Water Heater Temperature

Water Heater Temperature

How hot should it be?


Depending on where you go to get this number (CDC or OSHA) or someplace else, this is going to help with the reasons why this number is so important.

Water Heater Installation

If you are running out of hot water there are a few reasons for this happening.

  1. Sediment in the bottom of the tank
  2. Faulty heating element
  3. Broken dip tube

Sediment in the heater

Depending on if you have municipal water or not, the water in the heater's tank usually has small amounts of dissolved minerals. As the water is heated, and during the period when it is stored in the tank, the dissolved minerals settle on the bottom of the tank, becoming a layer of sediment.

Over time, this sediment layer can grow so big that it displaces a significant amount of water in the tank. This reduces the amount of hot water delivered to your home.

Example: a 40-gallon water heater with 15 gallons of sediment build-up will only carry 25 gallons of hot water.

Signs Of Sediment Built Up

Possible warning signs that can indicate significant build up?

You may have a problem if you notice:

  • Sediment which is visible in the water that comes out of your water heater
  • Unusual noises coming from your heater ( knocking, cracking or popping sounds)
  • Hissing and/or leaking from your TPR valve

Bad Lower Heating Element

Electric water heaters use two heating elements (one near the top of the tank and one at the bottom). The lower element does most of the heating because water gets hot via conventional currents.

This means that cold water comes to the bottom; when it gets hot, this liquid rises to the top. The element at the top, therefore, only works periodically to maintain constant water temperature. When the lower element gets damaged, there will be a noticeable drop in the amount of hot water produced.

Common Causes Of A Damaged Lower Heating Element

A few situations that can result in this type of water heater problem include:

  • Sediment that builds up on the element, making it overheat
  • A faulty thermostat
  • An electric short within the wiring of the element

A Broken Dip Tube

A dip tube ensures that cold water is pushed to the bottom of the tank to be heated. With a broken tube the cold water stays at the top and mixes with the heated water that’s being delivered to your home. This lowers the temperature of the water overall and never gets hot enough.

Why A Dip Tube Might Get Damaged 

Two typical scenarios:

  • The part has reached the end of its lifespan
  • Your dip tube is faulty, which could cause it to crack or break for any reason whatsoever

If you have any questions give us a call or call your plumber.


It is highly recommended to drain your tank annually and flush it out a few times.  If you do not do so the life of your water heater will diminish and not last as long as it could.