If your hot water heater isn't getting the water as hot as it used to, you don't want to ignore the problem. If you do, it could get worse and leave you with nothing but cold water when you least expect it. Several things can cause a water heater to stop getting water as hot as you like, and it's a signal that something is wrong that needs attention. Here are some possible causes of this water heater malfunction.
A Heating Element Is Bad
A hot water tank has two heating elements that get the water hot. They can fail one at a time, but when one goes, the other one may not be far behind. If your water isn't as hot as it usually is, that could indicate one of the heating elements has failed. If the other one is still working, it can heat up the water a little bit so it is warm, but the water can't get hot without both elements working. Call a company that specializes in water heater repairs when this happens because the other element could fail at any time, and then your water tank won't be able to heat the water at all.
The Tank Has Buildup
If there is sediment in your water, it can accumulate on the bottom of the tank over time. You may need to flush and clean your water heater regularly to keep the sediment from interfering with the ability of the boiler to heat the water. An electric tank often has a heating element on the bottom of the tank where particulates in the water fall out and accumulate. This can make it harder for the element to heat the water until the tank is cleaned out.
There's a Power Supply Problem
If you have an electric water heater, it may stop heating water if there is a problem with the power to the heating elements. The problem might be in the electrical panel, thermostat, or thermal switch. If the water coming from the faucet is cold, check for a tripped circuit in the electrical panel. If you have a gas heater, there might be a problem with the gas supply. The pilot light might be out, or the gas control valve might be malfunctioning. Another cause of problems in a gas water heater is a dirty burner that is unable to ignite to heat the water.
Diagnosing a problem with a hot water heater isn't easy, especially if it is in the electrical system. At the first sign of trouble, call a plumber to inspect the tank so the problem can be found and fixed before the heater stops working completely and leaves you without hot water for your daily chores and bathing.