Help! My water heater does not get as hot as it used to.

Image of a Water heater - Plumbing Repair in PhiladelphiaA common problem that many homes in Philadelphia will experience is: when their water heater stops getting as hot as it used to. With the water heater being such a central and important component within any Philadelphia home, this is an important concern. Let’s take a look at some common reasons why your water heater does not get as hot as it used to.

How Old is the Water Heater?

We are going to start off with the most common reason, age. The average lifespan of a tank type water heater in your Philadelphia home is around 8 to 10 years so if your water heater is approaching that point, more than likely age is culprit. This is a valuable meter for diagnosis because there is no reason to spend money on a service call and repair for a water heater performance issue if the water heater is over 10 years old. The price for replacement water heaters over the years have come down significantly depending on the brand, quality and size.

Internal Component Failure

Fortunately, the parts that make up a water heater (whether gas or electric) are fairly simple; however, even simple systems can fail periodically. The typical components of a water heater are:

  • Gas valve (if it’s a gas water heater) – turns the gas on/off
  • Gas burner control – controls the flow/regulates gas to the pilot light and burner
  • Burner/element – the part that heats up the water
  • Dip Tube – this is the pipe that sends cold water to the bottom of the tank to be heated.
  • Thermostat – electric device that allows you to set the temperature

Of these components, the ones that are most likely to cause a decrease in heat without total failure are the dip tube and thermostat. For example: if the dip tube becomes disconnected or broken the cold water coming into the tank would dilute the hot water making it warm.

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Image of a garden tub - Plumbing Repair in PhiladelphiaExternal Factors

Sometimes we apply fault to the performance of the water heater when other external factors are in play. For example: if the temperature where the water heater is located drops significantly, the water heater will have to work harder to keep up or not be as hot when needed. In addition, if the demand for the water heater has changed, such as the expansion of a garden tub in your Philadelphia home, that would require a larger amount of hot water to be utilized. As a good rule of thumb, if you increase the capacity or needs of the home such as a bathroom addition or installing a larger bathtub; you should increase the size of the water heater to meet the demand. This is something that is often overlooked by your average home remodeling service.


Most parts of a water heater are not intended to be serviced by the homeowner. A licensed and trained professional should be utilized for servicing and/or replacing the water heater for your Philadelphia home. Unfortunately, many plumbing services in the Philadelphia area seem to want to recommend replacement of the water heater at every service visit. However, a quality plumbing service would recommend repair over replacement depending on these following questions:

  • Is the frequency of repair for your water heater excessive (More than 1 service call per year)?
  • Is the efficiency level of the water heater clearly affecting the utility bill?
  • Would a water heater repair be greater than 40% of the cost of a new water heater?
  • Has a recent bathroom addition or update straining the current size of your water heater?

When Experience Counts

IFixdit, LLC -Plumbing and Drains  has been serving Philadelphia as a professionally licensed and registered plumbing company for years. Our unique blend of customer service combined with experience serving the residents of Philadelphia, has created a reputation within our community of many satisfied customers. Whether you are having trouble with your water heater or need a simple drain unclogged, rest assured that our registered master plumbers are ready to get the job done.

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