Ahh…you get off work, finally make it through traffic, pull off 80, and get home at long last. And your first stop is a hot shower or bath, which beats back these cold clear nights like nothing else. So you turn on the water, wait a few minutes, and then jump in for a nice relaxing…cold shower?
Nothing kills a relaxing soak like running out of hot water. If you find yourself with no hot water, or constantly reaching to turn the hot water back up in the shower, you may have some plumbing issues.
Power to Your Water Heater
The first step is always to consider the power. If you have an electric water heater, this means electricity. Is the breaker tripped? Does the heater have power? Did the power go out in your house and if so did the hot water heater come back on? If the answer is yes, then possibly a heating element is burned out. These are the parts of the heater that use electricity to warm the water up to temperature. If the heating element is the problem, a plumber can have it sorted in no time at all, and you can look forward to renewed hot water availability.
If your heater is a gas heater, your pilot light may need to be relit. Usually you can look into a window and check, but that’s not the case for all models. If you suspect your light has gone out, or your light just won’t stay lit, the best bet is to call a plumber. Usually a pilot light that keeps going out is the result of a bad thermal coupling, which isn’t something you can replace yourself. Call a plumber if this is the case; hot water is a necessity, but not worth endangering your home, safety, or heater warranty over.
It’s also possible that your heater may not be getting enough water; similarly, it may be sending out too much hot water to the house. Ever notice how hard it is to get hot water right after two other people have taken showers? That’s because the hot water heater can only make so much hot water in a certain amount of time. It’s like the chef trying to keep up with a sudden lunch rush. If you’re doing a load of laundry, the dishes, and trying to shower at the same time, the heater can’t keep up with the demand and won’t be able to send truly hot water to any of those places. The best you’ll get is lukewarm, and maybe not even that for very long.
There are several solutions to this; the easiest is to stagger hot water use, and make sure to give the heater a break in between. Give it 15 minutes between the dishes and the laundry, and instead of everybody hopping in the shower one after the other, wait a bit and then go.
This isn’t always ideal, though. If you’re like us, your home is busy with both adults and kids and you may not be able to schedule hot water out like this–especially in the evenings or mornings when everyone is getting ready or just coming home. If that sounds like your kind of hustle-and-bustle, you may be a candidate for a new hot water heater. If your current model is small or old, or you’ve recently remodeled and added on a bathroom or laundry room, you will probably be shocked by how efficient and powerful some of the newer models are on the market. With the right contractor, you can definitely find one that will meet the needs of your household.
Frozen Pipes, Deviations, Sediment, and Scaling
While technically all separate issues with different causes and solutions, pipe freezing, deviated (broken) pipes, sediment in the water heater, and scaling due to hard water are all issues caused by non-system related factors that slow down or otherwise impede your water heater from working correctly. They can also damage or even destroy a heater given enough time.
The good news is that all of these issues are fixable: frozen pipes can be treated so they don’t freeze, deviated pipes can be fixed, heaters can be flushed of sediment, and water can be softened so minerals don’t build up in the pipes. The trick is to get on these issues ASAP instead of waiting! None of them will go away by themselves, and all of them can cause greater damage if left unchecked!
Getting a Pro
As you’ve probably noticed by now…there are a lot of reasons for hot water to stop running hot. With this many possibilities, getting your hot water back may seem like a daunting task. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be. At Bell Brothers, we start at the beginning and diagnose the problem right, and then come up with solutions that meet the homeowner’s needs and budget. If you’re having hot water problems, or just aren’t satisfied with the hot water delivery in your home, start by calling a plumber. Don’t waste time and money trying to figure it out yourself; chances are you’ll need a plumber anyway. Give us a call and let us get you the hot water you need this winter!