Even in the warm Los Angeles area summers, it’s not comfortable to be without hot water. If your water heater isn’t doing its job, a little gas water heater troubleshooting can help you pinpoint the problem so you can get it solved fast.
No hot water – First, make sure you have gas flow and that the pilot light, if the system uses one, is lit. If the pilot light won’t stay lit, the cause is usually a faulty thermocouple that repeatedly shuts off the flow of gas. The thermocouple may need to be adjusted or replaced. If your water heater has an electronic ignition, check your breaker box for a tripped circuit breaker.
Not enough hot water – If you run out of hot water quickly or the water never seems hot enough, start your gas water heater troubleshooting by checking the thermostat. It should be set to at least 125 degrees to kill bacteria, but no higher than 140 degrees to minimize scalding risk. If your thermostat setting is in this range, yet you’re still not getting enough hot water, your thermostat may be faulty. Another possible cause is a faulty dip tube that’s releasing cold water at the top of the tank. A faulty drip tube should be replaced. If nothing else, you might have a tank that’s just too small for your needs.
Funny noises – Soft clicking or ticking noises are normal. A humming noise is usually caused by a loose heating element and tightening the element should stop the hum. Popping, banging or a low rumbling noise typically means sediment buildup at the bottom of the tank. The solution is simple: flush the tank by hooking up a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank and draining the water. If the water heater continues to make banging noises when it starts up, contact a plumber immediately. You could have a dangerous problem with the burner or fuel system.
If your gas water heater troubleshooting efforts can’t identify the problem, it’s time to call a professional plumber.