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What to Do When You’re Hot Water Just Won’t Turn On?

Written by Vaughan Comfort Services on . Posted in .


At the end of a tiring day, relaxing with a hot shower is one of the best parts of getting home. Warm water has a natural soothing effect, but a problem with your hot water heater can certainly get in the way. Getting hit with a freezing water temperature when you turn the knob for high temperature can outright ruin an entire evening for homeowners

Noticing the lack of hot water can quickly lead to panic about the potential repair costs and how to manage without it until it’s fixed. Fortunately, a fix for your hot water supply may be easier than expected, as there is a big difference between a system replacement and a simple thermocouple repair. Take a look at some of the most common causes of hot water stoppage, and discover how Vaughan Comfort Services can help if you need a repair or a replacement from expert licensed plumbers and HVAC professionals.

What Causes Hot Water to Stop Working?

technician working on water heater

Quite a few common reasons can lead to hot water not working in your home. Given that they all tend to have the same effect on your water flow, you will need to go through a checklist to determine what exactly the cause is for the lack of hot water in your home. Here are some of the most common problems you will want to check when you run into hot water problems that you may be able to DIY fix.

Is the Problem Limited to One Faucet or the Whole House?

The first factor to consider is whether your water heater problem is contained. If only a single fixture, such as the shower head, lacks hot water, you can be fairly sure that the fixture is the problem. If you get out of a cold shower and discover that the sink’s hot water faucet isn’t working either, then it is likely a problem with your water heater.

Tripped Circuit

A tripped circuit breaker could always be the cause of hot water issues. If your hot water heater tripped the breaker, fixing the problem is simply a matter of turning it back on. More serious concerns arise when the breaker box continues to trip from the hot water heater. This likely indicates a wiring issue, and you will need help from a professional electrician to remedy the problem.

Faulty Thermostat

The water heater’s thermostat setting will need to be adjusted properly to ensure that your hot water heater is actually heating the water enough. Changing this setting is easy enough, but that’s only the case if the thermostat is working correctly. If it is malfunctioning, you may need to replace the thermostat altogether.

Gas Leak

Sometimes, the normal functioning of a gas water heater can be interrupted by a gas leak. While this is an unlikely scenario, it is still possible, and it is very dangerous. If you smell rotten eggs around your home in addition to lacking hot water, you may have a gas leak. This should be considered an emergency, so you should report it to the gas company and get out of the home as soon as possible. Opting for an electric water heater is a good way to avoid this problem instead of relying on a gas supply.

Water Heater Is Too Small

If you lack hot water because someone in your home is already in the shower or just used it, your problem may be that your water heater isn’t large enough. Water heaters come in many different sizes, and the right fit for your home varies not only on the size of the house but also on the amount of hot water you plan to use. If you commonly have multiple people taking showers in the morning or you need to take a shower while running a washing machine, make sure your water heater is big enough to handle the demand.

Pilot Light Is Out

image of water heater components including thermostat and drainage spigot

Always check the pilot light when you have heat problems. If it is out, the fix may simply be a matter of relighting it. If it stays out, however, you may have a larger problem on your hands that will need repairing or potentially even a full replacement of your heating unit.

Faulty Heating Element

Heating elements can falter after years of use due to a multitude of factors. Sediment buildup and repeated friction from use can cause them to become damaged and/or not work as efficiently as they once did. If you are still getting cold water, you may just have a sediment build-up. Flushing the water heater could potentially solve this problem. Alternatively, you may need to get the entire heating element repaired or replaced. It also needs to be said that you should always check to see if the water heater is plugged in.

How Long Does a Water Heater Take to Recover?

The recovery time for any water heater is going to be dependent on the kind of water heater you have. A gas heater is typically twice as fast as an electric heater when it comes to recovery time. Additionally, the size of your water heater plays a role. 

To minimize the recovery time as much as possible, make sure you do not use any hot water during the recovery process. Drawing out water while the tank is recovering will only slow down the process and potentially put a stop to it entirely until you stop drawing hot water

Remember, drawing hot water will add cold water to the tank. While drawing water from the tank during the recovery process can get you a small amount of hot water in the short term, it likely will not last very long, depending on how much of the recovery process is complete. Put simply, it may only last for a few minutes before the water gets cold again.

Does the Age of My Water Heater Affect the Performance?

Yes, the age of a water heater plays a major role in its overall performance. In fact, the age of your water heater could be the main reason why you don’t have hot water. Typically, water heaters are only built to last for about eight to twelve years, yet most people use water heater units for far longer. Depending on your pattern of use, they can have a longer lifespan, but it is generally a good idea to get a new water heater every ten years or so to ensure that you are always getting the hot water you need.

While it is certainly easier to wait until your water heater breaks down to get a new one, you might have a better experience overall if you are a bit more proactive regarding water heater maintenance.

What Type of Water Heater Is Most Reliable?

The most reliable kind of water heater will vary based on what your unique needs are regarding hot water. If you want to enjoy long showers regularly, for example, a Bradford White may be your best bet if you’re getting a water heater tank type. Those who prefer tankless can generally enjoy long, uninterrupted hot showers with a Navien or Rinnai water heater.

If you have the opportunity to choose the kind of water heater you want, you will need to consider whether you want a tank or tankless model. As the name suggests, a tank water heater uses a storage tank, while a tankless water heater utilizes different methods for heating water that don’t involve the use of a cumbersome tank.

Tankless water heaters tend to run more efficiently overall, but they can be expensive to acquire and install. The investment may not be worth the cost if you still have a solid warranty on your tank water heater, provided the problems with it aren’t substantial enough to warrant an entire replacement. If you live in an area with hard water, you will also have to regularly flush a tankless water heater to prevent damage to the heat exchanger. 

Both kinds of water heaters can possibly break down over time and cause problems with hot water. However, what matters most is having a consistently reliable water heater during the course of its guaranteed lifetime. After this period, if your water heater no longer meets your personal hot water needs, the professionals at Vaughan can certainly help.

When Troubleshooting Doesn’t Work, Call the Pros

technician adjusting water heater thermostat

Vaughan Comfort Services offers quality HVAC installation and repairs to southern New Jersey and has been doing so since 1937, when Elwood Vaughan ran the business out of his truck. Today, you can enjoy our dedication to service and our quality installations and water heater repairs that will offer enough hot water for your needs. We also offer protection plans, energy assessments, and system enhancements, all with a focus on quality and efficiency. 

You can get started with Vaughan Comfort Services by giving us a call at 856-627-0303 or by filling out our online contact form.

NJ LIC. NO.13VH01727600
Robert W. Vaughan,
Master HVACR Contractor Lic. # 5842
Thomas J. Weaver,
Master Plumber Lic # 9521

Contact Info
212 Barrett Avenue
Magnolia, NJ 08049

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