A hot shower is a terrific way to start your day in the morning or relax at night, but not if the hot water becomes a little more than hot. This is often caused by mineral buildup, incorrect temperature settings, a malfunctioning thermostat, or a blocked pressure relief valve in your water heater. An overheating water heater is a serious concern that you’ll need to address immediately.
Furthermore, not only can someone be injured, but it may also cause severe damage to the elements of your water heater and its system.
If your water heater overheats frequently, this article is for you. Here, we’ll look into the common causes of overheating and a few tips for preventing this from happening.
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Common Causes of an Overheating Water Heater
What exactly could be causing all of the trouble with your heating appliance? Whether it’s a faulty thermostat, or pressure valve blockage, we’re here to help you find the root of your problem, as well as the solution!
A water heater thermostat regulates the temperature of your water heater’s output, and a broken thermostat is often to blame when your shower or tap suddenly produces scalding hot water above the ideal water temperature.
The thermostat controls the water heater’s on/off cycles. If a thermostat’s safety features break, the components will continue to heat the water.
Unfortunately, this can cause large fluctuations in the temperature of your water. You should quickly replace your thermostat if this occurs. No matter what, replacing a thermostat is not a DIY project. You must call a professional plumber to ensure the task is done correctly.
Deposition of sediment on a water heater’s surface often causes overheating as well. This process is referred to as calcification. Hard water has a higher concentration of dissolved minerals than what’s typical, particularly calcium and magnesium.
If hard water is left untreated, the high mineral concentration will leave crusty deposits in your water heater. This results in minerals clumping together when your heater system heats the water. What’s more, these minerals eventually settle at the bottom of a tank, damaging the water-heating elements in the long term.
This sediment obstructs your appliance’s ability to function correctly, generate heat, and control the temperature inside of it. In most cases, this overheats the water in the system. You can resolve this issue by giving your water heater a thorough cleaning.
Sometimes the problems with the electric water heater settings cause a sudden increase in water heater temperature. Simply put, you must first look for the dial indicator on water heaters.
These indications allow users to set the water heater’s temperature to a certain level. The dial is often set at a temperature range of 90 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
People often set the thermostat to too high of a setting, which could lead to overheating. Thermostats can glitch out and change parameters as well. Check your thermostat and, if required, adjust it to a lower setting. Consider replacing the valve if resetting the dial does not get your water heater to the appropriate temperature.
Blockage of the Pressure Relief Valve
Another cause of unstable water temperature could be the blockage of the pressure relief valve. Pressure relief valve systems comprise of a configuration inside the water heater that allows excess produced steam to escape.
The temperature and pressure relief (T&P) valve on your water heater is one of many security features. When the water pressure or temperature inside your hot water tank becomes too high, the T&P valve allows a moderate amount of water to leak.
However, the water heater temperature can rise if the pressure release valve fails to function correctly. At this point, unusually hot water is generally the best-case situation. The alternative may be a burst water heater or flooding. If this is the problem, it’s crucial to turn off your water heater immediately, as failing to do so will put you and your family in a very serious situation.
Failing Heating Element
A typical electric water heater has two heating elements, one at the top and one at the bottom, which alternate. For gas water heaters, the burner is located at the tank’s base. Usually, the heating elements will briefly shut off after the water reaches the specified temperature.
If you notice scalding hot water coming from your taps, this could indicate that a heating element has stuck on causing an overheating water heater. However, if one of the pieces is broken or malfunctions, the shutoff function may stop working. Due to the silt layer on the bottom, the lower component frequently sticks first.
This causes constant heating, which inevitably leads to overheating. In this case, you will need to contact a professional repair service to replace the malfunctioning water heating element.
Tips to Prevent an Overheating Water Heater
Now that you’re familiar with the causes of water heaters overheating, let’s look into some of the ways to prevent it in the first place.
Watch Out for Noises
A quiet, rumbling sound may suggest scalding water caused by overheating related to sediment buildup. Flushing your water heater often will help with this.
First, clean the water heater before treating this. Next, remove any scale from the water heater’s heating elements and tank. Finally, install heating components with low-wattage density and more surface area for improved heat-transfer efficiency.
Inspect the Anode
Water heaters are made of metal, which rusts. An anode rod inside your water heater tank protects it from corrosion and rust. Your tank will begin to rust quickly as soon as the anode rod wears out.
If you do not replace the damaged anode rod, the corrosion will increase the possibility of overheating or rupturing inside the tank.
Inspect the anode rod for corrosion and deterioration every two years until the heater’s warranty expires, then once a year, replace the rod if it appears to be significantly rusted. You must replace anode rods every three to five years.
Annual Tank Flushing
If your water heater tank is not flushed or drained in a few years or has never been flushed, you should flush it as soon as possible. A dirty water heater tank causes more than poor quality and color of your water.
Sediment buildup in your water heater can cause it to overheat, mainly if enough pressure builds. Fortunately, this is a simple DIY job. Turn off the heater by finding the appropriate valve and associated circuit breaker. Next, let the water in the tank cool and open a hot water tap in a washroom to minimize pressure from rising.
Put the other end of the garden hose outdoors, in a sink or a bucket, and then connect it to the drain valve. Turn the drain valve counter-clockwise to open it completely. Open the water supply valve at the water meter or the top of the tank when the water stops flowing. Close the drain valve and switch off the water supply once the water is free of sediment.
Check Your Thermostat Settings
Adjusting the thermostat is another method for reducing pressure buildup in your water heater tank. Though it might seem pointless, many individuals fail to notice when their thermostat is too high.
High temperatures (between 140 and 145 degrees Fahrenheit) increase tank pressure, which can cause overheating, leaks, and bursts. It’s best to keep your thermostat temperature between 110F and 125F. This provides you with hot water on demand and ensures the heater is at its best.
Experiment with temperature settings to get the optimum “hot enough” combination while maintaining the water tank’s integrity. Additionally, lowering the temperature of your water heater will reduce your monthly energy bill.
Check the T&P Valve
Besides removing any calcium buildup, routine temperature and pressure release valve checks help prevent turbulence and accidents.
The pressure relief valve reduces pressure accumulation in the water heater tank. When it detects unsafe pressure levels, this valve opens automatically and releases the pressure as required. Due to clogging, they may deteriorate over time.
Conduct simple tests twice a year to test the condition of your pressure valve. The valve is located on the tank’s side or top. To check the water release, switch it on for five seconds. Be careful, as the water will be really hot. If the water flows well, your pressure valve is in good working condition.
Schedule Annual Maintenance
Many issues can arise with a water heater, from rusted pipes to tripped breakers. It is essential to inspect your water heater annually so that you can spot any obvious risks earlier.
Hire a professional plumber to perform an annual inspection and the proper heater maintenance to guarantee everything is in good condition. These experts will examine your water heater system and its general operation, including the piping system.
Also, make sure to replace your water heater every ten to twelve years. However, a plumber can tell you whether it still has some fight left in it.
An overheating water heater can harm you and your family, and even increase the cost of your monthly electricity bills. If your water heater shows any of the above indications, troubleshooting will be essential. If it’s newer, it makes sense to fix whatever part is broken. However, replacing the entire water heater may be more cost-effective if the unit is older.
Consider testing your water heater as frequently as possible, and be sure to get professional advice on these appliances. Modern units are often built to last for many years. Routine maintenance will keep your heaters in good condition and protect against accidents or explosions of any kind.