Just Plumbing

Hot Water Heater Not Working? Everything You Need To Know

Are you ready to restore your daily bliss? Hot showers and baths can be the highlight of every day until they’re not – when that hot water heater decides it’s had enough. Don’t let a pesky appliance put an abrupt stop to your post-work indulgences; make sure you get yourself properly enabled with a reliable hot water system!

If your hot water isn’t flowing, it’s time to find out why! Could be something as simple as a faulty thermostat or tricky like a gas leak – so make sure you explore the possibilities quickly and safely. A few clicks could mean all the difference between cozy showers and cold nights in bed.

Got a cold shower on your hands? Let’s get to the bottom of it! We’ll help you explore what might be causing your hot water heater problems and provide useful instructions for getting those showers warm again. DIY fans or pros, everyone can benefit from our advice – let’s fix that issue now!

Table of Contents

What Is a Hot Water Heater? How Does It Work:

Just Plumbing | Hot Water Heater Not Working? Everything You Need To KnowA hot water heater is an appliance used to heat water for household activities such as bathing, washing dishes, and doing laundry. It comprises a heating element or burner, thermostat, and PRV. When you turn on the hot water tap, cold water flows into the heating element or burner.

The heating element or burner heats the water to the desired temperature, and the thermostat regulates the temp by turning off the heating element or burner when the water reaches the set temperature and turning it back on when the temperature drops below the set point.

As the water heats up, it is drawn through a hot water outlet pipe to the faucet, showerhead, or appliance where it’s needed. Meanwhile, cold water enters the hot water heater to replace the hot water through a supply pipe. The pressure relief valve (PRV) is a safety feature that prevents the hot water heater from exploding due to excessive pressure.

It opens automatically to release pressure when the pressure inside the hot water heater reaches a dangerous level. Hot water heaters can use different energy sources, like electricity, natural gas, propane, or oil, depending on the availability and cost of the fuel in your area.

In simple words, hot water heaters are essential appliances that provide hot water for daily activities. They work by using a heat source to heat and store water in a tank until it’s needed. Understanding how hot water heaters work can help you maintain them properly and ensure they provide reliable hot water for years to come without any problems or malfunctions.

How Many Types Of Hot Water Heaters Are There:

Just Plumbing | Hot Water Heater Not Working? Everything You Need To KnowA hot water heater is one of the most important appliances in any home. There are several types of hot water heaters available on the market, but the most common types are:

Storage Tank Water Heaters:

When it comes to hot water heaters, the storage tank is king! This classic option is great for any home, large or small. These reliable tanks come in a variety of sizes—from 20 gallons all the way up to 120 gallons-sized capacity so you get just right amount of heated H20 no matter what your needs are.

Tankless Water Heaters:

Say goodbye to bulky storage tanks and hello to energy efficiency with tankless hot water heaters! These modern appliances instantly heat up your water as soon as you turn on the tap, saving both time and money. Make the switch – upgrade today for a more efficient lifestyle!

Tankless water heaters are available in electric or gas models and are more energy-efficient than storage tank water heaters. They only heat water when it’s needed, reducing energy waste and lowering energy bills. However, these units are more expensive to install than storage tank water heaters and require professional installation.

Heat Pump Water Heaters:

Heat pump water heaters are a smart, eco-friendly choice that can take the chill off your morning showers. These clever units pull warmth from their surroundings and deliver cozy heated H2O whenever you need it — transforming chilly air or ground temperatures into warm relaxation!

Heat pump water heaters are more energy-efficient than storage tank water heaters, saving up to 60% on energy bills. However, they are more expensive to install than storage tank water heaters, and their efficiency can be affected by extreme weather conditions.

Solar Water Heaters:

Solar water heaters are a renewable energy option that uses the sun’s energy to heat water. These units have solar collectors that absorb the sun’s energy and transfer it to the water. They are available in two types:

  • Active solar water heaters:

Active solar water heaters have pumps that circulate water between the collectors and the storage tank.

