You turn on your hot water tap, but the water that flows through is continually cold. This can be frustrating if you need to take a warm shower or wash the dishes! Something is definitely wrong with your water heater, but what could it be? Here's a look at some of the common issues that might be to blame.
Faulty Pilot Light
The pilot light is a little flame that should always be burning on your water heater. It is designed to light your heater's larger burner on fire, when needed, to warm the water. If the pilot light goes out, the water heater burner won't be able to light, so you won't have any hot water. Sometimes a pilot light just blows out or stops burning if there is a break in the gas supply. You can try relighting the pilot simply by holding a lit lighter up to it. If the pilot won't light or it goes out soon after you light it, call a water heater repair technician. They may need to replace the pilot or adjust the gas valve that leads to it.
The thermocouple is a part of the hot water heater that senses the presence of the pilot light and releases gas in response to that heat. If it is not detecting heat from the pilot, it won't allow gas to flow through the pipes. This prevents gas from leaking all over the place. If the thermocouple breaks, your hot water heater will stop releasing hot water. Thankfully, having the thermocouple replaced is a pretty simple, affordable repair that most any hot water heater expert should be able to make.
Head into your basement or wherever your hot water heater is located. Is there a puddle of water around it? If so, the problem is that your hot water is leaking out of the tank rather than flowing through your pipes. Hot water tank leaks are usually less serious than they seem. Most often, it is a valve that is leaking, and your repair technician can fix the problem just by replacing or tightening a valve. If the tank is really old, the water may be leaking out through a rusted-out hole in the bottom. In this case, you're best off replacing the tank.
Having your water heater quit on you can be frustrating, but repairing the problem is not usually too difficult for an experienced pro.