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Dealing With Lukewarm Water? A Look At 3 Potential Culprits

Your hot water heater has just one job — providing a steady supply of hot water for your entire home. When the water inside your hot water heater suddenly turns lukewarm, you'll want answers. Here are three common issues that could cause your water heater to stop producing hot water.

Faulty Thermostat

Just as your HVAC system uses its thermostat to regulate temperatures throughout your home, your water heater's thermostat helps maintain its supply of hot water at safe but usable temperatures. A properly set thermostat will keep hot water temperatures between 120 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit — hot enough to kill unwanted bacteria and viruses but cool enough to avoid scalding users. Some water heaters feature a dual-thermostat setup where each heating element is controlled by its own thermostat.

Water heater thermostats fail for a variety of reasons, with the most common reasons being old age and defect. A faulty thermostat can make the water inside your water heater tank too uncomfortably cool to take a shower, wash dishes, and clean clothes.

Failed Heating Element

If you have an electric water heater, then it'll come equipped with a pair of heating elements positioned near the top and bottom of the water heater tank. If one heating element fails, the other will struggle to heat the entire tank and, if left to its own devices, potentially burn out as well. Having just one element burn out will drastically reduce the amount of hot water your water heater produces.

Gas-powered water heaters rely on burners instead of heating elements. Faulty ignition or poor gas flow caused by dirty burners and line blockages can prevent the burner from working properly. Rust and corrosion on the burner's surface can also interfere with its proper operation, resulting in tepid water temperatures.

Broken Dip Tube

Another problem that could lead to cold showers is a broken dip tube. The dip tube is a long pipe that funnels water from the cold inlet to the bottom of the water heater tank. Over time, the dip tube can turn brittle and form cracks along the surface, allowing cold water to seep near the top of the tank. In many cases, the dip tube can break apart completely.

A broken dip tube not only disrupts the way your water heater produces and delivers hot water, but remnants of the tube can also damage the glass liner inside the water heater tank as well as the heater element. Fortunately, broken dip tubes are easy to replace; although, fishing out the broken remnants is a task best left to a skilled professional.

If your water heater is having any of these problems, contact a water heater repair professional to fix it for you.