Water heaters that can’t heat water aren’t good for much. They’re rather ugly machines; not really great for conversation pieces. Not really small enough for paperweights, either. We can tell you’re not laughing, so we’re going to move onto what is actually going on when a water heater isn’t heating properly.
If your water heater isn’t providing enough hot water for your needs, there’s a good chance that something is wrong with it. You should call a technician to have a look at the system before whatever is wrong gets any worse. While you’re waiting for your technician to arrive, though, you should take a look at some of the possible causes for your predicament below.
Even in areas without a hard water problem, sediment can build up on the bottom of the storage tank over time. The longer this goes on, the more insulated the water in the tank becomes from the heat created by the burner assembly. If your water heater is consistently providing lukewarm or even cold water, it might be because there is a lot of sediment in the tank that needs to be flushed out.
Clogged Burner Assembly
If you’re using a gas water heater, then you have a burner assembly that actually combusts the gas to generate heat. Carbon particles are created as a byproduct of burning natural gas, and can build up on the burner assembly over time. The burner assembly can eventually have so much carbon build up on it that some or all of the jets will not be able to fire on time. Having the burner assembly professionally cleaned should resolve this issue. Be sure you have it done soon, though. If the burner assembly clogs completely, it won’t be able to generate any hot water at all.
Cracked Dip Tube
If your water heater seems to switch back and forth between hot and cold water while you’re using it, it might be because of a cracked dip tube. The dip tube is the part of the water heater that ensures that cold water flows to the bottom of the tank, kept separate from the hot water already leaving the tank at the top. If the tube cracks, which is common because it’s usually made of PVC, it can leak cold water into the warm water already in the tank. This can cause sudden temperature changes at the faucet. Replacing the dip tube should solve the problem, though.
Failed Ignition Device
The ignition device is the part of the water heater that actually ignites the stream of natural gas so the burner assembly can start generating heat. If the ignition device isn’t working, the burner assembly can’t heat and the water heater pretty much doesn’t work at all. If your system doesn’t seem to be generating any hot water at all, it might be for this reason. You might need to have the device repaired, or even replaced.