Water Heater: Not enough hot water

A failed heating element or defective thermostat could result in not having enough hot water. Examine your thermostats and elements and replace any defective components. A buildup of sediment in the bottom of the tank can also result in not having enough hot water. Shut off the electricity and water supply to the water heater and then drain the tank to flush out tank sediment. Refill the tank before restoring electrical power to an electric water heater to avoid damaging the heating elements.

Check the size of your water heater. Consider replacing your water heater with a larger capacity model if your current model doesn't supply enough hot water to meet your needs. A 40-gallon water heater typically supplies enough hot water for a family of four with normal water use. Sometimes, you'll use up the hot water in the tank and you'll need to wait for the tank to recover before hot water is again available.

Troubleshooting Videos:

water heater

These repairs may help solve your water heater problem

Replace the water heater heating element

Replace the water heater heating element

The heating element is the heat source inside an electric water heater. It extends directly into the tank, where it radiates heat energy to the water around it. If the heating element is not heating when activated, replace the heating element.

How to replace an electric water heater heating element

If your electric water heater runs out of hot water quickly, or if the water isn't as hot as it should be, the heating element could be the problem. This step-by-step repair guide and video show how to replace a water heater heating element.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
Read more
Replace the water heater thermostat

Replace the water heater thermostat

The thermostat constantly monitors water temperature in the tank. When the water temperature drops beneath the desired setting, the thermostat sends power to the electric heating element or gas burner to begin heating. If the thermostat isn't sending power to the heating element, replace the thermostat. In a gas water heater, replace the gas control assembly that contains the thermostat.

How to replace an electric water heater thermostat

If your electric water heater makes the water too hot or not hot enough, the thermostat could be broken. This DIY repair guide and video show how to replace an electric water heater thermostat.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
Read more
Drain water heater tank sediment

Drain water heater tank sediment

Maintain your water heater by regularly draining the tank to flush out sediment. Every year, empty all the water from your water heater to prevents mineral sediment in the bottom of your tank that could reduce the water heater's effectiveness and possibly damage the heating elements. For instructions, see How to Drain the Tank on an Electric Water Heater Video.

Symptoms common to all water heaters

Choose a symptom to see related water heater repairs.

Main causes: water supply needs chlorine treatment, anode rod too reactive
Main causes: thermostat temperature set too high, thermostats need adjustment, faulty thermostat, shorted heating element
Main causes: thermostats need adjustment, water heater capacity too low, bad heating element, thermostat failure, excessive tank sediment
Main causes: lack of power, no gas supply, thermostat limit switch tripped, bad element, bad thermostat, gas valve failure, bad thermocouple
Main causes: broken heating element, thermostat failure, excessive tank sediment, tank size too small, burner valve assembly failure
Main causes: faulty pressure relief valve, water is overheating
Main causes: loose water pipe fittings, leaky drain valve, bad temperature-pressure relief valve, leaky heating element, cracked tank

Articles and videos common to all water heaters

Use the advice and tips in these articles and videos to get the most out of your water heater.

October 31, 2018

Cleaning your appliances after a drinking water advisory

By Julie Riebe

Find out how to clean and flush household appliances once a boil water advisory is lifted.

December 9, 2015

How to read a wiring schematic video

By Sears PartsDirect staff

Learn how to decipher symbols so you can buy the right part for your problem.

August 1, 2015

Water heater common questions

By Sears PartsDirect staff

These common questions and answers can help you make the most of your water heater.