No Hot Water in the House? Here’s What To Do

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Hot water on demand is something we often take for granted. One of the worst things a homeowner can experience is having no hot water in the house. There are several things that can wear out or stop working on your water heater, resulting in what may seem like the hot water is not working.

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Once you have identified the source of the problem, a trip to a major hardware store and a few common tools can get things heated up again.

No Hot Water – Electric Water Heaters

There are only a few reasons why an electric water heater will not function at all. Start troubleshooting by looking at these areas:

Faulty Heating Element

A heating element can fail and is actually one of the most common (eventual) problems on an electric water heater. Water heater element replacement would be necessary but fortunately it’s pretty simple.

Faulty Thermostat

The upper thermostat on an electric water heater actually controls both the upper and lower heating elements. This causes the dreaded hot water not working situation. The lower thermostat controls only the lower heating element so if it fails (but the upper thermostat works), the result is hot water not getting hot enough. Solution: Replace the thermostat.

Tripped Circuit Breaker

Check your circuit breaker box to see if the breaker for the water heater has been tripped. A water heater (like other major appliances) demands its own dedicated electrical circuit. The water heater breaker should be easy to spot if tripped–it won’t be in-line with the other breakers in the box.

To reset it, simply flip the breaker to the “off” position and then to the “on” position. If it trips again, you will need to call an electrician to diagnose the issue.

Other Causes of Hot Water Not Working:

Accidental Grounding

Look for foreign objects shorting across wiring connections.

Tripped Reset Button

Tripping repeatedly could be the sign of a failed reset button. First try resetting the water heater and if that doesn’t do anything, you will likely need to replace the component.

Wire Short

Frayed or scratched wiring could lead to a direct short. Replace all defective wiring immediately to prevent potential fire.

Water Leak

If you don’t have hot water, it’ll be pretty obvious if a water leak is the problem since it won’t be a typical slow drip type leak. Leaking connections can sometimes be tightened, and can be replaced if tightening does not work. Many water heater leaks can be easily fixed but a leaking tank means the water heater must be replaced.

Undersized Fuse or Breaker

Replace the faulty device with one rated for more amperage. This is not something that would likely occur out of nowhere but if you’ve just replaced your water heater with a newer model, it may be the culprit.

Weak Breaker

This is especially true with older homes, but circuit breakers can fail over time and need to be replaced. Replace the breaker.

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No Hot Water – Gas Water Heaters

Gas units have different problems than electric ones, but both types can usually be repaired. When dealing with natural gas, extra precautions are necessary and do-it-yourself repair should only be done if you feel 100% confident in your abilities. Otherwise, see the form above to at least get a free quote from a local plumbing expert.

If there is no hot water in your home, here are some common causes to check:

water-not-hot-enoughNo Gas Supply

Something is preventing gas from reaching the pilot light and burner. The gas supply may have been inadvertently shut off. Simply make sure that the gas is on and the gas valve is not in the closed position. If that was the case, open the valve and follow the steps on relighting the pilot light.

Pilot Light is Out

If the pilot light is not lit but you do have gas flow, check the components below.

See Also:  5 Reasons Why Your Water Heater Pilot Light Won’t Stay Lit


The tip of the thermocouple should be in the flame of the pilot light and must be tightly connected to the gas line. If these things check out, look for blockage in the thermocouple and replace the thermocouple if necessary.

Air in Line

Verify the gas flow and relight the pilot light several times to force air out of the line.

Clogged Pilot Orifice

This component can be removed and cleaned to improve water heater operation.

Clogged, Bent or Defective Supply Line

Pinholes in the gas line can cause intermittent heating. Replace defective lines immediately.

Defective Gas Control Valve

This component can prevent gas from reaching the pilot or burner. Gas valves cannot be repaired, but are inexpensive to replace.

Dirty or Clogged Burner

Soot can build upon the main burner, preventing proper heating or even blocking burner ignition entirely. Remove the part and clean it.


The flue can become obstructed by external events such as storms or rodents. Cleaning the flue is not difficult but has the tendency to be messy. Excessive or unusual winds can blow down the flue, extinguishing the pilot.

