If you’re tired of having lukewarm water in your shower, you’re probably wondering how to make shower water hotter. The first step is to determine whether your hot water heater needs to be serviced or if you simply need to adjust its temperature setting.
If this doesn’t solve the problem, consider replacing your water heater altogether. If you’re thinking about installing a new one, be sure to find one that will best fit your home’s energy needs and will most easily fit in the space where the old water heater was located.
Keep reading for more information about the temperature of your shower water.
Table of Contents
What Temperature Is Too Hot For a Water Heater?
Unfortunately, if you’re trying to change your shower’s temperature and need a little extra boost of hot water, you can risk burning yourself in a dangerously hot shower. It doesn’t take much for a few minutes in too-hot water (say 140 degrees or above) to cause scalding.
Scalding is a type of burn that happens when your skin comes into contact with hot liquid—it typically results in second-degree burns, which are painful and look like red patches with tiny clear fluid pockets in them. The best way to prevent scalding is by making sure your thermostat is set no higher than 140 degrees.
How Can I Turn Up the Temperature of My Shower Water?
If you want your shower water to be a little hotter, there are a few simple things you can do.
First, If you have a gas water heater, make sure it’s not set too low. If it is, you may be able to increase its heat output by adjusting its pilot light and/or turning up its thermostat. Some models allow you to increase the hot water temperature by adjusting a thermostat on its control panel.
If you have an electric water heater, it may simply be old and inefficient. If you’re not ready to replace it, try turning up its thermostat by a few degrees.
You could also consider replacing or upgrading your heater with one that offers more control over temperatures. A tankless water heater, for example, can be set to deliver hot water at a range of temperatures.
If you do decide to upgrade, look for a model that has been Energy Star-certified by independent testing authorities like Underwriters Laboratories (UL). They probably aren’t very efficient if they’re not, and you should keep looking until you find one that is.
If that doesn’t work, call an HVAC technician who can make adjustments from outside of your home.
How to Turn Up Your Hot Water Heater’s Temperature
You may need:
- Flathead screwdriver
When you first start working, be sure to turn off the power to your water heater. You can do so by flipping the breaker in your circuit box. Most heaters are in garages or basements, but they should be easy to locate on a circuit map. If you need help locating the breaker box, call an electrician.
Locate your water heater’s thermostat. It will be located at the bottom of your heater. There may be an access panel concealing it. Use your screwdriver remove it and take off the insulation underneath.
Next, use your screwdriver to adjust the thermostat’s temperature settings as necessary, which you can do by turning a dial or unscrewing or tightening a screw. Once that’s done, replace your cover and put your water heater back in place, securing it with screws if needed. That’s all there is to it!
How to Keep Shower Water Hot Longer
The best way to ensure you have hot water longer is to raise your thermostat up a few degrees. Setting it at 120 degrees will give you warm water for about 20 minutes, but if you set it a few degrees higher than that, you’ll have very hot water for much longer.
Why is the Water in My Shower Not Hot Enough?
Here are a few common reasons why your shower water isn’t hot enough. In order for your water heater tank to supply the right amount of cold and hot water throughout your house, there are many moving parts and these may malfunction. Fixing these potential problems with your hot water supply will make your shower water hotter.
Is the Anti-Scald Valve Set Correctly?
One of the most common reasons for a shower that’s not as hot as you’d like is an anti-scald valve. This is also known as a pressure balancing shower control valve.
The point of this valve is to make sure that the shower does not get too hot and burn you in case the hot water heater is up too high.
If you have an anti-scald valve, take time to make sure it’s set correctly. Usually, it will be located behind the cover of the temperature handle of your shower. You can use a screwdriver to pot the cover off and you will see the shower valve.
It will be a knob that you can twist to turn up the anti-scald valve.
The Thermostat is Set Too Low
You might have a hot water heater that can produce 140 degrees of water, but if your thermostat is set at 120 degrees, you aren’t going to get it. If you want hot showers, turn up your heater’s thermostat so more hot water will be available when you turn on your faucet.
Turn your thermostat up a few degrees. It takes a few minutes for higher temperatures to reach your pipes and shower head, so give it time after you adjust your thermostat before turning on a cold faucet.
Broken Gas Valve
If your water heater is 10 years old or older, you may have a worn-out gas valve. This can result in a cold shower and sometimes no hot water at all.
If it smells really bad like a rotten eggs smell this may be a sign. You can try replacing it yourself if you’re comfortable with plumbing work, but otherwise, call a plumber to replace it for you.
Your Thermostat May Be Broken
If turning the thermostat up isn’t working, it may be broken. You can check by taking a thermometer into your shower and recording its temperature.
The ideal temperature for hot water is 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius). Anything below that will feel cold in comparison to what you’re used to when you take a shower with hot water.
Broken Dip Tube
Some hot water heaters have a broken dip tube. The dip tube is the long, hollow column that sticks out of the top of the heater and goes down into the bottom of the tank.
Normally, cold water is pushed through the dip tube to fill up your tank. Then it gets heated at the bottom. If your dip tube is broken, the cold water will not be properly separated. Hot and cold water will mix too much in your tank—leaving you with only lukewarm (or colder) water out of your faucet.
Your Shower Pipes Are Becoming Rusty
Chlorine and mineral deposits can build up in your hot water heater. These minerals may prevent the heater from heating the water adequately, resulting in less-than-satisfactory shower water temperature.
To remedy a low-temperature shower, you may have to install a water softening system. A water softener works by exchanging sodium for calcium and magnesium ions in your pipes and hot water heater.
As these minerals are replaced with sodium, it allows hot water to heat up more quickly and effectively. The average cost of installing a salt-based softener is $1,000-$2,000.
Internal Heating Element May Be Broken
An older hot water heater may have a heating element on top of or at least near your upper tank. When one of these breaks, you get lukewarm water only. Check both your upper and lower heating elements first before replacing them.
Then check them both again after you’ve replaced them. Finally, test the temperature of hot water after it passes through the faucet.
You May Have the Wrong Size Water Heater
The size of your water heater might be one reason you aren’t getting hot water in your shower. You may have an old-fashioned tank heater (the kind that heats up a small tank of water on demand) that simply can’t keep up with a full home’s hot water demands.
Instead, install a more efficient heat pump, which draws its energy from the outside air and uses it to heat your water. It works like an air conditioner but for heating instead of cooling, so it will save you money over time and make your shower warm again.
Related: Why Does My Shower Squeal?
There May be Sediment Buildup at the Bottom of Your Water Heater Tank
There are all sorts of things that can build up inside your tank and reduce its efficiency, including mineral deposits. One of those, calcium carbonate (or scale), is what happens when hard water is heated for too long. Scale buildup can make your shower water cooler rather than hotter.
If you’re experiencing problems with hot water, start by draining your tank. Fill the tank with one gallon of white vinegar. After about six hours, drain out all of that vinegar through a different drain, then flush it again with fresh water.
Water Heater is Being Over Used
If you’re like most people, you probably use hot water for everything. You might run a long, hot shower in the morning and then come home from work and take a hot bath.
If you or someone in your family likes to take long hot showers, it could be the reason your water heater is being overused. There is an easy solution: adjusting the temperature on your heater to limit the flow of warm water that comes out at once. Most modern-day heaters have an adjustable dial inside of them that sets how hot the water is coming out of them as well as how much comes out at once.