Water Heater: Why isn't my water heater making 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

JC-WH-Replace-the-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.

Water heater heating element

Find the required part specific to your product.

RG-WH-Replace-Electric-Water-Heater-Heating-Element-Intro-Image
July 1, 2015By Lyle Weischwill

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
JC-WH-Replace-the-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.

Water heater thermostat

Find the required part specific to your product.

RG-WH-Replace-Electric-Water-Heater-Thermostat-Intro-Image
July 1, 2015By Lyle Weischwill

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
JC-WH-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.

Drain water heater tank sediment

Find the required part specific to your product.

Symptoms common to all water heaters

Choose a symptom to see related water heater repairs.

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

August 18, 2021

Wiring schematic symbols explained video

By Sears PartsDirect staff

Learn some of the most common symbols found in a wiring diagram and what they mean.

April 10, 2020

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.

August 1, 2015

Easy DIY water heater repairs

By Sears PartsDirect staff

Read about some water heater repairs that you can easily do yourself.