Water Heater Troubleshooting Guide

By September 7, 2020Blog, Plumbing

How to Troubleshoot Your Electric Water Heater

A number of problems can plague conventional water heaters and force the household into a standstill until repaired. Use this guide to help figure out what’s going wrong with your unit. If your electric water heater has:

An inadequate amount of hot water

  • Turn the thermostat up a degree. Use caution and make only gradual increases in temperature. Hot water scalds.
  • Confirm the water heater is large enough for your needs. If not, get a bigger one.
  • Turn off the power at the circuit breaker or fuse box and check for loose wiring and bad connections.
  • Check the elements.
  • Check the fill tube and dip.

Hot water at first, but it quickly runs out

  • Check for a buildup of sediment.
  • Turn off the power at the circuit or fuse box and check the wire connections.
  • Check the elements, thermostats, and beginning temperature. If the temperature reading is incorrect, then your heater will malfunction.

No hot water

  • Check the circuit breaker or fuse box.
  • Check the water heater power.
  • Find the reset button and push it.
  • Confirm that the upper element and thermostat are working.

Water that’s too hot

  • Turn down the thermostat.
  • Inspect the thermostat function and look for grounded elements.
  • Check that the thermostat fits tightly to the water heater.

Troubleshooting Your Gas Water Heater

Both electric and gas water heaters can present similar symptoms when something is going wrong. However, depending on the problem, there are different ways to remedy the situation. When your gas water heater has:

An inadequate amount of hot water

  • Turn the thermostat up a degree. Be careful not to increase the heat too much. Hot water will scald.
  • Get a bigger or more powerful water heater. If you often run out of hot water, you may need a new and larger unit.
  • Clean the burner orifice if it’s clogged.
  • Check the gas pressure. Call the gas company to help you with a gas pressure problem.

No hot water

  • Check to see if the pilot light is on. If the pilot is out, you or a professional will need to relight it.
  • Read the gas meter and check the gas cutoff valve. If the gas isn’t on, contact your gas company.

A pilot light that keeps going out

  • Check that the thermocouple probe tip is inside the pilot flame. Also, make sure the thermocouple is wound tightly at the control valve. Check for twists. If everything seems in working order, but the light won’t stay on, you may need to replace the thermocouple.
  • Check the gas control valve. There’s no repairing a gas control valve. If it malfunctions, it has to be replaced.
  • Check the main burner. You might need to clean or unclog it.
  • Check the weather. Pilot lights can go out when wind gusts create downdrafts from the flue.

A pilot light that won’t ignite even though the gas is on

  • The pilot orifice may be clogged. Clean it.
  • The pilot supply line could be blocked or bent. It may need to be replaced.
  • The gas line might contain air. Remove air from the line by holding down the pilot button. Try re-igniting the pilot light. The first attempt at relighting might fail. Try at least twice.

Vancouver, WA Water Heater Repair

If you’ve come this far, you must be committed to fixing or troubleshooting your water heater. The good news is that if you prefer a technician coming to inspect and make specific recommendations for you instead of doing it yourself, you can schedule that! After all, who doesn’t love to save time and energy? On the other hand, if you’ve tried all of these methods and your water heater is still having issues, it might just need to be repaired or replaced. Most water heaters have a lifespan of 8 to 12 years, so it’s not uncommon to begin seeing issues within that time frame.

With over 35 years of experience, Simpson Plumbing is prepared to make any of the necessary repairs to keeping your water heater healthy and continue serving you or install a new one if your water heater has run its course. Be sure to view our water heater special, and don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!

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