There are few things more annoying than running out of hot water in the middle of a shower. But don’t panic. It’s more than likely something with your hot water heater. Typically it may be something simple that you can take care of yourself. However, some things do need the assistance of a professional plumber. If you run into this situation, try troubleshooting or call Alkota Plumbing and Heating, and one of our experienced plumbers can either give you advice or come out to your home to get your hot water running again.
There are two types of water heaters: electric and gas. For each type, there are different steps to diagnose where the problem lies. However, for either type you may first want to:
- Check if your tank size is adequate for your home’s water needs. If you’ve got more than two people living in your home, you may need a larger tank than what you currently have. It takes time for your tank to reheat enough water to refill the tank. So if this might be the case in your home, wait about 30 minutes and retry the hot water. If this works, it might be time to consider upgrading. Or maybe a tankless water heater would be best for your home. Call Alkota Plumbing and Heating to discuss your options.
- Increase the thermostat temperature by a couple of degrees. Ideally, you want your water heater temperature set between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit (120 degrees if you have small children in the home to avoid burning that sensitive skin). If you do adjust it, allow about 30 to 40 minutes for the hot water to return.
If these two options do not produce hot water, follow the instructions below, depending on your water heater type, to assist with your troubleshooting.
Electric Water Heaters
If your unit is electric, consider these possibilities:
- Restarting your water heater. Sometimes a power surge can shut down your heater. Turn off the tank for a few minutes, and then turn it back on. Wait about 30 minutes. If you still have no hot water, this isn’t the problem. Move on to something else. But a word of caution here. Any time you work with electricity, you need to turn off the power to the tank. There is a strong electrical current running through here, and electricity is nothing to underestimate. Call one of our certified professionals to help if you have any doubts.
- Checking the fuse/breaker. If the fuse has blown or the breaker’s been tripped, sometimes it’s not obvious that this is the problem. Reset the breaker, even if it doesn’t look tripped. Flip it to off, and wait about 30 seconds. Then flip it on. If it won’t stay on, you will need to call a professional electrician.
- Calling in one of professionals from Alkota Plumbing and Heating. Sometimes the technical side of electricity mingled with a water repair makes everyone feel more secure if handled by a professional. He or she can address the issue without causing further damage to other components, like a heating element or thermostat.
- Installing a new water heater. The average life span of a water heater these days is ten years. If your tank is close to that age, it may be smarter to invest in a new tank rather than replacing a costly part. After replacing that component, the tank itself could fail, and you would have thrown money out the window. Purchasing a new water heater with higher efficiency and energy savings can save you money in the long run. And check with Anchorage, Alaska’s energy company, You may qualify for an energy tax break or rebate.
Gas Water Heaters
If your unit is gas, consider these possibilities:
- Checking the pilot light. Sometimes your issue is as simple as this. Maybe a strong wind down the vent pipe blew the flame out. Read the instructions affixed to your tank on how to relight the pilot. Many tanks now just have a button to depress for relighting. If you’re not comfortable with this process, call one of our plumbers to do it for you. Sometimes you may try to relight it and it won’t work. In some cases, a new pilot light assembly is required, in which case a plumber will need to replace it for you anyway.
- Fixing the thermocouple. If once you light the pilot, the flame won’t stay lighted, the thermocouple may be at fault. A thermocouple is a sensor that measures temperature. It will will shut off the gas flow if the pilot goes out, as a safety measure. If this is something you’re capable of replacing yourself, it’s a low-cost fix. If not, it’s best to call a professional in to replace it for you.
- Checking the gas supply. Sometimes your heater may not be getting gas. If after you check to be sure the gas valve is turned on and you don’t see a flame or smell gas, this could indicate the problem is the gas supply. Check to be sure the valve is open and assess the gas line to be sure there isn’t anything leaning against it or if there’s a twist or kink in it. If nothing seems apparent, call your gas company to see if they are working on the gas line in your area or if your gas has been turned off. If the answer to both of these is no, you need to call a plumber.
- Installing a new water heater. As with the electric water heater, the life span is typically ten years. Unfortunately, it may just be time for that replacement. Call Alkota Plumbing and Heating to discuss what type and size tank would be best for you.