Water Heater Not Heating? – Here are 5 Ways To Fix It

Jul 27, 2022

If your hot water heater isn’t heating, or you are getting lukewarm water there are a few things you can do to try and fix the problem before calling a plumber.

Maybe the water heater stopped working in the middle of your shower this morning, or you’re having guests over for the weekend and there is simply not enough hot water.

No matter the reason, when hot water heaters aren’t heating, it’s a problem.

If you’re having issues with your hot water tank, the first thing you should do is try and figure out why. There are a few things you can check on your own, but if you can’t fix the problem, you might need to call a nearby plumber.

We all know how frustrating it can be when something goes wrong, and we don’t have a clue how to fix it.

That’s why today, I’m going to share 5 tips with you on how to fix your water heater when it isn’t heating.

1. Check the water heater type and make sure the thermostat is set correctly

The first thing you should do when your tank isn’t heating is check whether you have an electric water heater or a gas water heater. The water heater tank can look similar for both types.

Gas Water Heater: Has a pilot light, or pilot flame with a heat setting.  Uses a gas burner to heat the water.

Electric Water Heater: This has a plug and will be connected to a circuit breaker.

What is the thermostat?

The thermostat makes sure your water is heating to the correct temperature.

Sometimes, the problem is as simple as the thermostat being turned too low causing the water to be lukewarm.

Where is the thermostat?

This is located on the side of the water heater, underneath an access panel. Once you’ve found it, you will need to remove the screw and remove the faceplate. You will typically find a reset button next to the thermostat.

Larger tanks have a lower and upper thermostat. Be sure to adjust them both the same amount.

How do you change the thermostat temperature?

You will see a dial that you can turn to change the temperature. Turn the knob to the desired temperature and replace the faceplate. When finished, make sure the access panel is screwed in securely.

What is the best temperature setting for the thermostat?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best temperature will vary depending on your specific unit.

However, a good rule of thumb is to set the thermostat to around 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Do not exceed 125 degrees Fahrenheit as water that is too hot can cause your skin to burn, as well as damage your water heater.

Some gas water heaters are equipped with a high-temperature cutoff switch or high-temperature limit.

Setting the temperature setting to high can cause the heating element to burn out or the high-temperature cutoff to trigger.

If your tank doesn’t start to heat up, there might be a problem with the heating elements. In this case, you’ll need to call a plumber to come and repair your unit.

2. Make sure the water heater is plugged in and that there’s power going to it

Another common and obvious reason your water heater might not be heating is that it’s not plugged in or there’s no power going to it.

Electric water heaters have a plug that is usually located on top of the unit, near the hot water pipes.

Make sure the water heater is plugged in and that the outlet has power. Inspect the cord for visual damage such as fraying or a loose connection. If you see any damage, it’s a sign to call a plumber to come and look at your unit.

If the circuit breaker continues to flip, it may indicate a further electrical problem or a high-temperature cutoff triggering incorrectly.

3. Check the circuit breaker box to see if the water heater has tripped a fuse

If there’s no power going to your electric water heater, it might have tripped the circuit breaker.

Why does my hot water heater keep tripping?

Electric water heaters might trip a circuit breaker for several reasons.

One of the most common reasons is that the water heater is overloaded.

This usually happens when there’s too much demand for the tank, such as when you’re trying to use multiple hot water appliances at the same time.

Another common reason for a water heater trip is a faulty or damaged heating element. If the heating element is damaged, it can cause the water heater to overheat and trip.

It’s important to figure out what’s causing the problem. Once you’ve determined the cause, you can take steps to fix the problem and prevent it from happening again.

When your breaker continuously trips, it’s usually a sign of an underlying issue or problem. In some cases, it’s something that you can easily repair on your own.

However, if you’re unsure of what’s causing your water heater to trip or you can’t seem to fix the problem, call a plumber for a water heater repair.

4. Flush out the hot water heater to remove sediment that might be causing problems

Sometimes, the reason your water heater isn’t heating is that there’s a build-up of sediment inside the tank. This can cause the unit to not work properly and even overheat, causing the heating element to burn out.

Excess sediment can cause you to have less hot water, create heat loss, clog hot water pipes, and even lead to a total water heater replacement.

The best way to remove sediment that might be causing problems is to clean out the water heater. This can be done by attaching a hose to the drain valve and draining the water heater.

