Why Is My Water Heater Not Working

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19 Common Hot Water Heater Problems We've Uncovered Over The Last 138 Years. 

If you're like most people, as long as the heater is delivering hot water on demand, you don't need to check on it. Water heaters need regular maintenance in order to function safely, operate efficiently and a longer life. If your hot water heater is not working the Water Heater King since 1885 has answers. Below are 19 FAQ's.

Water leaking from the top.

  1. Cold or hot water pipe may be loose.
  2. Temperature and pressure valve may be leaking.
  3. Inlet valve may be leaking.
  4. All can be repaired

Water leaking from the bottom.

  1. Temperature and pressure valve may be leaking which can be repaired.
  2. Electric water heater may have a faulty heating element gasket which can be repaired.
  3. If the tank is leaking you will need to replace the water heater with an energy efficient model.

No hot water - electric water heater.

  1. Check the main electrical water heater breaker, reset or replace breaker if necessary.
  2. Your water heater may have a defective thermostat or element.

No hot water - gas water heater.

  1. Make sure the gas supply line is turned on.
  2. Remove the inner and outer burner access covers and check to see if the pilot light is lit.
  3. Gas burner may be dirty or faulty.

Not enough hot water.

  1. Check the thermostat setting, it may be set too low. But be careful, a hotter setting can lead to scalding within seconds.
  2. Check the dip tube, if the dip tube has broken or fallen off, incoming cold water will be drawn out through the hot water outlet without being heated.
  3. Other possible causes are clogged burners and low gas pressure. Or electric elements are faulty.
  4. If an older water heater, scale build-up can be a problem. You can try flushing the water heater.
  5. Hard water scale build-up (concrete-like) shortens heater life and gives you less hot water.

Slow hot water recovery.

  1. Sediment buildup in bottom of heater, flushing the water heater may help.
  2. Other possible causes may be insufficient combustion air caused by insufficient ventilation, a clogged flue (could be dangerous and allow carbon monoxide poisoning), or improper burner operation.

Water heater pilot light is lit.

  1. Turn on a hot water faucet and let the water run. Check to see if burner comes on. If not run the hot water several more minutes.
  2. If the burner still does not come on the problem could be a defective safety system.
  3. Check to see if the gas control valve knob is in the "on" setting and not set to the "pilot" position.

Water heater pilot light won't stay lit.

  1. Sometimes a draft will blow the pilot light out. Make sure the burner access covers are in place.
  2. Other possible causes are dirt in the gas line, or a gas safety device problem.

Water heater pilot light is not lit.

  1. Follow the instructions posted on your water heater and attempt to re-light pilot with care.
  2. Make sure gas valve is open.
  3. If the pilot light will not re-light, the problem could be that gas is not reaching the water heater or a clogged pilot line.
  4. Call a licensed plumber for help.
  5. If the pilot light will light but does not stay lit when the gas valve control is released the problem could be a defective pilot safety switch or perhaps a loose pilot safety switch connection to the gas control valve.
  6. Make sure the pilot safety switch connection to the control valve is tight.

Gas burner flame noisy (whistling).

  1. Problem may be improper gas pressure or dirty burner orifice.

Yellow gas burner flame.

  1. Problem could be scale on top of burner, dirty burner orifice, flue-way clogged or improper gas pressure.

Gas burner flame floats.

  1. Problem may be improper gas pressure, wrong orifice or clogged flue.

Discharge from temperature and pressure relief valve. T&P valve leaking.

  1. The T&P relief valve will open when the water temperature is too high or if the pressure gets too high.
  2. If the inlet to the water heater is fed directly from the water main with no pressure relief valves or check valves between them then when the water heater heats the water and it expands, the extra volume of water simply flows back toward the water main.
  3. If however there is a blockage such as a backflow valve, check valve or pressure reducing valve with a defective bypass than the increase in water volume has no where to go and the pressure within increases dramatically.
  4. Placing an expansion tank in the line at the inlet will give the increased volume of water someplace to go and prevent operation of the relief valve.

Water heater knocking sound. Hot water heater banging noise. Knocking sound in water heater.