  • Passive solar water heaters:

Passive solar water heaters rely on gravity and natural convection to circulate the water.

Solar water heaters are more energy-efficient than storage tank water heaters and can save up to 80% on energy bills. However, they are more expensive to install than other electric or gas water heaters and require direct sunlight to operate efficiently.

Condensing Water Heaters:

Condensing water heaters are a high-efficiency option that uses a secondary heat exchanger to extract heat from exhaust gases. These units are available in gas or propane models and are more energy-efficient than traditional storage tank water heaters.

Condensing water heaters can have efficiency ratings of up to 98%, making them the most energy-efficient option on the market. However, they can be more expensive than other units and require adequate ventilation to prevent the exhaust gases from building up in your home.

What Are The Common Causes of Hot Water Heaters Not Working:

Just Plumbing | Hot Water Heater Not Working? Everything You Need To KnowA hot water heater is an essential appliance that provides hot water for various household activities such as showering, dishwashing, and laundering. Unfortunately, hot water heaters can break down for various reasons or stop working altogether, causing hot water shortages. Some of the common causes of why your hot water heater is not working include:

Lack of Power Supply

One of the most common reasons a hot water heater may stop working is a lack of power supply. This issue can arise on both heaters: gas water heater and electric water heater.

For gas water heaters, a steady supply of natural gas or propane is needed for proper operation. If there is a problem with the gas supply, such as a gas line leak or a shut-off valve that has been turned off, the gas water heater will not function properly.

An electric water heater requires a reliable source of electricity to operate. If the unit is not receiving power, it will not be able to heat or warm water. Common issues include blown fuses or circuit breakers, a faulty thermostat, or a broken heating element.

Too Hot or Cold Water Temperature

Another reason why your hot water heater is not working could be due to issues with the temperature settings. If the water is not hot enough, it may be due to a faulty thermostat or heating element. This hot water heater problem is as frustrating as not enough hot water or a cold hot water faucet.

On the other hand, if the water is scalding hot, it may be due to the temperature setting being too high. Having water that is too hot or too cold can be inconvenient and even dangerous.

Low Water Pressure

Low water pressure can be incredibly frustrating, especially when you need to wash dishes or take a shower. The water may come out slowly, and it may take longer to complete simple tasks. Low water pressure can be caused by various issues, such as a clogged pipe, a malfunctioning pressure-reducing valve, or a leak in the plumbing system.

Thermostat Issues

The thermostat in a hot water heater is responsible for regulating the temperature of the water. If the thermostat is not working correctly, the water may be too hot or too cold.

In some cases, the upper thermostat may need to be replaced. However, before you replace the thermostat, make sure that the heating element is working correctly.

Rust and Corrosion in the Tank

Rust and corrosion in the hot water heater tank can cause a variety of problems. If you notice rust or corrosion in the hot water tank, it may be time to replace the hot water heater.

Rust and corrosion can cause leaks in the tank, which can lead to water damage in your home. In addition, rust and corrosion can affect the efficiency of the hot water heater, making it more expensive to operate.

Pilot Light or Ignition Issues

If you have a gas water heater, the water heater pilot light or ignition system may be the cause of the problem. If the pilot light goes out, the gas water heater will not work.

In addition, if the ignition system is not working correctly, the hot water heater will not turn on. You may need to call a professional to diagnose and fix this gas water heater issue.

Bad Water Smells

Have you ever turned on your hot water and been met with a bad smell? This could be a sign of bacteria growth in the tank. This hot water heater problem is commonly caused by a buildup of sediment and a lack of maintenance. The bacteria usually form when sediment builds up in the tank and prevents it from properly circulating hot water.

Loose Parts & Water Leaks

If you notice water leaking from your hot water heater, it could be a sign of a loose part or a crack in the tank. A leaking water heater tank can cause water damage in your home and lead to higher water bills. If a gas unit is leaking gas, contact a gas utility company immediately because gas leaks can be dangerous.

