What to Do When Your Hot Water Isn’t Getting Hot Enough

Check Your Hot Water Heater Settings

The first thing to check is the temperature setting on your hot water heater. Most heaters have dials or digital controls that allow you to set the desired output temperature. Check to see that your heater is set to at least 120°F. If it’s set lower, adjust it to a higher setting and see if that resolves the issue.

Inspect Your Thermostat

If adjusting the temperature setting doesn’t fix the problem, the issue could be with the thermostat. Thermostats regulate water temperature by controlling the heating elements. Over time, thermostats can get stuck, resulting in water that’s not hot enough. Visually inspect the thermostat for any corrosion or damage. Test it to make sure it’s working properly and replace it if needed.

Check For Sediment Buildup

Sediment buildup from hard water can coat the inside of your hot water heater tank. This mineral deposit acts as an insulator, preventing efficient heat transfer to the water. Draining a gallon from the tank’s drain valve can help remove some sediment. A water softener system or descaling solution may be necessary for heavy buildup.

Look For Leaks Or Tank Damage

Leaks, dents, cracks or rust spots on your hot water tank are signs of damage that can reduce efficiency. Heat and energy are wasted when water leaks from the tank before getting to your faucet. Inspect all sides of the tank. If you find any significant damage, replacement may be required.

Make Sure Your Heater Is Properly Sized

An undersized water heater can struggle to keep up with hot water demands. Check that your heater’s tank capacity and heating elements are adequate for the needs of your household. Upgrading to a larger tank or higher wattage elements may provide hotter water.

Insulate Hot Water Pipes

Insulating hot water pipes reduces heat loss as water travels from the heater to faucets. Wrap any accessible hot water pipes with specially designed foam pipe insulation. Insulation is an inexpensive way to maximize heating efficiency.

Flush The Water Heater Regularly

To prevent sediment buildup and keep your heater operating efficiently, flush it at least once a year. Draining several gallons will remove mineral deposits and debris from the tank. Follow your owner’s manual for proper flushing procedures. Annual flushing prolongs the life of your water heater.

Check Your Home’s Water Pressure

Excessively high water pressure makes it difficult for your hot water heater to work properly. Pressure above 80 psi can hinder heat transfer. Install a pressure regulator if necessary to keep pressure below 80 psi. Proper water pressure ensures optimal heater operation.

If you’ve tried these troubleshooting tips and your water still isn’t getting hot enough, your hot water heater may need professional repair or replacement. Contact a plumber to properly diagnose and fix any underlying issues. With the right maintenance and occasional repairs, your hot water heater should provide comfortably hot water for many years.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hot Water Issues

What are the most common causes of low hot water temperature?

The most common causes are low thermostat settings, sediment buildup in the tank, leaks, insufficient tank capacity, faulty heating elements, and problems with the thermostat.

How can I improve hot water delivery at my fixtures?

Improving hot water delivery involves insulating pipes, installing low-flow showerheads, replacing old galvanized pipes, and upgrading to a more powerful hot water heater if necessary.

Why does my hot water run out quickly?

Frequent hot water shortages are often due to an undersized tank, restrictive pipes, or a high demand from numerous fixtures. Increasing tank size or the heating capacity may be required.

What should I do if my water smells like rotten eggs?

Sulfurous rotten egg smells indicate bacteria growth inside your hot water heater. Drain and flush the tank, then consider installing an anode rod to inhibit bacteria.

Is it normal for a water heater to leak a little bit?

No leaks from a water heater are normal. Even small drips likely indicate an issue like corroded pipes, faulty temperature & pressure valves, or a leaking tank. Leaks should be repaired.

How often should I drain and flush my hot water heater?

For optimal performance, drain and flush your water heater once a year to remove sediment and mineral buildup. Flushing helps extend the life of the heater.

When should I consider replacing my old hot water heater?

Consider replacement when your heater is over 10 years old or when repairs become too frequent or costly. New heaters are more energy-efficient and have longer warranties.


Having insufficient hot water is a nuisance that should be addressed right away. In most cases, minor repairs and adjustments can restore proper water heating. Flushing sediment, turning up temperature settings, replacing thermostats, and insulating pipes are relatively easy fixes to try first. For major issues, replacement of the hot water heater may ultimately be needed, but even older heaters can often be serviced to extend their lifespan. Take the time to properly diagnose your hot water problem and implement the appropriate solution to once again enjoy hot showers and washing.