Water is Not Hot Enough

If the unit is still functioning, but produces intermittent results, you may have components of the system beginning to fail. If you are certain that the water heater is large enough for the desired application, one of the following suggestions is most likely the component in need of repair:

Check Thermostats

If the temperature control is correctly set, the thermostat itself may need to be replaced. As mentioned above, a failed thermostat is often the culprit when hot what is not hot enough.

Inspect Burner

Sediment build up on a gas water heater’s burner can prevent the water from heating correctly. While rare, burner assemblies themselves can fail over time. DIY replacement can be done but it’s recommended to let the pros handle it.

Examine Dip Tube

While failure of this component is not common, it does happen on occasion. It’s unlikely you have one of the 20 million water heaters manufactured between 1993 and 1996 with brittle polypropylene tubes, but even those in the past few years have no guarantee against failure. If it has failed, you will need to replace the water heater dip tube.

Loose Wiring

Loose connections on an electric water hear can cause the unit to function erratically. Turn off power to the unit and confirm that all connections are tight and free of corrosion. This issue is quite uncommon but worth checking anyway.

Tank Leak

A leak in the tank itself could prevent water from reaching the desired water heater temperature. Leaking tanks can lead to water damage, short circuits or even a fire. Replacing the water heater is the only solution for this problem.

Are you looking for a little bit more specific advice? Check out A.O. Smith Water Heater Manuals.

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  1. Got a new one for you. We recently had a new tankless put in and started having issues right away with no hot water. There would be hot water for about a minute, then ice hold for a few minutes, then hot water, etc. Turns out the tankless unit was shutting itself off and having to reset itself. Finally figured it out that there was an air bubble in the drain pipe. Disconnnected the pipe, blew it out, and reconnected. Voila! Unlimited hot water.

  2. I have a question- we had a flood- the pipe got fixed (yay) but now we don’t have hot water?! We have free flowing cold water, but when we run the hot water it eventually turns to a trickle! We have checked the shut off valve, our water tank pilot light is lit… any ideas?!
    Appreciate any advise!

    • Woke up this morning with No hot water, I don’t have a gas heater, but it looks like my tank is leaking not sure, I’m going to call a plumber, but if there something I can do myself I would like to try.
      Thank you!

  3. Recently replaced the heating elements and thermostats on water heater. Have checked wiring per schematic and voltage in and out to all connections. I can hear the the elements kick on and heat but the water coming out of the tank is just as cold as the water going in. I am stumped on what the issue could be ?

  4. I light the pilot and set the thermostat on the gas control. I see the burner light up to start heating the water. When checking the water at the shower it did get warn not hot. Went back to the water heater and had to relight the pilot. Same cycle over and over. Suggestions??

  5. Pilot light wont stay on in gas water heater. I changed the Pilot assembly and still have the same problem. The pilot light will light and the burner will ingite but once the burner goes off so does the pilot light. Any suggestions?

  6. have gas hot water heater, get warm warm but not hot,thermostat turned all the way to hot. Get hot in kitchen but not bathroom. What do I do??

  7. During the hurricane Michael my power flicker off and on. The next day I have no hot water. The breaker was off we flicked it back but still no hot water. How do I reset it?

  8. How do I know what the problem is – this is great info for problems… but I don’t know what the problem is ? When I turn on the hot water there is 0 water flow – I have a gas water heater.

  9. This past week, we also experienced no running hot water in any of our faucets. The cold water was running just fine. Because the temperature in NY dropped to 5degrees with windshield factors reportedly 15 degrees below, our boiler technician said the pipes froze.
    Days later, the temperature shot up to 60 degrees and we expected the frozen pipes to melt, but we still had no running hot water. Our Boiler Technician followed up only to be told that we still had no running hot water. So, he returned to check it out.
    Long story short, the problem was two fold: a blockage and pilot light off.
    There was no water feeding to the hot water tank due to both a blockage and pilot light that was not lit in our gas hot water tank.
    He first separated the main water pipe from the boiler and discovered that the water was flowing fine. That’s when he realized the water was not entering the hot water tank. There was truly something blocking it. Once he cleared the blockage and reconnected the main pipe and lit the pilot on the hot water tank, we had running hot water in all faucets.
    I suggest you hire a professional plumber to preform this level of checks. However, this information will help to minimize the extras and go straight to the problem and should minimize the extra costs.

