Water Heater: No hot water

For electric water heaters, check both house circuit breakers for the water heater. Reset the circuit breakers by shutting them off and then flipping them back on. A gas water heater will have a single circuit breaker. Reset that circuit breaker the same way-shut it off and flip it back on.

If the electric water heater doesn't begin to heat after resetting the circuit breakers, shut the breakers off and press the reset button for the high-temperature limit switch on the upper thermostat of the water heater. If the water heater works for a while and then trips the high-temperature limit switch again, you'll likely need to replace a failed thermostat that's causing the element to heat constantly. If an electric water heater element doesn't heat when activated, replace the heating element. Replace the thermostat if it doesn't activate the heating element. Our no-hot-water troubleshooting video can help you figure out which part to replace in an electric water heater that's not heating.

For gas water heaters, make sure you have an adequate gas supply provided to the water heater and check the gas supply shut-off valve to make sure it's fully open. If your gas water heater uses a pilot light for ignition, relight the pilot if necessary. Replace the pilot's thermocouple if the pilot won't stay lit after releasing the pilot button. Replace the thermostat if it doesn't turn on the burner to heat the water. Replace the burner assembly if it's at fault. The gas water heater has ventilation interlock switches. Have a service technician examine the gas water heater if basic troubleshooting doesn't resolve the water heating failure.

water heater

These repairs may help solve your water heater problem

Replace the water heater heating element

Replace the water heater heating element

The heating element is the heat source inside an electric water heater. It extends directly into the tank, where it radiates heat energy to the water around it. If the heating element is not heating when activated, replace the heating element.

How to replace an electric water heater heating element

If your electric water heater runs out of hot water quickly, or if the water isn't as hot as it should be, the heating element could be the problem. This step-by-step repair guide and video show how to replace a water heater heating element.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
Read more
Replace the water heater thermostat

Replace the water heater thermostat

The thermostat constantly monitors water temperature in the tank. When the water temperature drops beneath the desired setting, the thermostat sends power to the electric heating element or gas burner to begin heating. If the thermostat isn't sending power to the heating element, replace the thermostat. In a gas water heater, replace the gas control assembly that contains the thermostat.

How to replace an electric water heater thermostat

If your electric water heater makes the water too hot or not hot enough, the thermostat could be broken. This DIY repair guide and video show how to replace an electric water heater thermostat.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
Read more
Replace the water heater thermocouple

Replace the water heater thermocouple

The thermocouple monitors the pilot light. It detects whether your pilot light is lit by generating a small electrical current powered by the heat of the pilot flame. The gas valve won't open if it doesn't sense the small electrical current produced by the thermocouple because it assumes the pilot light is off. Replace the thermocouple if it doesn't detect the pilot flame.

Symptoms common to all water heaters

Choose a symptom to see related water heater repairs.

Main causes: water supply needs chlorine treatment, anode rod too reactive
Main causes: thermostat temperature set too high, thermostats need adjustment, faulty thermostat, shorted heating element
Main causes: thermostats need adjustment, water heater capacity too low, bad heating element, thermostat failure, excessive tank sediment
Main causes: lack of power, no gas supply, thermostat limit switch tripped, bad element, bad thermostat, gas valve failure, bad thermocouple
Main causes: broken heating element, thermostat failure, excessive tank sediment, tank size too small, burner valve assembly failure
Main causes: faulty pressure relief valve, water is overheating
Main causes: loose water pipe fittings, leaky drain valve, bad temperature-pressure relief valve, leaky heating element, cracked tank

Articles and videos common to all water heaters

Use the advice and tips in these articles and videos to get the most out of your water heater.

October 31, 2018

Cleaning your appliances after a drinking water advisory

By Julie Riebe

Find out how to clean and flush household appliances once a boil water advisory is lifted.

December 9, 2015

How to read a wiring schematic video

By Sears PartsDirect staff

Learn how to decipher symbols so you can buy the right part for your problem.

August 1, 2015

Water heater common questions

By Sears PartsDirect staff

These common questions and answers can help you make the most of your water heater.