A hot shower is a great way to get yourself going in the morning or relax at night unless your hot water suddenly feels painful to the touch. This signals a malfunctioning water heater. But what is the problem, and how do you treat a water heater overheating? Here are 4 reasons, with their solutions.
1. Mineral Build-Up
If you live in an area like Brampton, Hamilton, or Georgetown, you have a hard water supply. Hard water contains a larger-than-usual percentage of dissolved minerals, especially calcium and magnesium. Hard water’s high mineral content will leave crusty deposits in your hot water heater when it is untreated. Mineral build-up on the heating element of a hot water tank can cause a water heater to overheat. If your water heater’s element overheats, it’s logical that your water will come out of the faucet way too hot.
The solution? Good water heater maintenance. Have your hot water tank flushed regularly once a year. (Tankless water heaters need flushing, too!) For large amounts of mineral build-up, you may need to have the tank emptied and cleaned. Since water heaters normally last 10-15 years, consider water heater replacement if yours is approaching this age. To prevent hard water problems, you might choose to install a water softener.
2. Faulty Heater Element
An electric water heater is usually equipped with two heating elements, one each at the top and the bottom of the unit, which alternate. Gas water heaters have a burner on the bottom of the tank. Once the water has reached the preset temperature, typically, the heating elements will switch off temporarily.
However, when one-piece has become damaged or faulty, the shutoff function might stop working. As a result, the water continues to heat to the point where you have scalding hot water.
In this case, you are going to need professional water heater repair to replace the malfunctioning element.
3. Heater Thermostat Broken
A water heater thermostat controls the temperature of your water heater’s output, and a faulty thermostat is often the culprit when your tap or shower suddenly produces scalding hot waterway above the desired water temperature. Whether water heater thermostats are broken or just set incorrectly, they need attention.
Before you call a plumber:
- Check the thermostat temperature.
- If it is still at the factory temperature setting of 60 degrees Celsius, try a little DIY temperature adjustment, lowering it to 49 degrees C.
- For a thermostat already at this lower setting, try turning it down further to see whether that causes the hot water temperature to cool off.
(Remember to turn it back up once you’ve completed your “experiment”!)
In addition, make sure that the thermometer is flush with the outer surface of your hot water tank. Otherwise, you can unscrew it and adjust the position. This is important for accurate temperature readings.
If none of these actions works, you’ve probably got a malfunctioning thermostat on your hands. Contact a reliable professional for a new thermostat replacement.
4. Pressure Relief Valve Issue
Your water heater’s temperature and pressure relief (T & P) valve is a safety device. When the water pressure or temperature rises too high inside your hot water tank, the T & P valve will allow a small amount of water to drain out.
However, if the pressure relief valve stops working correctly, the water heater temperature can rise drastically. At this point, water that’s way too hot is probably the best-case scenario; the alternative might be flooding or even a burst water heater.
Test your T & P valve by flipping the switch on the side of your heater tank. A gurgling noise is good news — this means that the valve has released a bit of pressure and is usually working. However, if you don’t hear anything (or, even worse, if the valve rattles, screeches, leaks heavily, or gushes water), you will need emergency plumbing repair.
Expert Water Heater Repair
Whatever the reason for your unexpectedly hot water, find a solution with Dr HVAC. Our knowledgeable plumbers are skilled at water heater installation and repair in the GTA. If it’s time for a new water heater, we’ll advise you regarding the best tankless water heaters and tank hot water heaters on the market today.