Why Is My Shower Water Cold? The Causes Explained
Did you know that taking hot showers comes with health benefits? Improved blood flow, relief from aching joints, and better sleep are just a few of the positive effects. (Not to mention, they’re relaxing!) It’s no wonder so many people look forward to a long, hot shower at the end of the day.
So, if you notice your shower water temperature is suddenly on the frigid side, it can be pretty concerning. A blast of ice-cold water isn’t just a shock to your system but also a shock to your wallet if the issue isn’t identified. It could be something as simple as a temperature adjustment, or something bigger — mainly, your water heater.
If those cold showers have you shivering at the thought of taking another one, fear not! We’re here to help you diagnose the problem and find a solution.
Here are some of the most common reasons your shower water is cold (and why plumbing services may be needed):
Your Water Heater Is Maxed Out
The simplest explanation? Your water heater has hit its capacity. If you have a larger family, the amount of shower time, dishwasher cycles, and laundry loads push your hot water to the limit. It’s easy to turn on the faucet or start the washing machine, but how often do you think about the amount of water that’s being used?
Here is an average daily breakdown for a household:
- Shower: 27 gallons
- Dishwasher: 2 gallons
- Faucet: 27 gallons
- Washing Machine: 22 gallons
If hot water is the primary source for each, that’s a lot of work for your water heater! There are ways to decrease the amount of hot water used, such as washing your clothes with cold water, reducing shower time, and paying more attention to how long the faucet runs (especially while brushing your teeth).
Of course, it may also be time for an upgrade to a larger capacity water heater. A small tank heater might not be big enough to keep up with your family’s water habits. Having a new tank installed by a plumber in Huntington Beach is the best way to ensure it functions properly to avoid future issues.
There’s Sediment Buildup in Your Water Heater
Over time, naturally-occurring minerals (like calcium and magnesium) buildup in your water heater. Too much sediment buildup can lead to an array of problems, including a lack of hot water. The sediment impacts the tank’s capacity to hold hot water, so it’s imperative to perform regular cleaning maintenance.
Too much of a buildup can lead to more severe issues, such as a clogged drain valve, blocked water lines, or even tank failure. Older water heaters are more prone to sediment buildup, especially if there hasn’t been proper upkeep.
If you hear popping or cracking noises from your water heater, it may be a sign of significant buildup. Having your water heater flushed by a professional can help get you back on track to hotter showers.
There’s a Problem With the Shower Mixing Valve
If you’re sure there isn’t an issue with the water heater, the issue could lie in the shower valve. The valve’s limit-stop may need adjusting, which controls the maximum temperature of the shower water.
Additionally, the mixing valve may need fixing. The mixing valve helps control the temperature by mixing hot and cold water during your shower. If one or both of the mixing controls are broken or worn out, they will need to be prepared by a professional plumber.
The Hot Water Temperature Needs Adjusting
If your shower seems to take a frigid turn pretty quickly, you may need to adjust the temperature of your water heater.
The recommended temperature for hot water is 120 degrees Fahrenheit with a maximum of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This is because, at 150 degrees Fahrenheit, it only takes around two seconds to suffer third-degree burns, which is especially alarming if there are children in the household.
That said, every home is different, so you’ll need to find the temperature that works best for your family. (Just remember to test out the water each time you adjust.)
A Broken Dip Tube
Your water heater contains a line that adds cold water to the tank, called the dip tube. It sends the cold water to the bottom of the tank, allowing the warmer water to rise to the top and flow to your faucets and other appliances.
Over time, cracks, fractures can appear on the dip tube. This causes it to break into pieces and eventually get flushed out of the water heater. If the dip tube is broken or missing, it can significantly affect the water temperature. Basically, the cold water that is supposed to sit at the bottom of the tank is sent to the top, which then reaches the faucets and appliances before the hot water.
Dip tube issues are especially common in older water heaters, so repair or replacement might be necessary to fix the issue.
Is It Time for a New Water Heater?
The average lifespan for a traditional water heater is around eight to twelve years, while a tankless heater can last up to twenty years. Of course, proper maintenance is necessary to ensure they stay functioning.
So, is it time to invest in a new one? Besides the obvious reason — you need a larger tank for your hot water use — here are a few other signs you might need to start planning for an upgrade:
- Strange noises coming from the tank, such as banging, rumbling, or cracking (just assume any unusual noise should be checked out)
- There is water pooling around the bottom of the tank — water heater leaks should be examined immediately by a licensed plumber in Orange County
- Water discoloration, especially if it is red or yellow, since it could be a sign of rust
Is Your Shower Water Cold? We Can Fix It!
When your shower water is cold, and you’re not sure why, we can help. Suburban Plumbing is a licensed plumber in Orange County. We have over 30 years of plumbing experience and are committed to providing excellent service.
If you’re looking for a Huntington Beach plumber, we provide the plumbing services you need to get your hot water back. From water heater installation and repair to drain cleaning, we ensure your plumbing issues are completed quickly, safely, and professionally.
Contact us today and let us help you get your hot water back!
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