Why Is My Hot Water Boiling Hot?

Scalding water is problematic for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s hazardous to the skin, as these temperatures can easily scald or burn skin (especially those with sensitive skin, such as young children). On top of that, it’s usually an indicator of a larger problem in play.

For example, it could point to a severe issue with your hot water heater that, if left unaddressed, could cause significant issues for the system.

Key Points:

  • Boiling hot water is not only hazardous to the skin, but it can also be an indicator of a larger problem with the hot water heater.
  • Possible causes of scalding water may include a broken thermostat, failing heater element, mineral or sediment buildup, or a blocked pressure relief valve.
  • For safety concerns and to prevent further damage to your system, it’s important to immediately troubleshoot the issue when scalding hot water appears in your home.

So, if the water in your home suddenly becomes scorching hot, it’s important to troubleshoot the issue sooner rather than later. We’re here to help, so continue reading to learn more!

Why Is My Hot Water Suddenly Scalding Hot?

Scalding hot water flowing through the taps in your home isn’t a pleasant phenomenon. While it’s nice to have hot water for showering, bathing, and washing dishes, boiling water is a hazard. A few things could be the culprit of this issue, including the following:

Broken Thermostat

A faulty thermostat is one of the most common culprits of a malfunctioning water heater. When the thermostat isn’t functioning correctly, the water temperature can skyrocket to an excessive degree, causing you to scald or burn yourself when you turn on the hot water taps in your home.

Generally, most water heater thermostats are set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit when they’re initially installed, but there can be some variation. Many manufacturers recommend a top heat setting of 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which is plenty hot enough to provide ample warmth for showering and bathing.

So, if your water suddenly becomes scorching hot, check your water heater’s thermostat. Ensure the thermostat sits flush against the side of the hot water tank, as improper positioning can lead to incorrect readings and excessive heat.

If the thermostat seems to be malfunctioning or broken and it’s positioned correctly, it might require replacement.

Failing Heater Element

Camco 04602/04603 4500W 240V Universal Flange Water Heater Element - High Watt Density

In some cases, the heater element is the problem. This particular issue is isolated to electric water heaters, so if you have a gas water heater, this isn’t the problem. Electric water heaters utilize one or two elements to heat water for your home.

When the heating elements malfunction, issues will arise. For example, if the element starts grounding out, it will remain on constantly, causing it to excessively overheat. The result? Scorching hot water.

The longer the problem goes unchecked, the higher the likelihood of the element burning out entirely. Unfortunately, a malfunctioning or broken heater element isn’t a DIY project and is something best left to the professionals.

Mineral Or Sediment Buildup

Mineral build-up is another potential culprit of excessively hot water. This is a common issue in homes with hard water, as the minerals from the water can remain in the tank, building up over time. If you have hard water in your home, you might notice issues with other appliances in your home or deposits in your dishwasher, around your faucets, and in your sinks.

When mineral deposits build up in your water heater tank, they can interfere with the system’s ability to regulate the water temperature and accurately heat the water. This can lead to one of two things: water that is too cold or water that is too hot.

Luckily, hard water buildup in a water heater is typically fixable. You’ll need to have a plumber flush the system to remove the sediment and mineral buildup coating the tank’s interior. Once they’re done, they’ll refill the system and turn it back on, restoring it to optimal function.

Blocked Pressure Relief Valve

Cash Acme 16372-0150 Residential Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve NCLX-8, 3/4 Inch

Gas water heaters can experience a blocked pressure relief valve, which can create temperature issues within the system. This valve allows built-up steam to escape from the system. When it’s blocked, the water can become excessively hot, potentially scalding you and your family.

If this is the problem, you’ll need to power down the system immediately, as it can cause a catastrophic explosion. This issue is best left to a professional, as they’re equipped to deal with the pressurized nature of the repair.

How Do I Fix Hot Water That Is Too Hot?

Although hot water feels glorious in a toasty shower after a long day, too hot water is far from pleasant. So, if the hot water in your home is overly hot, you’ll want to fix it sooner rather than later.

Unfortunately, very few of these repairs associated with water heater issues are solid DIY projects. This is because water heaters are pressurized and can be very dangerous to work with, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the safety protocol specific to these appliances.

So, it’s usually best to seek the assistance of a plumber. You can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $800 for general repairs, although it might be higher or lower based on the specific problem.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Long Do Water Heaters Last?

Like any appliance, a water heater doesn’t last forever, so a replacement will be necessary at some point. However, most water heaters will function nicely for anywhere from 6 to 12 years, so you can expect to get at least a few years out of the appliance.

If you’re unsure whether a replacement is necessary, consider seeking the advice of a plumber. In some cases, fixing it might be more cost-effective than replacing it, especially if it’s a relatively new system.

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