create pinhole leaks, but over time these leaks can become larger and cause a much worse issue.

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