💧 Finding the Source of Your No Hot Water Problem
Having no hot water in your home can be a considerable inconvenience and even a health hazard.
If you find yourself without hot water, it’s important to identify the source of the problem before attempting any repairs.
This guide will help you diagnose why there is no hot water from your taps or shower heads so that you can return to enjoying warm showers and baths again!
💧 All Types: Tripped Circuit Breaker
One potential cause of having no hot water is a tripped circuit breaker.
This means that the power to your water heater has been shut off, and no current is being supplied to it.
To check if this is the case, you should look inside your home’s circuit breaker box and examine whether the breaker has been tripped.
The pilot light uses electricity to kickstart the burners, even if you have a gas-powered water heater.
How Do I Reset My Hot Water Heater?
Resetting a hot water heater is relatively straightforward.
The exact steps you need to take may depend on the type of water heater, but generally speaking:
- Turn off the power to the water heater by switching off the circuit breaker at the main electrical panel.
- Wait 10 minutes and switch the power back on. This will reset the thermostat and bring it back to its factory-set temperature.
- If your water heater has a reset button, press it for 3-5 seconds until you hear a click or beeping sound, then release it. The reset button is usually located near the thermostat or heating element.
- Check your water heater’s temperature settings and make any necessary adjustments before turning it back on again.
💧 All Types: Thermostat Malfunction
A malfunctioning thermostat means that no matter how long you run the hot water heater, no hot water will occur because it isn’t registering what temperature the device should automatically heat to.
Ideal operating temperatures for hot water heaters are between 122°F (50°C) and 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60°C).
Any cooler than this, you risk not only having no hot water but also exposing the water to the possibility of picking up Legionella bacteria, also known as legionnaires disease.
Also, a tripped high-temperature cutoff switch is one of the most common reasons behind no water.
🧰 The Fix!
Check the thermostat is operating correctly by turning up the temperature.
If your thermostat works properly, you should hear the water heater kick back on.
If it’s the high-temperature limit switch, find the reset button and reset it. You should hear a clicking sound if it resets properly.
If the thermostat is working, you may have to replace it. This is a good time to call in a professional plumber.
💧 Gas Heater: Gas Leak
A gas leak could be the cause of no hot water.
A gas leak happens when the gas used to heat your water heater escapes from the pipes and connections, leading to your gas water heater.
🧰 The Fix!
To check if this is the cause, look for signs of a leak, like hissing noises or an unusual smell, like rotten eggs coming from near your water heater.
If there is a gas leak and you smell gas, you should immediately take action and clear your home.
- Attempt to shut off all gas valves in your home
- Do not light a naked flame or use any other appliances that could be a source of ignition
- Leave your home immediately.
- Call 911 after you have reached a safe distance from your home
- Call the gas utility company immediately
- Do not attempt to repair it yourself unless qualified.
Gas leak repairs are extremely dangerous and best left to a qualified professional.
💧 Gas Heater: Pilot Light Problems
The pilot light is the flame inside the heater that helps to heat the water.
If it’s not working correctly, no hot water will come out, no matter how long you run it.
You should check if there is a problem with the pilot light by looking inside your gas water heater behind the access panel and seeing if it’s lit up.
Most modern gas water heaters no longer use a pilot light and rely on spark ignitors. Though harder to fix, these are a safer alternative to a pilot light.
🧰 The Fix!
If your water heater has a pilot light, you can try relighting it.
If your heater is on and the pilot light is off, gas will build up.
Turn off the regulator and wait for the gas to dissipate after a few minutes
Turn the regulator to PILOT mode
If the water heater has self-ignition, hold down the ignition knob for at least 60 seconds. After that, move the setting in the regulator to ON
If it doesn’t relight, go old school and use a barbeque lighter to kick-start the pilot light.
If it doesn’t relight, check to see if there’s a problem with the gas valve.
If you have a spark ignitor and it’s not lighting, it will require a replacement.
💧 Gas Valve Failure
Gas valve failure can also be a reason why you have no hot water.
This happens when the valve controlling the gas flow to the water heater stops working correctly.
🧰 The Fix!
If there are no gas leaks in your system, inspect the valve.
Don’t forget to check that the gas is actually turned on.
We have seen this a few times on callouts.
Also, inspect if the pilot light is burning continuously if you have one. If it keeps going out, you have a gas supply issue.
This could be from a valve failure or an obstruction in the gas line. Now is the time to call in a plumber.
💧 Gas Heater: Faulty Thermocouple
Similar to a gas-powered furnace, the thermocouple is a small part inside the water heater that helps maintain the pilot light.
