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How to Make Your Shower Water Hotter: 3 Simple Tips

A warm shower is always a welcome start to a new day – at least when the water is the perfect temperature.

But the thing is, shower water temperatures can be a moody beast. There’s nothing more frustrating than when you’re looking forward to a relaxing hot shower, but the shower water just won’t go hot enough.

If this happens in the summer, it’s easy to be tempted to just struggle through it. But come winter you’ll feel like you’re showering in arctic water, and that’s a real kicker.

cold shower

But don’t worry – you can make your shower water hotter in no time. Let’s look at possible reasons why your shower water isn’t hot enough and how to fix them.

Why Is the Shower Water Not Hot Enough?

Whether you have a tankless, electric, or gas water heater, problems with the temperature of your shower water can still occur.

While it can seem a bit complicated to figure out where to start and what to do when your water is not hot enough, it’s often as straightforward as checking your water tank (particularly the thermostat). Sometimes, your thermostat will be bumped by accident, causing changes in your water temperature.

In this case, simply increasing the temperature on the thermostat will solve the problem and make your shower water hotter.

Unfortunately, some reasons why your shower water is not getting hot enough aren’t as straightforward and quick to fix. Other reasons why your shower is not hot enough might be:

  • Broken Dip Tube. A dip tube helps circulate water in your water tank by pushing the cold water to the bottom of the tank, where it’s then heated. The dip tube needs to be in excellent working order to sufficiently produce heated water. When the dip tube cracks, which occasionally occurs, you will receive lukewarm water (or even cold water) showers.

Tip: This problem is common in older water heaters: those that are twenty years old or more.

  • Broken Gas Valve. If you are using a gas water heater that is at least ten years old, the gas valve becomes more susceptible to damage. Any leak from the broken valve will reduce the heater’s ability to efficiently warm your shower water.

Tip: You’ll know it’s a leak in the gas valve messing with your shower water temperature if you smell garbage or rotten eggs.

  • Broken Internal Heating Element. For electric water heaters, there are two heating elements. Even if only one of them breaks, the entire heating system will be less efficient at heating your shower water.

Tip: If the hot water supply in the shower is shortlived, you have a problem with the lower heating element. But if the issue is always getting lukewarm or even cold water instead of hot, the problem is in the upper heating element.

  • Sediment Buildup. Unless you’re using distilled water to shower, water that enters the heater tank is never 100% pure. There will be debris, dirt, and other dissolved solids that can fall at the bottom of the tank. These sediments can build up in the burner located at the bottom of the tank. When this happens, the water heater will become slower and less efficient in heating water. Hence, you’re getting lukewarm water instead of hot.

Tip: If you have hard water, you’re most likely going to have a sediment buildup in your water heater tank.

  • Leaking Water Tank. Another common reason you may not receive enough hot water in the shower is if there is a leak in the water tank of your water heater. The sediment buildup mentioned above can cause leaks, and so can loose heater components.

Tip: This problem is common with old water heaters. Even high-priced water heater tanks with sturdy walls are not immune to aging.

  • Water Source is Too Cold. Finally, the problem behind your shower water not being hot enough may not be related to the water heater at all. Instead, the climate may be the culprit. If you experience relatively colder winters, the water temperature flowing to your water heater might be colder than normal. This means that the thermostat may need some adjusting so the water can be heated to the ideal temperature.

Tip: This may be the issue if you’re only experiencing your shower not getting hot enough during colder months.

How to Make Your Shower Water HOTTER

If you know what’s causing the problem, there should be an easy way to fix the situation.

Check and Adjust the Thermostat

The thermostat is the first thing you might need to check out if you’re not getting water as hot as you want it to be. Make sure it’s set to the ideal temperature you want. During winter, when the water source is a lot colder, you might also want to adjust the thermostat and set it to a higher temperature.

Also, don’t forget to check if the thermostat is giving an accurate reading. Sometimes, it can show inaccurate temperatures, so even if you adjust the knob, it still wouldn’t make your shower water hotter.

Replace any Broken Component

If the tank is still in decent working condition, check for any broken or faulty components that may need replacing.

In gas water heaters, make sure to check and clean the gas burner to keep it in proper working condition. For electric burners, check the heating elements or any mechanical issues like loose components inside the tank. Cleaning will not do much for a broken electric heating element. You will need to replace whatever is broken.

Upgrade the Water Heater Tank

If your water heater tank is around ten to twenty years old, you might want to think about getting an upgrade altogether. The reason your shower water can’t get hot enough might be that the water heater has already run its course.

But there are other reasons why you need to get a water heater tank replacement altogether if you want to make your shower water hotter.

  • When the demand for hot water is too high. Unless you’re getting a tankless water heater that heats your shower water on demand, the unit will store hot water inside the tank. Meaning, you’ll only get as much hot water as the tank can hold. So, if a lot of people are taking hot showers (or simply more than the tank’s capacity will allow), you won’t be getting enough hot water all the time.

You can solve this by getting a water heater with a larger tank capacity or a tankless heating unit.

  • When there’s a coldwater sandwich. If you have a tankless unit, you might experience having inconsistent shower water temperature. For instance, hot water may come out the moment you turn on the shower, but a small amount of cold water gushes out after a while before turning to hot water again. Typically, this happens if you shut off the tap, even for a few seconds.

You can solve this problem by upgrading to a tankless water heater that doesn’t shut off when you close the tap. Or you can keep the tap on while showering for a steadier flow of hot water.

While not getting enough hot water is certainly not as bad as no water at all, it’s still a frustrating problem that you don’t need to deal with, especially in the depths of winter.

Even if you’re not an expert when it comes to water heaters, these troubleshooting tips should help you identify, and, hopefully, solve your problem, allowing you to take your hot shower.

Adam McCoy

Adam is an HVAC expert and the owner of Mackydo's HVAC Services with decades of experience in fixing and installing air conditioning units, furnaces, and every type of cooling and heating equipment you can think of.

Adam believes that your home is your sanctuary. He loves sharing advice based on his lifelong experience and treats every HVAC problem as if it was his own.

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At Loo Academy, our mission is to offer trusted advice for everything related to bathrooms (design ideas, plumbing advice, showering & bathing tips, remodeling guides, and more) — a place where we all spend a great deal of time.

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