5 Things to Inspect When Your Water Heater Fails

To check if a water heater is not working, first, check the circuit breaker or fuse box. Second, inspect the thermostat and heating element to ensure they are functioning correctly.

A malfunctioning water heater is a common problem faced by many homeowners. It can be frustrating and inconvenient, especially during the winter months when hot water is a necessity. If you find yourself in this predicament, there are a few things you can do to troubleshoot the issue before calling a professional plumber.

In this article, we will discuss some common reasons why your water heater may not be working, the steps you can take to diagnose the problem, and possible solutions to get your hot water flowing again. By following these simple tips, you can avoid costly repairs and ensure your home has reliable access to hot water whenever you need it.

5 Things to Inspect When Your Water Heater Fails

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Check #1: Age Of The Water Heater

How The Age Of The Water Heater Can Affect Its Performance And Energy Efficiency

The age of your water heater has a significant impact on how efficiently it runs. As it gets older, its performance will start to decline, and it will become less energy-efficient. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • The average lifespan of a water heater is ten to fifteen years. If your water heater is over a decade old, it’s a good idea to start monitoring its performance closely.
  • The older your water heater is, the harder it has to work to heat water, leading to higher energy bills.
  • Older water heaters may not heat water to the desired temperature, causing unexpected cold water bursts during the shower or washing dishes.

Signs Of An Aging Water Heater, Such As Rust And Leaks

One of the most common signs that your water heater is aging is the appearance of rust or corrosion. Here are some other signs to keep an eye out for:

  • A lack of hot water or hot water pressure.
  • Strange noises coming from the water heater, such as popping and cracking.
  • Water leaking from the tank or around the connections.
  • A rusty water color or sediment accumulation in the water.

When To Consider Replacement Options For An Aging Water Heater

It’s essential to know when it’s time to replace your aging water heater. Continuing to use an old water heater may result in higher energy bills and costly repairs. Here’s when you should start thinking about replacing it:

  • If your water heater is ten years or older, it’s time to start considering replacements.
  • If you are frequently experiencing repairs or maintenance of the water heater, it may be more cost-effective to replace it.
  • If you notice leaks, cracks, or rust that can’t be repaired.
  • If you would like to increase your energy savings and update to a more energy-efficient water heater.

By keeping an eye on your water heater’s age and performance, you can save money and avoid costly repairs. Knowing the signs of an aging water heater will help you act quickly to replace it and increase its life span.

Check #2: Electrical Connections

How Electrical Connections Impact The Performance Of A Water Heater

A water heater requires accurate electrical connections for smooth and flawless performance. Without proper electrical connections, a water heater cannot function correctly, and you may face various issues with its operation.

Common Electrical Issues That Can Cause A Water Heater Failure

Several electrical issues can cause your water heater to malfunction. Knowing some of the most common electrical issues can help you detect the problem early before it becomes more severe. Some of the common electrical issues that can cause water heater failure are:

  • Faulty thermostats: If your water heater is not producing enough hot water, the issue may be a malfunctioning thermostat that’s not turning on the heating elements.
  • Tripped circuit breaker: A tripped breaker may cause a sudden shutdown of the water heater, resulting in no hot water.
  • Burnt wires or connections: Burnt wires or connections can cause electrical shorts, leading to a loss of power and no hot water.

Safety Tips For Inspecting Electrical Connections

It is crucial to take necessary safety precautions when inspecting your water heater’s electrical connections to avoid any accidents. Here are some essential safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Turn off the power source: Before starting any inspection, turn off the power source to the water heater to avoid any electrical shock.
  • Use proper tools: Use proper tools when working with the electrical connections of a water heater, such as insulated pliers and voltage testers.
  • Look for visible signs of damage: Inspect the connections and wiring for signs of damage, such as cracks, fraying, or discoloration.
  • Call a professional: If you are unsure about the electrical connections of your water heater, it is best to seek professional help from a licensed electrician.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure your water heater functions correctly and avoid any damages or accidents that may occur due to faulty electrical connections.