If the pilot light goes out, the thermocouple will switch off the gas flow.
Like a furnace, these can get dirty and cannot sense a flame.
🧰 The Fix!
Remove the thermocouple and clean it with some steel wool or fine-grit sandpaper. Remove the buildup around the thermocouple.
Replace the thermocouple, ensuring it’s in the right spot in front of the pilot light flame.
If you still have problems keeping your pilot light burning, you may have to replace the thermocouple.
💧 Electric Hot Water Heater Malfunction
An electric water heater naturally uses electricity to heat the water heater tank. It doesn’t have all the other technology a gas hot water heater uses.
Electric water heaters contain heating elements that heat up via electrical resistance heating.
These heating elements are placed into the water in the hot water tank.
This doesn’t mean they are susceptible to similar problems as other water heaters.
💧 Electric: Heating Element
The heating elements inside your hot water heater are susceptible to corrosion and degrade over time, especially in areas with hard water.
Most electric water heaters have two heating elements.
If you have lukewarm water, you have an issue with the upper heating element.
If you have hot water though not enough, this is generally an issue with the lower heating element.
🧰 The Fix!
Your average hot water heater lasts approximately 10 years.
If you here having problems that point to a faulty heating element, it’s probably cheaper to replace the heater altogether.
💧 Electric: Wrong Tank Size
Did your family suddenly expand? Do you have inlaws living in your home?
Maybe your family has outgrown your hot water usage, especially if you have teenage daughters.
🧰 The Fix!
It’s definitely time for a water heater replacement.
Our advice: switch to a gas-powered tankless hot water heater for endless hot water.
You can thank me later!
💧 Electric: Local Temperature
The outside temperature can influence the time it takes your hot water heater to heat water.
This is more prevalent in the mornings and at night when your water heater ists unused and the outside temperatures drop.
🧰 The Fix!
Turn the thermostat on your water heater to the max setting.
After about half an hour, turn on a hot water faucet to see if the water temperature is back to normal.
At this point, you can return the setting to its normal position or leave it up if the cold weather continues.
Why Do I Suddenly Have No Hot Water?
It could be due to various issues if you suddenly have no hot water.
It could be that your water heater is malfunctioning or the pilot light has gone out.
It could also be due to a broken thermostat, a faulty heating element, or sediment buildup in the tank.
If you’re unsure what’s causing the issue, it’s best to contact a qualified plumber for help.
In addition to checking your water heater, it’s essential to ensure all of your plumbing fixtures are in good condition and free of any blockages or leaks.
You should also check your home’s main water supply line for any signs of damage or corrosion.
No matter the cause, having no hot water can be inconvenient and lead to more significant problems if left unaddressed.
To avoid this situation and keep your hot water running smoothly, it’s essential to inspect and maintain your water heater and plumbing system regularly.
How Long Does It Take for a Water Heater to Recover?
It depends on the type you have.
A gas heater will recover in half the time of an electric unit.
A 40-gallon gas heater can recover in about an hour, while a 40-gallon electric water heater can take up to 80 minutes to fully recover and heat a full tank of cold water back to the set temperature.
Propane storage tank water heaters will recover in 30-40 minutes, and propane tankless water heaters will recover instantly.
What is the Most Reliable Type of Water Heater?
The most reliable type depends on several factors, including the local climate and your household’s hot water needs.
Generally speaking, tankless water heaters are the most efficient and reliable compared to traditional storage tank models.
Tankless units do not store water, eliminating the risk of running out of hot water or experiencing lukewarm showers.
They also require less energy than traditional storage tanks, resulting in lower monthly utility bills.
💧 All Types: Call A Professional
If you’ve checked the steps above and no hot water is still coming out of your faucet, it’s best to call a professional.
They can find the root cause of your no-hot water problem and fix it as soon as possible.
An experienced plumbing or HVAC contractor can diagnose and repair equipment issues, ensuring your hot water heater runs appropriately so you can enjoy warm showers again!
No matter what type of water heater you have in your home, it’s important to stay on top of regular maintenance and keep an eye out for potential problems that may arise.
By taking some time to troubleshoot why there might be no hot water before calling a professional, you can save money and even learn to fix your hot water problems.
Then if you need to engage a professional, you can clearly articulate the problem and get a faster resolution.
Want to learn more about your home’s plumbing system? Feel free to check out our other plumbing articles!
Related Reading: DIY Guide to 15 Common Plumbing Problems & Solutions