Paul's Plumbing Tips

How to Troubleshoot Hot Water Issues at Home

There's nothing worse than a cold shower in the morning, right? Assuming that you cannot get your day going without an adequate amount of hot water, you'll want to find out what is wrong as soon as possible and rectify it. You will need to go through some troubleshooting steps to begin getting to the bottom of the issue.

Capacity Check

First, eliminate the obvious. Have you recently installed a powerful, high-flow showerhead or other utility that is simply using up more of your precious hot water? This may have led to a recent decrease in performance, and you might have to install a new or larger water heater before you can get back to normal. In this case, you might want to consider putting in a tankless water heater of the correct size, as with this approach, you will never run out of hot water again.

Valve Efficiency

Have a look around the base of your existing heater to look for any signs of leakage. While you are there, check to see if the temperature/pressure relief valve is working correctly by activating it manually. Water should be running out of the overflow pipe in this situation, as this helps to release the pressure from building up inside the boiler.


Next, have a look at the tubing that supplies the cold water to the bottom of the tank. This flexible tube can sometimes deteriorate or crack in harsh weather. If there is an issue, too much cold water may be entering the tank and mixing with the hot water before it is delivered to you.

Interior Condition

You may find issues with the tank itself, especially if it is rather old. To begin with, you should flush the tank out to get rid of any mineral deposits that may have built up with time. These can definitely reduce the efficiency of the heater, and if they have built up to a considerable extent, you may also have heard strange noises from in or around the tank. Hard water scale can accumulate around the heating elements and cause an issue whenever the metal contracts and expands.

Time for a Replacement

If all else fails and the heater is showing outward signs of age and it has long since run out of its warranty, then you will need to replace it with a more updated version. Call in your plumber to take care of your hot water system for you.