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Why Does My Water Heater Not Work?

TechXpert verified by Rob Ilie

The most common water heater issues are dead pilot lights, electrical faults, and broken thermostats. A water heater that’s not working doesn’t always mean it’s time for a replacement. Sometimes the problem is as simple as a pulled plug or burnt-out pilot light — here’s how to figure out what’s going on.

Keeping It Consistent

In life, you can expect the unexpected, but your water heater should be reliable. A cold shower in the morning is never a nice surprise, and it’s also a sign of a faltering water heater. Here are the most common reasons why your heater might be giving out.

Pilot Light’s Dead

The pilot light on your water heater is responsible for lighting the burner to heat the water. If the light goes out, so does your hot water. A pilot light that’s not working won’t ignite the burner, so you won’t get any hot water, period.

Power’s Off

As an electrical device, your water heater is prone to power problems. Before opting for a replacement, it’s best to double-check all potential power problems. There might be an easy fix (but if you’re not familiar with wiring, you may want to call in a professional to help determine what’s at fault).

Thermostat’s Broken

Your water heater’s thermostat controls the temperature of your water, so if that seems off (or if your hot water goes out entirely) it may be time to replace your water heater’s thermostat. If your thermostat is broken, your system simply won’t know how to control the temperature of your water, but a replacement is a relatively quick and inexpensive fix.

Still Unsure?

If you’re still not sure what’s going on with your water heater, a local plumber can take the guesswork out of the job. It’s worth getting a professional in sooner rather than later, in case it’s a bigger job than it seems — you may need a replacement part or system to get your hot water back.

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