Stepping into the shower to get ready for work or an important engagement only to discover there is no hot water is maddening. When this happens, it means something is going on with the water heater. This could involve a simple repair or be a sign of something more serious going on.
One of the more common reasons for not having hot water has to do with the pilot light having gone out. This auxiliary flame is what ignites the burner, which in turn heats water. If the flame has been extinguished for a period of time, there might not be enough hot water in the tank for a shower.
In most cases, the pilot light simply needs to be relit, but if this is something that happens often, a defective thermocouple could be the reason. This device is designed to shut the gas off if no flame is detected, so when it goes out, it stops the burner from igniting. Because of the nature of the job, it is important to have a licensed professional replace the thermocouple.
Another reason for having no hot water could be a problem with the fuel supply. If gas has been turned off outside at the meter, the servicing gas company will need to be contacted. However, if gas is shut off at the shutoff valve going to the water heater, then a plumber should be contacted. It is also possible that the heater knob was turned off. By turning it back on, water will be heated within a short period of time.
A problem with the thermostat dial could also prevent water from being heated or to the desired level of heat. Located on the water heater, the thermostat is what controls the lower front part of the tank. Often, homeowners with smaller children will keep the thermostat low, which prevents accidental burns from hot faucet water, but if an individual wants water that is hotter, the thermostat can be turned up.
One other consideration has to do with the natural gas valve shutoff feature. This feature is designed for safety reasons and a vital part of the overall water heater operation, but if excessive water temperature is detected, this shutoff valve will stop gas flow going to the burner, which means water in the tank is no longer heated. Typically, this is not something that can be reset. Instead, a licensed plumber will need to replace the entire gas control valve unit.