  10. The other day I noticed I had no hot water. I looked at the hot water heater and found it to be burning. I then turned off the heater and drained it thinking that it might be filled with a lot of sediment. After filling the tank up and lighting it I still had no hot water. I called a plumber over to look at the heater and was told to change out the heater. I put in a brand new heater and have the same issue. Since I put the new heater in I’ve checked for air in the lines, dip tubes and mixing valve issues but still can’t seem to figure this issue out. If I turn off the cold water inlet valve to the water heater the water will get hot. Once I turn the valve back on to let the water flow back into the house, after about ten minuets the water gets cold again even though the heater is still burning. With the tank having the cold water inlet side on the burner will run all day without satisfying itself. I need help.

    • Some things I can think of:
      • Restricted cold water inlet pipe (cold water shut off valve could be defective and not allowing tank to fill up all the way. This would explain why you run out of hot water so quickly.)
      • Restricted flow in the hot water out pipe (do you get good water flow when opening just a the “hot” faucet in a nearby sink?)
      • Broken dip tube in the new water heater (possible but unlikely)

    • What did you find out about this? I have the same problem. I have replaced the cold water dip tube ($12), the gas shut-off/thermostat controller ($250), the Yellow-Resetable-Thermal-Switch ($40), the thermocouple, ignitor, and associated wiring. The only things I haven’t replaced is the Hot water dip, the burner itself (which seems fine, lights, is clean), and the flue baffle (which does show some deterioration). I have cleaned out all the sediment, replaced the cold water inlet piping (another ~$50), verified the flue/chimney is not blocked, and scraped and shop vac’d the filter screen. It is a 4 year old B&W RG250T6N. Burner seems to be constantly running. The room gets very warm as a result, and the cold pipes are literally dripping condensation. No error codes/flashing displays. The flue is not blocked. No signs of water leakage. But no matter how high (to scalding) I adjust the thermostat on it, it only comes out luke warm and for about 15-30 minutes of use. I’ve sunk about $400 dollars into repair tries on this now and still no luck. Desperately need some ideas. I am wondering now if perhaps the gas pressure has dipped somehow and I am not getting a strong enough flame. But that is just a guess at this point.

  11. We have an electric water heater. The water was off for almost a week because we had pipes break from freezing. Now the hot water doesn’t get hot anymore. Any suggestions?

  12. My husband and I bought a newly constructed house with a Rannai Tankless Hot Water Heater. Many times we can not get hot water in the kitchen. We can run the water for seven to ten minutes sometimes and not get it hot. We can go to the master bath, run hot water in the tub and then return to the kitchen and then hot water will arrive in the kitchen. I call this “priming the pump” and this has worked every time but can be embarrassing when we have company. The other day, I was baking a cake, using my gas stove and I couldn’t access hot water ANYWHERE- priming the pump failed too! Plumber suggested removing all aerators. This has allowed us to obtain hot water on demand from any faucet in the house until tonight. I was cooking on the stove – utilizing gas, and again could not get hot water in the kitchen. I had to use my stand-by routine and resorted to priming the pump. This did allow me to get hot water in the kitchen momentarily. It came in hot for a few minutes, then turned to cold. Same thing happened in the bathroom a few minutes later, Hot water exited the pipes, turned to cold, and after a few minutes returned to hot.
    Could there be any relation to the gas stove/over interfering with the gas hot water heater?
    Please advise. The plumber insists there is nothing wrong!

    • Having to wait what feels like an eternity to get hot water at a faucet with a tankless water heater is a common problem although 7-10 minutes sounds quite excessive if that’s really the case. The larger the house or the farther the faucet it from the water heater, the longer it takes. If the tankless model is sized correctly for your house, adding a recirculation system usually helps.

