One evening while my wife and I were watching TV our daughter emerged from her room with an angry scowl on her face.
I asked, “you ok? What’s going on?”
She said, “I just took a shower and there was ZERO hot water!” with all the attitude and contempt that a teenager can muster when things don’t go their way.
I was puzzled. We didn’t have that problem in our shower.
I went and checked her shower and, sure enough, even after letting the water run for a few minutes, there was no hot water coming through.
No wonder she was in such a bad mood!
If you’ve ever run into this problem yourself, with or without the teen attitude, you understand that it can be really frustrating when you get hot water from some places but not others.
So what can we do about this? In this article, I’ll explain why this happens and how it can be resolved.
By the way – before we get too far along here, if you want to connect with other homeowners, DIYers, and builders and get more great ideas for your home to make your space the best join my free private Facebook group, Remodel Reality here.
When You Get Hot Water From Some Faucets But Not Others
Without hot water everyday activities like taking a hot shower, washing dishes, cleaning etc. can become inconvenient and frustrating.
Water temperature issues may show themselves where you have cold or lukewarm water instead of hot coming from a shower head, but may not show up anywhere else in your house.
It can show up in any any faucet in the house, from those in the kitchen to ones in the bathroom and laundry room.
A while back we had an issue where we couldn’t get hot water to come out of one of our showers. Our house is one of the older homes in the area, so it didn’t really surprise me.
But what did surprise me was that there were no problems with hot water coming from any of the other faucets in the house.
Unless your Jack Dorsey, and cold showers are your thing (they’re actually pretty awesome, but that’s a story for another time), problems with your hot water system can really cause issues in your home.
Thankfully, I got my issue resolved (I’ll tell you more about my issue in a minute). But I had to go through several steps to try to figure out what was going on, and the fix was simple.
So for those who are running into the same problem of hot water coming from some faucets our hot water lines, but not others, I’m going to walk you through some common reasons that could be happening.
The fact is there are several common reasons why hot water may not be coming out of some faucets. Some are simple fixes. Some are signs of bigger problems that require professional attention.
Let’s dig a little deeper into understanding the problem.
Understanding the Problem
To effectively solve the problem of hot water not coming out of some faucets, it’s important to understand the issue thoroughly. This involves identifying which faucets are affected, the extent of the problem, and when it started.
Which faucets are affected?
If you’re having an issue with only certain faucets giving out hot water, it’s important to identify which ones those are. Carefully check each faucet in your home – including in the kitchen and the bathroom – to see if they are all affected or just a limited number. If the problem is isolated to one area of your house, it’s likely that a small fix can be done quickly and easily. However, if it affects every faucet, then you may have a more serious underlying issue on your hands.
Is it a complete lack of hot water or just lukewarm water?
If you’re having trouble getting hot water at your faucet, it’s important to determine exactly what sort of problem you’re having. Is there no hot water at all, or is the water simply lukewarm?
If there’s no hot water at all, then the issue likely has something to do with the hot water heater. This could include a malfunctioning heating element, a lack of power or fuel supply to the heater, a faulty thermocouple or thermostat, or maybe even a broken expansion tank.
On the other hand, if it’s just lukewarm water – not completely cold but not quite as hot as it should be – this could have several different causes. It could be an issue with the temperature settings on your hot water heater (Be sure to check that first!), but it could also be caused by a leaking faucet cartridge or a blocked aerator in one of your sink faucets. Be sure to check those as well and replace any necessary parts.
Is the issue limited to hot water or is cold water also affected?
You have to determine whether the problem is limited to hot water or if it also affects cold water lines too. If only hot water is affected, this may indicate a malfunction in your hot water heater. However, if both hot and cold water are impacted, it could be a sign of a more serious plumbing issue.
To begin with, you should examine all faucets and fixtures in the affected area thoroughly. Running the shower and sink taps and checking for any unusual changes in temperature or pressure can provide valuable information. Additionally, inspecting the pipes leading to these fixtures can help identify any visible damage or blockages that could be causing the problem.
If there are no visible issues with the pipes or fixtures, further investigation may be necessary. This could involve inspecting other areas of the plumbing system, such as valves and pumps that regulate water flow.
When did the issue start?
To identify the cause of your plumbing issue, it is important to determine when the problem started. If you’ve noticed a recent change in water pressure or temperature, this could indicate a broken pipe or valve. However, if the issue has been ongoing for some time, it could be related to your hot water heater or plumbing system.
It’s helpful to try and recall any specific events that may have led up to the issue. For instance, did you recently make any changes to your plumbing system or install new fixtures? Did you experience any extreme weather conditions – freezing in the winter, or heat-wave days during the summer – that could have caused damage to your pipes?
Doing a visual inspection of all relevant components can provide further insight into the cause of the problem. Looking for signs of rust or corrosion on pipes and valves can help identify areas that may need repair or replacement.
