With hot water heater plumbing pipes and gas lines or electric wires, hot water heaters seem complicated, but try some hot water heater troubleshooting before calling a plumber or electrician.
Troubleshooting a Gas Hot Water Heater

If a gas hot water heater stops working, try sparking the pilot light. If it won’t stay lit, you may need to replace the thermocouple or clean the burner on the hot water heater. Your owner’s manual should have straightforward instructions for replacing a thermocouple. On most hot water heaters, you turn off
the gas control knob and detach both ends of both the thermocouple and pilot supply line. Buy a same-length replacement, reinstall the thermocouple, turn the gas on and relight the pilot on the hot water heater.

If you still aren’t getting any hot water from your heater, or if the pilot light is more yellow than blue, clean the burner. Turn off the gas and remove the thermocouple and pilot supply line. Also remove the burner tube and unclip the burner unit. It should look like a metal plate with a clamp on the bottom.
Unscrew the burner and clean the pilot gas tube with a small wire brush or wire. Shake any debris off the burner plate and vacuum the gas tube on the hot water heater.

Reassemble the unit, turn on the gas and light the pilot. If your hot water heater troubleshooting didn't solve the problem, it’s time to call a professional.
Troubleshooting an Electric Hot Water Heater

If you aren’t getting any hot water from an electric hot water heater, hit the reset button and wait for a click. If that fails, reset the electric breaker. The next step is to test and possibly replace the thermostat or heating element on the hot water heater.

Water and electricity are a dangerous combination, so first drain the tank of the hot water heater and switch off the power breaker. Then remove the access panel and test each terminal screw with a voltage tester. After confirming the power is off, loosen the terminal screws and pull the wires away from
the end of the element. Loosen and unscrew each element, then have an appliance parts dealer test the part on the hot water heater. Replace a broken element on the water heater.

If the element is fine, the thermostat might be broken on the water heater. The next step in hot water heater troubleshooting is to disconnect and mark the thermostat wires, then have the thermostat tested. Replace if necessary.
If Hard Water Won’t Get Hot

If the unit is set on high, but the water is not hot enough, try draining the tank and removing crusted minerals from the anode. Shut off the water and the power supply. Then attach a hose to the drain valve and drain the tank.

Look for a one-inch nut on the top of the heater. Loosen the nut and pull out the anode rod. If it is covered in mineral deposits, replace the rod. Refill the tank, then turn on the power supply. To prolong the life of the water heater, drain and refill the tank once a year if you have hard, mineral-laden water.

Try some hot water heater troubleshooting before calling in a professional. But also know when to throw in the towel. For example, if the hot water heater leaks, the tank is probably rusted through and should be be replaced.
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When selecting a new water heater for your home, choose a water heating system that will not only provide enough hot water but also that will do so energy efficiently, saving you money. This includes considering the different types of water heaters available and determining the right size and fuel source
for your home.
Types of Water Heaters Fuel type, availability and cost. The fuel type or energy source you use for water heating will not only affect the water heater's annual operation costs but also its size and energy efficiency. See below for more on selecting fuel types.
Size.  Before you purchase a water heater, it's also a good idea to estimate its annual operating costs and compare those costs with other less or more energy-efficient models. Visit the pages on different types of water heaters (linked above) for more on estimating costs.
It's a good idea to know the different types of water heaters available before you purchase one:
Conventional storage water heaters offer a ready reservoir (storage tank) of hot water
Tankless or demand-type water heaters heat water directly without the use of a storage tank
Heat pump water heaters move heat from one place to another instead of generating heat directly for providing hot water
Solar water heaters use the sun's heat to provide hot water
Tankless coil and indirect water heaters use a home's space heating system to heat water
To provide your household with enough hot water and to maximize efficiency, you need a properly sized water heater. Visit the pages on different types of water heaters (linked above) for more on sizing.
Energy efficiency. To maximize your energy and cost savings, you want to know how energy efficient a water heater is before you purchase it. Visit the pages on different types of water heaters (linked above) for more on estimating energy efficiency.
Costs.
Selection Criteria
When selecting the best type and model of water heater for your home, consider the following:
Also be sure to do what you can to reduce your hot water use. You may also want to explore other strategies such as drain-water heat recovery to save money on your water heating bill.
Fuel Types, Availability and Costs for Water Heating
When selecting a new water heater, it's important to consider what fuel type or energy source you will use, including its availability and cost. The fuel used by a water heating system will not only affect annual operation costs but also the water heater's size and energy efficiency.
Exploring Water Heater Options by Fuel Type
Fuel type and its availability in your area may narrow your water heater choices. The following is a list of water heater options by fuel or energy source:
Fuel oil
Available in some areas of the United States to fuel conventional storage water heaters, and indirect combination water and space heating systems.
Geothermal energy
Available throughout the United States to those who will have or already have a geothermal heat pump system installed in their homes for space heating and cooling. See Heat Pump Water Heaters for more information.
Natural gas
Available in many areas of the United States to fuel conventional storage and demand (tankless or instantaneous) water heaters, as well as combination water and space heating systems, which include tankless coil and indirect water heaters.
Comparing Fuel Costs and Water Heater Types
If you have more than one fuel type available in your area, it's a good idea to compare fuel costs, especially if you're building a new home. Even if you're replacing a water heater, you may find that you'll save more money in the long run if you use a different fuel or energy source. Contact your utility for
current fuel costs or rates.
The type of water heater you choose will also affect your water heating costs. One type of water heater may use a fuel type more efficiently than another type of water heater. Tips: Water Heating
Sizing a New Water Heater
Tankless or Demand-Type Water Heaters
Heat Pump Water Heaters
Solar Water Heaters
Storage Water Heaters
Tankless Coil and Indirect Water Heaters
Drain-Water Heat Recovery
Reduce Hot Water Use for Energy Savings
Water Heating Products and Services For example, an electric heat pump water heater typically is more energy efficient than an electric conventional storage water heater. Also, an electric heat pump water heater might have lower energy costs because of its higher efficiency than a gas-fired
conventional storage water heater, even though local natural gas costs might be lower than the electricity rates.
Learn More   
Propane
Available in many areas of the United States to fuel conventional storage and demand (tankless or instantaneous) water heaters, as well as indirect combination water and space heating systems. Solar energy
Available throughout the United States -- most abundantly in the Southwest -- for solar water heaters.
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The last thing you want with our cold Wisconsin weather is a cold shower! Hot
water heaters typically have an average life span of 10 to 15 years. If your hot water
heater is nearing the end of its life, don't wait until it's too late. If your Hot water
heater is over ten years old it may be filled with sediment and corrosion that steals
the heating capability of your water heater. Even worse, the extra energy used by
older water heater models may be costing you in excess utility charges. We’ll
improve the performance of your current water heater, or replace it with a new
energy efficient hot water heater.


