You turn on the water for a shower, give the water time to become heated, step into the shower and are greeted with … tepid, low-pressure water. What gives?
There are a few different problems that can cause tepid, low pressure water that range from whole-house plumbing issues to issues directly in your water heater. Call in a plumber to conduct the fixes, but here are some of the potential causes that might be addressed during your service call.
Tepid Water: Small Tank or Improper Setting
Did you recently move into a new home and have experienced tepid water the entire time? The water heater installed by the previous owners could be too small or set at the incorrect temperature.
How can you tell if the water heater is too small for your needs? Look on the unit or in the user's manual for the indicated capacity or the first hour rating. This number refers to how many gallons of hot water per hour that your unit can put out after the first tank is completely heated.
You then need to calculate how many gallons of water your family uses during its busiest time of water usage during the day such as in the morning before work or school. For a rough estimate, approximately 10 gallons are used during a shower, 7 gallons for the washing machine, 6 for the dishwasher, and 2 to 4 gallons for minor tasks like shaving, multiple people brushing their teeth with the faucet running, or food prep.
Add your usage numbers together and make sure the total is less than the first hour capacity rating on your water heater. If your usage number is far higher, you either need to cut back on your water usage or call in a plumber for a new tank.
Was your capacity rating higher than your current usage? Then you might just have an improperly set thermostat. Consult your user's guide for directions on how to locate the thermostat and for the maximum temperature recommended for your unit.
Low-Pressure Water: Plumbing Issue or Sediment Buildup
Do you experience low water pressure with both the hot and cold faucets in all of your sinks and the shower? You have a problem with the main water lines for your home and need to call a plumber. Potential problems include a leak somewhere along the line or a frozen pipe in winter.
Is the low-pressure problem confined to the hot water system? There could still be a plumbing issue with the hot water lines leading away from the water heater that will need a plumber's examination and replacement.
Or the problem could be sediment building up within your water heater. Your home's water contains trace minerals that can cause buildups, particularly if you have harder water. A water heater contains a hanging anode rod that is meant to attract the mineral sediment away from the walls of the tank where the sediment could cause corrosion.
When an anode rod hasn't been changed in a long time, the minerals can overpower the rod and the sediment can then begin to settle elsewhere inside the tank. The sediment buildup can then start to block the hot water lines that lead out of the tank and to your faucets.
Make sure you or a plumber flushes your water tank at least once a year and checks the anode rod at the same time. Replace the rod as needed to ensure you don't have any more sediment buildup problems.