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The Home Depot

Why is My Hot Water Not Working?

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Plumbing > Why is My Hot Water Not Working?
Why is My Hot Water Not Working?

It may be summer, but we know that doesn’t mean you want to take an ice-bath or wash dishes in frozen water. Summer is just as important a time as any for hot water: it kills germs, disinfects, and gets you and your home as clean as possible.


So, if you are in hot water with your hot water, here are some helpful hints thanks to professional plumbers and the folks at Michigan State University.

  1. 1.It might be too old.

    Most hot water heaters last over a decade. If yours is older, that might be your problem. An old hot water heater is going to cause problems and may not be worth the financial investment of fixing it. Many experts suggest replacing them entirely every 7 years. If you feel like yours is still useful but leaking, it might be an easy fix, or you could have a defective model.

  2. Leaks happen, just ask Nixon. Or don’t, probably best to leave him out of your home repair situation.
  3. 2.It might be your thermostat.

    We know, it sounds obvious but you know the old saying about hoof beats? Think horses, not zebras. The thermostat is the biggest horse. If the number on your thermostat does not match the outcome you are feeling in your water, you’ll want to check your thermostat. Older models should not spin like loose wheels, they should settle on specific temperatures. If you live in an apartment, check with other tenants to see how they are fairing if you share a thermostat. If they are suffering too, and the thermostat is set to the wrong temperature be sure to test your thermostat throughout the year and replace it if necessary to avoid problems.

  4. 3.There may not be enough water.

    Just like with video games, sometimes you need an old school do-over. Depending on the model of your thermostat and water heater, there is likely a “reset” button. You may need to push the reset button on the high temperature cutoff. After the water heater has been reset, hopefully the hot water will return.

  5. 4.You’ve got build-up

    Sometimes nasty sediment can build up in your water tank and your heater’s effectiveness and longevity suffers. This can happen over years of wear and tear and unfortunately, by the time you’ve diagnosed the problem, it may be too late. Like your health, sediment build up is about prevention to avoid future damage. You can slow down hard water build up by lowering the water temperature to 130 degrees. If you are too late, you may need to have the water heater replaced.

  6. 5.You’ve got a leak

    Leaks happen, just ask Nixon. Or don’t, probably best to leave him out of your home repair situation. If you have a leak, this problem likely lies in your pressure-relief valve. The valve needs to be checked regularly and all of the valves may need some tightening. If tightening the valves doesn’t solve the problem, it may need to be replaced altogether.

  7. 6.It’s just dirty

    Perhaps a simple answer, but the easiest fix for this one is to drain and flush that nasty water. Don’t forget to turn off the electricity before you drain the tank. If you have a gas hot water heater you might not need to turn off the gas entirely, but you will need to turn it to the lowest setting.


    If your tank passes all of the above tests, it may be rusty, cracked, or have an invisible mechanical problem and you might even need to replace it. Sure there are worse things in life, but when you are standing in the shower trying to prepare for a huge meeting or a day chasing your kids it can seem like a nightmare. Hopefully these tips can help lead the way to an easy fix, because there are far better reasons to take a cold shower.

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