The first place a person notices their hot water heater isn’t performing up to par is in the shower. The faucet handle gradually gets placed further and further to the red side or it stops working all together. You could call a plumber to address the issue, but you can save money. A few simple diagnostics with the right tools can help you decide what to do.
Not Enough Hot Water
If your problem is not enough hot water, the thermostat may be set too low. Every water heater, gas or electric, has a thermostat to adjust how hot the water temperature can get heated to. It is the same concept as your heating and air thermostat on your wall. If you need to adjust the thermostat, it could mean that one of your heating elements is going bad. It could also mean that the thermostat is going bad. There should be a reset button. Press the reset button. If it does not lock in place and the tank does not begin to make a fizzing sound, your thermostat most likely needs to be replaced. It could be a circuit breaker. However, if it does lock in place and begin to make sounds only for the reset button to trip again, it is most likely the element.
Standard water heaters have an upper and a lower element. To replace them, you must turn the power off first at your breaker box and test them with the proper meter. You will also need a special element socket wrench. If you do not have the proper tools, it is best to call a licensed plumber. If you are curious as to how to repair it for next time, watch and ask questions. If you have a good plumber, he or she should be glad to explain things.
No Hot Water At All
It could be one of the elements is broken. But the first place to check if you have a gas water heater is the pilot light. It could be the gas valve or thermocouple is going bad.
Sediment also builds up over time, quicker if you have hard water. Try flushing the water out with any sediment that has built up in the tank. It could be preventing the element from doing its job. Attach a garden hose to the bottom spigot and allow the water to drain out with the cold water still on to help force out the debris. When you notice no more sediment is flowing out, then turn the water off. It is a good idea to regularly remove sediment to extend the life of your hot water heater.
Repairing your hot water heater is not a difficult task; however, a plumber may be your best option if you are not confident in the process.