How to Troubleshoot Your Water Heater to Get Results

In the interests of saving money and time, you'll want to avoid calling in a water heater repair technician, only to find you could have solved the problem yourself. Once you learn how to troubleshoot your water heater, you can make your way down the checklist whenever a problem arises. If you have checked everything off, and you're still having problems, you will feel more confident about hiring a professional to finish the job.

How to troubleshoot your water heater in four simple steps

  1. Pilot light. If you have a gas water heater that employs a pilot light, make sure the light is on. You can do this by opening the front compartment. You should be able to hear/see the small blue flame. If it's not on, you may need to re-light it. The instructions should be written clearly on the front of the water heater or on the inside of the panel (or in the manual if you kept it). If there are no instructions, do not proceed. Call a professional just to be safe.
  2. Heating element. If your unit is electric, make sure a breaker isn't tripped and/or power is getting to the heating element. Verify the heating element is working.
  3. Insulation. Have you noticed your hot water seemed almost lukewarm during the winter? Do you run out of hot water faster during the cold weather months? If so, this may be a sign your water heater and the pipes leading into and out of it need to be insulated. You can purchase water heater blankets or jackets that are made specifically for this purpose. A well-insulated water heater will keep the water an average of 10 degrees hotter. An easy way to see whether this is an issue is to touch the sides of the appliance; if they feel warm, this means heat energy is escaping.
  4. Consider the space. Where is your water heater located? If it's located in an uninsulated garage or basement space, this may be the problem. Seal window and other leaks to ensure the space is draft-free. Insulate pipes that run from the water heater into the house.

Learning how to troubleshoot your water heater may help. If not, please contact us at Joe Behr Plumbing & Heating. We can help you decide whether you should repair or replace your unit. An energy-efficient water heater will save you money. We have provided superior HVAC and plumbing service to our Mid-Ohio clientele since 1965.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Mid-Ohio area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about water heaters and other HVAC topics, visit our website.

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