Go Back

No Hot Water and Tank is Not Leaking - What do I do?

8 Reasons Why You Don't Have Hot Water Even Though Your Tank Isn't Leaking

Not having enough hot water in your Plainfield, Illinois home is frustrating, but not having any hot water at all is far worse. A malfunctioning water heater can mean having to dash off to work after an ice cold shower or washing your hands in water that's absolutely freezing. Although leaking is a common sign of a failing water heater, it definitely isn't the only cause of problems. Following are eight reasons why you don't have hot water even though your tank isn't leaking.

1. You've Got a Natural Gas Leak

If your hot water heater is gas-fired, you may have a natural gas leak. Gas leaks can occur along the unit's supply line or right where the supply line connects to the tank. This is likely the case if you detect a rotten egg smell near your water heater. Although natural gas is both colorless and odorless, a chemical known as mercaptan is added to it. Given its pungent and unpleasant aroma, mercaptan makes it easy for consumers to detect gas leaks.

If a leaky supply line is the issue, contact your gas company right away. There should be a dedicated gas shut-off valve right near the supply line that leads to your water heater's tank. In most instances, engaging the shut-off valve will stop the flow of gas and stanch the leak. You can open your windows and doors to air the mercaptan odor out. However, even if you're able to turn the gas off, you and your loved ones should exit the building until repair professionals arrive.

2. There's a Problem at the Pilot Light

Pilot light problems are common in both gas heaters and gas water heaters. The pilot light is a tiny flame at the base of your water heater tank that should always be lit. When it blows out, your water heater cannot heat the water that it's stored, and incoming gas can freely flow into your home. When you turn on your tap, water will flow out of the tank, but it will be ice cold or tepid at best.

When water heaters heat stored water, they open their gas valves so that natural gas can flow over their pilot lights for ignition. Most water heaters have either access panels or tiny windows that allow homeowners to verify that their pilot lights are lit. If you're unable to spot a flame, you can use your owner's manual to relight the pilot, or you can contact a plumbing professional to do it for you.

3. Your Water Heater's Thermocouple Is Damaged

If the thermocouple in a gas water heater fails, the unit will shut down. This component is a preventative safety feature that stops the flow of gas when pilot lights go out. This tiny probe should sit directly over the pilot flame. If it gets bumped out of the way or if it gets coated in soot, dirt, or grime, it will likely drive things to a grinding halt. Scheduling regular maintenance will keep your thermocouple in good condition given that plumbers typically check, align, and clean these components during service.

4. The Circuit Breaker Has Tripped

If you have an electric water heater, it may simply be that something has tripped its circuit. This could be the case if there are other appliances that share the same circuit or if you've recently plugged in a new device in the area. Although it's rare for water heaters to share circuits, problems with other appliances could trip the breaker. Check the breaker box and flip any breakers that are off back into their "on" positions. If the breaker trips again, you may have an electrical problem or your water heater may need professional repairs.

5. Excess Heat Has Triggered the Water Heater's Temperature Limit Switch

Electric water heaters have limit switches that automatically turn them off when internal temperatures get too high. If you aren't getting any hot water and have already checked the circuit breaker and the pilot light, you can reset the limit switch on your water heater to see if this resolves the problem. However, you should start by shutting the water heater off at the circuit breaker first.

It's important to note that there's usually a good reason why limit switches get triggered. Thus, even though resetting yours might turn the water heater back on, this doesn't always mean that the problem is resolved. It's far better to have a plumber inspect your water heater to determine why internal temperatures are soaring. Identifying and resolving the underlying cause of excess heat could keep your hot water heater from bursting.

6. Your Water Heater Needs a New Heating Element

Having the heating element in your tank go down will obviously keep your water heater from doing its job. A damaged heating element is one of several issues that will cause the circuit breaker to trip. Thus, if you reset your water heater at the breaker box only to have it turn right back off, this may be the underlying problem.

When heating elements go out, they don't always cause an immediate and total end to hot water supplies. Your water heater might have a failing heating element if your water is increasingly lukewarm, if your hot water runs out faster than it normally does, or if you get small amounts of really hot water followed by water that's absolutely cold.

7. The Water Heater Tank Isn't Big Enough to Meet Your Household's Needs

If you've got a fairly small water heater tank, it may seem like you aren't getting any hot water, but it could be that there simply isn't enough to go around. This might be the case if you've recently added to your household or if you've gotten a larger washing machine, a new dishwasher, or another water-reliant appliance that's using your hot water supplies up.

Having a tankless water heater installed is a great way to solve this problem. Tankless water heaters or point-of-use water heaters produce heated water on-demand. This means that hot water supplies never run out. No matter how many hot baths or showers your family takes, you'll always have sufficient warm water coming out of your taps when you need it. Best of all, tankless water heaters are naturally more efficient than their alternatives. Rather than heating water, storing it, and reheating it until it's actually used, these water heaters do their job just once. Thus, in addition to being more convenient, they're also much less costly to operate.

8. Your Hot Water Heater Has Reached the End of Its Life Span

Hot water heaters don't have to burst and flood your home to signal the ends of their life spans. More often than not, if these units are well-maintained throughout their lifetimes, their ends are far less dramatic. An aging water heater can simply lose its ability to do its job. This might be due to a faulty gas valve, a damaged limit switch, a broken heating element, or other malfunctioning or outright broken components.

Depending upon the type of hot water heater you own, this unit will likely last between six and 13 years. However, things like hard water and excessively high water pressure cause expedite wear and shorten the life spans of these appliances. If you've owned your water heater for seven years or more, it may be time for a replacement.

TR Miller proudly serves residents of Plainfield, Illinois and the surrounding area. We offer heating, cooling, plumbing, and slab repair services. We also provide tankless water heaters. If you aren't getting enough hot water in your home, give us a call today!