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A person is turning the temperature knob for troubleshooting an electric water heater not working

Hot Water Heater Not Working? Here Are Some Tried & Tested Solutions

Are you having issues with your electric water heater? Is the water heater not heating as it should? We’ve got some solutions you can try to fix the problem.

Your tap says: “knock, knock” – you ask: “who’s there?” And the answer is: not hot water. 

Even a single day without hot water from your heating system may turn into a disaster, especially in the winter; you need to be able to fix some of the smaller issues on your own as well, and call local plumbing services when it’s actually necessary.

So, to the question: why is my hot water not working?

If an electric water heater is not working, there might be insufficient electricity, a tripped limit switch, or one or more faulty heating elements. Let’s discuss all of these problems in more detail.

Top 7 Reasons For Why Hot Water Heater Might Not Be Working

Some of the most common water heater problems are not problems at all. For instance, if your water heater is producing hot water but not enough of it, your unit may be too small to fulfill the hot water demand of your home. Check that the demand does not exceed the water heater's capacity. But other cases may necessitate water heater troubleshooting.

Here are some of the most common things to look for:


The fundamental of any troubleshot, including for when the hot water in the house is not working, is to try turning it off and then on again.


What are the common issues with the hot water heater? We have water temperature concerns, one of the most prevalent complaints about lack of hot water. This might be due to the water not heating up sufficiently or being too hot.

What are the water heater common problems? In most circumstances, simply go to the water tank and adjust the tank's thermostat. It might have been accidentally bumped, causing the temperature to shift.

Turning down the water tank's temperature is another frequent strategy for saving power during summer and preventing issues in the winters. Increasing the thermostat temperature throughout the winter will solve your temperature problem.

If the water does not heat up when the temperature is raised, you may have a defective thermostat. In this case, the thermostat should be replaced.

This answers one “why is my water heater not working” scenario.

Pilot Light

Similarly, if the pilot light is not on, try turning it on when troubleshooting a hot water heater.


Perhaps the ignition is not working. Be sure to look into that as well. Damage to the gas control or burner assembly can create issues here.


Are all the valves aligned as instructed in the manual? If not, try fixing those.

Water Pressure

Water pressure is another issue. The excessive pressure buildup can lead to leaks, and thus you'll have less hot water and more mess. Be sure to regulate the pressure.

Loose Parts

Any obvious loose or damaged parts will be the obvious suspects of why would a water heater stop working; here, you’ll need to get a plumber on board.

Electric Water Heater Not Heating, What To Do Now?

Hot water should account for 75% of the water heater's capacity. A 40-gallon water heater, for example, is appropriately designed for a need of 30 gallons. If the demand exceeds the heater's ability, it can lead to issues with the hot water heater; consider shortening showers, installing low-flow showerheads, and spreading out dishwashing and laundry to different times of the day rather than doing them simultaneously.

If your unit is not undersized and suddenly stops producing hot water, there may be other issues with the hot water heater: one or both of its heating components may have failed. A continuous supply of lukewarm water during a shower indicates a faulty top heating element. A faulty lower heating element causes hot water to run out fast during a storm. 

Step 1. Check Warranty

Residential and commercial hot water heaters are provided with limited warranties. A rating plate with the model and serial number is located on each tank. These numbers will determine whether the tank has a prorated warranty (to be claimed when the water heater is not heating) that provides free or discounted replacement parts. If the tank is leaking or the element is broken, take a picture or write it down and contact the manufacturer.

Step 2. Turn Off Breaker

If you’ve got a water heater not heating, ensure that the circuit breaker in the service panel hasn't tripped.

If the breaker has tripped, turn it off and then back on.

Step 3. Remove Access Panel

Next on “how to check a hot water heater” is to remove the access panel for the upper heating element on the water heater.

Step 4. Remove Insulation

Once the access panel is off, carefully remove the insulation and plastic safety shield, not touching any wires or electrical contacts.

Step 5. Press the Reset Button

To reset the high-temperature cutoff for the water heater not heating, press the red button ‌above the top thermostat.

Once this is done, replace the access panel, the safety guard, and the insulation, and then turn on the circuit breaker for the electric heater.

And if this doesn’t work either, it’s time to bring in the big guns.

If Things Are Getting Worse, Call the Professionals!

We've discussed some of the most common reasons ‌your water heater is not heating. Other typical difficulties we've discovered when it comes to water in the house not getting hot include:

  • A leak in the water tank 
  • Mineral deposits lowering heater efficiency
  • Most elements, such as the temperature-pressure relief valve, may be changed.

If the tank is leaking or if the aforementioned troubleshoots aren’t working, it is time to bring in the experts. 

Indigo Home & Facility Services is a trusted team of local contractors, all bonded and insured, offering plumbing, electrical, and general repair services around the house. 

We deliver our best for each job, every time. 

Our service area covers:

  • Austin, TX 
  • Round Rock, TX 
  • Rollingwood, TX 
  • Leander, TX 
  • Westlake, TX 

Having a plumbing emergency? Get in touch now!