How to Fix a Hot Water Heater If It’s Not Working:

Just Plumbing | Hot Water Heater Not Working? Everything You Need To KnowThere’s nothing more frustrating than getting ready for a nice hot shower only to find that your water heater isn’t working. Don’t panic just yet – there are several things you can do to try to fix the problem yourself before calling in a professional. Below are some of them:

Check the Power Source

The power source is the first thing you should check when your hot water heater isn’t working. Ensure the unit is plugged in and the circuit breaker hasn’t tripped. If the circuit breaker has tripped, reset it and see if the unit starts working again.

Check the Temperature Setting

If the power source isn’t the issue, you should next check the temperature setting on your hot water heater. Make sure that it’s set to the appropriate temperature for your needs.

If it’s set too low, you may not get enough hot water; if it’s set too high, you could be wasting energy and risking scalding. The ideal temp for most households is 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Inspect the Pilot Light

If your hot water heater uses gas, you’ll need to inspect the pilot light to see if it’s lit. If the pilot light is out, you can relight it yourself by following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Make sure to turn off the gas and wait a few minutes before attempting to relight the pilot light. If the pilot light doesn’t stay lit, there may be a problem with the thermocouple, which is a safety device that shuts off the gas if the pilot light goes out.

Flush Out Sediment from the Tank

Over time, sediment can build up in your hot water heater, which can cause it to work less efficiently or even stop working altogether. To flush out sediment, turn off the power source to the unit and attach a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank.

Open the valve and let the water drain out until it runs clear. This should be done once a year to keep your hot water heater running smoothly and effectively without any complications.

Check the T&P Relief Valve

The temperature and pressure relief (T&P) valve is an important safety feature on your hot water heater. It’s designed to release excess pressure if the water temperature gets too high. If the T&P valve leaks or won’t open when you manually lift the lever, it may need replacement.

Install a New Heating Element

If your hot water heater is electric, it has electric heating elements that can wear out over time. If you’re not getting enough hot water, the heating element may need to be replaced.

You can do this yourself by turning off the power source to the unit, draining the tank, and unscrewing the old heating element. Install the new element and refill the tank with water before turning the power back on.

Replace Your Thermostat

If you’re not getting enough hot water or the water temperature fluctuates, the thermostat may need to be replaced. You can do this yourself by turning off the power source to the unit and removing the thermostat cover.

Disconnect the wires and remove the old thermostat before installing the new one. Make sure to reconnect the wires correctly and replace the cover before turning the power back on.

Call a Professional

If you’ve tried all of the above steps and your hot water heater still isn’t working, it’s time to call in a professional. An experienced plumber or HVAC technician will have the expertise and equipment to diagnose and repair the problem safely and efficiently.


A hot water heater is one of the most crucial appliances in our homes, and when it’s not working, it can be frustrating and inconvenient. However, with a few simple diagnostics and repairs, you should be able to get your hot water heater running smoothly again.

In this guide, we have outlined some of the most common issues that can arise with hot water heaters, as well as the steps you can take to troubleshoot and repair them. If all else fails, don’t hesitate to call Just Plumbing, your local professional plumbing and HVAC experts. We are here to provide the best quality service and solutions for all of your hot water heater needs.


Why is my hot water heater not working?

There are several reasons why a hot water heater may not be working, including a power supply issue, a malfunctioning thermostat, a faulty heating element, or sediment buildup.

How can one reset the hot water heater?

Locate the red reset button on your hot water heater, usually found near the thermostat, behind a removable metal panel or insulation. Push and release the button to reset the heater.

What is the life expectancy of a hot water heater?

The life expectancy of a hot water heater typically ranges from 8 to 12 years, depending on factors such as maintenance, usage, and quality of the unit. Regular maintenance can help extend its lifespan.

What is the importance of regular maintenance for hot water heaters?

Regular maintenance for hot water heaters is important to ensure efficient performance, extend the lifespan of the unit, and prevent potential hazards like leaks or explosions. It also helps to identify and address small issues before they become larger and more costly problems.