Is Your Hot Water Heater Broken? Learn How to Tell!

If your hot water heater is not working, check for several signs including no hot water, unusual noise, and leakage. To diagnose the problem, observe carefully the symptoms of your water heater and perform a few self-diagnostic tasks such as checking the thermostat, examining the pilot light, and flushing the tank.

If the issue persists or requires a replacement, contact a professional plumber or experienced technician. When we step out of bed in the morning, a shower is usually the first thing that gets us going. However, if the hot water heater is not working, it can lead to nothing but disappointment.

A malfunctioning water heater can not only affect your daily routine, but it can also increase your energy bills and cause additional damage to your home if not prevented early. By spotting the signs of a broken hot water heater and performing some simple diagnostics, you can avoid bigger problems and save money in the long run. In this article, we’ll discuss how to determine if your hot water heater is not functioning correctly, how to identify the problem, and what steps to take to fix it.

Is Your Hot Water Heater Broken? Learn How to Tell!


Signs That Your Hot Water Heater May Be Broken

Hot water is a vital part of our daily routine, and it’s easy to take for granted that it will always be available. However, when your hot water heater isn’t working properly, it can create a lot of inconvenience and frustration.

In this section, we’ll go over some signs that your hot water heater may be broken, helping you to recognize the issue before it becomes a major problem.

No Hot Water

One of the most apparent indicators that your hot water heater is broken is if you’re not receiving hot water. The lack of hot water can occur for various reasons – from a minor issue like a tripped circuit breaker to more severe concerns requiring professional repair or replacement.

Here are some reasons why your hot water heater is not producing hot water:

  • A malfunctioning thermostat
  • A broken heating element
  • A faulty pilot light
  • A tripped circuit breaker or blown fuse
  • A gas supply issue

Inadequate Hot Water

If you’re not getting enough hot water or the water doesn’t remain hot long enough, there may be an issue with your hot water heater. Here are some reasons why your hot water heater is not providing enough hot water:

  • The heating element or thermostat is faulty.
  • Sediments or mineral deposits have built up in your water heater causing it to lose efficiency.
  • Your storage tank is too small for your household’s hot water demands.
  • The temperature of your hot water heater is lower than it should be.

Strange Noises

Your hot water heater shouldn’t be making any loud, odd, or unusual noises that may indicate a problem. If you hear any of the following sounds coming from your hot water heater, it’s time to call a professional:

  • Popping or banging sounds – this may indicate that there is sediment buildup in the tank, causing heating issues.
  • Whistling or hissing sounds – this could mean that your pressure relief valve is faulty or that your water heater is overheating.
  • Sizzling or humming sounds – this could signify a leak in your hot water heater or a problem with the heating element.

Leaks Or Corrosion

Leaks or corrosion are the two significant signs that your hot water heater is in serious trouble. If you see any water around your hot water heater, there’s a high possibility that your tank is leaking. Leaks or corrosion can be caused by various issues:

  • Sediments build up inside the hot water heater tank, causing leaks.
  • High water pressure can weaken the tank and cause leaks.
  • Age of the hot water heater can cause corrosion.

Age Of The Hot Water Heater

Hot water heaters don’t last infinitely – most models have a lifespan of around ten years. If your water heater is over a decade old (or if you’re uncertain of its age), it is worth determining whether it’s time to replace your hot water heater.

An ageing appliance is more likely to malfunction or fail, creating trouble for your household’s hot water supply. If your hot water heater is nearing the ten-year mark, it may be time to consider upgrading to a newer model.

Diagnosing The Problem

Whether it’s taking longer than usual for your shower to heat up or you’re hearing strange noises coming from your water heater, it’s essential to diagnose the problem immediately. Here are some quick tips to learn how to tell if your hot water heater is not working.

Pilot Light Issues

If your water heater’s pilot light goes out, it won’t heat your home’s water supply. The causes of the pilot light issue are usually due to:

  • Clogs in the gas line
  • Corroded or damaged thermocouples
  • A lack of cleaning and maintenance

Thermostat Issues

Thermostat issues can occur when the temperature setting on the water heater is too low, and your water heaters can’t reach the required temperature for household use. It can cause improper heat or overheat, that can lead to some below-mentioned issues:

  • Water is not hot enough
  • Water is too hot or scalding
  • Noises made by the water heater

Sediment Build-Up

Sediment build-up is a standard issue with hot water heaters that more ofte to cause the problem in the unit. Over time, water minerals build up on the inside of the system, resulting in:

  • Reduced heat output
  • Strange noices or pops from the water heater
  • Leakages

Faulty Heating Element

A faulty heating element can cause several issues to your water heater. However, diagnosing a malfunctioning heating element can be a bit of a problem. Here are some key factors one needs to consider:

  • If your unit doesn’t generate any hot water
  • Noises from heater
  • Water is warmer in some regions and cold in others.

Remember, prevention is always better than the cure. Regular maintenance and check-ups can help you avoid costly repairs and replacements while increasing your system’s longevity.

Fixing The Problem

If you have determined that your hot water heater is not working, the next step is to figure out how to fix it. There are two main categories of solutions for fixing a faulty hot water heater: diy solutions and professional solutions.

