My Shower Is Overheating

When the hot water from a shower seems like it's overheating, the hot water heater is likely to blame.

Hot Water Heater Temperature

Open the access panel on the hot water heater to adjust the temperature.Open the access panel on the hot water heater to adjust the temperature.
Checking out the hot water heater, as well as performing other related troubleshooting can often help resolve the problem and get the shower operating at safer and more comfortable temperatures again.

The first thing to do when your shower is too hot is to find the hot water heater in the home. This is usually installed in the basement or in the utility closet and can either be a storage tank or a smaller unit installed on the wall. Open the access panel on the hot water heater and use the electronic key pad or the temperature control knob to turn down the overall water temperature. Some units have a “Colder” or “Hotter” button to change the water temperature. Press “Colder” to lower the hot water temperature.

Recommended Hot Water Temperature

Recommended hot water temperatures for most home use is between 120 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the lowest comfortable water temperature is best to help prevent possible scalding and increase overall energy efficiency of the hot water heater.

Pressure Balancing

When the shower suddenly begins to emit extremely hot water, especially if this happens when a nearby toilet is flushed, the pressure balance in the water system may be to blame. This can be fixed by installing a pressure balancing valve on the hot water line. This is a task that should be performed by a professional plumber, in most instances, because the water pressure valve must be carefully matched to the set burst pressure on the water tank and pump. This is not something that most homeowners know enough about to perform correctly; incorrect pressure on the system could result in a dangerous pressure imbalance.

Temperature Pressure Relief Valve

When the hot water from the shower continues to be too hot even after checking or lowering the hot water heater temperature and installing a pressure balancing valve on the hot water line, there may be a problem with the temperature pressure relief valve. If this valve is not working, the hot water temperature in the hot water heater may continue to increase past the set control temperature. The temperature pressure relief valve is located on top of the discharge pipe on the hot water heater. Before adjusting the temperature pressure relief valve, set an empty container under the drainage pipe to catch any water drips. Keep others away from the water heater, while you are performing this task. Slowly rotate the valve counterclockwise to open the valve, then carefully rotate the valve clockwise again to close the valve. This basically performs a reset to the valve and should help with the water temperature issue. If the shower or other appliances continue to be too hot, contact the hot water heater manufacturer or a plumber to have the temperature pressure relief valve replaced.

About the Author

Meredith Jameson writes early childhood parenting and family health articles for various online publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from San Francisco State University.