DIY Checklist for Common Water Heater Problems

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If something goes wrong with your water heater unit, your first instinct might be to call a plumber. Considering that most of us don’t know much about fixing water heater problems, it’s an understandable reflex. But before you pick up the phone, there are several quick and easy things you can do that may resolve the problem. With any luck, you will fix the issue and save yourself some money. Here are four things you should check before calling a plumber:

Pilot Light

The pilot light is a small flame that can be found under the tank. When the water heater “fires up,” it is the pilot light that provides the fire that heats your water. Occasionally, the pilot light will go out.  Check whether the pilot light is on. If it is, then move on to the next item on this list. If it isn’t, then reset the pilot.


If the problem is not the pilot light, the next thing to look at is the breaker. Sometimes the breaker will trip off and needs to be reset. If it’s off, then reset it and see if it solves your problem.


All water heater units have a thermostat. If the thermostat was inadvertently lowered, you could adjust it back up to where you want it. If the water still isn’t hot enough, you might have a bad thermostat. Check your thermostat by running hot tap water over a household thermometer. If the thermometer reading is within five degrees of the thermostat setting, the thermostat is working fine. If not, you will need to replace it.


If sediment is building up in your tank, you can empty it and thoroughly flush it with water. Then, refill the tank and reactivate the water heater to check whether the problem has resolved.

After checking for all of these common problems, if your water heater still isn’t working right, you may want to call a plumber to continue the troubleshooting. Our pro team here at Wells Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning is available to help when you need it. Contact us at: (951) 375-6856.