Have you found yourself waiting at the shower or faucet for hot water, only to realize it is not coming? That might be the frustrating experience you’re faced with if your hot water heater turns off for no reason. What should you do if your gas water heater keeps shutting off and what might be the problem?
Call Your Plumber
The first thing you should do is call your plumber. Any time a gas appliance isn’t functioning properly, you run the risk of a gas explosion or inhaling the fumes. If you can smell gas, then it’s especially important to get out of your home, with your family, and then call a professional.
Still, you may wonder, what could cause this problem? It is important for homeowners to be familiar with the potential causes, so they can understand what their plumber is up to and can prevent the problem in the future. So here are the potential causes of a gas water heater that keeps shutting off.
1. Gas Supply Problems
Your gas water heater will turn off if it isn’t getting the fuel it needs. There are a few different problems that can prevent your heater from getting enough gas. Although these problems are most often caused by a faulty gas valve or a leak. A leak is an emergency that needs professional attention immediately. A faulty gas valve is more likely to be limiting your gas flow to the appliance, which causes it to shut off.
2. Dirty Thermopile or Pilot Light
One reason you should absolutely get your water heater maintained is that dirty parts can significantly interfere with its operation. A dirty part can cause a whole bunch of problems. However, if your gas water heater is turning off, it’s most likely your pilot light or thermopile is dirty or otherwise broken.
The pilot light can get dirty from soot, dust and other particles. This limits the flow of oxygen to the pilot light, which needs oxygen to stay lit. So, it’ll flicker off. You can restart it, but eventually, it will go out again unless your plumber cleans out the debris.
The thermopile responds to the pilot light to turn on the gas controls. If it doesn’t signal the gas controls on, the water heater won’t start heating. A dirty, old, or otherwise broken thermopile may be the cause of your problems.
3. Dirty Air Inlet
The air inlet supplies air not to the pilot light but to the gas water heater’s main burners. If they don’t get adequate oxygen due to a clogged air inlet, they will shut off. This is likely to be the source of your problems if your pilot light doesn’t turn off and your thermopile seems to be working properly.
Just as with other dirt build-up problems, you can prevent this problem in the future by getting your gas water heater regularly maintained.
There are a few other less common problems which could be causing your gas water heater to shut off. A plumber can trouble-shoot for you and let you know what’s going on and what you can do to prevent the problem in the future.