No Hot Water In House? Easy DIY Fixes or Plumber Needed?

5 words you never want to hear – “No hot water in house”. However, that’s what happens more than 19,000 times a year in the USA.

The reasons are many, and often times the “fix” is easy, and sometimes – not so easy. I’ll let you know when to contact a local plumber.

No hot water in house?

Here’s What To Do If There’s No Hot Water In The House            

We often take for granted that there will be hot water on demand in our home. When there is suddenly no hot water in the house, it makes for a very unpleasant experience. 

The hot water supply in your house may also be intermittent. Even though your shower may be at the perfect temperature when you step in, it may quickly get cold until there is no hot water left at all.

First check if no one else has been using hot water all day, and that your water heater is the correct size for daily household needs. Hot water heaters range in size between about 30 and 130 gallons. The smaller heaters are suited for the needs of a single person or half-house setups. While the bigger units will serve households with multiple people.

If you are sure that the water heater is large enough for your household’s requirements, the exact troubleshooting steps you take will depend on the type of water heater you have, gas versus electric. For either type, consider the following tricks:

There are a number of issues that can cause hot water in the house to suddenly not being available.

In this article, we’ll have a look at some of those issues and help you determine how the problem can best be fixed.

Need to Hire The Services of a Plumber?

Or you can quickly and easily fill in the form here on the Plumber Near Me USA website to contact a local plumber in your area to help you solve your problem of water not getting hot.

If you decide to rather tackle the problem yourself, the solution once you’ve identified the source of the problem is often as easy as taking a quick trip to the local hardware store to pick up parts and a few basic tools.

Electric Water Heaters

If you have an electric water heater, there are only a few issues that would lead to having no hot water in the house.

The Circuit Breaker Is Tripped

Most major appliances, including the water heater, should have their own dedicated electrical circuit with a circuit breaker in the circuit breaker box. The first thing to check if you have no hot water in your house is to see if this breaker has been tripped.

Although it may be tripped, the water heater’s breaker may still appear to be on, but it will not quite be in line with the other breakers that are on.

Push the breaker all the way to the “off” position. Wait for 10 seconds, and then switch it back on by pushing it in the opposite direction.

Water heater circuit breaker
Water heater circuit breaker

A breaker that immediately flips back to the off position may indicate an electrical short or a breaker failure. If this is the case, call a professional on the Plumber Near Me USA website to have the issue fixed.

The Thermostat Is Faulty

Both the lower and upper heating elements are controlled by the upper thermostat on an electric water heater. If the upper thermostat is faulty, it will cause the dreaded water not getting hot issue.

As the lower thermostat only controls the lower heating element, it failing while the upper thermostat is still working, will result in the water not getting hot enough. The solution to both these problems is to replace the faulty thermostat.

EWH-00 Electric Water Heater Thermostat for double element Heater, Includes 1x Upper Thermostat and 1x Lower Thermostat, Universal type for TOD & APCOM type, Fit for Most Electric Water Heaters

EWH-00 Electric Water Heater Thermostat for double element Heater, Includes 1x Upper Thermostat and 1x Lower Thermostat, Universal type for TOD & APCOM type, Fits for Most Electric Water Heaters. See it at Amazon 

A hot water heaters’ thermostat should ideally be set for between 122°F and 140°F.

If the system runs below this range, there is not only a risk of not having enough hot water, but also for Legionella bacteria potentially growing. These bacteria cause a severe type of pneumonia called Legionnaires’ disease.

If your water heater has not been set to the ideal temperature, adjust it. You MIGHT set the temperature higher if your tank is a bit too small for daily needs. That way you will have to mix cold water with the hot water to get a comfortable temperature in the shower. The result is that more hot water is available for back-to-back showers.

Once the temperature has been set, you can expect hot water to be available within 30 to 40 minutes. Also, the unit should reach temperatures that prevent pathogens from growing within 2 hours.

Heating Element Faulty

A heating element failing is a fairly common problem on electric water heaters. If this is the case, the water heater element would need to be replaced, but this is fortunately pretty simple to do.

Other Reasons For The Hot Water Heater Not Working

Restart the Heater

An electrical storm or a power surge could play havoc with electrical systems. Turn your electric hot water heater off for a few minutes and then turn it back on. If there’s still no hot water after 30 minutes, you’ll need to keep looking for the problem.

