My Water Heater Broke Down In The Middle Of Winter! What Now?
A broken water heater in January? That could mean no hot water in your shower, taps or washing machine!
That sounds like a frigid disaster! Not to mention highly inconvenient for your household.
After all, nobody wants a cold shower in the middle of winter!
If this is your current situation, keep reading for your next steps. While calling a professional might be necessary, the problem may be less serious than you think.
It could even be something you can fix on your own!
But before you start tinkering away, you’ll need to diagnose the water heater problem. We’ve listed some of the top issues below so you can troubleshoot your system properly.
Please note: this article focuses on gas and electric storage water heater issues. Are you looking for information about a broken tankless water heater? Call our technicians!
First Things First, Diagnosing The Water Heater Problem
Now, before we go into the less serious issues, let us preface this conversation with this:
If your hot water heater is leaking, that is a sure sign to call a technician and take immediate action.
A leak can cause water damage in your basement and even a potential explosion. So if you notice even the tiniest leak, here’s what you should do:
Emergency Next Steps
- Turn off the power to your tank
- Turn off the cold water supply to the tank.
- Take a picture of the situation (you’ll need this to make an insurance claim).
- Drain the water.
- Call your HVAC technician.
Click here for more non-DIY-related water heater issues.
If, however, your water heater only has a minor issue, there are lots of quick, DIY fixes that you can do!
Below are some common water heater issues. Click the one you’re experiencing to find out how to fix it yourself!
DIY Hot Water Heater Repairs!
Many hot water heater problems are actually easy to troubleshoot and fix on your own. If you’re lucky, you can get your water heater back up and running in about 5 minutes!
Below are the three top water heater issues and an easy DIY solution for each.
Need support? Please don’t hesitate to give us a shout! Our Campeau Heating team can help troubleshoot the issue and provide a solution fast.
No Hot Water
Many homeowners make urgent no-hot-water calls as soon as possible.
And no wonder! A chilly shower on a cold winter day is the last thing anyone wants to experience.
But before you make a call, you may want to do some troubleshooting of your own. The problem could be simpler than you think!
If you don’t have any hot water, there are a few possible reasons why:
- Your water heater may not have power.
- One of the heating elements could have failed.
- The limit switch may have tripped.
How To Fix It:
To fix your water heater, the first thing you’ll want to do is ensure it’s connected to power.
Then, check for a tripped breaker. If it has tripped, switch it off and back on again.
If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to reset the high-temperature limit on the heater. Your unit’s instruction manual should have directions for this step. But if not, give us a quick call! We can walk you through the process over the phone.
Not Enough Hot Water
Is your hot water running out too fast? This issue is typically easy to diagnose, being one of two possibilities:
Your unit isn’t big enough for your household. It can’t keep up with the demand!
This is a common problem for large families. Even a family of two may require a larger tank, depending on how much hot water they use during the day.
One or both heating elements on your unit may have failed.
If your water is typically more lukewarm than hot, you may have a defective upper heating element.
If you run out of hot water too fast, you may have a defective lower heating element.
How To Fix It:
If your tank is too small for your home, there’s an easy solution. However, it may be costly. An inadequately sized tank means you’ll need to
a) Buy a larger tank or
b) Switch to a tankless unit.
If one or both of your heating elements has failed, call your HVAC technician for a repair. They’ll have the equipment and parts necessary to repair the unit.
But wait! Before you call, we recommend checking your unit’s warranty. Your warranty may cover the repairs/replacement parts for your specific issue.
The Water Is Too Hot
It seems odd to complain about water being too hot if the alternative problem is no heat at all. But regardless, this is another issue you may experience with a broken water heater.
And thankfully, fixing it is easy!
Water that’s too hot is typically a telltale sign that your heater’s thermostat is too high.
How To Fix It:
Before you check the thermostat, turn off the heater’s circuit breaker.
Next, remove the access panel, insulation and plastic safety guard from the heating elements. Using a non-contact voltage tester, you can safely confirm the power is off. Don’t touch the wires or terminals until you’re 100% sure!
Next, check the thermostat settings on both heating elements. It should be around 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you need to adjust this setting, remember to keep both the same!
Then replace all parts and return power to your unit.
Note: We totally understand if dealing with your unit's electrical components is nerve-wracking. Just give us a call! We can quickly send a technician to reset your thermostats.
Water Heater Issues That Need a Professional
AKA don’t try to fix these ones on your own! They present a more dangerous situation for you, your home and your family.
A leaking pressure relief valve.
As mentioned above, a leaky hot water tank is dangerous. And a leaking pressure relief valve is equally so.
A leaky pressure relief valve means there's too much heat and pressure in the tank - leading to a potential explosion!
Follow our emergency next steps outlined above when handling this issue.
Rotten egg smell.
We’ve talked about the dangers of a rotten egg smell before when breaking down the top 10 furnace warning signs.
If you read that article, you’ll know that the smell of rotten eggs is actually the smell of mercaptan. It’s a chemical added to natural gas as a safety precaution.
Homeowners should know that if they begin to smell mercaptan, they should
- Turn off the gas immediately (but don’t touch anything that could be the source of the ignition).
- Evacuate your home with your family and pets. Keep a safe distance from the house!
- Call 911 or your gas provider's 24-hour emergency line immediately.
Popping or knocking noises.
Are you hearing a popping or knocking noise coming from your water heater? If so, it could be on the verge of breaking down.
That popping noise is water trapped under sediment buildup. If you catch it early enough, calling a technician could save your system! Your technician can remove the buildup and prevent further damage to your unit.
If your water heater is improperly installed, it could become dangerous.
For example, if you have a gas water heater with poor gas connections, there’s a high risk of an explosion.
If you have an electric heater, water corrosion can cause your system to short circuit.
If you have a faulty installation, contact your HVAC technician immediately for further assistance.
Need a New Unit? Consider our Superflue Water Heater!
Trying to choose the best water heater for your home?
Shop The Superflue Water Heater
Is your unit beyond repair, over 10 years old or too small for your household? These are all sure signs that it’s time to invest in a new system!
Consider the Superflue Water Heater!
This water heater has a built-in blower that allows through-the-wall or through-the-roof venting up to 50 feet outdoors! It’s also gas-powered, designed with an ultra-quiet blower and incredibly safe.
The flammable vapour ignition-resistant safety feature provides more protection and peace of mind!
Schedule Your Water Heater Tune-Up-, Installation or Repair With Campeau Heating
At Campeau Heating, our dedicated technicians ensure your safety, comfort and convenience.
Whether you need a seasonal tune-up, a quick repair or a new unit installation, we’re there for you!
Book a service call with our team today or contact our office at 705-560-2441! We’re happy to help troubleshoot the issue over the phone.