Water Heater: Why isn't my water heater making the water hot enough?
Carefully adjust the water heater's thermostat setting if it's set below 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Adjust the temperature setting in small increments to avoid producing scalding hot water. You shouldn't need to adjust the temperature above 130 degrees. Setting the thermostat above 130 degrees can produce water that's too hot.
Sometimes, you'll use up the hot water in the tank and you'll need to wait for the tank to recover before the water is fully heated. 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.
A failed heating element or bad thermostat can cause heating problems in an electric water heater. Follow the tips in our how to troubleshoot no hot water in an electric water heater video to fix the problem.
In a gas water heater, a damaged burner could result in water not heating properly. Check the burner assembly and replace it if damaged.
Excessive tank sediment also inhibits water heating. Shut off the electricity and water supply to the water heater and drain the tank to flush out sediment. Refill the tank before restoring electrical power the water heater to avoid damaging the heating elements.
THESE REPAIRS MAY HELP SOLVE YOUR WATER HEATER PROBLEM
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
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.
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
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.
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
Symptoms common to all water heaters
Choose a symptom to see related water heater repairs.
Main causes: thermostats need adjustment, water heater capacity too low, bad heating element, thermostat failure, excess…
Main causes: loose water pipe fittings, leaky drain valve, bad temperature-pressure relief valve, leaky heating element,…
Main causes: broken heating element, thermostat failure, excessive tank sediment, tank size too small, burner valve asse…
Main causes: faulty pressure relief valve, water is overheating…
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.