What to Do When There's No Hot Water

Confused woman covered in soap in a waterless shower

Man Shocked by Cold ShowerA cup of coffee can wake you up, but so can an ice-cold shower. If you didn't intend on being jolted awake, then you need to figure out why you have no hot water. That's where an emergency plumber in Austin can help. Contact Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Austin for skilled plumbing repairs in Austin or request an estimate online for more information!

We take hot water for granted until we have none. No hot water not only makes your skin crawl but can also upset your morning routine. Many homeowners face this dilemma on a daily basis. So, what should a homeowner do to fix the problem? Be patient. Call a plumber? Bang on the water heater a few times?

Of course, the last option won't accomplish much. But, this guide will provide you the guidance and steps to take if you have no hot water.

Troubleshooting Your Water Heater

If you don't feel comfortable working with your home's hot water heater, then call a plumber or service technician. In the meantime, use the following tips to determine the cause and how to fix the problem.

Tip 1: Wait a few minutes.

First things first: wait. Water heaters typically can only store a certain amount of hot water. This amount is based on the tank's capacity.Checking Water Temperature

Once the hot water is used, the water heater needs to recover. Wait 20 to 30 minutes for the hot water to return.

Tip 2: Check the water heater's age.

All home appliances have a lifespan. Water heaters can last anywhere from 8 to 12 years. Check the water heater's age to see if it's past its prime, as it may be time for a water heater replacement.

Tip 3: Check the water heater for leaks.

Leaks in and around your water heater signal trouble. A leak means that the unit is also not able to properly store and recover hot water. A leak usually means you'll need a new hot water heater, so you need to call the pros to install a new one for you.

In the meantime, cut off all power to your water heater for your safety.

Tip 4: Time your showers.

Hourglass Timer

It's easy to think that your hot water will last forever. But, if you're no longer single, avoid taking long showers. Ask your housemates to also time their showers.

Taking 10 minutes showers is a good time limit to strive for.

Tip 5: Upgrade your water heater.

Your water heater might not meet your household's needs any longer. If you have more people living with you, it may be time to upgrade, maybe to a larger tank or even to a tankless water heater if you always find yourself running out of hot water. It may also be time to upgrade if your unit is worn, old, and/or some of the components are no longer working.

Gas vs. Electric Water Heaters

These two different types of water heaters behave differently, so troubleshooting will be slightly different depending on the type of water heater you have.

Gas Water Heater Tips

Gas Water Heater Getting Checked by HandUse the following tips to address specific problems with gas water heaters.

Tip 1: Use your sense of smell.

Gas leaks are dangerous. If your hot water heater isn't working and you notice an odor, take caution. Natural gas has a sulfur/egg smell added to it to identify leaks.

If you smell natural gas, turn off the gas valve as soon as possible. Inspect the gas lines further and the connections to your tank. If the issue isn't obvious, call your gas utility company immediately.

Never try to re-light the pilot light unless you are confident there isn't a gas leak.

Tip 2: Check the pilot light.

Pilot lights can go out if a strong breeze rolls through. To re-light the pilot light, first turn off the regulator, then wait five minutes.

After 5 minutes, move the regulator to the pilot light position. For self-igniting units, hold the button for a minute and then turn the regulator to the "on" position.

For manual pilot lights, use a long lighter. Light the flame near the pilot light burner.

If the pilot light won't re-light or stay lit, then this could be because of the inlet valve or a problem with the thermocouple. To correct the inlet valve, turn it parallel to the gas line and try to re-light the pilot light again.

If the thermocouple is the issue, contact your gas utility company.

Tip 3: Test the burner.

To test your water heater's burner, the burner must first be off. Set the thermostat to 120 degrees and then run hot water from a sink. The burner should ignite.

When it does, restore the temperature to the original setting.

If the burner doesn't turn on continue running hot water and turn the thermostat on a higher temperature. If this doesn't work, then you'll need to call a professional to fix the unit.

Electric Water Heater Tips

It's electric! If your water heater is electric, use the following tips to check your water heater. Electric Water Heater on Wall

Tip 1: Check the circuit breaker.

Circuit breakers trip from time to time. Reset the circuit breaker by moving it to the "off" position then over to the "on" position.

You should also check to see if your water heater is on its own circuit. If not, then call an electrician. A water heater requires too much power to be on a shared circuit.

Tip 2: Reset the unit.

Sometimes your water heater just needs a reset. To reset your water heater, turn it off, wait for a few minutes, and then turn it on.

Allow the unit to recover and reheat. Check for warm water in 30 minutes.

Tip 3: Inspect the heating elements.

Check the upper and lower heating elements. To test the heating element, you'll need to turn off the power to the unit and ensure no electricity is flowing to it.

Then, purchase a continuity tester to see if the heating elements are still working.

Tip 4: Check the wiring.

Loose wiring to your water heater is rare. But, if you have a critter problem, it's worth taking a look. Remove all power to the unit if you believe loose wiring is the cause.

Check the wires and the connections. Leave the power off to your water heater until a plumber can install a new unit.

Tip 5: Reset the high-temperature cutoff switch.

Your high-temperature water heater switch can also be tripped. To reset this switch, open the panel and push the button. Expect to hear a clicking noise.

Hiring a Professional When You Have No Hot Water

Mr. Rooter tech checking water heater in closet
If you're heated because you have no hot water and can't fix the issue, then it's time to call a plumber. A plumber will be able to diagnose and fix your water heater's problem.

To find a reputable Austin plumber, seek out online reviews. Then, speak with the plumbing company directly to get a feel for their customer service skills. Ensure that each plumbing company has the proper licenses, insurance, and permits to work in residential homes. Get multiple quotes and then schedule an appointment.

Ready to schedule an appointment with a reputable Austin plumbing company? Contact us today so we can repair your water heater.

Updated: 08/18/20

Mr. Rooter iconAbout the Author: Brett Bidwell, Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Austin

Brett has been a trusted Mr. Rooter owner of Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Austin since 2012. With over 8 years to back him, Brett has experience with a wide range of plumbing-related solutions and systems. He and his team specialize in emergency plumbing, drain cleaning, and more.