Water Heater Troubleshooting: No Hot Water

water heater repair

From showering to dish-washing to laundry, we use hot water on a regular basis without thinking twice. However, the second it runs out, it can put a major damper on your day. Here, our water heater repair experts tell you what to do if you’re out of hot water:

Electric Hot Water Heaters

Most Pennsylvania homes have either electric or gas hot water heaters. While both styles heat your water successfully, they do it in different ways. This means when something’s wrong, it may not be the same problem in both types. Here’s what to check on your electric hot water heater:

Circuit Breaker

First, check your electrical panel to see if the circuit breaker for the hot water heater has been tripped. If it has, reset it and check to see if your water heater turns back on. If it trips again, you may want to call one of our electricians for help.

Heating Elements

A failed heating element is one of the most common reasons for a lack of hot water. Check your unit’s upper and lower heating elements. If they’re faulty, they’re fairly inexpensive to replace. And if you’re handy, you can try to replace them yourself. You can also call the water heater repair experts at Timothy Off and we can take care of it for you.


Electric water heaters have two thermostats: an upper thermostat (which controls the upper and lower heating elements) and a lower thermostat (which controls just the lower heating element). In order to have hot water, both of thermostats need to be working. If either of these fail, your water will be warm, but not hot. The failed one will need to be replaced.

Gas Hot Water Heaters

Here’s what to check on your gas hot water heater:

Gas Supply

First, check to make sure that the gas supply is reaching your hot water heater. If it’s not, your unit has no power to operate. Check to see if the gas is on and if the valve is in the “open” position. If it’s not, open the valve. If your water heater works after that, you may be able to avoid a water heater repair.

Pilot Light

Like the heating element for an electric water heater, the pilot light is one of the most common causes of a faulty hot water heater. Check to make sure the unit’s pilot light is lit. If it’s not, turn the regulator to the “off” position and wait about 5 minutes. Turn the regulator to “pilot” and hold it down for about a minute, then turn it further to the “on” position. If you water heater isn’t self-igniting, use a long lighter to re-light the pilot light. If it won’t re-light or it won’t stay lit, you may have one of these problems:

  • Closed/blocked gas control valve
  • Line issues (air in the line, bent, or defective)
  • Defective thermocouple
  • Closed/blocked flue


If your water heater is old, its burners could have dirt or sediment built up on them. If so, it can prevent the burner from heating your water evenly. Turn up the thermostat and try running your hot water. If the burner ignites, you can reset the thermostat. If it doesn’t, it may need to be replaced.

Other Issues

Some other issues that could cause your hot water heater problems include:

  • Leaks
  • Loose wiring
  • Undersized fuse/breaker
  • A small tank for high usage

If you’re having trouble with your hot water heater, don’t hesitate to call Timothy Off. Our water heater repair experts are available for appointments and emergencies to make sure your home has hot water. Whether you’re in Montgomery County, Chester County, or Delaware County, we’ll inspect your situation and make any necessary repairs. Keep in mind that hot water heaters have a lifespan of only 10 or so years. If you’ve been having problems with yours, it may be time for a new one.

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