Since conventional water heater tanks tend to fail due to internal corrosion, they typically don't last more than about fifteen years. Unlike appliances like your furnace or refrigerator, keeping a tank-style water heater operational for much longer than expected may be difficult or impossible. As a result, most units won't be over a decade or two old.
Unlike modern furnaces, most modern water heaters still use pilot lights. However, units made within the last few decades typically use an electronic ignition system for their pilot. If your water heater uses this system, you'll usually see a large box on the front with a dial and a status light. This status light can provide valuable information when your hot water stops working.
What Does the Status Light Tell You?
If you look at the large box on the front of your water heater, you should see a status light. Most water heaters will include a chart that also tells you what the color or status of the light indicates. If your unit doesn't have this chart, you may need to look up your owner's manual to determine the meaning of each status light code.
In most cases, you should see a steady or a single blinking light for a lit pilot light and normally functioning heater. No light at all often means that the pilot light is out, but this behavior can vary between units. If your pilot light is out, you should see instructions for relighting it in the same location as the status light code chart.
Any other sequence of flashes usually indicates a problem. If you see these flashes or relighting your pilot light doesn't seem to work, you'll need to move on to additional steps.
When Should You Worry About Blinking Status Code Lights?
Generally, any light code that doesn't indicate normal operation is a cause for concern. In almost all codes, a flashing indicator code will also mean that your hot water isn't working. The status code can give you a clue to the underlying problem, but you shouldn't assume that it's pointing you directly at the issue.
For example, your water heater may report a problem with its tank temperature, but this status code doesn't necessarily mean it is overheating. Instead, the issue may be with the sensor that detects water temperature. A plumber will need to test the temperature sensor for proper operation before moving on to further diagnostics.
The status LED on modern water heater gas controls can be incredibly helpful for diagnosing problems, but it can also be misleading if you use it to replace parts blindly. If your water heater isn't functioning and your status light is on, contact a professional plumber to help you determine the reason for the failure and the appropriate fix.
To find out more, contact a company like Rooter Express Plumbing & Drain.