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Why Isn't My Gas Water Heater Getting Hot?

woman taking freezing shower

Water heaters are one of the most important appliances. When they don't work correctly, so many things become difficult including showering, laundry, washing the dishes, and running the dishwasher. Gas water heaters function by burning natural gas to heat up the water in the tank. Depending on the issue, it may be the safest and most reliable option to call a water heater professional to assess the issue. 

Have you been taking cold showers for the past few days? Does your shower only stay warm for half of your shower? Here are some things you can look for when your hot water heater doesn't get as hot as it should. 

If so, your water heater is most likely malfunctioning and needs repair. Luckily for you, gas water heaters are simple fixtures that are relatively easy to diagnose.

  1. No Gas – When a gas water heater isn’t receiving enough (or any) gas, it’s not going to be able to ignite to heat up the water within. Check the gas meter, shutoff valve, and the control knob on the heater to ensure none are turned off. If all three are turned on and the burner still won’t ignite, contact your local plumber. 
  2. No Flame – Many gas water heaters have a pilot light that will ignite the burners when the unit is turned on. If the water heater has a bad thermocouple (the part that shut off the gas when no pilot flame is present), it can also extinguish the pilot light. Look to have the thermocouple replaced.
  3. Thermostat Settings – The thermostat dial on the water heater should always be set to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If not, set it to this temperature and let water from the tap run for a few minutes. If there is no change in the water temperature, the thermostat itself might need to be replaced.
  4. Faulty Safety Shutoff – Every gas water heater has a safety shutoff when internal temperatures become too high. This shutoff valve will stop gas flow to the fixture, preventing the water from being heated. Unfortunately, faulty shutoffs cannot be fixed and must be replaced.
  5. Dip Tube Trouble – A properly working water heater will have a dip tube bring cold water from the top of the tank to the bottom where it is heated. When a dip tube cracks, water at the top of the tank will flow into the outlet pipe without ever being heated at the bottom of the tank. Unfortunately, replacing the water heater is the smartest move to make when this piece breaks.

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Troubleshooting the Gas Water Heater

You may want to troubleshoot your gas water heater prior to calling in a plumber, so feel free to check the following: 

  • Check to make sure the pilot light is on 
  • Check your thermostat and thermocouple 
  • Drain your tank

Depending on which water heater issue you're having, there are a variety of steps you can take to resolve the problem. If you are not sure how to proceed or don't feel comfortable troubleshooting the problem - don't hesitate to contact us online. 

Not having hot water doesn’t sound like a big issue until you try to take a shower or clean your dishes with ice cold water. When your hot water heater fails to produce hot water, contact Tri-City Appliance, Plumbing, Heating & Cooling. To learn more, or to schedule an appointment, give us a call at (203) 303-5700.