Repairs and Replacements Include:

  •    Burner repair and replacement
  •    Pressure release valve repair and replacement
  •    Ignition system repair and replacement
  •    Anode rod repair and replacement
  •    Thermostat repair and replacement
  •    Drain valve repair and replacement
  •    Water shut off valve replacement
  •    Gas shut off valve replacement




On the trouble-shooting side of the equation, did you know that your water heater is the
most dangerous appliance in your home?

It can leak water that can cause thousands of dollars in property damage to floors, walls,
ceilings and foundations, and can create nagging mold problems.

It can leak gas which could be catastrophic.

It can leak carbon monoxide, which doesn’t smell and can’t be seen – by far the most
dangerous aspect of an improperly installed or poorly operating water heat. You should
think twice about having a friend or any non-professional handle the installation of your
water heater.


* Do It Yourself *
Flushing Your Hot Water Heater

Water Heater Flush – How to Flush a Gas or Electric Water Heater

Water heater manufacturers recommend flushing sediment from your storage type water heater periodically.

How often your model needs to be flushed depends upon the quality of the water in your area. Areas with
high mineral content will have to flush more often.
How to Flush Your Water Heater

CAUTION: When flushing your water heater there is danger of being scalded.  Be careful and keep children
and pets away during the procedure.

Water heater manufacturers recommend flushing sediment from your storage type water heater periodically.  
How often your model needs to be flushed depends upon the quality of the water in your area. Areas with
high mineral content will have to flush more often.

What is sediment, and why is it a problem? The sediment is sand or other grit from a well, or any other
material that has gotten into the municipal water mains. Sediment can also come into your home after the
water company flushes out their lines.

Over time, your heater can accumulate this sediment consisting of sand, gravel, grit, and various mineral
deposits. This buildup can reduce the amount your water heater holds, create a variety of interesting noises,
and reduce the efficiency of your unit. The buildup of sediment at the bottom can harden and sometimes clog
the drain valve.

Cleaning this sediment from out of your water heater is not particularly difficult, here is how to do it:

If your water heater is gas, set the gas valve to “Pilot” to prevent the burners from coming on while you are
flushing it. If your heater is electric be sure to turn off the circuit breakers. With an electric water heater, if the
water level drops below the heating elements and the thermostat turns the elements on, the heating elements
will probably burn out quite rapidly.
Connect a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank.  Make sure the outlet of the hose is in a
safe area away from pets and children. It can be very hot and can scald quickly
Close the shut off valve on the cold inlet to the water heater.
Carefully open the temperature/pressure relief valve at the top of the tank by lifting the lever.  Leave the valve
open.
Open the drain valve at the bottom of the heater allowing the water to flow out through the garden hose. If the
sediment is clogging the drain valve then try closing the temperature/pressure relief valve and turn the cold
inlet valve back on to “power flush” the sediment out.
In some cases the sediment hardens into large chunks that can block the drain valve. If so, then wait until
everything cools down, remove the garden hose from the drain valve, remove the valve if necessary, and use
a long screw driver to break up the clog. This is a very messy procedure.
When the garden hose runs clear you are finished.
Close the drain valve at the bottom of the tank and remove the garden hose.
Close the pressure relief valve at the top of the tank if it is still open, and turn the cold inlet valve back on.
Open a hot water faucet in your house, and let it run until no air bubbles come out.
Turn the heater back on, and with gas units re-light the pilot light if necessary.







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