Common causes of the problem
Now, let’s dig in to figure out the possible causes of hot water not coming out of some faucets can help homeowners determine whether to fix the problem themselves or call a plumber. In this section, we will explore some common causes of the issue.
If you’re experiencing issues with hot water coming out of some of your faucets, one of the potential causes might be clogged plumbing. Over time, minerals can build up inside your fixtures and prevent the hot water from flowing correctly. This is often combined with low water pressure, which makes it especially hard for the hot water to pass through the pipes. If this is the case for you, it’s probably best to hire a plumber to help clear away the debris and get your hot water faucet back in working order.
If you’re having trouble getting hot water from some of your faucets, it could be due to an airlock in the pipes. An airlock occurs when air pockets get trapped in the system and can partially or completely block the flow of water. Cold water is connected straight to the main water line and has more pressure, so it’s less likely to get blocked by airlocks. To clear an airlock in a faucet, attach a hosepipe to the cold water tap and the other end to the hot water tap. Turn on the hot water first and then the cold water to move any trapped air out of the pipes. This should allow you to use hot water again from your taps.
If you live in a cold climate, frozen pipes can be a common reason for why no hot water is coming out of your taps during the winter months. Pipes can become frozen when they are exposed to low temperatures, meaning that the water cannot travel successfully to your taps. It’s important to insulate your pipes during the winter season to prevent them from freezing. If you have already encountered this problem, you can try thawing them with a hairdryer, heat gun or heating pad, if you can reach them. Applying enough heat should unfreeze the pipe and allow the water to flow again.
Hot Water Tank
If your hot water is running out quickly or not getting warm enough, it could be due to issues with your hot water tank. For electric hot water heater tanks, check that there is power coming to the appliance and that none of the fuses have blown. You should also make sure that the thermostat and heating elements are in good working order.
For a gas-powered hot water heater, check if there is propane or natural gas entering the tank. This gas is sent to a control valve, which then sends a small amount of fuel to light the pilot light. This in turn heats up a thermocouple, which then sends an electrical signal back to keep the burner on and maintain the desired temperature set by the thermostat regulator.
If any of these parts aren’t functioning properly, you may experience a shortage or inadequate supply of hot water.
Problem with Valves
The diverter valve is an important component of your boiler, as it allows your boiler to switch between heating different parts of your home. If the heat is working in your house but there is no hot water coming from the tap, the diverter valve may be at fault. This could mean that it is stuck, broken or detached. Additionally, the water valve may have been unintentionally turned off which leads to a blockage in the flow of hot water due to its control over water flow. An inspection of these components should be performed if you are experiencing difficulty producing hot water.
Faulty faucet handle
Remember that I mentioned above that we have an older home and that we weren’t getting hot water though the hot water line (or so I thought) into one of our showers? Turns out, our problem was that the faucet handle in the shower was the source of our hot water problem.
What happened was that over years of use, before we bought our house, the rotational limit stop inside the handle that is connected to the actual hot water line had become so worn out that it simply wasn’t able to open up the hot water valve. Evidently this is a common problem with older homes. Because the handle wasn’t working, there was very little hot water actually making it to the mixing valve, resulting in a cold shower.
To fix the problem all I needed to do was replace the handle and the hot water supply was restored, much to my daughter’s delight.
Other Possible Causes
There may be a couple other possible causes. An incorrectly installed faucet or pipe could be to blame, as could a pressure regulator that isn’t functioning properly. Leaky pipes might also be an issue. If this is the case, you’ll need help from a professional plumber who can locate and fix these problems. They’ll use diagnostic tools to check the underlying components of your plumbing system and determine the source of the problem so they can repair it. Ultimately they will then recommend any changes or adjustments that are needed to restore proper functionality and make sure everything is running smoothly and efficiently.
Troubleshooting Tips for Homeowners
So with all those possible causes, where do you start? How do you even begin to troubleshoot? By checking some obvious causes and performing some simple tests, you may be able to fix the problem on your own without needing to call a plumber.
Check the obvious causes first
The first thing you should do is check for obvious causes such as a disconnected power supply or a switched-off boiler or hot water heater. Sometimes a power surge can throw a breaker and you don’t even know it, so start there if you’re using an electric hot water heater. You should also ensure that the switch is turned on and check if there is power coming to the water heater. Sometimes on some models, the timer setting may have been set to the wrong setting causing the boiler to not heat the water properly.
Check other faucets in the house
Check if the lack of hot water is limited to a single faucet. It’s always a good idea to see if you can isolate the issue so make sure to check the other faucets in your house, like your kitchen sink, or a bathroom sink. It could be that the lack of hot water is limited to just one faucet, but if other faucets are also experiencing cold water then the issue likely lies within your water heater. To further investigate, you can try running some diagnostics checks on your water heater system or contact a professional to help resolve the issue.
Try flushing the hot water heater
Flushing the water heater is a good way to fix issues related to sediment buildup or leaks.
