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If Your Water Heater is Overheating, Here’s What to Check

Overheating Water Heater

An overheating water heater can be a safety hazard to you and your family.

When your water heater starts overheating it can cause serious problems. Not only could the water be hot enough to burn your skin, problems in the hot water tank with the pressure of the system could damage the water heater. Since the structure of water heaters is not too complex, you can make a few simple checks when your system starts overheating.

Temperature Setting

Sometimes the temperature dial on a water heater is accidentally tweaked too high. Check your temperature dial first to make sure it is set at a reasonable temperature. 120 degrees is the general baseline for this purpose.

Heating Elements

Most of the time, water has dissolved minerals which aren’t removed during the purification process. When the water is heated in your water heater, these minerals clump together and settle to the bottom of your water tank. Sometimes, however, in an electric water heater they will settle in close to the heating elements and cause it to start overheating. The heating elements have to do more work to heat your water leading to a shorter lifespan. Draining the tank may alleviate this problem.

The elements can also simply fail causing you to either have no hot water (upper element and/or thermostat bad) or a short supply of hot water (lower element and/or thermostat bad). If the problem persists the elements should be replaced. However, on an older water heater (beyond the warranty) replacement of the entire water heater should be considered since there is the possibility the tank will fail and you just pay a good amount of money to fix it only to find that it soon needs to be replaced.


The thermostats control when the electric water heater turns on and off. Sometimes, though, the thermostat malfunctions and won’t turn on. This may, in turn, lead to your water temperature being too hot or cold as described above. Many times in this situation the temperature will suddenly increase greatly and then grow cold. Replacing the thermostat will remedy these problems.

Pressure Relief Valve

This valve allows steam to escape from inside the water heater. If this valve is blocked, it can be a serious problem, leading to a damaged tank and possibly serious injury to your and your family. If you can hear water boiling inside your water tank, you need to shut down the power to your water heater right away and contact a professional plumbing company to replace the valve.


Alpha Plumbing is a full-service plumbing and contracting company serving the Baltimore and Annapolis metro area with expertise in all aspects of plumbing. We’re family-owned and operated since 1991 from our office in Pasadena. We offer quality plumbing services at reasonable rates in a timely fashion. Our trucks are equipped with GPS systems to ensure we’re prompt and on time. No job is too large or too small! We maintain a fleet of well-stocked trucks and also own and operate our own backhoes for jobs requiring excavation.

For more information and to get a free no-obligation estimate, you can contact us on our website, send us an e-mail, or give us a call at (410) 255-5998.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 8th, 2017 at 3:29 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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Alpha Plumbing

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Alpha Plumbing

8813 Fort Smallwood Rd
Pasadena, MD 21122


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