Aaugh! There’s nothing worse than losing hot water mid-shower. That shocking blast leaves you freezing cold and in need of answers. A loss or reduction in your hot water supply can occur for any number of reasons. Here are six of the most common causes from the pros at Main Stream Mechanical.
1. Too Much Sediment
Sediment from loose minerals in your water supply settle at the bottom of your tank. As your water heater ages, the sediment layer builds up, displacing a significant amount of water in the tank. A reduction in capacity means a decrease in the volume of hot water available to your home. Another problem occurs when your heating element heats the sediment, instead of the water. You can reverse sediment issues by calling a professional plumber to flush out the system.
2. Faulty Heating Element
Electric water heaters have two elements that warm up the water; one at the bottom of the tank, and one at the top. The lower element handles the brunt of the work. Cold water is pushed to the bottom of the tank by a “dip tube,” to be heated by the lower element. As the heated water rises to the top, the upper element comes on periodically to keep the water at a consistent temperature. When the lower element is damaged, there will be a noticeable drop in the amount of hot water produced.
3. Broken Dip Tube
When the dip tube breaks or falls off, incoming cold water can no longer get pushed to the bottom of the tank. Instead, it mingles with the already heated water at the top of the tank, lowering the temperature of the water that is delivered to you. If you discover small pieces of plastic in your shower head, drain strainers, or filter screens, your water heater’s dip tube is probably damaged. Call a professional to confirm the issue and replace the dip tube.
Note: A good rule of thumb is to arrange for annual water heater maintenance. This helps your system avoid sediment build-up and also provides a check-up to spot issues like broken dip tubes.
4. Incorrect Thermostat Setting
In order for a heater to produce hot water, the thermostat must be set between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If there is no hot water or the supply is not adequate, it could mean that your water heater is at the wrong setting. Try resetting your heater thermostat. If it is below 120, simply turn up the heat. If you have small children, reduce the risk of burns by setting it at 125. If the issue persists, contact a plumber to determine the cause.
5. Small Water Heater
A loss of hot water could mean your water heater tank is too small to keep up with demand. Maybe the appliance did its job at first, but as your family grew, so did the need for hot water. Installing a larger tank or tankless water heater will ensure that you have all the water your household requires.
6. Faulty Shower Valve
If you’re having trouble getting hot water in the shower, but still getting plenty from your faucets and appliances, your shower mixer valve may have worn out. This valve controls the temperature of your shower by blending cold and hot water. When it wears out or breaks, it causes undesirable temperatures. We suggest contacting a professional plumber for repair or replacement, as accessing these valves requires disassembling your shower fixtures.
Plumbing and HVAC Installation, Service, and Repair
Your home functions harmoniously with a constant supply of hot water but when it’s reduced or lost altogether, it can have a big impact on your household. Annual maintenance checks can help monitor the condition and performance of your hot water heater so you’re not surprised with a cold shower on a chilly morning. Contact our home comfort specialists to schedule your service appointment today.
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