Why Is My Hot Water Heater Not Working? 6 Common Problems

Why is my hot water heater not working? A lot of things can go wrong with a HVAC system. Here are 6 common problems that you might encounter.

Hot water is one of those things that you take for granted until you no longer have it. You wake up one chilly morning, go to jump in the shower, and yikes: “Why is my hot water heater not working?”. 

Maybe instead your water is too hot. Maybe the heater is leaking and making a mess all over your floor.

This is a troubling and stressful experience, but it’s one that many people will deal with at one time or another. You don’t have to panic; you can troubleshoot. You might feel a bit out of your depth if you’re not a professional, but don’t worry, we can walk you through it. 

Here are 6 potential internal problems that could be causing your hot water heater to stop working. 

1. Your Heater Isn’t Receiving Power

​If your hot water heater isn’t performing its primary function (that is, making your water hot), you might have a power issue. 

Just because the power is on in your home doesn’t mean that your heater is receiving it. There are a few things that you can check here. 

The most common cause for power issues with your hot water heater is going to be as simple as a tripped breaker. Check the breaker box first to see if this might be the problem that you’re dealing with. 

Switch the breaker off and back on again to reset it. Ideally, this will fix the problem.

You might also have blown a fuse. This is a little more difficult to handle because you’ll have to replace it. When you’re done, the problem should be solved and your hot water heater should have power.

2. Your Thermostat Needs Adjusting

​Sometimes the issue is simple. 

If you get into the shower and feel like it’s scalding, it might not be a sensitivity problem. Your hot water heater’s temperature may genuinely be off. 

Generally, thermostats are set at a factory default, and that default is perfectly fine for the majority of households. However, if there’s been a sudden change in temperature, you may benefit from resetting or adjusting your thermostat.

Your thermostat should have a reset button, so give that a try first. If it doesn’t work, you may have a faulty thermostat. 

In this case, it’s best to call a professional for your heater repair. The thermostats on hot water heaters aren’t quite as simple as the ones that are used for the rest of your home, and if you’re new to this process, you might find it challenging. 

3. You Need a New Anode Rod

​An anode rod is a part that goes into your water heater to protect the rest of the heater from corrosion and damage. The anode rod will corrode before anything else, though it will need to be replaced regularly to protect the hot water heater.

If your anode rod needs replacing, you’ll see 1 of 2 potential symptoms.

Your water might start to have a sulfur smell. This is going to be very noticeable. This happens when bacteria can sit and gather in the tank of the hot water heater.

Normally, the anode rod prevents this. When it’s time to replace it, though, it can’t do its work. 

Your water might also start to turn rust-colored or brown. This can be particularly alarming to anyone not expecting it (especially if they’re familiar with horror movies!). 

This is happening because the anode rod is corroded. 

Either of these situations should be checked out by a professional. If you’re dealing with corrosion, it may be that it spread to the tank itself, which will be a larger problem than just replacing a rod. 

4. You Have Outdated Piping

​When your water heater isn’t heating up your water as much as you’d like (but it is still somewhat warm), you might be dealing with a water pressure problem.

If you’ve got a gas heater, this is likely because of your piping. Hot water heaters that are old and outdated may be fitted with piping that’s no longer compatible with modern plumbing. 

The pipes are too narrow to adequately let water through. You’ll need to replace them with the more modern (and larger) pipes. 

This isn’t a task that you want to carry out on your own.

5. You’ve Got Sediment or Scale Buildup

​Are you ever going about your business unassumingly when all of the sudden you start hearing a cracking and popping noise that seems to be coming from the tank of your hot water heater?

This can be alarming. The noises can be loud. 

Whether you have a gas or electric hot water heater, this is most likely caused by a buildup of sediment in the bottom of the tank or by scale buildup on the heating elements. 

This is fairly harmless, but flushing the water heater is a good first step in solving the problem. If it doesn’t work and the noises persist, consider seeking a professional for an assessment. 

6. You Have a Faulty Thermocouple

​A thermocouple helps to measure temperature in a gas hot water heater. It keeps the gas valve open unless something goes wrong. 

When the pilot light goes out, it closes the gas valve. 

If you’re having a problem with your pilot light, it’s often the thermocouple that needs replacing. If you find that your pilot light is refusing to light at all, or refusing to stay lit, this is a common issue. 

​Why Is My Hot Water Heater Not Working? Takeaways

Your hot water heater is more complicated than you think! It’s easy to take it for granted, but when it has problems, you’ll definitely notice. 

While all of this might sound complicated, most issues with hot water heaters are fixable without having to replace the heater itself. Next time you have to ask “Why is my hot water heater not working?”, call a professional to help.

To learn more, or to contact a professional in the Denver area, visit our site

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