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April 7, 2024

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    You turned on the tap in your kitchen, and to your dismay, nothing happened. No water to be had. So, how do you solve this plumbing dilemma? After all, no water in your home quickly becomes a problem — no showering, rinsing dishes, washing laundry, or anything else that requires water.

    If you’re contending with a sudden lack of water in your home, you’re not alone. Countless homeowners have experienced these problems, but luckily, the fix is sometimes easier than you think. In this article, we’ve collected our years of experience to lay out for you what causes the issue, how to fix it, and how to prevent it, all while saving time, money, and frustration.

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    • The first step to fixing your home’s lack of water is finding the source of the problem such as a shut-off valve, leak, or water utility issue.
    • Integrating a few simple habits like regular inspections and annual servicing can help keep water problems from happening in the first place.
    • Calling a plumber is usually the best option if you’re dealing with a serious or complicated plumbing issue like a burst pipe.

    How To Determine the Cause of Your Water Stoppage

    If the water in your home abruptly stops, a few culprits could be causing the issue. Here’s how to pinpoint what is causing the lack of water in your home:

    Step 1: Determine the Affected Area

    When you notice a lack of water in your home, the first thing you should do is determine the affected area. Sometimes, the problem is limited to certain spaces or fixtures due to a single shut-off valve.

    For example, maybe your kitchen faucet abruptly stopped working. This could result from accidentally bumping the shut-off valves underneath the sink, which stops the water flow to only the sink. Or, maybe your entire bathroom is without water, which could result from a shut-off valve controlling the space that isn’t all the way open.

    So, to determine the area the lack of water impacts, walk around your home and turn on each water-using fixture. Check taps, appliances, and any other fixture that uses water. If the water problem is restricted to one fixture, then start there. However, if the problem is widespread, it’ll take some more troubleshooting.

    how to fix a faucet that is not running
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    Step 2: Check with Your Neighbors and Water Company

    If you determine the lack of water is widespread throughout your home, check in with your neighbors and the water company. Contact your nearest neighbors and ask if they have the same problem. If they are, it is widespread.

    If your neighbors are experiencing the same problem, your water supplier might be able to provide the answer. For example, maybe they’re working on routine maintenance that results in a lack of water for a few hours. They should notify you before such an event, but it’s possible to miss the notification. In that case, call your water company or municipality to confirm and determine when your water will be restored.

    Step 3: Check Your Water Meter and Water Main

    If your neighbors aren’t having water issues and the water supplier reports nothing that would cause the problem, it’s time to do some sleuthing in your home. Check to ensure your home is receiving water by finding the water meter or water main.

    You can usually find the water meter where the water main enters your home. It’s often on the side of your home’s exterior or in the basement of your home.

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    There are also water shut-off valves your water company controls. Most of these water shut-off valves the water company controls are buried, so you will not be able to access them. If you can see yours, though, ensure the valve is in the “ON” position. If it’s slightly out of the correct position or turned off entirely, you must call the water company to open it because a special tool is required.

    If you have a private water well, check your well pump to ensure it works properly. If you have a well pump, your home also has a pressure-boosting system that includes a pressure gauge. When the well pump isn’t working, the pressure gauge will read “0” or lower than 40 psi — and you won’t have water. Also, if you have an electrical outage, your well pump won’t operate until the power is restored.

    check your well pump if water is not running
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    Step 4: Look for Signs of Pipe Damage

    If the water main is on and everything looks okay there, check for signs of pipe damage throughout your home. Pipe damage, like frozen, burst, or leaky pipes, is a common side effect of sub-freezing winter temperatures, so consider the time of year.

    a cracked pipe and leaking water could be why you dont have water
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    If it’s cool enough outside for pipes to freeze, check pipes in exposed areas of your home. These pipes are often in garages, maintenance spaces, and unfinished basements. When you’re dealing with a broken pipe, you’ll usually see clear signs of damage, and as the day brings on warmer temperatures, you’ll likely notice puddles of water around the area as the ice melts.

    Step 5: Check the Pressure Regulator and Tank

    Sometimes, your pressure regulator is the culprit behind water issues. While a failing pressure regulator usually causes significantly reduced water pressure, it might present itself as little to no running water.

