Water Heater Repair – What to Do When Your Water Heater Goes Out
Many homeowners do not give much thought to their water heater until it stops working. A faulty unit can mean that hot showers become a thing of the past or dishes never get cleaned.
First, check the circuit breaker in your service panel to make sure it hasn’t tripped. If it has, reset it by switching it to OFF and then ON. However, if it doesn’t work, you can call Water Heater Repair Tampa for professional assistance.
The pilot light is a small flame that ignites the gas that heats your water. If it goes out, your gas hot water heater can no longer produce steam and will not warm up your shower or sink. There are many reasons why a pilot light might go out, but luckily, it’s usually a simple fix. The first step in relighting your pilot light is to turn off the power to your water heater. You’ll typically find this switch near your water heater or on the circuit breaker or fuse that serves it. Once the power is completely cut, wait 10-15 minutes to let any remaining gas dissipate.
Next, look for the gas valve near the bottom of your water heater. It should have a label that says “Pilot” and be marked with a red button or control knob. You’ll likely need a lighter to reach the flame, so have one ready before you begin. If you’re not able to see a flame, there could be a problem with the access panel or the way the heater is positioned. In this case, you’ll need to remove the panel and try again.
Once you’re able to see the flame, you should press down on the valve/red button while holding a match or wand lighter above it. The spark generated by the lighter should then ignite the pilot, causing it to glow. Once the pilot glows, you can release the gas knob and start enjoying your hot shower again!
If your pilot light keeps going out, you may need to replace the thermocouple. This is a safety device that shuts off the flow of gas if the pilot light goes out, but it can become damaged over time. You can find instructions for replacing this piece, which resembles a copper tube, in most water heater owner’s manuals.
While this is a relatively easy task that most homeowners can do themselves, it’s always wise to follow basic safety rules when working with natural gas. If you smell a sulfurous odor or your carbon monoxide detector activates, leave the area immediately and call your energy provider or local fire department. This type of leak is extremely dangerous and can even be fatal if inhaled.
Resetting the Circuit Breaker
If you find yourself without hot water while waiting for a plumber to arrive, there are a couple of things you can do. Neither of them will fix the problem, but they will help you keep it from getting worse until a professional can get there. First, check that the breaker or fuse that serves the water heater hasn’t been flipped off. This is often the case if you plug your electric water heater into a standard outlet. It can also happen if you accidentally turn off the pilot light, since the water heater will draw extra electricity when it is trying to heat the water.
To make sure the breaker or fuse is really off, go to your home’s circuit breakers (or fuse box) and find the one that serves the water heater. The breaker is usually labeled for this purpose, and it is likely to be red. Switch it to the OFF position to cut off the power.
Next, open up the metal access panel on your water heater and look for a reset button. This is usually a red button located near the upper thermostat or behind a removable metal cover on the unit. There may also be a second reset button, if you have a dual-element electric water heater. Both buttons should be pressed firmly until you hear or see a click.
Once the reset buttons are pushed, go back to your house’s electrical panel and flip the breaker or fuse serving the water heater to the ON position. If it doesn’t immediately trip again, it was a fluke and everything is okay. But if the breaker trips again right away, it means there is an electrical problem and you will need to call a professional.
If the breaker or fuse still trips, it could be due to a bad high-limit switch or wiring. It could also be a sign that there is a leak in the tank or around the temperature and pressure valve, and you need to call for an emergency plumbing service. It could be that your water heater needs a replacement thermostat or other component, but you should wait for a professional to examine the problem.
Sediment is one of the most common causes of a water heater not heating or running properly. It accumulates on the bottom of the tank and is especially prevalent in hard-water areas. When sediment clumps together, it can clog up the drain valve and cause the tank to leak. Flushing the water heater regularly is essential to prevent this from happening.
The most obvious sign of sediment build-up is when it takes longer to heat water in your home. This is because the sediment creates an insulating layer that makes it harder for the gas burner or heating element to reach the water. This results in lower efficiency and higher energy consumption. You might also notice rumbling or sizzling noises from the hot water pipes.
It is recommended that you flush your water heater once a year to remove the build-up of sediment on the bottom of the tank. It’s a relatively easy job that can be done yourself by following these steps:
Turn off the power to your water heater (either at the breaker panel or, for gas water heaters, at the gas valve). Open the drain valve on the bottom of the tank. Attach a garden hose to the drain valve and direct it to a nearby drain or outside. Open a hot water tap somewhere in your home to keep the water flowing through the system while you’re working on the tank.
Once the water is drained from the tank, close the drain valve. Turn on the cold water supply valve to refill your water heater. When the tank is refilled, turn on a hot water faucet in a sink or bathtub. Keep this tap turned on until the water is clear, as this will churn up any remaining sediment and flush it out of the system.
Repeat this step until you’ve drained the tank completely and the hot water pipes are clear of sediment. Once this is done, you’re finished with your water heater repair. Relight the pilot light if you opted to do so, reset the circuit breaker if necessary, and switch the electricity back on if you’re using an electric water heater.
Replacing the Thermostat
If you are still not getting hot water after relighting the pilot light and resetting the circuit breaker, it might be time to replace your water heater thermostat. There are two thermostats on a typical water heater, one for the upper system and one for the lower. The thermostats can become faulty, which will not only prevent the heating elements from functioning but will also reduce the amount of hot water that is produced.
Before performing this step, you should turn off the power to the heater again by switching the breaker to the “Off” position. Then, remove the access panel and insulation to expose the thermostat. Before disconnecting any wires, use a voltage meter to make sure that the power has been shut off. Once the panel is removed, take a picture of the wiring within each of the panels for reference later when you are putting everything back together. Then, unscrew the thermostat using your fingers or a pair of pliers, and remove the old thermostat.
Once the faulty thermostat is removed, you will need to replace it with a new one. Depending on the model of your water heater, there will be a specific type of thermostat that is designed to fit into the retaining bracket and properly sense the internal water temperature. Once you have the correct thermostat, slide it into the retaining bracket and reconnect the wiring. Using the picture that you took as a guide, it should be fairly easy to match up the wires to their appropriate terminals.
Once the thermostat is replaced, you will need to test it for proper operation by placing one of the black probes on the left side screw terminal and the red probe on the right side terminal. If there is continuity, your replacement thermostat is working properly. You will need to repeat this process with the lower thermostat and element terminals if you find that they are not reading correctly. Once you have verified that both the upper and lower thermostats are working, you can switch the breaker back on and start enjoying your hot water again!