Start by turning off the power and water supply to the unit. Then, attach a garden hose to the drain valve and open it to let out the water. Doing this will help remove any accumulation of debris that may be blocking hot water from running through the faucets.
You have to be super careful flushing your water heater, because hot pressure can be extremely dangerous – getting burned with scalding hot water really sucks (been there, done that).
When you’re finished and it’s completely drained, turn off the hose and make sure all connections are turned back on before turning on the power supply again.
Use a hosepipe to remove airlock in the pipes
If the hot water faucet is sputtering or releasing only lukewarm water, then it could be due to an airlock in the pipes.
An airlock is when trapped air prevents water flow and needs to be removed. To do this, connect one end of a garden hose to the cold water tap and the other end to the hot water tap. Turn on the hot water tap and then slowly open up the cold water tap. The pressure from the cold water should push out any air in the line and help restore full hotwater flow.
Check for leaks
If your faucet is not releasing hot water, it could be due to low water pressure. A common cause of this is a leak in the plumbing system. To check for any leaks, you should inspect the pipes, faucets, and valves thoroughly. All fixtures should be firmly secured and not have any visible signs of water damage, such as staining or corrosion. Make sure that all connections are secure and not leaking. If any signs of a leak are present, they should be repaired promptly to prevent further issues with low water pressure.
Identify the type of water heater and research common issues
Different types of water heaters have different issues. For instance, if you have a gas water heater, you may have issues with the pilot light or the gas valve. If you have an electric water heater there may have problems with the heating elements or the thermostat. Knowing the type of water heater you have and researching common issues can help you troubleshoot the problem more efficiently.
How to Fix the Problem
There are a few different things you can do to fix the problem. In some cases, it’s a simple DIY fix that can save you money, while other times it may be necessary to call in a professional plumber or electrician to handle more complex issues.
Reset the boiler if necessary
If your boiler or water heater is not running correctly, it could be disconnected from the power supply. In this case, make sure to check that it is connected properly and that the water supply is turned on. You can also try resetting the boiler using the reset switch on the system.
Clear your plumbing fixtures of mineral deposits
Mineral deposits can build up inside the plumbing fixtures after repeated use, causing blockages that don’t allow hot water to flow correctly. This problem is more common in areas with hard water. If you suspect mineral build-up, try using a descaler or vinegar to dissolve the deposits. If that doesn’t work, it may be necessary to call a plumber to clear the blockage.
Warm up the pipes
If you live in an area with freezing cold weather (even here in North Florida we get weather like this), your water pipes are more likely to get frozen during the winter season, causing a lack of hot water from some faucets. You can warm up the pipes using a hairdryer, heating pad, or heat gun. Ensure you winterize the pipes to prevent this problem from happening again before the next cold front arrives.
Insulate your pipes
Insulating the pipes before winter is another preventive measure to keep the pipes from freezing and causing hot water issues. It is especially important if you live in an area with harsh winters.
Check and adjust the thermostat setting as needed
If there is only cold water coming from the tap, it may be due to a wrong setting on the thermostat. This is one of the first things I checked when I was investigating our shower problem. Check the thermostat and adjust the temperature setting to the desired level.
Fix or replace faulty valves or pipes
A faulty valve or pipe can also cause hot water issues. Check the valves and pipes for leaks, cracks, or other signs of damage. If there are any issues, you can try fixing or replacing the valve or pipe yourself, but unless you’re skilled in doing this kind of repair, it’s probably best to call a plumber to handle it.
Hire a plumber
If you’re unable to fix the problem yourself, it may be necessary to call in a plumber to address the issue. A professional plumber will have the knowledge and tools necessary to diagnose and repair complex issues.
Contact an electrician
If there are electrical failures, you will need to contact an electrician to handle the repair. In some cases, the electrical issue may be causing the hot water issue, so it’s important to address the electrical problem first before attempting to fix the hot water issue.
DIY vs. Professional Plumber
Working on plumbing is no joke. This isn’t really an area where you want to hone your DIY skills if you’ve not done this kind of work before. So if you aren’t familiar with plumbing work and you’re having issues with your hot water, it’s a good idea to call a professional plumber. These people are skilled professions and a skilled plumber will be able to quickly identify the issue and provide a solution that won’t leave you in a hot water mess.
On the other hand, if you’re comfortable with plumbing work, there are some basic steps you can take to troubleshoot the problem. As discussed above, there are several places you can look to see if you can find the issue.
In a worst-case scenario, and all else fails, you can always call a professional plumber.
Replace Your Water Heater with an On-Demand Tankless Water Heater
If your water heater is old and constantly breaking down, you may want to consider replacing it with an on-demand water heater. Unlike traditional water heaters, which store and heat a large tank of water continuously, on-demand water heaters only heat water as it is needed. This means that you are not wasting energy and money heating water that you are not using.
On-demand water heaters are also much smaller than traditional water heaters, making them ideal for homes with limited space. Additionally, they have a longer lifespan, reducing the need for frequent replacements.
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