What to Do When Your Water Heater Stops Heating Water

hand testing shower water temperature

Yesterday, your water heater was working fine, but suddenly, today, no hot water is coming out of any faucet in your home! While this may seem like a terrible situation, don’t worry just yet. Many times when a tank water heater stops supplying hot water all of a sudden, the unit isn’t actually broken.

Before picking up the phone to call a plumber, give these troubleshooting steps a try.

1. Is the gas supply on? (gas water heaters only)

Without a gas supply, your water heater has no way to heat water. Someone may have turned off the gas supply inadvertently or switched it off on purpose but neglected to turn it back on.

  • Locate your water heater’s gas line. It may look like a line of yellow tubing.

  • Follow the gas line until you get to the shut-off valve lever.

  • If the lever is in line with the gas line, then this means that the gas supply is on and that some other problem is the source of your water heater issue.

  • If the lever is not in line with the gas line, then this means that the valve is shut off and that no gas is being allowed through the line to your water heater.

  • If the valve is shut off, turn the lever until it’s facing the same direction as the gas line. This will turn the gas supply back on and solve your water heater issue.

2. Is the pilot light on? (gas water heaters only)

Your water heater has a burner to heat water. The pilot light is what ignites the burner. Without a properly functioning pilot light, your burner will not work.

There are a couple of crucial, safety-related points to note when it comes to lighting a pilot light that has gone out.

  • Follow the instructions that come with your water heater, as the process can vary between different models.

  • Always make sure that the gas shut-off valve is switched to the “off” position for at least five minutes before attempting to relight the pilot light. This gives the volatile natural gas a chance to clear out.

Once the pilot light is on, and the burners have reignited, it will take approximately half an hour before they have heated enough water for you to use.

3. Did the circuit breaker trip?

A minor power surge can overload an electrical circuit and cause the breaker associated with that circuit to trip. If your water heater is on the circuit with the tripped breaker, this means that your water heater has no power supply and is, therefore, unable to function.

  • Go to your home’s electrical panel (also known as the circuit breaker box).

  • Check inside for any tripped circuit breakers.

  • If you see a tripped breaker, allow power back into the circuit by pushing the breaker back into the “on” position.

If you own an electric water heater, it may take some time for the heating elements to warm up water after you’ve restored power to the unit. Keep in mind that if the circuit trips frequently, this could signal a potentially hazardous problem with your electrical panel, the circuit itself, or your water heater. If it becomes a recurring problem, you should get your electrical system inspected by a professional.

4. Does the water heater need to be reset? (electric water heaters only)

If your water heater is allowing the water in the tank to get too hot, this can cause the reset switch to trip. Unfortunately, this means that you most likely have a faulty thermostat. However, you can still get hot water while waiting for the plumber by locating the reset switch.

  • Usually, you will have to remove a panel to access the switch.

  • The switch is often red and will be lit up if it needs to be reset.

  • Reset the switch by pushing the button.

I’ve tried all of these things: what now?

If these basic troubleshooting steps have not solved the issue, then your water heater is likely in need of a professional repair. Fortunately, water heaters have a fairly long lifespan of around 10 years and have a number of parts that are fairly easily replaced, so in most situations, an entire water heater replacement will not be necessary.

For water heater repairs in Gilbert, contact EZ Flow Plumbing, LLC online or by phone at (480) 351-1820. We’re committed to providing a painless plumbing experience!

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