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2 Water Heater Problems You Can Solve Yourself (And 1 You Shouldn't)

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Plenty of failures around the house may start with some pretty subtle signs. You might not notice if your roof is beginning to develop issues or even if your air conditioner is running a little less efficiently than normal. However, water heater problems are often a bit more in your face. It's not hard to realize that something is wrong when your shower stubbornly refuses to produce hot water.

Of course, finding the source of the problem isn't always as easy. If the prospect of cold morning showers doesn't sound too appealing, you're probably looking for the quickest way to restore your hot water and get back to living your life. Keep reading for two common problems you can tackle on your own and one that's best left to a professional.

DIY: Your Pilot Light Is Out

While modern furnaces have universally abandoned pilot lights, you can still find these devices on many water heaters. Since water heaters run year-round and often need to run several times per day, a pilot light is less of an efficiency issue. If your water heater uses a pilot light, you should have a sight glass you can use to check its condition.

If the light is out, you can fix this problem yourself! Nearly all pilot light assemblies will have instructions nearby to get the light going again. If not, there are plenty available online. Once you've relit the light, watch to ensure it stays lit. If the light keeps going out, there may be a more serious issue, and you'll want to contact a plumber for further diagnosis and repairs.

DIY: Obstructed Intake

Gas water heaters require combustion air, just like any other gas appliance. Most water heaters have an intake screen along the bottom of the unit that pulls air from the surrounding environment. If you look under your heater, this screen should be fairly obvious. These screens are relatively large and robust, usually encircling the entire water heater, but they can still become obstructed.

Check for debris or dirt clogging up the screen. You can use a vacuum to gently clean around the screen or, if necessary, use a brush to remove any dirt you see. Your water heater will overheat and shut down without adequate airflow, so cleaning this screen may help. If the water heater still won't fire or the overheat protection continues to trip, contact a plumber for additional help.

Call a Pro: Thermostat Faults

Your water heater works like a small HVAC system, complete with a thermostat to control the temperature of the water. If the thermostat fails, the burner may fail to maintain the correct temperature, resulting in cold or lukewarm water. While water heater thermostats aren't complex, diagnosing them isn't always easy.

If changing the thermostat temperature doesn't seem to affect the output temperature of the water heater, it's best to contact a professional. Not only will a plumber diagnose the problem accurately, but they may be able to repair it without needing to replace the entire thermostat assembly.

Contact a company like Dewey's Plumbing to learn more.