Check #3: Water Pressure And Temperature

The Importance Of Maintaining The Appropriate Water Pressure And Temperature For A Water Heater

When it comes to ensuring your water heater is working efficiently, maintaining the appropriate water pressure and temperature is crucial. Let’s take a look at why:

  • If the water pressure is too low, it can cause the water heater to overheat and eventually burn out.
  • On the other hand, if the water pressure is too high, it can cause leaks and result in costly repairs.
  • If the temperature is too low, you won’t have enough hot water for your needs, while if it’s too high, you risk scalding and serious injury.

Signs That The Water Pressure Or Temperature May Be Too High Or Too Low

To keep an eye on your water pressure and temperature, here are a few things to look out for:

  • Low hot water pressure from your taps or showerhead.
  • Loud banging or popping sounds coming from the water heater tank.
  • The pilot light keeps going out.
  • Water temperature is too hot or too cold.

How To Adjust The Temperature And Pressure Settings On A Water Heater

If you suspect that the water pressure or temperature is not appropriate, you can adjust it by following these steps:

  • Turn off the electrical power or gas supply to the water heater.
  • Locate the temperature dial or pressure valve.
  • Use a screwdriver to adjust the dial or valve to the desired temperature or pressure.
  • Check all taps and showerheads to ensure the temperature and pressure are satisfactory.

Maintaining the appropriate water pressure and temperature is vital for the efficient and safe operation of your water heater. If you’re not sure how to adjust these settings, it’s always best to consult a licensed plumber.

Check #4: Sediment Build-Up

Explanation Of Sediment Build-Up And Its Negative Effects On A Water Heater

Sediment build-up is a common problem that occurs in water heaters. This sediment, which is primarily composed of minerals, sand, and other debris, settles at the bottom of the water tank. If the sediment isn’t removed, it can cause several negative effects on your water heater, including:

  • Reduced efficiency
  • Higher energy bills
  • Shorter lifespan of the water heater
  • Strange noises from the tank
  • Reduced hot water supply

How To Identify Sediment Build-Up In A Water Heater

You can identify sediment build-up in your water heater through various signs:

  • Strange rumbling or popping noises from the tank
  • Reduced hot water supply
  • Discolored hot water
  • Foul odor from the hot water faucet

Steps For Preventing And Removing Sediment Build-Up In A Water Heater

Preventing sediment build-up in a water heater is easier than removing it later. Here are some easy steps you can follow to prevent sediment build-up:

  • Flush out the water heater regularly once or twice every year.
  • Install a water softener to reduce mineral build-up and lengthen the lifespan of the water heater.
  • Regularly inspect the anode rod and replace it if necessary.

Removing sediment build-up is more complicated, but it can still be done. Here are some steps to remove sediment build-up:

  • Turn off the gas or electricity supply to the water heater.
  • Drain the tank entirely.
  • Connect a hosepipe to the drain valve and flush out the tank several times until the water runs clear.
  • Scrub the tank thoroughly to remove any remaining sediment.
  • Refill the tank, and turn on the gas or electricity to the water heater.

By preventing and removing sediment build-up in your water heater, you can prolong its lifespan and save money in the long run.

Check #5: Fuel Source And Connections

How The Fuel Source (Gas Or Electric) Affects A Water Heater’S Operation

Water heaters come in two types of fuel sources – gas and electric. Both fuel types have different ways of heating the water and also affect how the water heater operates.

  • Gas water heaters use a burner and a pilot light to heat the water. The burner produces flames that heat the water, while the pilot light remains lit to ignite the burner whenever the thermostat requires it.
  • Electric water heaters, on the other hand, contain heating elements that transfer electrical energy to heat the water.

It is essential to know the type of fuel source that powers your water heater to accurately diagnose the cause of the problem, thus being able to troubleshoot the issue effectively.

