Water heaters are the unsung heroes when it comes to household appliances. They work tirelessly around the clock to provide you with a consistent source of hot water. However, once they start to malfunction, you are reminded of the convenience that they provide each day. As you troubleshoot your storage tank water heater, common signs that indicate it requires service include:

• You’re using the same amount of water as usual but the hot water is not lasting as long.
• You’ve noticed an increase in your electric bill.
• You do not have any hot water at all.

If you have hot water but it doesn’t seem to last as long as it used to, or you think you should be getting better performance out of your water heater, try these steps to improve efficiency:

• Prevent cold air from contacting your water heater. If cold air is leaking into the room where the water heater is installed, use caulk, spray foam and/or weatherstripping (depending on the situation) to seal the leaks.
• Purchase an appropriately sized insulating jacket or blanket for your older water heater. Newer models usually already have insulated tanks.
• Insulate the hot-water pipe that’s connected to your water heater.
• Drain the water heater annually to remove sediment and debris that can collect at the bottom and reduce efficiency.

If you’re still experiencing a shortage of hot water, it might be time to call in a professional. Only an experienced service technician should attempt to repair a water heater. Common components a technician will inspect to troubleshoot your water heater include the following.

• The adjustable thermostat, which allows you to set the appliance to a desired temperature
• The elements that produce the heat needed to warm your water
• A pressure relief valve designed to open, allowing hot water to escape in the event your water heater malfunctions
• The dip tube designed to divert incoming cold water to the bottom of the tank without disturbing the hot water near the top.

If you need more expert advice after you troubleshoot your water heater, please contact us at Comfort Systems. Our full-service air conditioning, heating and plumbing company has served the Wichita area since 1996.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Wichita, Kansas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about troubleshooting your water heater and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.