We all know the feeling, getting in the shower before work. You’re in a hurry, you turn on the water and wait, and keep waiting, and the hot water doesn’t show up to the party.
And that’s when you realize that you have to take a cold shower. Which, by the way, is the worst thing ever: whether it’s hot and humid or it’s raining in your city, starting your morning with a cold shower might not be your favorite part of the day.
Fortunately, we offer water heater repair and installation in Lehi, Orem, and Salt Lake City.
There are several reasons why you are missing the hot water in your life. Water heaters can have a few different problems. Our first assumption would be that your pilot light went out. Hopefully, this is the case because it is an easy fix that requires no repairs. The pilot light is the flame that heats up your water and it sits below the water heater. No flame, no hot water. Light the flame and voila—hot water.
How to light the pilot light
Lighting the pilot light can be kind of intimidating and scary. We all have a healthy fear of the water heater blowing up. It’s a good thing. I mean… the fear of it blowing up is a good thing. It actually blowing up is not a good thing. Moving on.
Lighting the pilot light is actually something you can do on your own if you’re comfortable with it. Here are the steps outlined on how to light it and if you want, you can even print out this one page of instructions to take with you to the water heater.
Find the pilot light assembly area. There will usually be three settings: On, off, and pilot.
Turn the setting to “Off” and wait for at least three minutes.
Turn the valve onto the “Pilot” setting and hold a lighted match to the opening while pushing the reset button. Do this until the flame is burning brightly.
Turn the setting to the “On” position.
The water heater is made up of the following parts, any of which could be causing your water heater repair woes:
- Tank – This is a little bit obvious. But what isn't so obvious is how this tank can leak and cause some damage in your house before it draws your attention. Tanks can leak from both the top or bottom due usually to corrosion caused by sediment build-up. Below, we talk about how you can prevent that sediment and elements from building up by flushing out your water heater with the drain valve on a regular basis.
- Dip tube – The dip tube carries the water from the top of the tank to the bottom where it can be heated.
- Shut-off valve – This stops the water from flowing into the heater when necessary so that it doesn’t overflow.
- Heat-out pipe – This allows the hot water out of the water heater.
- Thermostat – This is one of the reasons why water heaters stop producing hot water, because the thermostat breaks. The thermostat is the temperature-control device and when it breaks, it no longer tells the water heater to make hot water.
- Heating mechanism – These are found in electric water heaters. Electric water heaters have heating mechanisms that heat up the water. Gas water heaters have a pilot light.
- Drain valve – The drain valve is used when you need to move the water heater, or flush it out by draining all the water (which we encourage on a regular basis) to get rid of sediment build up and elements, which are the cause for corrosion of the tank and leaking.
- Pressure relief valve – If you have a healthy fear of the water heater blowing up, this is your best friend. This valve makes sure that the water heater pressure does not exceed a certain level.
- Anode rod – This is made of magnesium or aluminum and sits in the water heater to slow corrosion by attracting the elements.
Water Heater Leaks
There are two places where your water heater can be leaking: top and bottom. Why does it leak? Because of corrosion. Sometimes corrosion happens in the water heater because sediment and elements build up. The anode rod is in there to slow this process but it cannot prevent it completely. But there is a way that you can help prevent it yourself. Drain your water heater on a regular basis. This flushes out these sediments so they do not build up in the water heater and start to eat away at the tank.
Here are steps on how to drain your water heater:
If you have a gas water heater, turn the thermostat to “pilot”. If you have an electric water heater, turn the power to the breaker-box off.
Turn off the cold water supply to your water heater. Turn on a hot water tap in your house to prevent a vacuum effect in the lines while you drain the water heater.
Attach a hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the water heater. Run the hose to a drain in a place that won’t get harmed by hot water. The best place is to have the water out on the driveway.
Open the drain valve. This may require a screwdriver to open.
After the water has finished draining out of the water heater, turn the water supply back on so the rest of the sediment is flushed out. Keep the water supply on until the water running out of the hose is running clean.
Close the drain valve and turn off the hot water tap in your house.
After the tank is full, if you have an electric water heater, turn the breaker box back on. If you have a gas water heater, turn the thermostat back on.
After the water is warm again, test the pressure relief valve in the way your manufacturer’s instructions outline. This feature of your water heater makes sure that too much pressure does not build up in your water heater.
How to Choose a Water Heater
Now, we’ve talked about how you have to take a cold shower because the pilot light went out and wasn’t heating up your water but there’s also another way you run out of hot water: you simply ran the tank dry of hot water. What this means is that your water heater isn’t big enough. If you have 10 people living in your house with a 40-gallon water heater, y’all are going to be taking cold showers!
So, how do you find the right sized water heater?
Tankless Water Heaters
We knew you’d ask. These water heaters are obviously desirable. Who wouldn't want unlimited hot water on demand?
You might be wondering why more people don’t have these tankless water heaters. Well, although these water heaters are pretty efficient, the upfront costs of the heater itself and the installation—which is more complex—is more costly. So this is what you can expect when it comes to going tankless. If money isn't an issue, you can look into getting one.
High Efficiency Water Heaters
Now, you don’t have to have a tankless water heater to have a whole ton of hot water. There are high efficiency water heaters you can choose from that will produce more hot water than the tank calls for due to the rate at which they heat water (which is faster than regular water heaters).
Want more hot water but you don’t want to replace the entire water heater? I mean, what if it’s new? No problem. You can purchase an expansion tank for that.
Water Heaters and House Fires
One last word of caution. Water heaters are among the biggest causers of house fires. Please have a professional and licensed plumber install your water heater. It’s not worth it to have someone do it who is not licensed. It’s dangerous. The end.
Expert Plumbing Services
Trust Expert Plumbing, Heating, Air and Electrical for your water heater repair or new water heater installation needs in Salt Lake City, Sandy, Provo, Lehi and Orem UT. Emergency water heater repair services available.