When you notice your water heater overheating, you will likely endure a surprising or painful experience. There’s nothing worse than jumping in the shower after a long day at work only to feel scalding water splattering on your skin. Like many homeowners, you become overly cautious each time you take a shower or a bath. 

Often, you can employ a simple solution to better control your water temperature. As Pacifica’s water heater repair experts, our team at Works Plumbing outlined some reasons behind malfunctioning water heaters and what you should do. If your water temperature startles or burns you, contact us at 650-414-7261 to schedule an appointment. 

Continue reading below to learn more about your water heater woes. 

Signs Your Water Heater Overheats the Water

When your water heater overheats your water, the most common indicator is water at a temperature hot enough to cause discomfort or burn your skin. If the water temperature is hot enough, it could even cause serious injuries. So finding a prompt solution can save your skin and improve your shower experience. 

You might also notice that your water temperature varies. Your water heater doesn’t just overheat; it also ranges in temperature regardless of how you turn the faucet knob. If you’ve noticed either constantly scalding water or unreliable water temperature, find out whether the following problems apply to you.  

These changes typically occur suddenly. Some other signs that your water heater may need service or inspection include the following:

  • Visible corrosion from rust 
  • Bad water pressure
  • Water that appears dirty or discolored
  • Odd sounds coming from your heater tank
  • Leaks originating from the water heater
  • An unpleasant scent emanating from the water
  • Using a water heater for ten or more years

If you have any of the above problems coupled with scalding hot water, you need professional technicians to troubleshoot your appliance and solve the problem. 

#1. Thermostat Settings

First and foremost, check the thermostat controls on your hot water heater. If you recently moved into a new home, this can often become an issue. Usually, the previous property owners will turn all water settings off until a new homeowner or tenant arrives. 

After moving into a new property, many people have to call to have their hot water heater turned back on or have the temperature reset. Sometimes, the technician who visits may have the temperature set too high. This makes for an unpleasant experience each time you shower or take a bath. 

If you recently moved into a property or otherwise had a technician visit your home, check the thermostat to see if the temperature is too high to tolerate. If your water heater is already set to that temperature, you may not be acclimated to that temperature setting.

You can reduce the temperature as much as you like. The lower your temperature setting, the more money you may save on energy bills. Plus, settings at 120 degrees or below take longer to cause a severe burn, if at all. 

Settings above the average temperature can cause burns in two minutes or less. Checking and resetting the temperature can make your showers more comfortable while saving you money and protecting your skin. 

#2. Damaged Components

Like all appliances, water heaters need occasional repairs and part replacements. Over time, wear and tear causes certain components to stop working as effectively. Some common components that need inspection include: 

  • The high-limit switch (also known as the reset button)
  • Malfunctioning circuits
  • Faulty wire connections
  • Damaged switch 
  • Impaired heater element
  • Worn-out relief valve

Your thermostat may also take inaccurate readings. If you already attempted to change your temperature settings to no avail, you could have a damaged component on your hands. In such cases, you may need assistance from a professional technician. 

Water heater technicians understand how numerous water heaters work and can safely and quickly locate different components. Many repairs or part replacements are affordable, simple fixes that won’t disrupt your daily ablutions. However, expensive repairs can break your budget. 

In these instances, you may find installing a new water heater more cost-effective than repairs. 

#3. Mineral Collection

Most tap water comes from the ground. Since the ground contains numerous minerals, those minerals will dissolve into your water. Even after going through a municipal treatment process, your water may still contain substantial amounts of dissolved minerals. 

This problem becomes even more pronounced in areas with hard water. The minerals eventually build up along the water heater’s tank and components, which affects the heater’s performance and efficiency. 

So what does mineral buildup have to do with your water heater overheating? Minerals are heavier than water; as the water heats and cools continuously, the minerals separate from the water and collect at the bottom of the tank. 

Thus, your water heater holds less water yet still contains the same contents. It continues heating with the same intensity as before, and since the heater holds less water, the water reaches a higher temperature faster than it otherwise would. 

The mineral buildup has a simple solution: annual heater flushing services. This maintenance service involves emptying the contents of your water heater each year. A technician can then remove any mineral buildup, which allows your heater to work more efficiently without overheating your water. 

#4 Your Water Heater Is Failing

A failing water heater can also cause unpredictable water temperatures. Water heaters generally last between 10 and 20 years. Without regular maintenance or timely repairs, their lifespan decreases. Like most home appliances, the wear and tear that come with age can cause the following:

  • Bad electrical connections
  • Malfunctioning components
  • Corrosion
  • Decreased water quality

If you’ve invested in continuous repairs or have owned your water heater for a decade or more, you should consider purchasing a new one. Problems will crop up more often, and repair services will become more expensive. 

Common Problems with Gas Water Heaters

Gas water heaters operate differently than electric water heaters. They have components that their electrical counterparts won’t include. Your experiences with scalding hot water might have causes specific to the type of water heater. 

If your gas heater prevents you from enjoying your showers, check for the following issues:

  • Gas supply: Without ample gas supply, your water heater can’t function reliably. As it runs on empty, it may sway wildly between hot water and cold water. 
  • Pilot light: Faulty pilot lights or flames can cause your heater to stop heating the water, causing an unpredictable shower experience. 
  • Dip tube: The dip tube transfers water from the top of the tank to the bottom. This allows the water to circulate and maintain an even temperature throughout. 
  • Safety shutoff valve: This valve keeps your water heater from overheating. When it doesn’t work or has sustained damage, your water could reach dangerously scalding temperatures. 

If you own a gas water heater, contact one of our technicians to check out its unique components.

Common Problems with Electric Water Heaters

Electric water heaters have their own unique set of components that allow them to function predictably. When those components sustain damage or age, your water temperature can rise and fall suddenly. Call a technician to inspect your electric water heater for the following problems:

  • Thermometer issues: Electric heaters are especially reliant on thermometers to guide their temperature settings. If your thermometer provides inaccurate readings or disconnects, you need to schedule repair services for your thermometer. 
  • Pressure relief valve: These valves regulate your home’s water temperature. If it malfunctions, your water will feel too hot or too cold. 
  • Mineral buildup: Electric water heaters are especially susceptible to mineral buildup. They rely on consistent water circulation to maintain a consistent temperature.

How to Prevent Your Water Heater from Overheating

If you want to prevent unpleasant surprises like scalding water from ruining your morning or evening, you can take a few steps to keep your water heater in excellent condition. It all starts with occasional maintenance and prompt repairs. 

  1. Schedule water heater maintenance and inspections each year. Inspections will reveal any broken parts or other issues, and most maintenance services include emptying and cleaning mineral buildup from inside the tank. 
  2. When you notice problems arising from your heater, immediately schedule repairs with a professional technician. Timely repairs will prevent problems from becoming worse. 
  3. When your hot water heater needs constant repairs or reaches a decade old, start shopping for your next heater. Hot water heaters don’t have a limitless lifespan, and purchasing a new appliance is sometimes more cost-effective and safe than constantly repairing an old one.

Is Your Water Heater Overheating? Call Works Plumbing! 

Is your hot water heater overheating and ruining your hygiene routine? No homeowner deserves to step into the shower only to meet scalding water and potential burns. So call our team at Works Plumbing. 

We have experience with gas, electric, tankless water heaters, and more. Call us at 650-414-7261 to schedule a visit or seek emergency service at any time. Our skilled technicians will get to the root of your problem.

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