3 Reasons Why Your Hot Water Heater is Overheating

Hot Water Heater

3 Reasons Why Your Hot Water Heater is Overheating

An overheated hot water heater is a plumbing issue that is not only inconvenient and bothersome, but also dangerous in two ways.

For starters, unusually hot water from your faucet or showerhead can cause severe scald burns. This is especially dangerous for family members who may be pain-sensitive and small children, whose skin scalds four times faster than adults.

Second, a rapid increase in water temperature above normal is a red flag. It signifies your water heater is overheating and may begin to leak or even break if you don’t get it fixed right away!

What is the cause of this inconvenient phenomenon? Here are three reasons why your hot water is too hot all of a sudden.

1. Broken Thermostat

If your water temperature appears to be unusually high, check the thermostat immediately before calling a plumber. Although most water heater thermostats are initially set at 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit), the suggested setting is 49 degrees C. (120 F).

A temperature-regulated water heater has a built-in thermostat that automatically turns it on and off to keep the water at a safe temperature. So, if your water suddenly starts boiling or heating up excessively, it probably means that the thermostat is broken.

What to do: If overheated water is only happening occasionally, you may be able to fix the problem temporarily by resetting the temperature dial or turning off the power switch.

But if your hot water has been too hot consistently, it’s time to call a plumber to replace the thermostat.

2. Mineral Buildup

Because minerals like calcium and magnesium are dissolved in water, water left standing in the pipes tends to build up mineral deposits.

When the mineral deposits build up around your water heater, they restrict the water flow and can cause the heated water to go back down to the tank too fast. This, in turn, causes the temperature of the water to rise and the heat exchanger to overheat.

What to do: As soon as you notice that your hot water is too hot, the first thing you should do is flush the pipes. This will help prevent the mineral deposits from getting out of control and causing any more damage to the water heater.

For ongoing protection, ensure you get a water filtration system installed to reduce the number of minerals in your water supply.

3. Faulty Heater Element

Another common cause of an overheated water heater is a faulty heating element. This happens when a crack develops in the heat exchanger, and the heated water comes in contact with the cooler water in the tank.

This can cause the water to suddenly heat up and result in a temperature that is too high.

What to do: In the event of a heater element failure, you should let a plumber shut off the power to the water heater before beginning any repairs.


For a typical household, an annual water heater checkup is a good idea. It will not only help you detect and prevent problems, but it will also provide you with an opportunity to make energy-saving adjustments.

In addition to performing a visual inspection, have a plumber come by to check the insulation and pressure relief valve. If you follow these steps, your water heater will be ready to work for you through many more years of service.

More essential features to consider are the energy efficiency and water-saving capabilities of your hot water on Northern Beaches. Our team of experienced plumbing professionals will ensure that your home’s plumbing is kept in good working order at a reasonable price. Contact us today for a quote!

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