YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

DO-IT-YOURSELF : Making Sure You'll Get in Hot Water

February 22, 1992|From Associated Press

You're getting ready to take a nice hot bath. You turn on the hot water, and it's lukewarm--or worse, cold. Do not despair.

Here are some tips that can help you pinpoint the cause and make quick repairs, if necessary:

Not Enough Hot Water

* This is usually caused by using too much hot water at one time and not giving the heater enough time to reheat a new supply. The easiest solution is to space activities requiring hot water.

* Also check the heater thermostat. The usual setting is 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but in cold weather you may need to set it higher if the pipes pass through unheated spaces.

* If you still don't get enough hot water, call for service.

No Hot Water--Electric Water Heaters

First, make sure the heater's master switch is on. If it is, check the circuit breaker or fuse on your electrical system that controls power to the water heater.

If the heater is getting power, try resetting it. Remove the access panel and cut away the insulation with a sharp knife. Then push the reset button on the high temperature cutoff.

If this doesn't start the unit, get professional service to check the thermostats and heating elements.

No Hot Water--Gas Water Heaters

Check if the master switch to the heater is on. Then check the pilot light. If necessary, relight it according to instructions on the unit.

If the pilot will not stay lit, remove the pilot shield and clean the orifice with a thin copper wire. Do not use a needle, paper clip or other hard metal object that may enlarge the orifice.

Once the pilot is lit, reset the master switch. If the problem persists, seek professional help.

Water Is Discolored or Heater Is Noisy

This means that sediment has built up in the unit. You will have to drain the tank to flush out the sediment. Here's how:

First, turn off the master switch on the heater. Close the water inlet valve and open a hot water tap at a sink to equalize pressure as the tank drains. Hook up a hose to the draincock and run it to a floor drain or outdoors. The open end of the hose must lie below the level of the draincock for full draining of the hose. Open the draincock and let the water drain out, taking the sediment with it.

Now reverse the procedure. Close the draincock and disconnect the hose. Open the inlet valve to fill the tank, and when water runs from the sink tap left open, close that. Turn the heater's master switch on, and in the case of a gas heater, relight the pilot.

Every month or so it's a good idea to drain a couple of gallons of water from the heater. To drain only this amount from the heater, place a bucket under the draincock and open it up to drain off some water.

Los Angeles Times Articles