      Another thing to keep in mind is that tankless units have a minimum flow rate. This may be why the plumber suggested removing aerators. If the flow is too low, the unit will actually turn off. Make sure to keep a steady flow of hot water when using. If for instance you turn down the hot water pressure coming out of your kitchen faucet, the water heater will turn off. Then you’ll only have the hot water that’s already in the pipes. As soon as that’s pushed out the faucet, cold water will follow. If you then increase the hot water pressure at the faucet, you again have to wait for the hot water to make its way from the unit. It’s referred to as a hot water sandwich.

      Hot water output at a tub is usually much greater than a kitchen faucet so the water heater knows 100% that you require hot water. If you only turn up the hot water halfway on a much smaller water outlet at the kitchen faucet, the unit might not be operating. To test, you can have someone stand next to the water heater while you turn on the hot water to various levels in the kitchen. The sound the water heater will change depending on the water demands so it’ll tell you if it’s working. Repeat the same process with hot water at the tub and compare.

      The gas stove should have no effect on the water heater. The water heater has its own gas supply line at the unit.

  13. I’m grateful for all your tips about trying to do something that might help us get hot water, unfortunately, I think we might have a faulty water heater. I’m not all to sure, but it looks like it to me. We need hot water for our daily lives it is crazy how much we use it. That’s why I’m probably going to have to call a professional plumber to look over the hot water case.

  14. We have a oil boiler and the cold water works but no hot water coming out of the faucets . We don’t have any water heater water just gets hot threw boiler what could it be?

  15. what to do when the rented gas water heater has become too old (12Years) and house insurance says that it must be removed. OK. A problem arises when the new rentals are made bigger because of the extra insulation and the distance around the heater increased to 24 inches and all you have is 19 inches. The tankless water heater cannot be installed for various reasons. What choice is there?. Go back to electric water heater?

  16. I believe I know the answer. It is not a pleasant one. It consists of replacing my furnace so that there is more space for the water heater. What a choice.

  17. My hot water wasn’t working and so one of the maintenance men in my building came and did something to the water heater but told me that the heat wouldn’t work anymore. So when we called maintenance out since it’s getting cold to fix the heater whatever they did ruined the hot water. Anybody know what it was that he did? I would definitely take hot water over heat

  18. Gas tank and have it set beyond the mid point for temperature. The hot water is never hot enough you need to move your hand away and it takes 7-10 minutes to get it in the kitchen. The half bath and laundry room are further from the tank than the kitchen yet I can get hot water there. Was installed 2 years ago. Also, has been making the hissing sound of heating nonstop for 2 weeks now. The landlord said it’s “air in the lines”. Not unless it’s inside the tank only! Any suggestions?

  19. I had hot water when wife done dishes and young fella took shower now there is no hot water at all coming from the taps it’s been 4-5 hours since they done that? Would the hot water tank need replaced it’s from 1996

    • First make sure your pilot light is simply not off. Not sure if it’s gas or electric but a part failure is definitely possible on a 24 year old water heater. It may be worth fixing but I would lean towards replacement at that age.

  20. I have an issue. Our house has a tankless water heater for everywhere but the kitchen (kitchen has a small tank under the counter). The upstairs is getting hot water but the downstairs 2 bathrooms are getting NO hot water. Any thoughts?

  21. I have a Rheem Retex-18 that keeps giving me an error code E05 and have reset it and it still
    has the code E05. What am i doing wrong?

  22. Hi we just replaced our electric hot water heater. We still don’t have hot water. All the normal has been checked.. reset, breaker not thrown.. we don’t know what to do. It’s brand new. Please help

  23. We have a duplex with one water heater in the upper unit and two downstairs. Received call from both tenants they have no hot water. Plumber replaced element upstairs. Said lower on demand heater not working because low pressure from leaking kitchen sink. Replaced faucet. One day later hot water only working if they turned on the bathroom water first than kitchen hot. Plumber replaced on demand water heater. We were there and hit water worked great. Next day tenants say no hot water from either heater. Help?


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