Before attempting to inspect or repair your water heater, ensure the heater is turned off. There is enough power in these appliances that an accidental electric shock may be fatal, so be careful or call in a professional.

Reset Button Tripped

Repeated tripping may indicate a reset button that has failed. Try resetting the water heater and if this doesn’t work, the component likely needs to be replaced.

Accidental Grounding

Do a visual inspection to check for any foreign object shorting across the wiring connections.

Water Leaks

If there is no water coming out of the hot water tap at all, chances are that the problem is a water leak. This type of water leak will be pretty obvious., as the leak won’t be the typical slow drip type.

Slow drips can sometimes be stopped by tightening connections. However, those parts may have to be replaced if tightening doesn’t work.

Although many types of water heater leaks can be fixed easily, a leaking tank can only be fixed by replacing the water heater. Contact a local plumber.

bare foot woman standing on wet carpet
If there is no hot water, because of a broken water pipe – you will know it pretty fast.

A Wire Is Shorted Out

Scratched or frayed wiring may lead to direct electrical shorts. To prevent potential fire, all defective wiring should be replaced immediately.

Faulty Circuit Breaker

As circuit breakers can fail over time, this problem most often occurs in older homes. If this is the case, the breaker needs to be replaced.

Undersized Breaker or Fuse

Although this is not something that would happen normally, if you have recently replaced your water heater, this may be the culprit. Replace the faulty breaker or fuse with one rated for higher amperage.

Need to hire a plumber?

You can quickly and easily fill out the form shown on the right to contact a local plumber in your area to help you solve your problem of water not getting hot.

Gas Water Heaters

Although problems with gas units are caused by different issues than electric ones, both types can normally be repaired.

When dealing with gas appliances, additional precautions are required and do-it-yourself repairs should only be undertaken if you are 100% sure of your abilities and knowledge. If not, you can quickly and easily, use this form to contact a local plumbing expert in your area to help solve your problem.

If there is no hot water in the house, there are several common things to check:

The Pilot Light Has Gone Out

If the pilot light has gone out, first try to relight it before checking the causes below.

If the pilot light has been extinguished by a breeze through an open door or window, or a downdraft in the vent pipe on a windy day, relight it with the easy-to-follow instructions affixed to the side of the heater.

In some cases, like when the pilot light is situated in an enclosed burner chamber, you may have to call on a plumber to help.

If at any stage you smell gas while trying to identify the problem, leave the house immediately. Don’t use your phone inside the house! Don’t turn off the lights or anything else – just get out of the house. When you are far away from the house – then call 911 and the gas company!

Pilot Light Flame Is Not Blue

If the pilot light of your hot water heater burns yellow rather than blue, your hot water is likely only lukewarm. This is due to a problem with the gas-to-air ratio.

You should understand that a yellow flame may mean that your water heater is releasing carbon monoxide. This gas is odorless, colorless, and toxic.

The pilot light flame should be blue colored.
The pilot light flame should be blue colored.

Check if there are any open windows or drafts that may be causing the pilot light to not burn efficiently, and fix this situation. If this doesn’t help to get the pilot to burn with a clear blue flame, contact a local plumber to inspect the unit. Use this easy online form.

Also, monitor for any signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, i.e. nausea, faintness, or dizziness, and if required, leave your home immediately to seek medical help.

There has been a TV commercial recently, that said that on average, one person a day dies from carbon monoxide poisoning.

No Gas Supply

If the gas does not reach the pilot light and burner, check if the gas supply has not accidentally been shut off. Ensure that the gas valve is not closed and that the gas is on. If this was the case, open the valve and relight the pilot light.

Air in Gas Line

Verify that gas is flowing properly and force any air out of the gas line by relighting the pilot light several times.

Thermocouples

If the pilot light can be lit successfully, but the flame goes out when you release the control knob, the thermocouple may be faulty. This safety device senses if the pilot light is out, and shuts off the gas flow.

The thermocouple should be connected tightly to the gas line and the tip should be in the pilot light’s flame.

If these things are correct, check for the thermocouple being blocked and replace the component if required.

Honeywell Resideo CQ100A1013/U 24-Inch Replacement Thermocouple for Gas Furnaces, Boilers and Water Heaters

Honeywell Resideo CQ100A1013/U 24-Inch Replacement Thermocouple for Gas Furnaces, Boilers and Water Heaters. See it at Amazon 

Ventilation

A flue can become obstructed by external factors like rodents, ice or storm debris. Although cleaning a flue is not difficult, it can be messy. Unusual or excessive winds can blow into the flue, putting out the pilot light.

