No Hot Water in the House? Here’s Why

You were about to have a wonderful hot shower, but your water heater had a plan of its own. There is no hot water yet again.

A gas water heater won’t be able to function, in case of a gas supply outage, problems with the pilot light, and a gas leak. An electric water heater can be suffering from a tripped circuit breaker, as well as a faulty switch, heating element, and thermostat.

Let’s have a closer look at all these issues that are not letting you have a relaxing shower. 

Related: Top Reasons Why Furnace is Leaking Water

No Hot Water in the House from a Gas Heater

No Gas Supply

Sometimes, the reason why your gas heater isn’t working might be quite straightforward – there is no gas supply.

If your house is connected to gas piping, simply make sure that you have paid for it and that there are no problems on the actual line.

Inside your house, you can check the unit’s shut-off valve and the gas meter shut-off valve.

The latter is located on the outside of the house. Make sure that the valve is parallel to the incoming gas line, if it’s turned, then the gas flow is off.

The heater’s shut-off valve can usually be found at the bottom of the unit. Turn the valve counterclockwise to get the gas flowing. 

Issues with the Pilot Light

If you have an old water heater with a pilot light, then this component might be to blame.

Warning! The majority of the newer models come with a spark ignitor or a glow plug. Don’t try fixing these things on your own; call a professional.

Before following the steps mentioned below, make sure to turn the gas off and wait for at least 5 minutes. Give the gas pressure and the fumes enough time to disperse.

  • Check the pilot tube.

Use a needle to carefully remove any dirt from the pilot hole.

  • Make sure that there are no kinks in the flex tube.

The gas flows through the flex tube and if there is a kink, the flame might struggle to stay lit. Simply inspect the tube and fix the kinks.

  • Clean the thermocouple.

Gently sand the surface of the thermocouple with sandpaper. If nothing helps, you might have to replace the thermocouple.

  • Fix the thermocouple.

The sensor at the end of this component should be slightly touching the flame when it’s lit. If the thermocouple is bent, you can try gently pushing it back.

Tip: a thermocouple can be tested with a multimeter. If the reading is below 20MA, it means that the component is damaged and needs to be replaced.

Is your pilot light still not staying lit? The issue might be with the main control valve – you would have to invite an expert to replace this component. 

A Gas Leak

There might be no hot water because your heater has a gas leak.

The most common reasons for a leak include:

  • The loss of the drain valve
  • Too much pressure
  • Loose fixtures
  • Cracks in the storage tank
  • Age

Pure gas has no smell and color, but for safety reasons, companies add mercaptan to the gas to help the homeowners detect a leak if there ever is one.

So, if you ever notice that it smells like rotten eggs next to the water heater or the gas line, the chances are high that there is a leak.

Switch off the gas valve, evacuate everyone from the house, and call a team of professionals to deal with the problem. 

Related: Why Does My Gas Fireplace Keep Shutting Off?

No Hot Water in the House from an Electric Heater

A Tripped Circuit Breaker

Find the ‘on’ and ‘off’ button on the actual unit and make sure that it is switched to ‘on’.

Also, examine the circuit breaker box and turn the breaker off and back on, if it had tripped.

In a lot of cases, these easy manipulations would help, but what should you do, if the circuit breaker keeps tripping?

Warning! Do not continue flipping the breaker back on.

  1. Your thermostat might have gone bad – it has to be tested with a multimeter and replaced if there is such a need.
  2. The heating element might have gone bad – at times, the casing on the element can split and expose the electrical part of the component to the water in the tank (this will short the circuit).
  3. There might be a water leak that is coming in contact with the unit’s electrical components.
  4. Damaged wiring or burned connections can also be to blame.

A Faulty Switch

If the water temperature exceeds 180 F, the high-temperature cutoff switch is going to shut off the heater.

Usually, all you would have to do is find the reset button (in a lot of cases, it is located near the thermostat and has a red color). Simply push and release the button.

However, if the high-temperature cutoff switch is faulty, resetting the system will not help. A defective thermostat or heating element might also be the root cause of the problem. 

A Faulty Heating Element

The majority of modern water heaters have two heating elements – one at the bottom and one at the top of the unit.

These elements have a relatively short lifespan (usually, shorter than that of the actual water heater). By the way, mineral deposits can make the heating elements go out of order even sooner.

To find out, if the heating elements in your water heater are faulty, you would have to test the components with a multimeter (please attempt that only if you feel comfortable working with wires).

  • Turn off the circuit breaker and prepare a pair of rubber gloves.
  • Remove the metal panel attached to the side of the unit and the insulation – there you will find a hexagonal or round object with a plastic plate and 2 screws.
  • Set your multimeter to the lowest ohms setting.
  • Loosen one of the screws and detach a wire.
  • Touch the loosened screw – the multimeter should read 10-30 ohms. If the reading is lower or 0, the heating element needs to be replaced.

A Defective Thermostat

The heaters that have 2 heating elements, also have 2 thermostats. The upper one is the ‘main’ thermostat and it has the high-limit switch attached to it. 

If there is no hot water, then you would have to replace the upper thermostat, if it is faulty. In case the component is out of calibration – calibrate the thing, if you can.

A thermostat can make the high-limit switch trip. In such a case, manually reset an ECO button

A Flooded Compartment

Unfortunately, flood water can cause the thermostat and controls to corrode. This will, of course, result in the water heater not functioning properly.

You might have to replace a few elements or even the whole unit if the heater gets flooded.

How to Make Sure that There Is Always Hot Water in the House

Know the Recovery Time

A lot of units need some time to refill the tank and get the water heated up.

Tip: do not use the heater during the recovery time as this will add cool water to the tank and increase the recovery time.

The Type of the Water HeaterAverage Recovery Time
Gas tank water heater30-60 minutes (depending on the tank size)
Electric tank water heater60-120 minutes
Tankless gas heater0 minutes
Tankless electric heater0 minutes

Consider the Size of the Heater

The bigger the family, the bigger the water heater you’ll need.

If you have decided to go for a tank-style unit, then the tank capacity should be between 23-36 gallons (if there are 1-2 members in the family), 36-46 gallons (for 2-4 people), and 46-56 gallons (for 3-5 people).

Regularly Check the Heater

A broken water heater cannot deliver hot water. That’s why it’s incredibly important to make sure that your unit is properly looked after.

Here are a few things that you have to pay attention to when inspecting the water heater:

  • Loose connections

Turn the unit off and make sure that all the connections are in place and that the wires are not damaged.

  • A broken tank

If there is water leaking from the tank or you have discolored water coming from the faucets, then it looks like the tank is damaged.

Finally, don’t forget to drain the tank and wash out the sediment

Drain the remaining water into a bucket and briefly open the cold-water supply valve to stir up the sediment on the tank’s bottom. Repeat until you see clear water coming out of the hose.