    So, check your home’s pressure tank and regulator for leaks, holes, odd noises, etc. If the pressure drops too low (below 40 psi), the regulator might be failing, so a replacement will be necessary.

    check your pressure tank if water isnt running
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    Step 6: Check Your Water Heater

    If your water heater has a leak or clog, it may stop hot water from flowing out of your faucets. If only the cold water knobs work in your entire house, there is a high chance you have an issue with your water heater.

    Blockages and leaks from corrosion are common issues with water heaters. If you spot a water leak, turn off the water valve supplying the water heater to prevent further water damage. Then call a plumber.  

    What To Do if Water Is Not Running in Your House

    Once you determine the root cause leading to a lack of water in your home, you can do a few things. The repair varies based on the culprit, but here are a few tips and solutions that might remedy the issue:

    • Turn on the shut-off valve: If the problem is solely affecting one fixture, check the shut-off valve. For example, on a kitchen or bathroom sink, there’s usually a shut-off valve in the cabinet below. Ensure it’s turned on.
    • Troubleshoot problematic fixtures: If the problem is isolated to one fixture, but the shut-off valves are on, check for clogs, leaks, and faulty valves. The repair process will vary based on the fixture and brand, so refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for assistance.
    • Wait for the water company: If the problem stems from a repair the water company is doing, you’ll simply need to wait for them to finish. Once they’re done, your water will come on, and you can use it normally. It’s important to note that when the water comes on, it might be cloudy or come in spurts for a minute or two. To correct this, simply let the water run until it runs clear and stops spurting.
    • Thaw frozen pipes: If you find frozen pipes on the verge of bursting, do your best to thaw them out. Be conscious of the materials around the plumbing, especially if there’s drywall, insulation, or other flammable materials nearby. Use a hair dryer, heat tape, warm towels, or hot water bottles to heat the pipes and thaw the ice slowly. Avoid using a heat gun or open flame.
    • Repair leaks and damage: If you find leaks or damage to the plumbing throughout your home, repair those areas. Sometimes, the repairs are relatively straightforward, and if you’re an avid DIYer, you can complete them on your own. Of course, you can always call a plumber for assistance.
    • Call a plumber: If you’re dealing with significant pipe damage, pressure regulator issues, or can’t seem to pinpoint the culprit, it’s best to call a plumber. They have the tools and knowledge necessary to handle these situations, and while it will cost money, it’s worth it to get it done correctly.

    Read our article on water line replacement cost for more plumbing cost information.

    How To Prevent No Water in House Suddenly in the Future

    While some water issues are unavoidable, there are several things you can do to keep plenty of water running whenever you need it. Here are a few tips and tricks to avoid a lack of water in your home:

    • Monitor your water bill: Keep an eye on your water bill throughout the year. If you notice sudden spikes in your bills without any apparent reason, there’s a good chance your home has a problem. In many cases, leaks and pipe damage will result in high water bills, so if you notice a spike, start looking for potential culprits immediately.
    • Regular inspections: Strolling around your home to examine exposed plumbing is a good idea, especially in the winter. Monitor pipes along the exterior of your home for signs of freezing and damage, as these issues can quickly spiral out of control.
    • Freeze protection: If you live in a cold climate where temperatures regularly dip to around or below freezing in the winter, consider freeze protection. Making relatively small adjustments like adding pipe insulation can go a long way in protecting your home’s plumbing against the winter chill.
    • Install a pressure gauge: A pressure gauge can be a worthwhile investment for most homeowners, as it can help monitor for overly high or low water pressure in your home. This can be an excellent way to detect problems before they become massive issues, so consider installing a pressure gauge.
    • Schedule regular maintenance: Sometimes, it’s best to have a professional’s expertise to examine your home’s plumbing. Pros can catch issues before they become major headaches and assess the system to ensure it’s running smoothly. While you don’t need a professional to conduct regular maintenance too often, you should schedule a service appointment at least once yearly.

    When To Call a Plumber If Your Water Isn’t Running

    While some plumbing problems that cause the water in your home to stop working are simple enough for most folks to handle, some are more complicated. Below are a few tips to determine the best course of action.

    When To Call a Plumber

    Generally, it’s best to call a plumber when you feel the project is out of your scope or experience. For example, if you’re unsure how to repair pipes or correct water pressure regulators, it’s better to call a plumber.

