New Water Heater In New Home Not Heating – What To Check?

My new water heater does not heat water. I just moved into a new home. The electric water heater was turned off at the circuit breaker panel. I turned it back on. I have given the water heater 3 hours to heat water. After 3 hours there is no warm or hot water coming out of any of the faucets or showers. I am going to reset it using the breaker in another hour. If an electric water heater does not heat the water after 3 hours, is the water heater bad or is possibly NO power going to it?

 New Water Heater In New Home Not Heating - What To CheckNew Water Heater In New Home Not Heating – What To Check To Fix?

First check to see that the water heater is getting power. You should be able to hear it actually heating the water if it is getting power and you just turned it ON with the breaker. Use a multimeter if needed. Also, It may be possible the breaker was not turned ON properly. Turn the breaker for the electric water heater all the way to the OFF position and then all the way to the ON position. You should hear a click as the breaker switch goes into the ON position. But yes, go ahead and reset the water heater using the breaker. By resetting it, you will stop the heating process for a few moments but this will not have any issues with the heating process as turning the breaker off for a few minutes will not slow down the heating of the water.

An electric water heater should begin to give hot or warm water within about 15 minutes when initially turned on. There are 2 heating elements in an electric water heater. The top/upper element is commonly known as a fast recovery element. This means the top heating element should heat enough of the water in the upper portion of the water tank to supply some hot water within about 15 minutes.

HOW IT WORKS: The upper thermostat controls the upper heating element to the heat water in the top portion of the water tank. When the top thermostat reaches the desired temperature it switches power to the lower thermostat which controls the lower heating element.

There may be an issue with the electric water heater itself:
When the upper heating element or upper thermostat is faulty, the water in the top of the tank will never reach the temperature setting on the upper thermostat and the water at the top of the water heater will not get hot. When this happens, it will never switch power to the lower thermostat or heating element. Thus the electric water heater will not supply hot water.

Top thermostat over temperature sensor tripped?
-The upper thermostat has an over temperature sensor on it for safety.
-This temperature sensor may have tripped if it is faulty or overheat.

To troubleshoot why your water heater does not get HOT water:
1. Turn off the power to the water heater.
2. Remove the top service cover to the top element and press the red reset button
3. Put the top service cover back on.
4. Turn the power back on to the water heater
5. If it trips again then the upper and lower stats should be replaced.

How to reset water heater thermostatHow to reset a water heater thermostat?

If all else fails:
If you press the red reset and reset power to your water heater and still have no hot water…
Get a multimeter check and for 240 volts across the top two terminals of the thermostat.
This is to make sure the power supply is incoming and the thermostat is not faulty.
You can also check using your multimeter across the two screws on the top heating element for 240 volts.
If you have 240 volts and and still have no hot water, then the issue is the upper heating element
If it is cold and you do not have 240 volts across the heating element (using your meter) then you need to remove and replace the upper thermostat.

How to replace a heating element on a water heater

Thermostats and elements are inexpensive. To make sure you do not have any issues in the future, if you have drained the water tank, then you might as well change all 4 components since they all are the same age. It is true that if one fails then the rest can fail soon.

Here are Thermostats and Heating elements for water heaters…

Water Heater Heating ElementsWater Heater Heating Elements



Water Heater ThermostatsWater Heater Thermostats

If you have questions about your water heater, please leave a question below and we will be happy to help you get your water heater to supply HOT water for your home.

ALLEN VETTER - DIY Repair Assistant
Allen is a Home Maintenance/Appliance tech and the author/creator of this website. He has 30 years of experience troubleshooting and repairing all types of machinery. Contact here

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 MJ Barnes February 3, 2019 at 2:59 pm

We just replaced a small 6-gal Point of Use electric (120V) water heater in my workshop with the exact same model. The old tank lasted about 10 years before it failed, which was a longer-than-expected run. However, the new water heater is not producing hot water. We reset the circuit and checked for power at the unit — both good. Pushing the reset did not do anything. My question is: Does the reset button typically stay depressed when pushed in, similar to a reset button on a GFI outlet? In this case, it does not stay depressed.


2 Christina Nichols September 15, 2018 at 11:32 am

There is power going to my electric hot water heater. We drained it and checked the heating elements. They are not burned out. It is brand new. Do not hear it come on when we turn the breaker to on position.


3 ALLEN VETTER - DIY Repair Assistant September 17, 2018 at 11:23 pm

Christina Nichols,
Check that the correct power voltage is getting to the water heater, be sure the thermostats are set correctly, check to be sure the heating elements are installed correctly and heating up.
What is the model number of your water heater?


4 Marisela Lara December 29, 2018 at 2:28 am

Did this ever get resolved? I’m. Experiencing the same issues. New water heater no hot water


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