Common Issues With Fuel Connections That May Lead To A Water Heater Failure, Such As Gas Leaks And Faulty Pilot Lights

Faulty fuel connections, if overlooked, can lead to significant problems for a water heater and make it stop working altogether. Some common fuel connection problems include:

  • Gas leaks: Gas leaks pose several hazards, including explosions and fires. It is, therefore, important to regularly check for any gas leaks in the gas line that feeds the heater. A notable sign to look out for is the characteristic smell of rotten eggs. Upon detecting a gas leak, call a technician to address the issue immediately.
  • Faulty pilot light: The pilot light in a gas water heater is critical in igniting the burner; if it is faulty, the entire system may fail to work. The most common reasons for a faulty pilot light include a blockage in the gas line, a failed thermocouple, or a malfunctioning gas valve. In case you encounter issues with the pilot light, seek professional help to address the problem.

Safety Guidelines For Inspecting And Maintaining Fuel Connections

Here are essential safety guidelines to ensure that when inspecting and maintaining fuel connections, you keep yourself and those around you safe:

  • Do not smoke or light fires when working on fuel connections. Always ensure that the area around you is sufficiently ventilated.
  • Before beginning any maintenance on a gas water heater, turn off the gas supply. The shut-off valve is usually located on the gas line near the appliance.
  • Inspect the heater’s gas line for any signs of leakage. You can use soapy water or a gas leak detector solution to detect gas line leaks. If any leaks are detected, call a professional technician immediately.
  • Electric water heaters should be turned off at the circuit breaker before conducting any maintenance.
  • When handling fuel connections, wear protective gear such as gloves and goggles.

Before attempting any maintenance work on a water heater, ensure that you turn off the heater’s fuel source and wear protective gear to avoid accidents. If you detect any fuel connection issues, do not try to fix them yourself; call a professional technician to solve the problem.

Frequently Asked Questions For What To Check If Water Heater Is Not Working

Why Is The Water In My Shower Cold?

If the water in your shower is cold, it could be due to a malfunction in your water heater. Check the thermostat, heating element, or pilot light to see if they need to be repaired or replaced.

What Temperature Should The Water Be In My Water Heater?

The ideal temperature for your water heater is between 120 and 140 degrees fahrenheit. If the temperature is set lower, your water may not be hot enough, and if it’s set higher, it may be too hot. Adjust the temperature accordingly.

How Often Should I Drain My Water Heater?

You should drain your water heater once a year to remove any sediment or minerals that have built up inside. This can help prolong the life of your water heater and prevent any potential issues from occurring.

Why Is My Water Heater Making Strange Noises?

Strange noises coming from your water heater could indicate a few different things, such as a sediment buildup or a malfunctioning heating element. Have a professional inspect the water heater to determine the cause of the noises.

What Should I Do If My Water Heater Is Leaking?

If your water heater is leaking, turn off the gas or electricity supply and the water supply to the unit. Call a professional to inspect the leak and make any necessary repairs or replacements.

When Should I Replace My Water Heater?

Most water heaters last between 8 and 12 years. If your water heater is approaching its end of life, experiencing frequent issues, or not meeting your household’s hot water needs, it may be time to replace it. Consult with a professional to determine the best course of action.


After reading this article, you should now have a better understanding of what could be causing your water heater to malfunction. Remember to check for loose connections, faulty heating elements, and a buildup of sediment or debris in your tank.

If you are still experiencing issues, it’s best to call a professional plumber to assess the problem. Regular maintenance can also help prevent future malfunctions, so be sure to schedule routine checkups for your water heater. Ignoring a broken water heater can lead to bigger problems and unnecessary expenses, so it’s essential to address any issues as soon as possible.

A fully functioning water heater is essential for a comfortable home, especially during the cold winter months. We hope these tips have been helpful in restoring your water heater to good working condition.