The water heater in your home can stop working suddenly and without warning. There are several things that might be causing the problem, but until the water heater has been checked out, you will not know if it is in need of replacement. Hiring a plumber who offers water heater repair services is your best option, but in the meantime, there are a couple of things you can check out yourself.
Checking the Breakers
Before you call a plumber to check out your water heater, go to the breaker or fuse box in your home and check the circuit for the water heater. Blowing a fuse or a tripping breaker will cut the power to the water heater, and you might not notice it until the hot water runs out. You can reset the breaker or replace the fuse then wait and see if the water starts to get warm. It can take thirty minutes or more for the water to get hot, depending on the size of the tank. Tripping the breaker a second time is an indication of a bigger problem, and you should consider getting some professional help.
Resetting the Water Heater Controller
There is also a reset on the hot water tank, but if you are not familiar with it, you might not be able to find it. The reset button is on the controller that turns the heating elements on and off. There are two panels on the front of the tank. Remove the screw from the top one, and you will see a small box inside with a red button on it. Push the red button in to reset the controller. If it kicks back out, there is a problem with the controller or the heating elements on the tank.
Replacing the Heating Elements
Replacing the heating elements is not difficult, but the tank does need to be emptied to do so. Before changing the heating elements, test them to see if they are working properly or not. A simple continuity test will let you know if the element is functioning properly. If you are not familiar with the heater and how it works, it is a good idea to call a professional plumber to help you. If the tank is not leaking, it is more than likely fixable; but if the tank is leaking, the entire water heater will need replacing. Not every tank fails catastrophically, so if yours is not working but you can't see any sign of problems, get it inspected so you are sure what the problem is.