Gas Water Heater Not Working? Here’s Why

gas water heater not working

How much work can you get done when you are really cold? Not much, right? Now imagine your house is cold because there is no hot water running through its pipes. It has the same effect. You cannot take a shower, wash the dishes, or do other chores in peace. All of that is because your gas water heater not working and there is no hot water.

But that is about to end by the time you finish reading this article. Here, we are going to take a look at the most common reason why your hot water not working, and how you can resolve them.


Why Is Your Gas Water Heater Not Working?

Before starting, you will need to make sure whether you have a gas heater or an electric one. If you already know that, skip to the next part. If not, continue reading.

If your water heater has a flue (a round chimney pipe), you have a gas heater, which uses this flue to vent the exhaust fumes from burning the gas to the outdoors. Gas water heaters also feature a gas pipe going to it, a pilot light, and a burner at the bottom of the hot water tank.

On the other hand, an electric water heater does not have a flue on top, as it does not work by burning gas and does not produce combustion gasses. Instead, it has an electrical cable connecting it to an electrical panel and one or two thermostats on the tank’s side.

Now, let us see why the hot water heater is not working in different scenarios:


Wrong Temperature Setting

Let us start optimistically. If the water heater is not heating the water, maybe it is because the temperature of the water is too low. Similarly, if the water is too high, it is better to check the temperature first.

How to Fix It?

Simply adjust the water heater’s thermostat.


Low Water Pressure

When there is no hot water in the house, there may be a problem that makes your heater stop functioning entirely. Fortunately, problems with water pressure are not one of them. Decreasing water pressure simply affects the performance while the water heater maintains partial functionality.

The main indications of water not getting hot due to water pressure problems are as follows:

  • Hot water is only warm,
  • Hot water does not stay hot,
  • There is not enough hot water.

Sometimes this issue starts with overly high water pressure. If the water’s pressure or its temperature gets too high, opening the TPR (temperature pressure relief) valve to bring those back down to normal levels seems like a good idea.

However, since the valve is sensitive, it is easy to over-correct high temperatures and pressures. Resulting in excellent pressure and plenty of hot water, but suddenly dropping off and not returning for a while.

How to Fix It?

If this is actually the reason why your gas water heater not working, you need to give the high-pressure water a place to escape to, like an expansion tank. This way, you can enjoy the perfect water pressure and temperature with a pleasant consistency. The TPR valve will not need to open as well

There may be an easier fix for this no hot water inconvenience: loose parts. If you are experiencing water pressure loss, maybe there are loose fittings and bolts somewhere that need tightening or a hole in the water tank.


Sediment Build-Ups

Sometimes when there is no hot water in the house but you have cold water and the thermostat is not the source of the issue.

As you know, gas water heaters need to be flushed according to a schedule in order to remove sediment build-up from inside the tank. Otherwise, the minerals will settle inside the tank, slowly clog or block the element at the tank base completely, creating a disruptive layer between the water and the heating element.

How to Fix It?

If your gas water heater not working properly, and you cannot remember when the last time was you flushed the heater that is probably the problem. Flush your heater regularly preferably with the help of a professional.


water heater not heating


Thermostat Problems

Sometimes the thermostat and its problems are actually the reason why hot water is not working. If you have a modern heater, this electrical and advanced instrument is less likely to fail than a gasket or a piece of pipe. However, when you find the water heater not heating, it is good to consider thermostat will malfunction as well.

Your water heater probably has two heating elements and if the water is not getting hot, there could be several reasons such as:

  • Both heating elements or each one of them has failed,
  • The thermostat attached to heating elements is malfunctioning.

How to Fix It?

Often when the thermostat malfunctions, it will only turn off one of the heating elements resulting in hot water shortage and long waits for more hot water. These clues can help make sure that the thermostat is the reason that your gas water heater not working.


Defective Dip Tube

Sometimes instead of asking why my gas water heater is not working in the house, you need to ask: what is sabotaging its function? One of the possible answers is a damaged or broken water heater dip tube.

This tube directs the incoming cold water to the bottom of the tank to be heated. But if it is damaged, it will release the cold water into the top of the tank. This results in the cold water mixing with the hot water and reducing the overall temperature.

How to Fix It?

The best solution would be replacing the damaged dip tube with cross-linked polyethylene. When done, flush the debris out of the system and the screens and filters. Keep in mind that you may have to flush the water heater more than once.


Pilot Light Issues

As you know, gas water heaters use the pilot light to ignite the gas and heat the water. This small flame stays on so it can be used whenever the heater needs to heat cold water, even when the system is off.

Pilot lights are impressively reliable that can stay lit for years without ever going out. Nevertheless, if there is no hot water in the house at all, maybe the pilot light is extinguished due to:

  • Gas lines corrode and break down (which are responsible to provide a steady source of fuel for the pilot light),
  • Gas Company mistakes with providing fuel,
  • A faulty or loose thermocouple
  • Air in the gas line.
  • Or simply wind!

How to Fix It?

Replacing damaged gas lines can be an expensive job. But in many cases, you only need to re-ignite the pilot light, which is a simple and cheap fix. To resolve problems like gas water heater thermocouple issues (or anything besides re-igniting the pilot light) it is best to seek professional help as well.

Note: If the hot water heater is not working because of leaks in the gas valves or pipes, you need to deal with them immediately.



Final Thoughts

Water not getting hot is nothing that any of us want to face at the beginning of our day or after a busy day of work. However, as much as you want to resolve it quickly, it is always smart to use a professional’s help. Especially when you think about these appliances’ complexity and potential risks. This includes experienced DIYers too!

Water heaters contain scalding water under pressure that can spray from the pressure relief valve. In addition to being fueled with flammable natural gas. Hopefully, now when you find yourself with no hot water in the house, you would know what the problem is and what to do exactly.

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