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No Hot Water: How to Troubleshoot Your Hot Water Heater

Woman taking a shower There are numerous problems that can occur with any water heater, and sometimes it may take a little bit of creativity to overcome some of the issues. Troubleshooting a hot water heater is something that most homeowners have to deal with during the lifespan of a particular system.

Problems that receive the most attention are when a nice hot shower becomes a cold one due to running out of hot water. What can you do, and can you do it yourself?

What Are Some Reasons Why I Would Have No Hot Water?

  • The water heater may not be heating.
    • If it is a gas water heater, check to make sure the pilot light is lit. There could be burner issues, pilot light issues or a problem with the thermocouple.
    • If it is an electric water heater, make sure the breaker is on in the electric panel. Electricity is used to heat the water in an electric water heater, and this happens through a heavy-duty electrical circuit. Check the circuit, the elements and thermostats – any of these can be causing the problem. Most thermostats have a reset button.
  • Check for water around the tank – no hot water could mean the unit is leaking and needs to be replaced.
  • If the pilot is lit and the breakers are one, then it is best to call a plumber to have the unit checked.

How Do I Troubleshoot My Hot Water Heater?

All manufacturers include a product guide with the water heater. It normally is attached to the unit in an envelope, and it should give simple things to check if you have trouble getting hot water.

When Is It Time to Call in a Professional?

Most people call immediately when they have no hot water. 

When Is It Time to Replace My Hot Water Heater?

You have to replace the water heater if the tank leaks – this is an issue that cannot be repaired. If the unit is less than six years old and repair parts are needed, the parts would be covered under the warranty, and labor would be the only charge. That is when it’s worth paying for a repair.

If the unit is older than six years and the repair parts are more than $100, it would be appropriate to consider a replacement. The average life of a water heater is between 8-12 years.

The average part for a hot water heater usually costs $25 or less, and most service calls start at $100. High-efficiency hot water heaters cost around $3,500.

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