There’s nothing quite like stepping into the shower on a cold winter morning only to discover that your hot water heater has stopped working. Sometimes the reason is simple. Perhaps the pilot light has gone out (if you have a gas model), or the power cord has gotten disconnected from the outlet somehow. Other times, the reason is more complicated and requires professional attention.

Here’s our top five reasons hot water heaters stop working. 

1. No power

If you’ve got an electric water heater, this should be the first thing you check. More often than not, this is the reason it’s stopped working and usually it’s a quick fix. Sometimes all it takes is plugging the power cord back into the outlet because it somehow became disconnected. 

Other reasons for losing power to the water heater include a tripped circuit breaker or a blown fuse. You may also need to reset the safety switch if your model has one. Have a gas water heater that’s suddenly stopped working? Check to make sure it isn’t out of gas. 

2. Loose parts 

Sometimes your hot water heater can stop working if there’s a part that’s come unhinged or loose. If you suspect this is the culprit, check your water heater’s bolts to make sure they’re tight and look to see if there’s any water leaking from them or other parts. If you notice water on the floor near the bottom of the tank, you may need it replaced. Don’t wait, though, because the leak could cause serious damage to your floor. 

3. Faulty pilot light 

Just like you would on a gas stove, you’ll need to check the pilot light on your gas water heater if it’s not working. If a draft of wind or a power outage caused the pilot light to go out, all you’ll need to do is relight it. Other times, the gas valve may need to be replaced, especially if it’s become corroded or defective.  

Additional problems that can cause the pilot light to go out include the thermopile, which keeps the flame going. If it stops working, the pilot light won’t either. Gas valve, thermopile and other pilot light problems need to be fixed by a professional. Never attempt to fix a pilot light on a gas water heater on your own as it’s a dangerous job. 

4. A bad thermostat 

If the thermostat on your water heater stops working, it can stop the water heater from doing its job, too. Here’s why: since the thermostat controls the water temperature, once it goes out, the hot water heater can work for a little while, but eventually it won’t heat the water at all. Alternatively, if the high-limit switch is faulty, the thermostat will not be able to regulate the temperature and can cause water temps to exceed 180 degrees. 

5. Electric ignition problems 

Some hot water heaters use an electric ignition system. While this is usually a pretty straight-forward efficient system, it can cause the hot water heater not to work properly if its sensor flame gets clogged or otherwise compromised. If your hot water heater has electric ignition and it stops working, start by cleaning the ignition sensor. If that doesn’t work, call a professional for help. 

We recommend getting your hot water heater serviced every year. If yours stops working, give the team at Allied Reddi-Rooter a call. We can get it up and running in no time.