You turn on the water, ready to take a shower, and it won’t get hot. Frustrated, you realize you’re stuck taking a cold shower again.
Are you wondering why the water won’t get hot and how you can fix this issue? The problem could lie with the heating element, thermostat, or other parts of your system. The first step to solving the issue is to pinpoint the cause.
You can use these tips to figure out why your water isn’t getting hot and what you can do to fix it.
Check the Hot Water Thermostat
The thermostat on your hot water heater is a switch that controls the temperature of the water. It has a sensor that can detect temperature and decide whether to turn the hot water heater on or off.
The thermostat is located on the outside of the heater, but not every homeowner knows that it’s there or adjustable.
Having the right temperature set is vital not only for comfort reasons but to save you money on your electric bill. Too hot, and you can get scalded. But if it’s set too low, you’ll get lukewarm water.
When the water doesn’t get hot enough, it can lead to bacterial growth.
In general, the recommended temperature is 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is set right, keep troubleshooting.
Look for Signs of a Broken Thermostat
If the issue isn’t with the temperature setting, the issue might be with the thermostat itself.
Like any electrical appliance, your water heater is also affected by shorts and power surges. In some cases, the breaker can trip, or the fuse can blow, resulting in a sudden drop in water temperature.
The problem could be due to a flipped high-temperature cutoff switch. There’s usually a reset button in the upper panel you can press.
Both gas and electric water heaters use a thermostat. However, it’s trickier to replace a gas thermostat compared to an electric one, so know your limits.
Units may have line voltage controls or microprocessor-equipped heaters. Homeowners that don’t know what they’re doing should always contact a professional for plumbing and water heater repair.
Before adjusting or replacing the thermostat, make sure the power to the unit is turned off from the breaker box. Your hot water heater is usually on its own breaker.
Your Water Heater Is Too Old
In most cases, water heaters last anywhere from eight to twelve years. Tankless hot water heaters last even longer. However, the exact lifespan depends on the quality of your water, the location of the unit, and how often you use it.
If your water won’t get hot, it could be due to a faulty heating element. It’s often more cost-effective to replace a water heater that’s older rather than repair it.
You can tell if a hot water heater needs replacing if it shows certain signs, such as:
- You don’t get enough hot water
- Hot water runs out quickly
- You hear creaks or rumbling noises
- You see leaks around the water heater
- You hear knocking sounds
- There’s rusty water running through the faucets
- Limescale buildup
- Water is red or yellow
- Hot water smells or tastes strange
Check the age of your hot water heater. If it’s approaching the end of its lifespan or if it’s over the expected limit, it’s likely time to replace it.
The Water Tank Is Too Small
Another reason you may need to replace a water heater is if the tank is too small for your home. Inadequate tanks can result in running out of hot water too quickly.
This can often happen when families grow and have kids. The more people that use hot water, the greater the demand placed on your heater.
It might also be that you moved into a new home and realized the water tank isn’t sufficient for the number of people that need hot showers.
Water heaters usually come in sizes ranging from 40 gallons to 120 gallons. A 50 or 60-gallon water heater is usually sufficient for a family of four. Households with more people may need to upgrade to a larger size.
Additionally, you can opt for a tankless water heater. This type of unit heats water on demand, making them more energy efficient, and provides continuous hot water, so you never have to worry about running out again.
It’s Cold Outside
The outside temperature also plays a part in how well your hot water heater works. In the winter and during cold snaps, it can take longer to heat up the water.
Remember, when it’s cold outside, the outside temperature is lower, but so is the ground temperature. Therefore, the water entering your hot water heater is cooler, and your unit has to work harder to heat it up.
In the fall and winter seasons, 120 degrees Fahrenheit may not be high enough to provide the hot water you want to take a shower, do the dishes, and wash your clothes. Try adjusting it by a few degrees to see if that solves the problem.
Look for Sediment Buildup
Your hot water heater can get clogged with sediment if it isn’t properly maintained. This is usually a problem when homeowners have hard water.
When you use your hot water heater, minerals can sink to the bottom of the unit and cling to the heating element. As a result, not as much heat can be transferred to the water, reducing the efficiency of your system. You might go to turn on the hot water, only to realize it comes out lukewarm.
Too much sediment buildup can also cause the heater to work overtime in an attempt to heat the water properly, which can wear out the unit and cause it to fail.
The solution is to have the tank regularly drained and flushed. A plumber or technician can perform this task easily.
To prevent problems in the future, schedule regular maintenance visits.
You can also treat hard water with a water softener. There are many benefits to using a water softener, such as preventing scale on your fixtures, pipes, and hot water heater. Additionally, you can extend the life of your unit and prevent mineral spots and soap films.
The Tank Is Leaking
A leaky tank should never be ignored, as it’s a red flag there’s something wrong with your system. Additionally, people can get hurt by coming into contact with the hot water. Plus, a leak can cause water damage.
A leak can indicate a broken water heater, which often results in lukewarm or cold water.
If you see a leak, act immediately by turning off the water supply to the heater and calling a plumber. The water left inside the tank can still leak, so grab a container or bucket to catch it and grab some towels. That said, be sure to avoid touching the hot water, as it can burn your skin!
The Pilot Light Is Out
If your gas-powered hot water heater isn’t working, it could be that the pilot light is out. Most modern heaters don’t have pilot lights, but if you have an older system, this might be the issue.
You may need to relight it by following the instructions on your unit. In some models, the pilot light is in an enclosed area. In this case, you’ll have to call a plumber for assistance.
Remember, if you ever smell gas, leave the house immediately and call your gas company. They’ll come over to inspect the area and make sure it’s safe to return to your home.
If the pilot light is yellow rather than blue, it’s likely a gas-to-air ratio problem. In some cases, the boiler may be releasing carbon monoxide.
Look for signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, such as:
- Chest pain
- Upset stomach
If you notice any of these signs, leave the house immediately and call for help.
Check the Gas Line
If you don’t see a pilot light and you can’t smell gas, the issue could be with the gas line. Make sure the valve is open and look for any blockages that could impede the fuel source.
It’s also a good idea to call your gas company just to make sure you still have service and that the issue isn’t outside your home.
If it’s your gas line or you can’t pinpoint the problem, it’s time to call a plumber to take a look at your hot water heater for you. It’s always best to call in a professional, especially if you aren’t comfortable diagnosing the problem on your own.
Water Won’t Get Hot?
If your water won’t get hot, it could be due to one of the issues listed above. However, it isn’t always easy to figure out the cause of the problem by yourself.
Hot water heaters are delicate pieces of equipment, and there’s a lot that can go wrong with them, from the water heater thermostat to the pilot light to the tank size. If all else fails, pick up the phone and give a plumber a call.
Do you need to repair a water heater in San Antonio? If so, check out our service areas and give us a call or send us a message to book an appointment today.