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There’s No Hot Water in the House! Here’s What to Do

There’s nothing worse than choosing between taking a cold shower and not showering at all. When you find yourself in a situation like this, you’ll need to diagnose your water heater’s problem and decide whether to repair or replace it. However, diagnosing the exact problem of your unit can be quite a challenge sometimes. The information below can help you figure out what the exact problem is with your water heater.

What to Check When There Is No Hot Water

Too Small of a Tank

The first thing you want to consider is whether or not your water heater tank is big enough for your household. If you have a household of 6 people and two useable bathrooms, a small water heater will more than likely not be sufficient. If you find that you do in fact have too small of a unit, then talk to a professional about what size would be right for your family’s personal needs.

The Pilot Light Needs to be Relit

Another thing that you want to see is if your pilot light is in fact actually lit. If you’re unfamiliar with where the pilot light is positioned on your gas water heater, start by opening up the access or the inspection panel. On most gas water heaters, the pilot light will be located here. On some gas water heaters, there may be a few screws that will need to be taken out to gain access. Once these screws have been removed, look for a flame. If you do not see a flame, then your gas water heater will need to be relit.

Relighting your pilot light is not a hard job, but if you’ve never done it before, then you’ll want to start by locating the pilot switch and turning the knob to the “off” selection for about 5 to 10 seconds. Now, move the knob to the “pilot” setting. If your pilot light has successfully become lit, then turn the knob to the “on” selection. As long as your pilot switch remains lit, then you are back in business.

No Gas Supply

If your water heater is gas powered, then check to make sure that your water heater is in fact getting a steady supply of gas. It’s not uncommon for the gas supply to be accidentally turned off. If you are unsure if your gas supply is running or not, start by heading to your gas control nob and select ‘PILOT’ mode. Located where your burner and pilot light is and then take off the cover.  Look to see if there is a flame. If there is not a flame and it appears not to be lit, then you’ll want to relight your pilot light. However, it’s important to note that if you own a newer model, it may use a spark ignitor or a glow plug instead of a pilot light. Read the owner’s manual for instructions pertaining to this.

To light a pilot light for a water heater, you will need to:

  1. Locate the regulator knob, turn it off and wait approximately 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Next, turn the regulator knob to pilot mode.
  3. For homeowners who own a water heater with a self-ignite feature, you’ll want to locate the ignition button, hold it down for approximately 60 seconds and then turn on the regulator.
  4. For homeowners who need to light their pilot light with an actual flame, it’s highly recommended that a long lighter be used. Take the lighter and direct the flame near the pilot burner where the gas supply tube is positioned. Your pilot light should now be lit.

By some chance you are still having difficulties getting your pilot light to ignite or stay lit, you might want to check the gas inlet valve. If this valve has been closed, your pilot light will not light. In this situation, simply turn the knob parallel to the gas line and light your pilot light again. If your pilot light still does not ignite, then you may have a defective thermocouple. Utility companies to not charge their customers for this repair, so if this is the case, call and schedule an appointment with one of their technicians.

Thermostat is Set Too Low

The normal range for a gas water heater is in the range of 120° to 135°F. If you check your water heater’s thermostat, and you see that the temperature is not in this range, you will want to raise the temperature. You will want to do this by sliding the knob first all the way down and then back up again to its proper temperature. If everything is working right, your water heater will restart.

Faulty Supply Line

If your gas water heater has a broken, clogged or even bent supply line, this can affect your water heater’s ability to produce hot water. When you’re inspecting your supply line, look especially close to pinholes in the gas line. These pinholes will cause your water heater to leak, not produce hot water and in some cases, even cause more damage to your water heater. It’s essential that you repair these faulty supply lines as soon as possible.

Plugged Flue

Make sure that your flue has the proper ventilation running through it. Storms, rodents and other extremal elements can obstruct your flue and cause a decease in ventilation. If you’ve never cleaned your flue, do not fret. It’s not a hard job, but it is a messy one. Make sure you get into some old clothes before you go to work. It’s also important to note that harsh or extremely strong gusts of wind also have the ability to extinguishing the pilot by blowing down the flue.

Burner Not Working

Another reason why your hot water heater may not be putting out hot water could be due to a faulty burner. Checking to see if your hot water heater’s burner is working the way its suppose to is not very hard. To do this, you’ll want to start by turning the burner off and set your home’s thermostat to 120 degrees. Next, turn on one of your facets to hot, either in the kitchen or the bathroom, and let it run. Your next move is too see if your burner ignites. If it doesn’t, you’ll want to let the hot water continue to run out of the facet and turn the thermostat to a higher temperature.

If you notice that your home’s burner does in fact light, turn your thermostat back to its original temperature. However, if the burner does not light, you’ll more than likely have to call a professional to repair it.

Gas Leaks

Gas leaks can not only lead to having no hot water in the house, it can also be quite dangerous. To help prevent any unnecessary accidents, the chemical mercaptan is added which gives the gas a terrible smell. This allows the homeowner to detect the leak before a bigger problem results.

The first thing you want to do when you think you smell gas or you know that there is a gas leak is turn off the valve control and let area air out. If you notice in 5 to 10 minutes that the smell is still just as strong if not stronger, you will want to contact your utility company right away.

Once you feel the gas is out of the air, and you know for a fact that the gas is still not being released into the air, you can relight your pilot light. Above all, always put safety first.

Quality Tips for Homeowners with Electric Water Heaters When There’s No Hot Water in the House

The Breaker

If you own an electric hot water heater and the unit is not putting out hot water, check the breaker to see if there is a switch that may have been accidentally been turned off. After that, examine your home’s circuit board box. You want to see if any of the breakers could have been tripped.

High Temperature Cutoff Switch

Open up the panel on your electric hot water hater and locate the high temperature switch. One of the reasons your unit may not be putting out hot water could be because this switch might have been tripped. You can reset it here. However, if this does not do the trick, your water heater might have a defective high temperature cutoff switch.

Compartment Contains Water

Look inside the compartment of your water heater and see if there is water. If you do find water, it more than likely means that your water heater is leaking. This leaking can damage the thermostat and result in no hot water in the shower.


Examining your electrical water heater for leaks is another task you should do if your hot water heater provides no hot water for your house. If your water heater is leaking, then it’s probably a good idea to replace the whole system. Usually one small leak can turn into a much larger problem if not pinpointed and fixed right away.

Kevin L. Sharp