If your water heater is working properly, then it's like it isn't even there. A malfunctioning hot water heater can leave you unable to take a shower and can even lead to other plumbing problems down the line. To help you keep your water heater in pristine condition, here are some ways to troubleshoot one common problem: a total lack of hot water.
No Hot Water At All?
If you don't have hot water anywhere in your home, then chances are that your water heater is directly to blame. In the best case, the water heater might just not have power. In the worst case, your water heater might have power, but something is preventing that water from getting to the rest of your home.
For the former, you will want to check whether the water heater is turned on. It should feel slightly warm to the touch. If it isn't, then you should check on the power source.
For heaters that are powered by electricity, you'll want to check the circuit breaker and the power line to the heater. The circuit breaker may have been tripped due to a power outage or overdrawing of power, but the solution is as simple as flipping the pertinent switch back to the correct position.
For heaters that are powered by gas, you will still want to check the above locations if it uses electricity to start. You will also want to take a look at the pilot light and determine if gas is actually getting to the heater. The gas main may be turned off, which can result in a heater that is unable to turn on.
Still Not Getting Hot Water?
If you find that there are no problems with your heater's power, yet you still aren't getting any hot water, then you may need to look at the pipes leading out of the heater. If there is a leak or blockage in one of them, then that hot water could be lost before ever reaching your faucets. In turn, this can result in some serious water damage to your home and your pipes. If you find water pooling near the water heater or notice some stains in your walls, then there is a good chance that there is a pipe that is leaking somewhere.
To find such a leak before it causes too much damage, it's a good idea to get a professional consultation from a plumber.