  1. Turn your water heater off
  • If you have a gas water heater you can turn the water heater’s pilot light control to “Pilot”.
  • This will prevent heating elements from burning out and ensure you don’t damage your gas burner.
  • If you have an electric water heater shut it off at the breaker. This will ensure you don’t damage the heating elements.
  1. Turn off the cold-water supply to your unit
  • This is generally found at the top of your water heater, next to the hot water pipes and anode rod.
  1. Turn on the hot water in a bathtub or sink faucet
  • This will allow pressure to be released and the water heater to be drained.
  1. Connect a hose to the water heater’s drain valve
  • The drain spigot is located near the bottom of the tank.
  1. Open the water heater’s drain valve and let it drain
  • Twist the valve so it is fully open, allowing us to start our water heater flush.
  1. Reopen the water supply to flush a water heater
  • This will help push granular sediment out of your tank.
  1. Close the drain valve when the water runs clear
  • Make sure that all of the sediment has been flushed from your tank before you close the valve.
  1. Turn your water heater back on at the breaker or gas control knob
  • Keep the hot water faucet you opened earlier, open, to allow the air to escape the system. Once cold water begins flowing you can shut it off. Wait 30 minutes to an hour for your tank to heat.
  • Excess sediment is a sign of corrosion within your hot water tank. If you see this it might be time to replace or repair your tank.

Hot water heater still not working?

You may need to perform a deep cleaning of your system to remove larger sediment and debris. It’s best to call a professional for a deep clean as this process can be tricky and you do not want to risk damaging your tank or heating elements.

5. Call a plumber if you can’t figure out what’s wrong with your water heater

If you’ve tried all of the above and your water heater still isn’t working, it’s time to call a plumber. A local plumber can diagnose the problem and make the necessary repairs. Sometimes a repair calls for specialty replacement parts or heating elements that only a plumber is likely to have handy.

Water heater repairs can be tricky and frustrating. If you’re not comfortable troubleshooting and repairing your hot water tank, call a plumber. They have the experience and expertise to fix the problem safely and quickly.

A water heater that isn’t heating can be a huge inconvenience. These were a few things you can do to try and fix the problem. If all of these don’t work, it’s time to call a professional for help and possibly replace your old tank with a new water heater.


Q: My water heater isn’t heating, what should I do?

A: Check the power supply or pilot light to ensure it’s on. The best option is to call a plumber nearby to help diagnose your entire system. Often times the fix is to replace an inexpensive part.

Q: Can I try to fix it myself?

A: Yes, you can try some troubleshooting methods yourself. However, if you’re not comfortable with repairs, it’s best to leave it to the professionals.

Q: How do I find a good plumber?

A: Elmer’s Home Services is a reputable company with 24/7 emergency plumbing availability. When searching for plumbers you should consider their reputation and quality of service.  Elmer’s gives you options ranging from a simple band-aid repair to total water heater replacement.

Q: What should I expect to pay for a plumber?

A: The average cost of a plumber is $60 to $200 per hour. However, this will depend on the complexity of the job and where you live. Elmer’s Home Services offers a $59 service call. We will diagnose your plumbing issue and if any further water heater repair needs to be made you can roll the service fee into the cost of repairs!

Q: What are some other common problems?

A: A few common problems are a broken dip tube, a faulty gas control valve, a corroded anode rod, or a damaged heating element.

If your tank is leaking water, smells like rotten eggs or you think the heating elements are damaged, it’s a sign to call a quality plumber from Elmer’s Home Services for a speedy repair.

Need Help?

If you’re not sure where to start with your water heater repair, don’t hesitate to call a professional.

Elmer’s Home Services in San Antonio TX can help you assess the situation and make the best decision for your needs. We have experienced plumbers and quality service, so you can get the solution your need quickly.

If you are experiencing any of the signs that your water heater needs repair or replacement, don’t hesitate to call a professional.

Elmer’s Home Services in San Antonio TX can help you assess the situation and make the best decision for your needs. We have experienced plumbers and quality service, so you can get back to enjoying hot showers and baths in no time. 

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Headquarters: 9710 N Interstate 35
San Antonio, TX 78233

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Our business provides water heater repair, emergency plumber services, and plumbing repair in San Antonio, Texas. We have proudly served over 20,000 customers. Our professional plumbers are punctual and take pride in providing reliable and affordable home services to our neighbors.

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