A hot water shortage can give you a nasty surprise when you need a quick shower in the morning. Most people tend to complain about it, but very few of us decide to do something about it and take action. While a shortage of hot water can be both inconvenient and unpleasant, you won’t feel helpless if you know exactly how to react to such situations. Here are some ways to identify the causes of hot water problems with different appliances and how to resolve them:
Case 1: If You Use Electric Water Heater
If you have an electric water heater, the first step you should take is to restart or reset the heater by turning it off, then waiting for a few minutes before turning it on again. If it’s working fine, the water should warm in about 30 minutes.
If, however, you don’t get hot water in half an hour, try the hard reset. At your home’s main circuit breaker, find the switch that provides power to your water heater and switch it off. After waiting for 30 seconds, turn the switch back on. In case the switch on the circuit fails to stay fully on, the problem lies in the circuit breaker. Contact your electrician and get it fixed to address the hot water issue.
There’s no lifetime guarantee for electric water heaters. Of course, there are exceptions, but a typical electric water heater will last for 10 years. All of its parts will begin to fail after ten years, so if it has passed that age and malfunctions frequently, the best thing you can do is to get it replaced.
Case 2: If You Use a Gas Water Heater
Among the most common issues with a gas water heater is the pilot being blown out by air or a downdraft. While the manual guides you on how to relight the pilot, you should always train yourself by asking how to do it, and then practicing it at the time of installation in the presence of the plumber. All you need to do is relight the pilot to enjoy hot water again. However, if you smell gas, relighting can be dangerous. In any such case, you should call your plumber without any delay.
If you find the pilot lit, turn to the next common suspect, the thermocouple. It’s a safety device that functions to stop the gas flow in case the pilot has been extinguished. If the tip of this piece loses alignment with the pilot light flame, your water will not be heated. Just re-adjust this piece so that its tip aligns with the pilot’s flame. If it doesn’t work, you will need to replace the thermocouple.
If these points appear to be working fine, there’s likely no issue with your gas water heater. Instead, there can be issues with the gas line. Inspecting the gas line will reveal any leaks or tangling issues. Also, contact your gas company to confirm that you have access to gas. To fix problems associated with the gas lines, you’ll normally need to call your plumber as well.
Case 3: If You Use a Boiler
If you own a modern boiler, such as a gas condensing boiler or an oil boiler, your first concern should be with whether it’s working. A boiler that stops working will show a different display color with an error code. The error codes are mentioned in the manual, along with their respective solutions. To resolve many of the errors, all you need to do is reset the boiler. Other errors may be complex, requiring you to call a qualified engineer to fix it for you.
However, if there’s no display at all on the boiler, the problem is probably with the power supply. Confirm access to electricity by inspecting the sockets and the main switch. A recent power cut may also have affected the boiler’s settings. In addition, there might even be interruptions in the water supply or gas supply (for a gas condensing boiler), so depending on the type of boiler installed in your home, you may need to confirm access to other supplies.
Besides the essential supplies, it is also possible that the boiler settings may have been mistakenly altered or beyond your knowledge. For instance, check whether the desired temperature has been set on the boiler. Another common issue arises with alterations in the timer. Owing to manipulations in clocks, back-up batteries, and power supply, the boiler’s timer may have been affected. While the time control panel is easy to adjust when the boiler is active, you can always obtain help from the manual if things get confusing.
If you don’t spot any above-stated problems with your boiler, the issue is complex, and it is advisable to call an expert engineer to look into it. Yet, there are certain other steps that can be taken if you feel confident enough.
For example, you can check whether the diverter valve is working. This special component of the boiler allows it to switch between heating and hot water. While you can identify the problem, you still need a trained engineer to fix it for you. Likewise, in the case of combi-boilers, a hot water shortage may be a result of low pressure. If the water pressure, which can be seen on the manometer connected to your boiler, is below the recommended range of 1.5 bars, you’ll need to re-pressurize the boiler. Instructions to re-pressurize the boiler are normally given on the manual. If there are no instructions, seek advice from an engineer.
To sum it up, hot water shortages are common, and it’s entirely up to you to decide how quickly you want to solve these issues. Most issues can be fixed by making some basic changes in the heating system you use, so you should treat them yourself to avoid a hassle of calling an engineer or a plumber. But some cases will require you to seek expert advice or services to restore the hot water supply to your home.