Why Do I Keep Running out of Hot Water?

It’s happened to all of us. You’re in the middle of washing dishes, or taking a hot shower at the end of a long day, and you feel the water temperature starting to drop. If you don’t hurry up, you’ll have cold hands — or worse. If it’s happening often, how can you keep from running out of hot water? Since Ace Plumbing gets this question often, let’s give you some answers you can use.

Hot Water Loss: Causes and Solutions

Some hot water problems can be handled easily and don’t require a call to the plumber. Others require plumbing or hot water heater repair. 

Flow Rate

One of the most common issues has nothing to do with your water heater. Nobody likes a slow trickle from the faucet or shower head, but too much pressure isn’t doing you any favors either. A simple investment in a low-flow shower head will conserve water and energy, and help your hot water last longer.

Shower Duration

Have you ever simply zoned out while the hot water washes over you? Even though it happens to all of us, long showers are going to use a lot of hot water. That’s fine for the first person in, but if you’re trying to get showers in for a full family before everyone leaves for work and school in the morning, somebody’s going to end up taking a cold shower. Keep it short!

Running Other Appliances

Some appliances require hot water, so if you’re using your washing machine or dishwasher around the same time you’re taking a shower, don’t be surprised if you’ve got less hot water to use. Time your appliance use so you can stretch your supply further.

Hot Water Heater Capacity

If your water heater isn’t sized right — between 45 and 60 gallons for a family of four — you’re going to run out of water faster. That’s especially true since cold water comes into the tank as hot water is used, so the water gets cooler the more you use; water heaters typically deliver 70% of their capacity within 20 degrees of their set thermostat point, meaning that your “hot” water may only be about 100 degrees before too long. You can set the temperature higher, but that cuts into energy efficiency and isn’t a good idea in homes with senior citizens and young children.

Hot Water Heater Problems

Maybe you’ve already taken care of those things and you’re still having problems. Now it’s time to call a plumber, since one of these three problems are the most likely culprits.

  • Sediment buildup happens in water heaters just like the mineral deposits on your faucets. If left too long, this buildup cuts into your water heater’s hot water capacity.
  • Faulty elements or burners can break or lose efficiency, so they won’t heat as effectively as they did when they were new.
  • The dip tube, a tube that circulates cold water to the bottom of the tank for faster and more even heating, can break or fall off. If that happens, you’ll go through hot water faster.

Proper maintenance helps prevent some of the most common water heater problems, and a water heater service visit is often enough to solve your problems. With older water heaters, replacement is often better; you won’t get nickel and dimed on repairs, and you’ll be replacing your older model with a newer one that’s safer and more efficient. Schedule water heater repair or replacement with Ace Plumbing Heating and Air Conditioning today!