Defective, Bent, or Clogged Supply Lines

Pinholes or other defects in a gas line can cause the water heating to stop or be intermittent. Defective lines should be replaced immediately.

If there is not a pilot light burning or the smell of gas, and you’re sure the gas valve is open, visually inspect the gas line for any kinks that may be causing a blockage.

If you don’t find anything, check with the gas company to ensure that that your account isn’t in arrears and that there is service in your area.

If the gas company says you should have gas, it’s probably time to call a plumber.

Blocked Pilot Orifice

If the pilot orifice is blocked, it can be removed and cleaned, or replaced, to improve the operation of the water heater.

Clogged or Dirty Burner

Sometimes, soot builds up on the main burner, and this can prevent proper heating or even block burner ignition completely. To fix this issue, remove the component and clean or replace it.

Defective Gas Control Valve

This fault can prevent gas from getting to the pilot or burner. Although faulty gas valves can’t be repaired, they are not expensive to replace. However, do it safely by calling 1-888-548-3652

What to Do If the Water Does Not Get Hot Enough

If your water heater does still work, but gives intermittent results, there may be system components that are starting to fail. If you are sure that your water heater is big enough for its application, check out the following:

Electric and Gas Thermostats

If the temperature control is set correctly, you may need to replace the thermostat itself. A thermostat that has failed or is failing will often cause the water not to be hot enough.

Honeywell Resideo CQ100A1013/U 24-Inch Replacement Thermocouple for Gas Furnaces, Boilers and Water Heaters

Reliance Hot Water Heater Gas Control Valve 100112336 1″ Cavity Thermostat Compatible with Reliance, State, A.O. Smith, and American branded heaters. See it at Amazon 

Burner

If sediment has built up on a gas water heater’s burner, this can result in the water not heating correctly. Although it does not happen often, burner assemblies can also fail over time. Although it is possible to replace the unit yourself, we recommend that you rather let the professionals handle it. Use this easy online form to contact a local plumber.

Dip Tube

While a failing dip tube is once again not common, it can happen. Some water heaters that were manufactured between 1993 and 1996 have brittle polypropylene tubes and these are the most prone to this problem. However, even dip tubes in newer water heaters can fail. If this is the case, the water heater dip tube needs to be replaced.

Electrical Wiring

An electric water heater functioning erratically can be caused by loose connections. Turn the power to the water heater off and check that all connections are tight and corrosion-free. Although this issue is not common, it is worthwhile checking out.

Water Heater Leaks

A leaking water heater tank may prevent water from getting hot enough. Leaks can in turn result in water damage, short circuits, or even fires. This problem can unfortunately only be solved by replacing the water heater. Call 1-888-548-3652

Very Cold Weather

Unexpected cold weather in your area can have an impact on your electric- or gas-powered water heater’s effectiveness, or even cause it to break down completely. This most often happens overnight, when the heater is not used and temperatures drop sharply.

If you have experienced weather like this and your heater is still working, turn the hot water heater up to the maximum to get it going.

Heavy frost on trees.
No hot water? A sudden drop in temperature can affect the water heater.

After 30 minutes, turn on a hot water faucet to check if the water gets warm after running for a few minutes. If this works, adjust the settings of the water heater back to normal, or even increase it a few degrees above normal until the cold weather ends.

Using Professional Services

Safety concerns together with the technical nature of repairs to a water heater mean that it may be best to use professionals to do the job. If the heater isn’t on its own breaker, or if the breaker has to be replaced, contact a qualified electrician.

Leaks in the tank or inside the heater should be fixed by professionals before it stops the thermostat from functioning, or causes damage to the heating elements.

Hot Water Heaters Are Typically Rated For 10 Years

If your hot water heater has given you good service for about a decade, its thermostat, elements, or other parts may soon fail and will have to be replaced. It may be a better option to replace the water heater at this stage and capitalize on the improved energy efficiency that newer units offer. The energy savings may mean this is a good time to invest in a new unit.

Still No Hot Water In The House?

Stumped? If after checking everything mentioned in this article, there is still no hot water – it’s time to call the professionals. Plumbing and heating systems are much more complex than most people realize. So, it’s OK to get help when you need it. So, use the form below.

Related article: Plumber Near Me Free Estimate: Repair, Installation, Replace

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