hot water problems troubleshooting guide

No Hot Water in Shower? Here is Why

When your shower water is not getting hot, normally you would suspect it has something to do with the hot water heater. But a heater is not always the issue, there could be other reasons, such as a faulty shower component, that’s denying you a hot shower when you want it.

If there is no hot water from your electric shower or gas shower, the first step you should take to get to the root of the problem is to establish whether the issue is just affecting the shower or if other faucets in the house are not getting hot water as well. This helps narrow down the exact cause of the problem.

Some of the reasons you are getting cold water in the shower include:

Your anti-scald device might be set too high

If you are getting hot everywhere but your shower then one possible reason could be that your anti-scald device is set too high. Anti-scald devices are safety features on most faucets that limit how far your shower handle can rotate in the hot water direction. This helps prevent being blasted with the hottest temperature from your water heater.

To establish if your anti-scald is the culprit, you’ll need to adjust it and check for a change in temperature. Here are the steps to follow to adjust your anti-scald device:

  • Take the handle or head off of your faucet.
  • Locate your anti-scald device, assuming your faucet has this device installed. It usually the plastic device directly under the faucet head.
  • Slightly pull the anti-scald device to free it from the lever, turn it slightly to the right, and then push it back in place.
  • Test the water temperature. If it gets a bit hotter than before, then the anti-scald device was likely the cause of the problem.
  • Continue turning the anti-scald device slightly to the right until you attain your preferred water temperatures. Then replace the faucet head.

Faulty or improperly adjusted mixing valve

A hot water mixing valve is a safety device that mixes cold water with hot water to help prevent scalding. It works with a temperature-sensitive element that adjusts the mix depending on the hot water mixing valve adjustment and the temperature of the incoming water flowing through the valve.

A worn-out, broken or is improperly positioned mixing valve could be the reason you are not getting hot water in your shower.

Cross-connected pipes make it hard to mix water right

Cross-connected pipes were generally installed in older homes to balance the hot and cold water flow.

However, with the use of modern shower mixers, they are no longer needed. If you have a hand sprayer in your shower, and if it gets hot when the regular shower is turned off, it may signal a cross connection problem.

It can be a difficult DIY fix that requires a professional plumber unless you can access the shower plumbing behind the wall.

Hot water heater isn’t turning on

If the other hot water faucets in your home are not receiving hot water as well or the temperature drops quickly, there is likely an issue with your water heater. In such a case it could be one of the heating elements in the unit is malfunctioning, leading to an insufficient amount of heat from the appliance.

If all your faucets are dispensing cold water, it may signal a problem with the dip tube. The dip tube in the water heater may have deteriorated.

If your water heater is gas-powered:

  • Check to see if the pilot light is on. Try to relight it if it is off.
  • Turn off the gas valve and wait for a few minutes.
  • Then turn the gas valve to “pilot” position.
  • Use a stick lighter or ignition switch to ignite the pilot light.
  • Once the pilot light is on, set the valve back to the standard position.

If your water heater is electric-powered:

  • Check if there is power.
  • If there is power but you are still not getting hot water, the electric thermostat or heating element may be faulty.

How to Adjust Water Temperature in a Hot Shower

It can prove difficult for some homeowners to achieve the perfect equilibrium in their hot water heater, resulting in shower water being too cold or too hot. Other showers just run too cold or hot, regardless of the hot water heater temperature. There are several options for fixing this problem.

Check this too: How to Clean a Hot Water Heater

Adjusting the water heater temperature

On some hot water heaters, adjusting the temperature is simple and pretty straightforward.  You only need to turn a dial. However, on other setups, the temperature setting is hidden behind a panel. To remove the panel and adjust the temperature in a hot water heater, you will need:

  • Philips head screwdriver
  • Flat head screwdriver

Then, follow these steps:

  1. Flip the corresponding circuit in the circuit breaker to turn the power to the hot water heater off.
  2. Using the Philips head screwdriver, remove the panel concealing the temperature dial on the water heater.
  3. Remove the insulation behind the panel cover.
  4. Use the flat head screwdriver to adjust the temperature setting.
  5. Replace the insulation and panel cover on the hot water heater.
  6. Turn the power to the water heater on.

Adjusting the shower valve

The hot and cold water mixture in the shower can be adjusted at the shower valve stem. The exact process for the adjustment will depend on the kind of faucet in your shower, but generally here is how you can adjust the shower valve:

  1. Remove the handle. You may need to use a screwdriver to do this.
  2. Remove the metal cover below the handle, exposing the valve stem. You will find the rotational stop limit (RSL), which is the plastic part around the stem. While the rotational controls ought to be noted on the RSL, typically a turn in the counter-clockwise direction will release more hot water and vice-versa.
  3. You may need to pull the RSL cover out to reveal the teeth holding the RSL in place.
  4. Turn the rotation stop limit two notches in the desired direction and then put the rotational stop limit back in position.
  5. Replace the faucet handle, then test the hot and cold water mixture.
  6. Repeat the first step through the third if the mixture is still not appropriate.

Adjusting the Heater Size

If you have multiple water sources, such as body sprays or dual showerheads, the amount of water used increases. This, on top of multiple users using the hot water, is bound to run out faster. To correct this, install a larger water heater.