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Water Heater 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?

Water Heater Getting Power?

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 multi-meter 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.

How fast should water heater produce hot 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.

Problem 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.

Troubleshoot why 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?

Try these methods to get water heater working

If you press the red reset and reset power to your water heater and still have no hot water…

  • Get a multi-meter 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 multi-meter 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

Thermostat issue causing problem?

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.

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13 thoughts on “Water Heater Not Heating – What To Check?”

  1. I have a brand new hot water heater put in about a month ago. It’s a Bradford white. It did great at first but now it’s not getting hot. I ran my shower for about an hour and a half last night to see if it just needed to purge what water wasn’t used or something. I thought it was getting warm for a few minutes then back to nothing. I don’t want to bug my landlord please help lol

  2. ALLEN VETTER - DIY Repair Assistant

    Is the water heater GAS or ELECTRIC?
    If electric, is it getting power, the correct voltage?
    If gas, is the flame ignited, is the gas turned ON?
    Can you give us the model number please?

  3. Electric water heater single element brand new thermostat and element installed. Set temp 120. L1 to L2, L3 to L4 has continuity/current. All wires have current. But water gets hot only when temperature dial is moved to 150 degrees. At 120 only lukewarm after 7 hours on

  4. Michael W Noland

    new mobil home hot water heater only a little warm water, Ao Smith Model # E6-30M6-45SV 100
    getting power 250v

  5. ALLEN VETTER - DIY Repair Assistant

    Please give us the model number to your water heater and we can advise.
    Are all the valves open?
    Is the tank receiving water?
    If you wired it properly, and you have power, then there may be another issue with the water heater itself.

  6. Can you wire an electric hot water heater wrong? Just put in new hot water heater last night and still no hot water.

  7. ALLEN VETTER - DIY Repair Assistant

    Brand new Water heater gets hot then cold:
    Can you give us more info?
    Is it gas or electric?
    Model number?

  8. We replaced our water heater yesterday and the water gets hot for about a minute and then is cold again. What could be the problem?

  9. 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.

  10. ALLEN VETTER - DIY Repair Assistant

    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?

  11. Christina Nichols

    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.

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