Friday, March 29, 2013

Plumbers in Yakima WA discuss some common issues with failing hot water heaters.

As a Yakima Washington plumber I am always receiving calls involving issues with hot water heaters. Some of the most common questions are.....

     1.) Why does my water heater run out of hot water in the middle of a shower?

      2.) I have good hot water everywhere else in my house, but not at the tub or shower?

      3.) I have no hot water at all?

Water heaters come equipped for gas or electric. Depending on your heater there are several troubleshooting techniques for each type.

Electric Water Heaters:

   Electric water heaters have upper and lower thermostats that are connected and "speak" back and forth to know which element to heat up. The lower thermostat and element is the "workhorse" sort o' speak.

   If the water at the top of the tank is hot, the thermostats tell the upper element to shut off and the lower element heats the water at the bottom of the tank. The upper and lower elements never fire at the same time.

   As hot water is being used in the house, the hot water is exiting through the top of the tank and into the hot water pipes in the home. As new cold water is coming into the tank, it replenishes the hot water that  is exiting the tank.

   Although the cold water connection is located at the top of the water heater, there is a "Dip Tube" in the cold side which is a plastic tube pipe which allows the new cold water coming into the tank to enter into the bottom of the tank. Hence, all of the already heated water in the tank is being pushed from the bottom to the top.

  All water heaters are also equipped with Temperature & Pressure relief which opens up in the event of the water overheating or if the pressure inside the tank exceeds a preset PSI limit.


Lower Element of a Water Heater

WARNING: Working around water heaters can be dangerous. If you don't feel comfortable working around electricity, stop and call a Yakima WA Plumber. I would not suggest going any further than the reset button on an electric heater unless you are a trained professional.

No Hot Water At All. 

Resetting The Water Heater.
   Locate the breaker panel in your home and turn off the breaker/breakers labeled Hot Water Heater. There will be two access panels for the upper and lower elements and thermostats. Remove the upper panel being mindful not to touch any of the wires. Use a volt meter and carefully check the top 2 wires coming into the top of the thermostat to be sure the breakers were labeled properly and that the power is completely off.
  Once you are sure that the power is dead coming into the heater, remove the protective plastic cover over the upper thermostat. There should be a Reset button in the middle of the thermostat. It is usually colored red. Push the reset button.
   Now return to the breaker panel and turn the switches back on. Now return to the heater and very carefully check with a volt meter to see if you have 220 to 240 volts coming into the heater from the same 2 wires coming into the top of the upper thermostat. If you now have the proper volts coming into the top 2 wires, make sure the room is very quiet and listen carefully to the tank to hear if there is a faint hissing sound in the heater.
  If you hear the hissing sound: your heater problem has been resolved. Turn the power to the heater back off and return to the heater to put the access panel back together. Then turn your power back on.

 If you do not hear this sound: Now is a good time to call a Yakima plumber to check your heater for you. Without experience you should never go any further than checking the reset button.

There are several factors involved in diagnosing a water heater problem, and working around a water heater can be dangerous. If you are having problems with your water heater or any of your plumbing in Yakima Wa give us a call and we will come take a look at your plumbing right away.

Gas water heaters have a number of problems that can cause them to not work properly as well. The most obvious is the pilot flame going out or a thermocouple that has failed. But there are several other situations that arise from gas heaters.
Give us a call and we can have a Yakima plumber at your home right away to help you.

 24 Hour Rooter of Yakima strives to educate our readers and help our local community obtain excellent plumbing service at a competitive price.

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