  1. Scale can build up in the bottom of the tank causing all sorts of noises to occur while the water heater is heating water like knocking or banging water heater.
  2. Try flushing the tank. Make sure you turn off gas or electric before flushing. PDM can help or learn how to flush water heater tank.

Water heater sooting.

  1. Combustion air inlets or flue-way is restricted or not enough ventilation air supplied to room.
  2. Also, may be improper gas pressure or dirty burner orifice.
  3. Remove obstruction or debris from heater or flue way and improve ventilation.
  4. An obstruction could create carbon monoxide poisoning.

Hot water smells like rotten eggs.

  1. Certain types of bacteria can react with the magnesium anode rod resulting in a rotten egg odor.
  2. Clean the tank using chlorine bleach or by changing the anode rod to aluminum usually will solve the problem.
  3. If older heater, you’re better off replacing with new efficient unit.

Rusty or dirty water.

  1. Anode rod may have dissolved or there is excessive sediment build-up. Check anode rod.
  2. You may be better off replacing tank with an energy efficient model.

Milky water.

  1. May be as simple as aerated water.
  2. Allow a glass of hot water to set for a few minutes.
  3. If the water turns clear, the condition is a natural occurrence. If not, call the Water Heater King for help.

What is an anode rod?

An anode rod protects your water heater tank. The anode rods  made of zinc, magnesium, or aluminum surrounding a steel core wire and is screwed into the top of the tank. An anode rod is the most important factor in determining the life of your water heater. The anode rod sacrifices itself to protect the exposed steel of the water heater through a process of Electrolysis.

Electrolysis makes the anode rode corrode instead of the exposed steel within your water heater. The metal in anode rods—magnesium, zinc, or aluminum—is much less noble than steel, meaning it will corrode before the steel does, protecting your water heater tank.

Most manufacturers recommend inspecting the condition of the sacrificial anode every year and replacing it when it has been consumed more than 50%. This is especially true if you have hard water or use a water softener.

What is the most common problem with water heaters?

The most common problem with a water heater is no hot water. When you are no longer receiving hot water from your water heater, this can be due to a few problems. The simplest fix is to check and see if your pilot light blew out. If your pilot light is out, you can simply reignite it to start receiving hot water again. Another issue that could prevent you from receiving hot water is if too much sediment has built up in your water heater’s tank. To learn more about getting your water heater repaired, contact us today

What would cause a hot water heater to stop working?

A hot water heater may stop working because 

  • The thermostat is faulty. 
  • The water pressure has dropped.
  • The pilot light went out. 

Some of these issues are easier to diagnose and fix than others. If your hot water heater stops working and you lack plumbing knowledge, you should have an experienced plumber diagnose and repair your water heater issue for you. To get your water heater repaired, give us a call today

How do you know a water heater is going bad?

A few ways to tell your water heater is going bad include: 

  • Your water smells or appears rusty. 
  • You notice noises from your water heater. 
  • Your water is no longer heated properly.

Another large indicator that your water heater will need to be replaced soon is if it is over 10 years old and requires many repairs. To find out more about getting your water heater replaced, call us today. 


Why Work With PDM Plumbing, Heating, Cooling Since 1885?

We're dedicated to doing things the tried-and-true way. It's gotten us this far. We see no reason to change it now. That's the PDM difference. Our skilled team of plumbing, piping, HVAC experts promises the following with each and every call:

  1. Guaranteed Pricing: You will never be surprised by an unpleasant bill.
  2. 100% Satisfaction Guarantee: Going beyond to make you happy.
  3. Environmentally Friendly: We recycle and use sustainable materials.
  4. Respect: We’re property owners too, so we will always clean our messes and treat your property with respect.

Please Call To See If We Are A Good Fit...Or Not. Contact a PDM craftsman at 815-726-6264.

Water heater repair or replace in the greater Bolingbrook, Homer Glen, Joliet, New Lenox, Plainfield, IL area. PDM Plumbing, Heating, Cooling Since 1885 serves the Joliet-SW Chicago Suburbs.

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