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Hot Water Turns Cold in the Shower: Why & How to Fix It

There’s nothing quite like a warm, soothing shower. But, unfortunately, there’s also nothing quite annoying as a rush of icy cold water, which ruins your relaxing shower. A hot shower turning cold is an old and recurring issue that does not seem to go away.

Unfortunately, many people have been forced to deal with this issue, sadly some have simply accepted it as a part of their life. But it does not need to be this way. You can reclaim your hot tranquil showers without worrying that your water will turn cold.

You should not have to accept that your showers will occasionally turn frigid. This article will cover the reasons why this annoyance happens in the first place and what you can do to get rid of it for good.

hot shower turns cold

Why Does My Hot Water Turn Cold in the Shower?

Issues With Your Water Heater

The most common reasons why your hot showers go cold have to do with your water heater. There are many components and issues your water heater will go through that affect your warm showers, such as:

Sediment or Mineral Buildup

Minerals, dirt, or other sediments can build up in your tank over time. The more buildup that is in your tank, the less space there is for hot water. Therefore, with a severe buildup in your tank, you will notice a drastic difference in how much hot water you get.

Faulty Heating Elements or Thermostat

The heating elements might have been used too far past their prime if you have a very old water heater. With bad heating elements, you may notice inconsistent hot water or no hot water at all. 

Thermostats, for example, control the temperature of the water sent from your water heater to your shower. Thermostats and other heating elements in water heaters are built to last, but they will eventually give out.

Pilot Light Went Out

A widespread issue is that your hot water heater’s pilot light goes out. Without the pilot light, your water heater cannot do its job. This can happen while you are showering but usually occurs before you even enter the bathroom.

Leaking Hot Water Tank

An uncommon yet severe issue is that your hot water tank leaks. This can severely limit the amount of hot water it can produce while creating other possible problems like mold and water damage.

Bad Piping

Pipes are a vital connection between your water heater and your shower. When your pipes have heavy rust, leaks, or loose fittings, you will lose some of your hot water along the way.

While bad pipes are not a common cause of cold showers, they are a possibility to look into if your water heater is in tip-top shape.

Overusing Your Water System

Though this issue has to do with your water heater, it has more to do with how much hot water you’re using.

As our households grow, we use more hot water, and sometimes our hot water heaters cannot handle this increase in usage. You should have a rough idea of how much hot water your household uses and what your tank can produce before it needs to reheat the water.

Unsteady Electricity

It is electricity that creates the heat, giving you a soothing hot shower. Unfortunately, faulty or unsteady electrical systems will reduce the amount of hot water available to you.

Most regions have secure sources of electricity, but if you are not aware, you can resolve this issue by upgrading your electrical system or installing solar panels.

How to Fix It

Tools Required

  • Screwdriver
  • Adjustable Wrench
  • Plumbers Wrench
  • Flashlight
  • Tape Measure
  • Garden Hose
  • Pipe Cutter (if desired)


Draining Your Hot Water Tank

Step 1.
To remove sediment buildup from your water tank, start by turning off the main water supply to your home along with the thermostat on your hot water heater.

Step 2.
At the bottom of your tank will be a drain valve that will connect to a household garden hose. Some water heaters have a cover over the drain valve, which you can remove with a screwdriver.

Step 3.
Turn the drain valve just above your hose to release the tank’s water, be careful as this water will likely be hot.

Step 4.
With your tank fully drained, turn back on your water supply to flush out your tank. You may have to flush your tank several times if you have a severe buildup.

Step 5.
Once the water flushed from your tank runs clear, you can close the valve, disconnect the hose and turn the thermostat back on.

Replacing Faulty Heating Elements or a Thermostat

Step 1.
To replace a faulty heating element, you will first have to drain your water tank as described in the section above, don’t forget to turn off your water supply and thermostat.

Step 2.
With your tank drained, head to your circuit breaker and turn off all electricity to your water heater.

Step 3.
With the power cut off to your water heater, you can safely remove the faulty heating element. There is usually an access cover that can be removed by a screwdriver or wrench.

Step 4.
Any heavy corrosion points to a thermostat or heating element that has gone bad already or soon will. You can remove these bad parts with a screwdriver or wrench. Heating elements have wires that are attached to a terminal via screws.

Step 5.
You will then have to do some research to find replacement heating elements and thermostats that are compatible with your water heater.

Step 6.
With your replacement parts installed, you can reattach the access cover, close the drain valve, un-attach your hose, turn your water supply on, and lastly, turn your power back on.

Relight Your Pilot Light

Relighting your pilot light is a very straightforward process, and the directions to do so should be right on your water tank.

Some older units might require you to light the pilot by hand with a lighter, but newer units are sealed off and simply require you to push a button which ignites an electrical spark.

Whatever the case, follow the instructions given on your hot water heater, and your pilot should relight.

After following the instructions a few times and your pilot still does not light, you may have a faulty heating element or require professional assistance.

Sealing Leaks In a Hot Water Tank

Leaks in hot water tanks can have multiple causes but usually occur in the pressure relief valve and drain valve.

These valves can be loose, and you can solve this problem by simply tightening both of these valves with an adjustable wrench.

If tightening your valves does not eliminate your leak, you can instead replace them.

You can achieve this by draining your water tank as described above, then using your adjustable wrench to remove the old valves and install new ones.

There are other solutions to get rid of leaks in your hot water tank, but they will require a professional hot water technician.

Resolve Bad Piping Issues

Step 1.
Begin by inspecting your plumbing. A flashlight will likely be required.

Step 2.
Check the fittings that connect your pipes and see if they need to be tightened, which can resolve your issues.

Step 3.
Check your plumbing for leaks, cracks, rust, or other apparent damage.

Step 4.
If you find that you need to replace some of your plumbing, start by turning off the main water supply to your home.

Step 5.
You can use a pipe cutter to cut out the bad section of pipe, measuring it and replacing it with new fittings. Or you can measure the length of a bad pipe, loosen the fittings, and remove it that way.

Step 6.
With your bad plumbing removed, install your new appropriately sized plumbings and make sure all the fittings are tight.

Step 7.
Afterward, turn your water supply back on, run some water in your home and check your new pipes for leaks.

Tips To Cut Down The Heavy Usage of Your Water System

  • Take shorter showers
  • Don’t run two showers at the same time
  • Do not run multiple appliances at one time
  • Wash your clothes in cold water
  • Do smaller loads of laundry
  • Use eco-mode on your appliances if you have it
  • If all else fails, upgrade to a larger or more efficient water heater

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.

Kyle Tucker

Kyle from Kyle Tucker Plumbing is a certified plumber with over 20 years of professional experience installing plumbing fixtures such as bathtubs, sinks, and toilets, as well as installing gas lines and water pipes, performing bathroom repairs, and more.

Kyle knows how to deal with every plumbing issue that modern homeowners encounter, and he shares his lifelong experience with readers in an engaging and easy-to-digest way.

About Loo Academy

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.

We work closely with qualified experts and follow a thorough editing and fact-checking process before publishing content.

Published content is regularly fact-checked and revised so that the information we provide is accurate and up-to-date.

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