There can be no worse feeling than turning on the shower in the winter only to realize that your hot water is only lukewarm. However, this is a common problem many people experience, so don't feel alone if it is happening to you. While a water heater repair expert can diagnose your water heater to determine what problem it is having and repair it for you, so you can have hot water again, read on to learn about two possible water heater problems you may be facing.
1. A Disintegrating or Broken Dip Tube
One possible cause of a water heater that dispenses only lukewarm water, even when the thermostat is set on a high temperature, is a broken or disintegrating dip tube. This tube sits at the top of your tank and directs cold water toward the bottom of your tank where its heating element lies. If this tube is broken or damaged, then it may not direct water toward this heating element, leading to your water never getting heated properly before it is dispensed out of your tank.
While all water heater dip tubes can go bad, if your water heater was manufactured between the years of 1993 and 1996, then realize that there is a high likelihood that it was equipped with a faulty polypropylene dip tube. These tubes have since been disintegrating, and an additional sign that your dip tube may be disintegrating is the presence of small pieces of plastic in your water fixtures (these are pieces of the dip tube itself).
Thankfully, hot water tank dip tubes can be replaced relatively easily, so if your hot water repair expert finds out this is your problem, it should be a simple repair involving a tank flush and dip tube replacement.
2. Temperature Adjustment Knob Problem
While a broken dip tube can cause your hot water to feel lukewarm all day long, if your "hot" water tends to feel lukewarm only in the morning (or after no one in the home has used hot water for a lengthy period of time), then your water heater's temperature adjustment knob could be the problem.
This adjustment knob controls an element of your water heater's thermostat called a temperature probe. This is a metal rod that controls your water heater's burners. When your temperature adjustment knob is miscalibrated, the temperature probe will allow large fluctuations in water temperature, especially after your water heater has not been in use for long periods of time. Typically, this leads to lukewarm water in the morning, although it can also lead to dangerous hot water scalds later in the day.
Thankfully, your temperature adjustment knob can be recalibrated by a professional to keep your hot water at a more consistent temperature relatively easily.
If your hot water heater is not heating your water as effectively as it should all day long or just during certain times of day, then one of these two problems may be to blame.