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How to Tell if a Hot Water Heater is Off or On Before Calling for Help.

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If you’re a fan of horror flicks, boy have we got a rather chilling story for you. On an ordinary, below freezing January morning in Arizona, something unusual was going on in the home of a young family of 5. Mother awoke first to start some coffee but quickly realizes her alarm never went off! She has a big presentation today, and if late, she’ll never hear the end of it. In a mad dash, she darts for the shower, turns on the water, jumps in, and. . .AHHHH! It’s freezing!

Ok, it’s not exactly a murderer in a hockey mask, but a faulty water heater is no laughing matter – especially when it goes out in the dead of winter. Even though it doesn’t really get that cold in Phoenix, the heat of the moment causes the first instinct of many to be an immediate call to a plumbing repair company. But that’s not always necessary. For example, if your alarm didn’t go off, maybe the power went out at some point.

Asking yourself, “How do I know if my water heater is on,” before requesting plumber services can save you a lot of time and money. It’d be embarrassing to have a maintenance technician visit the property in an emergency situation, only to tell you that you could have fixed the problem yourself. So, if you’re unsure how to tell if a hot water heater is off or on, give us a call and we can explain. Otherwise here are some tips for inspecting the issue yourself.

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Common Water Heater Problems

In our nightmare situation, the family’s water heater completely stopped heating water. In the real world, though, water heaters aren’t as black and white as “working” and “not working”. Being able to tell it a hot water heater is off or on is not always as simple as checking the cord or seeing if the lights are on. So if you don’t have time or know-how to make a thorough analysis, calling a professional is always best. 

Gas leaks and electrical problems could put the household, or even the entire block, at risk. Aside from the extreme, there are a handful of problems that could be the cause. Even if the water heater was literally turned off, malfunctions are still possible. Some problems indicate further issues while others even act as a warning that a water heater is going bad.

1. Hot Water Heater Leaks.

Leaks are probably the most common problem that Arizona homeowners face when it comes to their hot water heaters and tanks. Whether they own a tankless, solar or conventional system, leaks are always a possibility. As a pressurized system, there are multiple points from which water could escape. 

If you find water pooling or dripping from your water heater, first start by turning off the tank and waiting a few hours. In most cases, this is simply water condensation that is dripping from the tank. If that doesn’t solve the problem, check that the pressure release valve, drain valve, and all the connections are still in sound condition. 

2. Slow Heating Process or Aging Coils. 

What’s almost as disruptive as a water heater that doesn’t heat water at all is a heating system that takes forever to warm up. If your water heater is taking longer than usual to do its job, this is a sign that the heating element or thermostat may need maintenance. While it’s not a major repair, it can create further issues if left unattended.

3. Rusty Water Takes a Toll. 

If your water comes out looking dirty or tinged red, this is a sign that the inside of your tank has begun to rust. The water may even have an off-putting smell that should be noticeable. Have your anode rod checked and replaced if it is indeed rusting.

4. Slow or Low Water Flow. 

Some homeowners find that they’re not getting enough hot water through to their faucets because their hot water heater tank is dirty and clogged with built-up mineral and sediment. This can be easily overcome by having your tank cleaned by a professional plumber or by upgrading to a larger sized pipe. Be careful not to be sold on a new system if you don’t need it.

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When Your Water Heater Won’t Turn On.

If none of the aforementioned issues are the culprit, and you’re still unable to tell if a hot water heater is off or on, then you’re probably dealing with a system that just won’t heat water. The good news is, it might not be as bad as you think. But before you call the repair plumber, go through these steps to determine if the water heater is truly at fault.

  • Check your circuit breaker. It’s possible that a breaker tripped in the night, and your water heater isn’t receiving power.
  • Check the high-temperature limit. If there was a power surge, it’s possible that the high-temperature limit switch also tripped. Press the reset button and test out your water.
  • Check that the thermostat is set to an appropriate temperature. Sometimes, children move the dials. If it’s set too low, then you’ll never get hot water. 
  • If you have a gas-powered water heater, be sure to also check the pilot light. If the pilot light has gone out, the water heater will not be able to ignite the gas to heat water.
  • If none of the previous fixes have any effect, there may be a problem with the heating element. Use a multimeter to test for continuity, and if you can’t get a reading, it might be time to call a repair company.

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Why Hot Water Heater Safety Matters.

Before we let you go, we wanted to take a moment to stress just how important it is for you never to ignore a problem with your water heater. Even if it seems as trivial as a small leak, these problems can lead to more significant and even potentially dangerous issues.

Before you end up with a worst-case scenario, do the right thing and have your water heater serviced.  Rusty water might not seem like a big deal, but it could be damaging your health and causing your water heater irreparable damage.

Likewise, a small trickle of water might not seem significant enough to call a repair company, but if the problem is with your pressure release valve, you could have a ticking time bomb on your hands. Maintaining your water heater will save you time and money down the line and help protect your family from a dangerous situation. 

We Specialize in Water Heating Malfunctions.

For all your water heater replacement and repair needs, contact Canyon State! We believe that we offer high quality cooling, heating and plumbing services throughout the Phoenix area. If you prefer that we help you with the above steps ourselves, we’d be more than happy to solve your problem. No issue is too small when it comes to the health and safety of your family.

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