Your home's hot water heater is something that runs in the background without you having to think about it. However, there may come a time where you find that nothing but cold water is coming out of your hot water faucets. Here are some reasons why you can have a hot water heater that has shut down unexpectedly.
Tripped Reset Switch
Your hot water heater has a reset switch on it that will cut off the heat going to the tank. Think of this switch like the safety switch on an electrical outlet in your home. If something happens that causes the voltage to spike, the switch shuts off all electricity flowing out of the socket to protect your electrical wiring and any devices connected to the outlet. The same logic applies to a hot water heater's reset switch. If the safety mechanism trips, it means that something is wrong with the water heater.
A common cause of a tripped reset switch is water that is getting too hot for the tank to handle. If you constantly find yourself having to reset your hot water heater due to the safety switch being tripped, contact a plumber to investigate the problem. It could be something as simple as a damaged thermostat that is causing the water heater temperature to spike.
Damaged Heating Element
It is possible that the heating element of the hot water heater has failed and is no longer capable of producing hot water. Water heating elements can fail over time through no fault of your own, since they will simply wear out due to years of wear and tear. You'll need to have that heating element replaced with a new one.
There's a wiring component in your hot water heater that must also be in good condition. Unfortunately, these problems are hard to diagnose on your own. If wires between the elements like the thermostat and heating element are damaged, the tank may not be getting the signal it needs to heat the water at the proper temperature. This is one problem that likely needs to be diagnosed by a plumbing contractor.
A local plumber is always a good person to call when you have issues with hot water in your home. If you've never troubleshot a hot water heater before, you won't have the level of expertise that a professional has to get that job done. Leave it to the pros to figure out why your hot water heater is not working properly.