Troubleshooting Water Heater Problems: No Heat

What You'll Need
Soapy water
Butane lighter
Good physical senses
Rags or mop

Water heater problems can be an inconvenience or a health issue. It is important to be able to sanitize and clean items and hot water is a large key in making this happen.

Step 1:  Inspection of Water Heater for Damage or Flaws

  • Leaks

Water heaters may spring leaks. If this happens then the hot water that should be in the tank to be used through the house is instead leaking over the floor. If you find that your water heater is leaking water, dry up the area and check around to figure out where the leak originates. The problem could be a loose fitting, or it could be corrosion in the unit.

  • Pilot or Gas Line

The pilot light may have gone out. Before lighting the pilot again check to verify that there are no problems in the gas line. You can put soapy water on the gas line at the fittings to see if there is a loose connection. It also helps if your hearing is good because you can listen to the line and hear if there is any gas leaking through the pipe. Gas gives off a distinctive odor like rotten eggs which you can smell. If you smell a gas leak leave the house and call the gas company from outside the home. 

Step 2:  Internal Water Heater Issues

Water contains lime and calcium in a dissolved state. When heated the calcium separates and creates deposits on the base of the water tank. Drain the water from your hot water tank into buckets and measure against the capacity of the water tank. If the base water level is too far from the heating unit at the bottom of the tank then it will not heat up properly. If you have a 25 gallon tank and you only produce 20 gallons of water from it then you likely have calcium buildup.

Step 4:  Lines, Pipes, Valves and Thermocouple

  • Lines and Pipes

Check to verify that none of your lines or pipes are kinked or obstructed. Copper gas supply lines can collect deposits which can keep gas from getting to the valve, as well as clogging the valve if it breaks loose. If there is an obstruction in an output water line you can feel for heat in the line. Where the line is not as hot, or cool to the touch there is likely an obstruction.

  • Valves

Gas inlet valves may get stuck in a closed position not enabling the gas to flow to the water heater. Turn each valve individually and check to verify that you have a gas flow. Use the soapy water to verify that gas is not leaking around the valve. There is a leak detector you can purchase too, but it may be expensive.

  • Thermocouple

A thermocouple is like a sensor that communicates with the gas valve to ensure safe operation of the heating unit. If the pilot is not lighting then it is possible that your thermocouple is faulty or damaged and needs to be replaced.