6 Things to do When Your House Has no Hot Water

When your showers go from warm and relaxing to chilly and uncomfortable, it’s easy to troubleshoot the root of your hot water problem. Here are six things to do when your house has no hot water.

1.      Check the thermostat settings

Many manufactures set the thermostat to 140 degrees Fahrenheit by default. For most households, setting the temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit produces enough hot water. But, if your hot water demands aren’t met, you can turn the thermostat back up—just be careful not to increase it past 140 degrees to reduce the risk of scalding. If your thermostat is lower than 120 degrees, it’s best to increase it to the ideal range, as low temperatures in a hot water tank create the perfect environment for bacterial growth.

2.      Check the circuit breaker

If your water heater is powered by electricity, check to make sure its circuit breaker hasn’t tripped. If it has, all you must do is switch it back on from your home’s main circuit panel. Circuits can trip after storms, electricity outages, or other conditions. If your water heater keeps causing the circuit to trip, the problem may be with the power supply—and you’ll need to call in a professional to be safe.

3.      Check the pilot light

Gas water heaters depend on a pilot light to guide the heating process. If the light burns out, you can relight it yourself or call a plumber. Older heaters require you to light it manually, with a match or barbecue lighter. Newer heaters use a spark ignition system that requires a simple touch of a button to light the pilot. Both follow similar steps when it comes to re-lighting the pilot.

  1. Locate the pilot control knob and turn it to “off”. Wait 10 minutes for the burner compartment to cool down.
  2. Turn the pilot control knob to light. If you must light your heater manually, get your lighting tool ready.
  3. Press and hold the pilot knob all the way down. At this point, you’ll either quickly reach in and light the pilot or press the ignitor button—it’s often an easily spotted red button located next to the pilot knob.
  4. After holding the knob down for 30-60 seconds, release it and turn it to “on”.
  5. If the pilot won’t stay lit, you may need a new thermocouple—the sensor that allows gas to flow to the burner.

4.      Check for leaks

Puddles of moisture or visible leaks can be a sign of a fracture in the tank. This can prevent the water in the tank from ever reaching the desired temperature. Small leaks have the potential to turn into larger ones, which can cause costly water damage. Leaks can also occur in the fittings and connectors built around your water heater, so it’s important to ensure that the leak is coming from the heater itself before you plan for a replacement. If you’re unsure about where the leak is coming from, asking a plumber is the best course of action.


5.      Flush the tank

Over time, sediment and minerals build up at the bottom of your water heater’s tank, impacting the heating element and other important components. If you don’t flush your water heater at least once a year, this accumulated buildup of calcium, lime, and bacteria can wreak havoc on your unit by clogging the water lines and reducing energy efficiency.

Handy homeowners can flush their water heaters on their own by following a series of simple steps and using certain tools. However, caution should be exercised as there is a danger of coming in contact with excessively hot water and surfaces during the process. If you have any doubts about flushing your water heater on your own, it’s best to contact a plumber and have them do it for you.

Step 1: Turn off gas or electricity

The first step is to turn off the power. If your water heater is electric, you can do this through the circuit breaker box. If your heater is gas-powered, you can shut off the power by turning the valve on the tank’s gas supply line.

Step 2: Turn off water supply

At the top of your water heater, you’ll find a pipe and a water shutoff valve. Use this valve to stop the flow of water into the tank.

Step 3: Wait for the water to cool off

At this point, the water in your heater is likely extremely hot. To avoid dangerous burns or scalding, it’s best to give your heater time to cool down before draining it—anywhere from a couple of hours to overnight.

Step 4: Hook up the hose

Attach one end of a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of your water heater. Place the other end into a floor drain or directly outside so the water can drain safely.

Step 5: Turn on hot water

Turn on the hot water on the nearest sink to your water heater. This will help alleviate pressure and allow the water heater tank to drain more effectively.

Step 6: Open the drain valve

After all the above steps are completed, it’s time to open the drain valve. Once you do so, water will begin to flow out of the tank and through the connected hose. It can take up to 30 minutes to fully drain the tank, depending on how full it is.

Step 7: Turn the water back on and flush the tank

Once the water heater has drained fully, turn the water back on while leaving the drain valve open. This final flow of water will eliminate any remaining sediment buildup in the tank. Once the water appears to be running clear, turn the water back off.

Step 8: Refill the tank

Once you remove the hose and close the drain valve, you can begin refilling the tank with water. First, turn the water supply back on to refill the tank. Once the tank is full, turn the power to the water heater back on and enjoy the clean, hot water.



6.      If all else fails: Upgrade your hot water heater

If your family uses a lot of hot water, the capacity of your current heater may not be able to stand up to the demand. If your hot water heater consistently fails to do its job, it might be time to upgrade to one that can. Traditional water heaters last between 10-13 years, but this lifespan can be shortened by things like hard water or lack of maintenance.

If upgrading to a larger capacity water heater isn’t in your budget, you can make the most of an undersized one. Try strategically limiting the length of your showers and spreading out water-intensive chores, like washing dishes and doing laundry, to different times of the day. Or, install energy-efficient low flow showerheads and faucets to reduce the amount of water you use in the first place.

Hot water problems, meet expert solutions

If hot water problems have you frustrated, call the plumbing experts at Chas Roberts. Whether you have a traditional, tankless, or solar water heater, we have the knowledge and the tools to fix problems big and small. Contact us to experience what sets us apart in the world of plumbing.