Diy Solutions

If you prefer to take matters into your own hands, there are some things you can try to repair your hot water heater. Here are some diy solutions to consider:

  • Check the power source: Make sure your hot water heater is receiving power. Check the circuit breaker or fuse box to ensure the water heater is not tripped.
  • Adjust the thermostat: Check to see if the thermostat is set to the appropriate temperature. If it is set too low, your hot water heater will not heat water to the desired temperature.
  • Drain the tank: Sediment can accumulate at the bottom of your water heater, which can affect its performance. Draining the tank can help remove debris and improve your heater’s efficiency.
  • Replace the heating element: Over time, your heating element may wear out, which can cause your hot water heater to malfunction. If you have some technical expertise, you can replace the heating element yourself.

Professional Solutions

If you are not comfortable repairing your hot water heater on your own, you may need to hire a professional to help you. Here are some of the professional solutions you can consider:

  • Replace the thermostat: If your thermostat is faulty, you may need to replace it. A professional can help you select the appropriate replacement and install it for you.
  • Fix a leaking tank: If your tank is leaking, you will need the assistance of a professional to find and repair the source of the leak. They may also flush out the tank to remove any buildup or rust.
  • Replace the hot water heater: If your hot water heater is old or malfunctioning, it may be time to replace it altogether. A professional can help you select a new tank, install it, and dispose of the old one properly.

Whether you choose to fix your hot water heater yourself or hire a professional, it is important to take action quickly to get your hot water running again. With the right solution, you can enjoy hot water showers and appliances in no time.

Preventing Future Hot Water Heater Issues

Having a functional hot water heater is essential for your household’s daily activities. Whether you are doing dishes or taking a warm bath, hot water is a basic need. By performing preventative maintenance, you can avoid future hot water heater issues and save money in the long run.

Here are some tips to keep your hot water heater in its best condition.

Annual Inspections And Maintenance

An annual inspection and maintenance can help detect and prevent issues before they cause significant damage. Schedule a professional inspection frequently to ensure your hot water heater is functioning efficiently. During an inspection, the technician will inspect the anode rod, check for leaks, and ensure proper venting.

Regular maintenance will extend the lifespan of your water heater and prevent costly damages.

Some key maintenance tasks to keep in mind include:

  • Checking and tightening pipe connections
  • Inspecting the shut-off valve for leaks
  • Inspecting the pressure relief valve
  • Checking the thermostat and heating element for proper function

Proper Temperature Setting

Setting the temperature correctly can help prevent your hot water heater from malfunctioning. The ideal temperature setting for your hot water heater should be between 120°f and 140°f. Anything beyond that can cause the tank to overheat and eventually fail.

By reducing the temperature’s intensity, you can prevent mineral buildup and prolong its shelf life.

Regular Flushing And Draining

Flushing and draining your hot water heater are essential regular maintenance tasks. Over time, sediment and mineral deposits accumulate at the bottom of your water heater tank and can cause clogs, reducing efficiency, and eventually causing the tank to leak or fail.

Flushing will remove the sediment buildup, which can reduce energy efficiency while saving you money in the long run.

To flush your hot water heater:

  • Turn off the water and gas supply or power.
  • Attach a hose to the drain valve and direct it to a drain.
  • Turn on the drain valve and let the water run until it’s clear.
  • Shut off the drain valve and remove the hose.
  • Turn on water supply and power.

With proper care and maintenance, you can avoid expensive hot water heater repairs or replacements. By following these easy steps, you can prevent future hot water heater issues, save money and energy, and ensure your household has a steady supply of hot water whenever needed.

Frequently Asked Questions On How To Tell If Hot Water Heater Is Not Working

How Do I Know If My Hot Water Heater Is Not Working?

If you are experiencing no hot water or lukewarm water, unusual noises, or discolored water coming out of your hot water faucet, it might be a sign that your water heater is not working. You can also check for leaks or a malfunctioning pilot light.

What Do I Do If My Hot Water Heater Is Not Working?

If you suspect a problem with your hot water heater, the first thing you should do is turn off the power supply or gas to the unit. Then, try troubleshooting the issue, such as relighting the pilot light or checking for a tripped circuit breaker.

If you are unable to identify the issue, call a professional plumber.

What Can Cause A Hot Water Heater To Stop Working?

Several factors can cause a hot water heater to stop working, including a malfunctioning thermostat, a broken heating element, a sediment buildup, a faulty pilot control valve, a tripped circuit breaker, or a gas supply problem.

How Often Should I Have My Hot Water Heater Serviced?

It is recommended to have your hot water heater inspected and tuned up at least once a year to keep it running efficiently and prevent unexpected breakdowns. However, a water heater that is older than 10 years old, it may be advisable to consider a replacement.

Can I Fix My Hot Water Heater Myself?

Simple tasks like relighting the pilot light or replacing a heating element can be done by an experienced diyer. However, it is usually best to leave repairs and maintenance to a licensed professional plumber to avoid further damage or injury.


One might overlook the importance of a functional water heater until it stops working. Fortunately, there are some simple ways to identify if your hot water heater is not working. From checking the pilot light to listening for strange noises, these warning signs can help you recognize if there’s an issue and when to call a professional.

Remember that regular maintenance and inspections can prevent future breakdowns and extend the lifespan of your heater, saving you money and ensuring your comfort at home. Additionally, replacing an old or inefficient heater with a newer model can increase your energy efficiency and provide cost savings in the long run.

By identifying and addressing issues early on, you can keep your hot water flowing and avoid the inconvenience of a breakdown. Don’t wait until it’s too late to take care of your water heater.