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Emergency Fixes: What to Do When Your Water Heater Stops Working?

Emergency Fixes: What to Do When Your Water Heater Stops Working?

In the depths of Ontario’s chilly seasons, a malfunctioning water heater is more than an inconvenience; it’s a household emergency. As an HVAC technician with Constant Home Comfort, I’ve encountered numerous water heater issues and have gathered a wealth of knowledge on how to tackle them effectively.

Water Heater Stops Working? Quick Solutions & Troubleshooting Tips

Check Your Warranty First

Before you roll up your sleeves to tackle the issue when your water heater stops working, it’s crucial to check if your unit is still under warranty. Many homeowners overlook this step, but it can be a game-changer. Warranties often cover parts, and sometimes even labor, which can significantly reduce the cost of repairs. If your water heater stops working and it’s still under warranty, you might be eligible for free or discounted parts, or even a replacement unit. Remember, at Constant Home Comfort, we’re well-versed in handling these warranties and can assist you in navigating this process.

No Hot Water? Steps When Your Water Heater Stops Working

It’s a typical Ontario morning, you turn on the shower, and… nothing but cold water. When your water heater stops working, and you’re left without hot water, it can throw off your entire day. But don’t worry, there are a few things you can check before calling in the pros. A common reason why a water heater stops working is due to electrical issues, such as a tripped circuit breaker. It could also be a malfunction with the heating elements or the high-temperature limit switch. These are often simple fixes that can restore your hot water without needing extensive repairs.

Quick Fixes:

  • Check the circuit breaker: Ensure it hasn’t tripped. If it has, switch it off and then back on.
  • Reset the high-temperature limit: Turn off the power, remove the access panel, and press the reset button.

Addressing Inadequate Hot Water: When Your Water Heater Stops Working

Sometimes, the water heater might be working but not supplying enough hot water. This could be due to the heater’s size or a failing heating element.

Quick Fixes:

  • Adjust usage: Limit shower lengths and spread out water usage.
  • Check heating elements: If the unit is not undersized, one or both heating elements might need replacement.

Water Too Hot? Adjust the Thermostat

It’s a less common scenario, but sometimes your water heater stops working as expected and starts churning out water that’s just too hot. This can be a real concern, especially if you have children or elderly family members at home. Overly hot water is often a sign that the thermostat on your water heater is set too high. Adjusting it can not only solve the immediate issue but also prevent future instances where your water heater stops working properly due to thermostat issues.

 Quick Fixes:

  • Adjust the thermostat: Ensure it’s set no higher than 120°F. Adjust with a screwdriver if necessary.

Dealing with A Leaking Water Heater

A leaking water heater is a clear sign that something’s amiss. When your water heater stops working efficiently and starts to leak, it can lead to water damage and increased utility bills. Leaks can be caused by a variety of issues, from loose connections to failing components. Identifying and fixing these leaks promptly can prevent further damage and restore your water heater to its optimal working condition.

Quick Fixes:

  • Tighten connections: Use a wrench to tighten any loose inlet or outlet pipes.

Rust-Colored Water or Bad Odor

If you notice rust-colored water or a bad odor when your water heater stops working correctly, it’s a sign of internal issues. These problems can range from corrosion inside the tank to bacterial growth. Not only is this a health concern, but it can also significantly shorten the lifespan of your water heater. Addressing these issues promptly ensures the safety and longevity of your water heater.

Quick Fixes:

  • Replace the anode rod: This rod protects the tank from corrosion. If it fails, it needs replacing.
  • Address bacteria: If you suspect bacterial contamination, consult a professional immediately.

Tank Making Noises

When your water heater stops working quietly and starts making noises, it’s a sign that something’s not right. These sounds, often described as rumbling or popping, can indicate sediment build-up. Regular maintenance is key to preventing these issues and ensuring your water heater stops working less frequently due to sediment problems.

Quick Fixes:

  • Drain the tank: Turn off the power and water supply, attach a hose, and drain the tank to remove sediment.

Securing Cold Water Inlet: Quick Fixes for When Water Heater Stops Working

A leaking cold water inlet is a common issue when your water heater stops working efficiently. This type of leak can lead to water wastage and potential damage to the surrounding area. Promptly addressing this issue can save you from bigger headaches down the road.

 Quick Fixes:

  • Tighten the inlet: Turn off the water supply and tighten the inlet connection with a wrench.

Damaged Pressure Relief Valve

A damaged pressure relief valve is a serious concern, as it’s a critical safety feature of your water heater. When your water heater stops working safely due to a faulty valve, it’s essential to address this immediately to prevent potential hazards.

Quick Fixes:

  • Replace the valve: Turn off the electricity and water, drain some water, and replace the valve using a pipe wrench.

Water Heater Leaking From the Sides

Water leaking from the sides of your water heater is a clear indicator that your water heater stops working as it should. This type of leak usually suggests tank damage or corrosion, which often necessitates a complete replacement of the unit.

Quick Fixes:

  • Replace the tank: If the tank is damaged, it’s safest to replace the entire water heater.

Condensation on the Water Heater

Condensation on your water heater can sometimes be mistaken for a leak. It’s important to differentiate between the two, as condensation is a less serious issue but can still indicate that your water heater stops working optimally.

How to Fix:

  • Adjust the temperature: Lowering the temperature can reduce condensation.
  • Install a drain pan: This can catch any drips and prevent floor damage.

Regular Water Heater Maintenance Tips

To prevent those moments when your water heater stops working unexpectedly, regular maintenance is key. It’s not just about fixing problems; it’s about preventing them. Here are some essential tips:

  • Annual Draining: Once a year, drain your water heater to remove sediment that accumulates at the bottom. This sediment can cause inefficiency and contribute to your water heater stopping working prematurely.
  • Insulate Pipes: Insulating your water heater pipes helps maintain the temperature of the hot water and reduces the strain on your unit. This is especially important in Ontario, where colder temperatures can cause your water heater to work harder.
  • Regular Inspections: Have your water heater inspected by a professional annually. This can catch issues before your water heater stops working, saving you from unexpected cold showers and potentially costly repairs.
  • Temperature Settings: Keep the temperature set at around 120°F. This prevents overheating, which not only saves energy but also reduces the risk of your water heater stopping working due to excessive heat stress.
  • Test Pressure Relief Valve: Test the temperature and pressure relief valve regularly to ensure it’s functioning correctly. A faulty valve can lead to pressure build-up, increasing the chances that your water heater stops working.

By following these maintenance tips, you can extend the life of your water heater and reduce the likelihood of it stopping working unexpectedly.



Q: What should I do immediately when my water heater stops working?

 A: First, check the circuit breaker and the power supply. If everything seems fine there, try the reset button on your unit. If your water heater still isn’t working, it might be time to call in a professional from Constant Home Comfort.

Q: How often should I replace my water heater? 

A: Typically, a water heater lasts about 8-12 years. However, if your water heater stops working frequently or shows signs of significant wear and tear, it might be time for a replacement.

Q: Can I fix my water heater myself if it stops working?

 A: Some minor issues can be fixed by a handy homeowner, like resetting the circuit breaker or adjusting the thermostat. However, if your water heater stops working due to more complex issues, it’s safer and more efficient to call a professional.

Q: What are the signs that my water heater is failing? 

A: If your water heater stops working regularly, makes strange noises, leaks, or produces rusty water, these are signs that it might be failing and requires professional attention.

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