Water Heater Troubleshooting
LESLIE: Judy in Minnesota has an interesting situation being that you only get hot water if you do laundry first?
JUDY: Yes. This is my mother. She has to run enough water to fill her water – her washing machine before the water heater will come on enough to heat up the water so she can take a shower. So, does she have the wrong kind of water heater or does she – is it hooked up wrong or what? But she has to run enough water; she doesn’t apparently run enough otherwise. You know, washing pans and dishes isn’t enough.
TOM: What kind of water heater does she have? Is it electric or gas?
JUDY: It’s electric.
TOM: Yeah. OK, here’s what’s going on. Electric water heaters have two …
JUDY: Oh, I’m sorry. My husband just said, “No, it’s not. It’s gas.”
TOM: Ah, man. You blew my whole answer. (Leslie chuckles) I had it all figured out.
JUDY: Ah, sorry. Sorry. (Tom chuckles) It’s gas.
TOM: Alright. Well, if it’s gas, something is obviously wrong with the thermostat.
LESLIE: How old is it, Judy?
JUDY: It’s not very old; she just had a new one put in shortly ago so it’s less than a year old, I would say.
TOM: Yeah. Something is wrong with the control circuit; something is wrong with the thermostat. It’s not heating up the water properly.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Maybe it might even be a simple solution as it’s not dialed up to the correct temperature.
TOM: Yeah, well …
JUDY: Oh, we’ve tried that.
LESLIE: You tried that.
TOM: Yeah. No, Judy, I don’t think that the thermostat is working right because it should be measuring the temperature and controlling when the burner comes on and off. I was going to say if you had an electric water heater, it would make perfect sense because there are two heating elements: one is up high and one is down low. And if she had one that was burned out, that would be why she had to spill off a lot of cold water before she found the hot.
But with electric, it’s a matter of the thermostat not regulating the water temperature properly so – if it’s only a year old, though, it should be under warranty, so I would start with the manufacturer and go from there.
JUDY: OK. I appreciate the answer. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.