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Hot or Cold Water Not Working in the Shower? Here’s Why (and How to Fix It)

If you just found out that the hot or cold water abruptly stopped working in your shower, there may be a few different culprits.

Here’s our handy guide to help you check out the potential causes:

3 Reasons Why the Hot Water isn’t Working

The hot water in a shower often comes from a boiler that is heated with either electricity or a fuel source. Any problems with the power supply or boiler may cause the hot water not working.

1. Check the hot water heater

Start by checking to make sure the hot water heater is still on. If you’re using an electric water heater, check that it’s plugged in or that the fuse hasn’t been blown. You should also check the thermostat to see if the temperature is set too low. You can rule out that the water heater isn’t the cause if you can turn on the hot water in a different sink in the home.

For a gas hot water heater, ensure the pilot light is lit. If it’s not lit, you may have to relight it. If the pilot light stays lit, check the gas valve to see if it’s turned on.

Here’s a helpful video demonstrating how to check if a hot water heater is operational:

2. Is the shower valve clogged?

Shower valves play a key role in providing hot water, as they control the flow of hot and cold water. Resting behind the faceplate, the valve controls the water pressure, temperature, and flow rate. If it becomes corroded or clogged, it may prevent you from getting the hot water you need. Removing and replacing the shower valve

Fortunately, plenty of helpful guides on YouTube demonstrate how to check your shower valve and replace it if necessary. Here’s one that we found:

3. Is there a leaky pipe in your home?

While this one may seem obvious, sometimes its good just to double check that you don’t have any leaks in your basement or crawl space. Simply put, if hot water is pouring out of a pipe before it even gets to your shower, you’ll not have any warm water! While home improvement stores sell water sealants, if you notice a leak, its probably best to call a plumber to look at the problem as it could be a symptom to a much larger problem within the home.

3 Reasons Why the Cold Water isn’t Working

Opposite to hot water, cold water in your shower can be caused by a few different reasons:

1. Is the shutoff valve closed?

If the cold water in your shower is not working, one of the first things you should check is the shutoff valve. Shutoff valves are typically installed in the wall to the side of the shower, and someone may have accidentally turned it off. Check to make sure the valve is in the open position.

2. Is there a clogged cold-water pipe?

If you have hard water or rely on well water, sediment and minerals throughout the years may have buildup inside the fixture and pipes, reducing the cold water flow. Check other faucets in the house to see if the pressure is low on any other sink. If this is the case, you may need to have a plumber flush out any sediment stuck to the insides of the pipes.

Here’s what the inside of your pipe would look like if it has sediment buildup:

If your pipes are looking like this, call a plumber!

Related: Do Shower Heads Help With Hard Water? Here’s What We Found Out

3. Is the hot water over powering the cold water?

While the water heater is not typically responsible for providing cold water to the shower, the water heater may be overloading the system and making it feel like the cold water isn’t working. To test this, turn off the water heater and test the cold water in the shower. If the cold water starts to work again, then it’s likely that the water heater is the cause.


If you suspect the hot or cold water in your shower is not working properly, there are many potential causes. Check the power supply, boiler, shower, and shutoff valve for hot water. Check the shutoff valve, valve control knob, water pressure, and water heater for cold water. If you cannot determine the cause of the problem yourself, it is recommended that you contact a licensed professional for assistance.

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Frank Harmenstein

From humble beginnings as a plumber and handyman, Frank Harmenstein has emerged as a leading authority on shower heads, a title he has earned through years of dedication and hard work. With over two decades of experience in the plumbing industry, Frank has developed an unrivalled expertise in the installation, maintenance, and repair of shower systems. His passion for shower heads has led him to write extensively on the subject, sharing his knowledge and insights with readers around the world.

Born and raised in a small town, Frank's interest in plumbing was sparked at an early age by his father, who was a respected plumber in their community. Inspired by his father's dedication to his craft, Frank pursued an apprenticeship in plumbing and soon discovered his niche in the world of shower heads. He quickly gained a reputation as a skilled handyman who could fix any shower-related issue and provide expert advice on selecting the perfect shower head for any bathroom.

After years of honing his skills and knowledge, Frank decided to share his passion for shower heads with a wider audience by becoming an author.