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Question DetailsAsked on 7/10/2016

We have no hot water in any sink or the shower, it's basically lukewarm at best, not really hot enough for a shower

before we would run the dishwasher first to ensure hot water in the shower, but now that does not work and all sinks and the shower run lukewarm water at best. Could this be a water heater issue or no?

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1 Answer


Running the dishwasher first to make sure there was hot water for the shower was undoubtedly a case of a long (and propably exposed crawlspace or unheated basement) pipe run to the shower, so you were getting hot water moved down the pipes to that area and pre-heating the hot water pipes by running the dishwasher. Nothing to do with total lack of hot water now.

This, with no hot water, could be one of two things likely things and probably is a water heater failure:

1) if hot water after a long period of non-use (like first thing in the morning) but water heater cannot keep up with the demand like it used to, could be one of the commonly two electric heating elements (in electric water heater only obviously) has gone out, so it will heat the water up eventually but has only half the heating power to keep up with demand so goes lukewarm after a few minutes use. Sometimes (pregressively, over a period of time) sediment in the bottom of a gas or oil water heater because it has not been flushed out annually can also cause reduced heating capacity like this - usually accompanied by crackling or gurgling in the water heater when it is firing, and commonly discolored water as the boiling in the bottom stirs up sediment and such too.

2) if lukewarm right off the bat - never hot even if it has had a long time to recover, then almost certainly water heater is not heating - if just slightly warmer than house temp (typically about 80) probably has a constant-on pilot burning which warms it a bit, but otherwise heater is not getting any heating. Could be due to electrical problem if electric fired or gas or oil type with electric controls or pump or blower, gas / oil burner not firing for whatever reason, or water heater thermostat problem.

Once you have checked that gas/oil valve has not been turned off (or out of propane or oil if that type of fuel) and that thermostat has not been turned down, you probably need a Heating and A/C contractor or a Plumber to repair or replace it as applicable. Could be due to an electrical or gas supply problem but not as likely as a water heater issue. Of course, if you have other appliances running on gas or oil and they are working, then almost certainly a water heater issue.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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