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Rick, Construction Supervisor
Category: Plumbing
Satisfied Customers: 21387
Experience:  Licensed Master plumber with 40+ yrs. experience.
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Pipes are likely frozen, no hot water, what can we do?

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We have cold water, but no hot water. We have an electric water heater that is only a couple months old; it is in an outside closet. The water in the water heater is warm, but not hot. It is 20 degrees (possibly lower) outside, but our pipes coming from the water heater are wrapped in heat tape. Our power did go off about 3-4 hours before I came home to no hot water. I've tried resetting the breaker and resetting the actual water heater. Still no hot water an hour later. When I turn on the hot water tap on any of our sinks, nothing comes out. What can I do now? Thank you for any help! :)

It sounds like you have frozen pipes. You need to do whatever you can to get some heat in the area where the water heater is. The pipes probably froze when you lost power. If the heat tape is still working it might that the pipes out eventually. Or you could call a plumber with a pipe thawing machine. If the pipes are still frozen when you go to bed turn off the water at the water main so you won't have a flood if the pipes break and subsequently thaw out. The same applies when you leave for work tomorrow if nothing has changed. In the mean time leave a faucet open in case the pipes do thaw

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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thank you for your fast response. Is it possible that the hot water pipe would freeze but not the cold water? The cold water still runs.
Yes. Hot water pipes tend to freeze first and your cold water may be routed differently.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thank you. I will take a look at the hot water pipe. Just in case, are there any other possibilities that you can think of other than a frozen pipe? Does it sound like something that could be severe?
Based on what you have told me a frozen pipe is the most likely explaination. Anything else would be a real stretch. I'm not sure what you mean by severe (the word is pretty subjective) . If you leave the house with the water turned on and the pipe is split and the pipes thaw out you could find an awful mess when you get home. A split pipe is probably as bad as it will get.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I forgot to put that the water heater is cold to the touch. Might this be indicative of something else going on?
The cold tank may not indicate anything since the air is so cold but it could mean that the heater isn't working. This wouldn't change my assessment of the situation.

Check to be sure the breaker in on to the heater. The only other thing you can do it check the reset button under the top access panel on the heater. Turn the breaker off first then remove the panel. There will likely be a small piece of insulation in front of the thermostat. Once removed you should see a reset button (usually red) toward the top of the thermostat. If you push it in and it clicks you have reset it.
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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
You were right! It was a frozen pipe. Thank you so much! :)