Is your home water heater not getting hot? Cold or lukewarm water can be more of an inconvenience than you might initially think. A warm shower is a great way to start or end your day, but a cold shower is a quick way to spoil your attitude.

Quickly isolating the cause after your hot water stopped working is possible. Use the following steps to troubleshoot your issue, or contact an expert for more immediate resolution.

Why Is the Hot Water Not Working in My House?

Like all other household appliances, water heaters simply get old. Do you know how often you should replace a water heater? Without regular maintenance, the hot water heater in your home can accumulate sediment and run into heating issues.

Some of the most common failure points in residential water heaters include the:

  • Heating element
  • Thermostat
  • Thermal switch

It’s not uncommon for our team to get reports of a home water heating making noise that have caused a homeowner to make a service call to our Houston plumbing repair experts. If you’re experiencing knocking or popping noises along with water that won’t heat up, there’s likely an issue with your heating element. However, your heating element isn’t always the issue.

7 Common Causes of Your Hot Water Not Working

The hot water heater not working in your home is a very high-visibility issue. Taking a single shower can bring the issue to light, then you’ll start noticing that your hot water is not getting hot in other places throughout your home.

We highlight seven of the most common causes behind your hot water heater not heating properly. If these issues are affecting you, contact our Houston-based team for help today!

1. Gas Supply Is Shut Off (Gas)

If your gas supply has been turned off, your hot water heater has effectively lost its heat source. A good way to troubleshoot this issue is to examine your shut-off valve to see if your gas has accidentally been shut off.

Try to identify the gas line leading to your water heater, then follow it until you find a shut-off valve (will look like a small lever attached to the line). When this lever is aligned with your water heater’s gas line, that means the gas feed is “on.” Since your gas line appears to be on, your problem may be that you’re out of gas (if you’re using a closed-system gas source), or that your gas supply isn’t the issue.

If the shut-off lever is perpendicular to your gas line, then your gas feed has been shut off and your water heater isn’t getting any gas. Simply move the lever so it is aligned with your gas line, and your hot water heater should now have a fuel source.

2. Your Pilot Light Is Out (Gas)

hot water heater not working in home

The pilot light is a small flame on gas water heater units to is continuously lit so that your unit’s burner can ignite. You’re not constantly using hot water in your home, so your burner turns off and on. Every time your burner is off but needs to turn on again, it needs something to light it (like a match lighting a fire). If your pilot light is out, there’s a strong chance this is the cause of your water heater not heating water.

There is generally a cover over the component that houses your pilot light. Find and remove the cover, then inspect your pilot light mechanism for instructions. In some units, it could be as simply as turning a knob to “on” to re-light your pilot.

This is a generally easy problem to troubleshoot, but if your pilot light keeps going out, there could be an issue with your gas feed. Contact a professional if you suspect there are further underlying issues behind your spotty pilot light.

3. Faulty Water Heater Thermostat (Gas and Electric)

There’s a chance your water heater thermostat is the reason your hot water isn’t working. If the thermostat is set too low, your water won’t heat up enough to feel substantially different from lukewarm water.

If you’ve ruled out all other causes of a faulty water heater and your thermostat is set correctly, your thermostat could be faulty. Eliminating every other potential cause of failure can be difficult, so fee free to reach out to an experienced professional if you’re unsure.

4. Your Circuit Breaker Was Tripped (Electric)

Electric water heaters are like other electric appliances in your home in that they won’t work if their corresponding circuit breaker has been tripped. If you’ve recently put a lot of strain on a certain group of outlets within your home, then the answer to your question – Why am I not getting hot water? – could very well be due to a tripped breaker.

Locate your electric box to see if any of your breakers have been tripped (one of the switches is probably facing a different direction than the rest, or you may have a light indicating that a breaker is tripped). If this is the case, you’ll have to flip that breaker switch back to the on position (sometimes off, then on – depending on your unique box).

If your breaker trips again, either immediately or in a short period from when you reset it, you may have further electrical issues causing the outage. Contact an electrician if you believe this is the case.

5. Water Leak (Gas and Electric)

why is my water heater not working

This is a less common problem, but if it’s affecting you it should be easy to identify. If your water is not getting hot because of a leak, there is probably a substantial amount of water exiting your plumbing system before it reaches your taps or appliances. In this situation, you may notice the leak before you notice that your water isn’t getting hot since the leak will be relatively visible.

A leak in the water piping within your home is different from a leak in your water heater tank. A leak in your water supply lines can generally be fixed by tightening connections or replacing part of the piping. However, a hole in your water heater tank could be cause for replacement.

6. Faulty Burner or Heating Element (Gas and Electric)

On gas units, sediment can sometimes build up on the burner and prevent your water from heating up properly. Sediment in your tank is caused by the minerals in your water supply. These minerals cause sediment buildup after several years of operation and can add a layer of insulation between the water in your water heater tank and the burner – effectively preventing your water from being heated.

On electric units, the heating element in your tank could be why your water heater is not heating up. It’s possible to replace a heating element, but depending on your unit’s age, you may be better off replacing it before the next component fails.

7. Cracked Dip Tube (Gas and Electric)

A dip tube is a tube within your tank that sends new water from its entry at the top of the tank to the bottom of tank where the heating component is. If your dip tube is cracked or broken, the new cold water entering your tank could remain near the top and cause slower, less effective heating.

A broken or cracked dip tube is a relatively easy problem to fix but isn’t always easy to identify when the water is not getting hot in your house. In the mid-1990s, water heater manufacturers frequently used polypropylene dip tubes that were liable to crack and cause this issue. However, it is very unlikely that your unit is that old. This is a rare problem to have in the 2020s, but broken dip tubes are still possible.

URETEK Gulf Coast Is a Trusted Plumbing Provider in Houston

Our responsible master plumber (Master RMP #40364) is highly-effective at leak detection, drain and sewer line cleaning and camera inspection, plumbing reroutes, repiping, and water heater troubleshooting and repairs. If your water heater is not heating properly and you’re located in the Greater Houston area, contact URETEK Gulf Coast today!