    If you improperly handle the repair, it could lead to more extensive and expensive repairs down the road, so we recommend calling a plumber if you’re unsure what to do.

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    When To DIY

    Some plumbing situations resulting in water issues are pretty simple and easy to fix. For example, you accidentally bumped the shut-off valves in your base cabinet while retrieving something from there. Or, you recently completed repairs and forgot to open the main shut-off valve again. Both of these solutions are as simple as turning a valve.

    These problems are simple enough for most folks to handle, but more complex issues, like burst plumbing, are often out of the average individual’s experience range. However, avid DIYers with plumbing system experience might be able to handle more complex problems. It all depends on your experience and willingness to complete the project.

    How Much Will It Cost To Get Your Water Running Again?

    While your wallet might be less than thrilled about paying for the repair to restore water to your home, it’s a must-do. The costs will vary drastically based on factors specific to your scenario, including the type of repair, labor costs, and whether you DIY the project.

    Estimated Costs

    The cost of your plumbing repair hinges on the culprit behind the problem. Here are a few cost estimates based on common culprits:

    • Repairing burst pipes: $150 to $2,000
    • Replacing a water pressure regulator: $250 to $1,000
    • Replacing a shut-off valve: $150 to $600
    • Professional plumber labor cost: $45 to $200 per hour

    How To Save Money

    Hiring a plumber can be expensive, especially when the problem is more complicated. While hiring a plumber in some situations is unavoidable, there are a few things you can do to save money. Here are a few tips to help alleviate the stress on your wallet:

    • Look for DIY guides: There are countless detailed DIY guides designed to help everyday homeowners navigate common plumbing issues. If you’re comfortable handling the fix, you could complete the repair using one of these guides.
    • Ask a friend or family member: If you have a friend or family member that is a plumber or has experience with DIYing plumbing projects, ask them for advice. Sometimes, they might offer to do the work at a discounted price, but it’s best not to expect this.

    Recap: What To Do When Your Water Stops Running

    When the water in your home stops working, it’s hard not to notice. So, if your home suddenly stops providing water, you must first pinpoint the problem. From there, you can choose an appropriate course of action, repair the problem, and take preventative measures to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

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    Match with a plumbing expert to help you with installation or repair.

    FAQs About Water Issues in Your House

    Why is my water pressure low in my sink?

    The water pressure in your sink faucet can be low for several reasons, but the most common culprits are clogged aerators and blocked cartridges. A quick soak in vinegar usually does the trick for removing the buildup of debris (like mineral deposits) from these parts.

    Where does my home’s water come from?

    The source of your water depends on where you live. If you live within city limits, it likely comes from a public water supply, but if you live in a rural area, you might have a private well. From there, the water usually comes from two places: groundwater sources and surface-water sources (rivers, lakes, or reservoirs).

    How do I check if my pipes are frozen?

    Frozen pipes usually exhibit a few key signs, including clanking or banging, low water pressure throughout the home, bulges on the pipe itself, and bad odors. If you can see the pipes, you will likely notice cracks, bulges, or a coating of frost.

    Editorial Contributors
    avatar for Jonathon Jachura

    Jonathon Jachura


    Jonathon Jachura is a two-time homeowner with hands-on experience with HVAC, gutters, plumbing, lawn care, pest control, and other aspects of owning a home. He is passionate about home maintenance and finding the best services. His main goal is to educate others with crisp, concise descriptions that any homeowner can use. Jon uses his strong technical background to create engaging, easy-to-read, and informative guides. He does most of his home and lawn projects himself but hires professional companies for the “big things.” He knows what goes into finding the best service providers and contractors. Jon studied mechanical engineering at Purdue University in Indiana and worked in the HVAC industry for 12 years. Between his various home improvement projects, he enjoys the outdoors, a good cup of coffee, and spending time with his family.

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    photo of Roxanne Downer

    Roxanne Downer


    Roxanne Downer is a commerce editor at Today’s Homeowner, where she tackles everything from foundation repair to solar panel installation. She brings more than 15 years of writing and editing experience to bear in her meticulous approach to ensuring accurate, up-to-date, and engaging content. She’s previously edited for outlets including MSN, Architectural Digest, and Better Homes & Gardens. An alumna of the University of Pennsylvania, Roxanne is now an Oklahoma homeowner, DIY enthusiast, and the proud parent of a playful pug.

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