What To Do With Fluctuating Water Temperatures
You’re taking a relaxing shower and suddenly your water turns ice cold. How do you address fluctuating water temperatures in your home? Time to check your plumbing system! Identify erratic water temperatures by finding out what’s causing water temperature fluctuates within your plumbing system.
3 Tips: Fluctuating Water Temperatures
1. Check Your Water Heater Type And Size
If you witness unexpected running hot water, your water heater may be dated and underpowered.
Water heaters are designed in a variety of types and sizes to specific water amount. Some models are gas, other models are electric.
Uncontrollable Water Heating Is Serious
Isolate The Problem
Test the water temperature with one shower. Keep all other water consuming appliances off. If your water temperature is consistent with these conditions, assume your problem lies with other variables.
Test the water temperature with two shower running. If your temperature fluctuates, you may have an insufficient sized water tank.
Inspect Your Water Heater
Don’t disassemble your water heater without expert plumbing experience. Examine your water heater with a visual inspection to identify problems and check your water heater’s manual for safe maintenance instructions.
An emergency thermostat is important. It’ll shut off your tank to prevent a dangerous situation. If your automatic turn off isn’t activated, your unit will continue to heat your water. Consider contacting a professional for water heater repair.
Newer water heaters are installed with safety features that alert you if your water temperatures become dangerous. If this feature is tripped, reset the thermostat.
There may be a larger problem if your thermostat trips often. Unfortunately, a broken thermostat usually isn’t the cause of fluctuating water temperatures.
More common problems are faulty temperature regulators. If your water temperature reaches a certain threshold temperature lever, your water heater will stop heating.
If Your Water Heater Is Gas Powered
- Check to see if the pilot light is on.
- If it’s off, attempt to relight it.
- Turn gas valve to off and wait a few minutes.
- Turn gas valve to “pilot” position
- Use ignition switch or a stick lighter to ignite the pilot light.
- When pilot light is on, set valve back to standard position
Moisture In Your Basement Can Cause Problems
A damp, or flooded basement can cause your pilot light to go off. If your pilot light is always going out, that’s a problem.
If your water heater is electric, check your circuit breakers. Restart your heater by flipping your breaker back. If your heater is continuously tripping the circuit breaker, there could be a more serious problem. Consult an electrician right away.
“When my water temperature kept changing, I took a look at my water heater first. I didn’t wait for more water heater failures. Thank goodness, I invested in a new unit that was a more appropriate size for my growing family.” —Tom C.
How Much Water Do You Use?
The average shower uses between two (2) gallons per one (1) minute. Large family households with multiple showers use more water. The average life expectancy of a water heater is 12-15 years.
Custom sprayers or high-volume shower head designs deplete smaller water heaters. A sticker on the side of the unit will indicate tank size. The sticker should give you a rough estimate of hot water time.
Unpredictable water temperature fluctuations can cause personal injury. Scalding hot water can destroy lipid layers of your skin. Young children can get severe burns if there’s an unexpected hot water surge out of your shower head.
“In a recent article from the Wall Street Journal, it was determined that 112 degrees Fahrenheit was the ideal temperature for hot water. Hot water heaters can provide water as high as 140 degrees. Doctors recommend setting your heater at 120 or below to avoid dry skin. You risk damaging the skin’s lipid layer if your water above 112 degrees. Replacing the lipid layer gets harder as you age, so that’s why older people tend to suffer more from dry skin.” —The Tuckey Company
Call a professional if your water heater isn’t large enough to heat all of your showers. A wrong size water heater can cause damage to your home’s plumbing system and your healthy skin!
“The problem was my tankless water unit. What I paid for in energy efficiency wasn’t worth the freezing showers every day.” —Steve T.
2. Is Your Tankless Water Heater Causing Water Fluctuations?
There are different kinds of water heaters. Your homeowners budget will determine which one you’ll purchase. Tankless water heaters provide steady hot water on demand. Water heaters with a tank drum store pre-heated water. Tankless heaters are energy efficient and popular for many homeowners. The tankless water heater burner switches off and cold water moves through your shower line.
Some tankless designs combine different kinds of tanks that hold small amounts of hot water. This combination design eliminates cold water leakage into your main plumbing system.
If you need to update your tankless water heater, be ready to work with intricate electrical and plumbing systems. Tackling repairs on your own could result in serious damage to you, your water heater, and your home.
3. Check Your Pressure-Balancing Valve
Pay attention if you notice water temperature fluctuations. Next time you’re in the shower, ask someone to start your dishwasher or flush your toilet.
If your water temperature fluctuates, the pressure-balancing valve might be to blame.
“Water fluctuations can be caused by well water. Well water is usually cooler. The pressure varies and a sudden surge of cold water is injected into the system. The pressure tank ‘stores’ a small reserve that can warm slightly from the warm house air. With the tempering valve set low from a high setting, instead of varying degrees of warm, it now varies from tepid to cold each time the pump cycles.” —This Old House
Your pressure-balancing valves open and close depending on your water flow in your plumbing system. If cold or hot water levels drop, a broken pressure valve could cause a drop in water pressure. This drop in pressure sends scalding hot or freezing cold water to your shower head. Yipes!
Pressure-balance valves can be replaced. Valve replacement requires professional plumbing help.
Water Temperatures And Professionals
Do YOU have temperature changes? Don’t jump into a cold shower! Check your home’s main water units and plumbing system. Identify why water temperatures fluctuate in your home and seek professional advice as needed.