Water heaters account for almost a fifth of residential energy use. So, for example, if your annual energy expenses amount to $2,000... about $400 of that is for hot water alone.
And if you have hot water heater problems, you're likely spending even more in the form of wasted water and money, and possible health and safety hazards, such as accidental scalds.
The good news is that not all faulty heaters warrant a replacement right away. There are also some troubleshooting steps you can take before you call a San Antonio plumber.
No Hot Water
If you have no hot water at all, the first thing to check is that your heater has power. In many cases, the problem isn't the heater itself but the circuit breaker. Your circuit breaker may have tripped, stopping the flow of power to your heater. Check your circuit breaker and make sure the switch for your water heater is set to "ON."
If it's not the circuit breaker, the next thing to inspect is your water heater thermostat. If you have a digital thermostat, check if the display shows anything at all. If you have a conventional one, make sure the knob or valve isn't set to "OFF" or a very low temperature.
If there's nothing wrong with the setting of your heater, try resetting it. Most water heaters, be it tankless or a storage type, has a red "reset" button. Press this and wait for a few minutes before running hot water at the tap.
You could also be out of gas if your water heater runs on gas or propane. Be sure to check your propane tank level or be sure your gas company hasn't shut off your gas.
If you still don't get hot water, you may be dealing with a faulty heating element. Your thermostat may also be malfunctioning, and it may need repair or replacement.
Either way, if none of these troubleshooting steps work, it's best to get in touch with a San Antonio plumber ASAP. This way, the plumbing expert can diagnose the exact cause of your hot water woes.
If your hot water taps produce lukewarm water, it may be due to a faulty heating element. However, you should still check your thermostat as someone may have adjusted it. If the temperature setting did change, set it back to at least 120 ºF.
According to the Department of Energy, 120 ºF is enough for most households.
If you’re still getting tepid water, you may have limescale formation inside your water heater. Limescale usually forms from dissolved minerals, especially calcium carbonate (CaCO3).
Hard water contains a lot of CaCO3, and over time, it can build up on water fixtures. This includes your water heater's heating element and the pipes connected to it. If this happens, the minerals can act as insulation, making it harder for your heater to warm the water up.
The thing is, many parts of San Antonio get supplied with hard water. In fact, the San Antonio Water System delivers water with a hardness rating of 15 to 20 gpg. Such hardness classifies as either "very hard" (11 to 15 grain per gallon) or "extremely hard" (over 15 gpg).
If you have a storage-type heater, you can try flushing the tank first. This can help get rid of loose mineral deposits that may be clinging to your heater.
If your water remains tepid, ring up a San Antonio plumber. Your tank may already need a deeper cleaning as well as a new anode rod. It's also a good idea to invest in a water softener so that you can prevent future limescale build-up.
Always Running Out of Hot Water
This usually means that you have an undersized water heater tank. Your too-small system is no longer enough to supply your hot water demands. In this case, your best option is to consider upgrading to a new, larger water heater.
Variations in Water Temperatures
If you have a tankless water heater, these variations may occur if you run several hot water taps at the same time.
Keep in mind that on-demand heaters often have an output rate of 2 to 5 gallons per minute. This is lower compared to traditional storage-type heaters. Because of this, a tankless heater may not be able to satisfy simultaneous demand for hot water.
However, the same can happen if you have an undersized water heater tank.
In any case, please note that sudden changes in water temperatures can be a scald hazard. If you get exposed to water heated to 140 ºF, it can take as little as five seconds to sustain a burn injury.
The best way to resolve limited output is to install an extra tankless water heater. You can also get a bigger tank if you prefer a storage-type heating system.
Fluctuations in Water Pressure
These usually happen alongside temperature variations due to simultaneous hot water use. However, these can also occur if you have a faulty Pressure Reducing Valve (PRV). It may have corroded so much that it's no longer able to maintain proper pressure.
In many cases, the first problem you'll encounter with PRVs is a leak. If it does drip water, place a bucket right below the valve and then try opening and closing it a few times. This may help seat the valve back into place.
If there's a large leak or the dripping is too heavy, you likely need a valve replacement. Get in touch with your friendly but professional San Antonio plumber as soon as possible.
Water Heater Leaks
The average San Antonio household uses a little more than 7,000 gallons of water each month. However, others use 50 times more than that, which means they consume about 350,000 gallons per month! While some know where their water goes, many others don't, as they are unaware of leaky heaters and pipes.
Aside from the waste itself, leaks can also spur the growth and spread of molds. This can be a health hazard, especially for those with allergies and asthma. Experts say that molds contribute to at least two in five asthma attacks in US homes.
With that said, it's best that you perform regular checks on your water heater. If it leaks, have it inspected and repaired immediately by a professional plumber.
Get All Your Hot Water Heater Problems Fixed Now
There you have it, your ultimate guide to common hot water heater problems and what you can do to fix them. If you tried the DIY troubleshooting steps, and they didn't help, please know that our team is here to help. Get in touch with us here at Anchor Plumbing Services so we can have your heater woes fixed as soon as possible!