Perhaps you’re preparing to hop in the shower before starting the day or after hours on your feet at work, only to be shocked by icy water. Or, maybe your shower runs out of hot water rapidly, leaving you rushing to wash up to get out of the cold blast. Or, perhaps the shower water doesn’t get hot enough at any point, leading to an entirely unsatisfying experience.
Whatever the scenario might be, the issue has probably overstayed its welcome. Before you call a plumber to examine the issue, here are a few areas to check.
Potential Reasons Your Shower Water Isn’t Hot Enough
In some scenarios, the hot water issue might be a simple fix, such as too many folks showering in quick succession. However, some culprits are more complex, like faulty shower valves or water heater issues. Here are a few of the most common reasons your shower water isn’t hot enough.
Before you start sleuthing through the following potential culprits, consider how much hot water your household uses. If you have a large family, the problem may be as simple as too many people showering right after each other. Unless you have a tankless water heater, the rapid succession of hot showers and constant demand for hot water may be too much for your water heater, causing it to fall behind.
Alternatively, the lack of hot water could be due to other water-demanding appliances in your home, such as your washing machine or dishwasher. Avoid putting a load of clothes to go (especially on a hot cycle) or starting the dishwasher before showering, as it could lead to a cold shower.
If you recently switched your regular showering schedule and noticed the water doesn’t get very hot, it could be that you’re showering at a time when your water heater is off. Specific water heater models have on and off cycles, so showering during one of the off cycles could mean you don’t get much hot water, resulting in a cool shower.
It’s as simple as switching your showering routine to one of your water heater’s ‘on’ cycles.
Water Heater Issues
The water heater is one of the most common culprits of lukewarm water or hot water that runs out rapidly. When the water heater is the culprit, the issue will be widespread. So, check the taps and other fixtures throughout your home to see if the problem is isolated to the shower.
If the taps suffer from the same issue, the water heater is likely the root of the problem. There could be various problems, such as a broken dip tube, a faulty gas valve, a failing internal element, a defective burner, or sediment buildup in the tank.
Since water heaters are highly pressurized, it’s usually best to pass repairs in this area to a professional plumber. The fix might be simple, but dealing with your water heater without experience can be dangerous.
Anti-Scald Valve Issues
The anti-scald valve in your shower could be the problem, as it’s designed to keep the water from getting too hot and burning you. In some cases, the anti-scald valve might be installed incorrectly, leading to a low water temperature. Sometimes, the top and bottom of the valve aren’t well-marked, so it might be upside down. You’ll need to flip it so it’s right side up.
Alternatively, the valve might be clogged, preventing the components from working correctly. If this is the case, simply flush the valve with clean water or soak it in vinegar to remove mineral deposits.
In some scenarios, it could be the setting on the valve is too low. Some brands offer technology that allows you to set the anti-scald valve to your liking. So, if you prefer hotter showers, you could turn up the valve, allowing the water to get warmer.
The process of adjusting the valve depends on the type you have, so check the owner’s manual or manufacturer’s website for instructions.
Faulty Shower Valve
Another potential culprit causing your lack of warm water could be the shower valve. The shower valve combines cool water with hot water to create your desired temperature. When the valve’s components fail, your shower might not get hot enough.
For example, the washers and O-rings within the valve may wear down, allowing more cool water into the flow than hot water. This will lead to warm water instead of the steaming water you’re hoping for, as cool water can emerge from the plumbing, even when the valve is set to hot.
Many homeowners are comfortable handling this fix, as it usually involves replacing the faulty parts, but sometimes the entire valve. In some cases, manufacturers offer a warranty that covers failures like this, so it doesn’t hurt to check with their customer service before purchasing a replacement.
In older properties, many bathrooms still have cross-connected pipes. If you have a newer home, this likely isn’t the problem. Cross-connected pipes balance the flow of hot and cold water, essentially serving the purpose of modern shower valve mixers.
If you suspect cross-connected plumbing could be the problem, it might be best to seek the assistance of a licensed plumber, as this repair can be pretty involved.
How Do I Increase The Water Temperature In My Shower?
To increase the water temperature in your shower, you need to isolate the culprit. Once you figure out what is causing the lowered water temperature, make the proper adjustments to raise the water temperature.
Sometimes, you might be able to handle the repair yourself. For instance, perhaps the anti-scald valve is set too low. So, you simply need to adjust the settings to your liking.
However, in other cases, it might be a more complex problem, such as a failing water heater. If you suspect the water heater is the issue (if the problem persists throughout your home, it’s likely the water heater), consult a professional plumber, as working with pressurized water heaters can be dangerous.
If you’re unable to determine what’s causing the problem, a plumber’s services are likely your best bet. They can determine the root cause and offer advice for a solution.