There’s nothing like a nice hot shower … except when it isn’t. (Hot, that is.) When your hot water is only lukewarm, it puts a damper on your day. And it’s not just your shower that’s affected. Your dishwasher, washing machine, even just washing your hands at the sink … nothing seems to get quite as clean.
If you find that your hot water is coming out lukewarm, not hot, don’t ignore it any more than you’d ignore hot water that is suddenly too hot. It’s important to find the reason for the temperature change, so you can get it fixed.
Here are 6 common reasons why your hot water is lukewarm.
1. You Have a Tripped Breaker
This particular problem applies only to electric hot water heaters, not natural gas units. You might have lost power to your water heater due to a breaker trip. When this happens, the water in your tank will gradually cool down, from hot to lukewarm (and eventually to cold).
Check your electrical panel and flip the breaker to ON. Then allow your heater time to bring the water back up to full heat. If, after resetting, the breaker trips repeatedly — or your hot water heater does not restart — the cause is probably a malfunction of either your electrical system or the water heater, which will need professional repair.
2. Your Thermostat Is Set Incorrectly
Inspect the thermostat, which controls hot water heater temperature. If someone has recently changed the setting, that could be the reason behind your lukewarm water woes. However, if the temperature setting is correct, the thermostat itself might be broken. You can have the thermostat replaced fairly inexpensively. (Note: If your tank water heater uses two thermostats, it is best to change both at the same time.)
3. Sediment Is Affecting the Heating Element
Hard water from Ottawa’s municipal well systems contains a high level of minerals, mainly calcium and magnesium. When this water flows into your water heater tank, the minerals tend to build up at the bottom of the tank. The resulting sediment can reduce the lower heating element’s effectiveness, causing only lukewarm to flow from your hot water tap.
To fix this problem, make sure your hot water tank is flushed annually to remove any minerals. And to prevent a recurrence, consider the installation of a whole-house water softening system.
4. One of Your Electrical Heating Elements Is Faulty
A pair of electrical heating elements (also known as immersion heaters) are essential components in a hot water tank. If one has failed, your water heater will work at half power. The second heater will only be sufficient to heat the water to lukewarm, rather than reach the thermostat temperature setting. In this case, you’ll need to repair or replace the faulty electrical heating element.
5. The Dip Tube Is Damaged
Coldwater from your home plumbing system is piped into the water heater via the dip tube. Normally, the dip tube channels water down to the bottom of the tank, so it can be properly heated. But when you have a broken dip tube, it is likely to simply “dump” the water at the top of your hot water tank.
As a result, the water will be moved back out into your faucets and appliances while still only lukewarm. You could also experience inconsistency, switching between cold and hot as well as being lukewarm.
6. Your Water Heater Is Wearing Out
You can expect your conventional tank water heater to last approximately 8-12 years (depending on your region this time could be much shorter or longer).
As they grow older, water heaters gradually wear out, causing them to heat less and less efficiently. If your water heater is producing lukewarm — not hot — water due to its age, start looking for a new, energy-efficient replacement.
Out of This World Plumbing Is Your Hot Water Expert
Get hot water that’s really hot! Out of This World offers expert plumbing services in the Ottawa area. We’ll repair or replace your water heater to give you the reliable, efficient supply of hot water you deserve.