Why do we Run Out of Hot Water

You are taking a relaxing warm shower, and the next thing you know, the water starts to become cold, even icy. 

We’ve all been in this situation before. You might have thought that certain members of your family were overstaying in the shower or using too much warm water for laundry. Although any of these may contribute to running out of hot water, there is undoubtedly another explanation for your lack of hot water. 

In this article, we will discuss in-depth some of the more common issues involving lack of hot water in a household and will offer some potential solutions.

10 Possible Reasons Why Your Hot Water Keeps Running Out

1. Buildup of Sediment

Sediment, which is a foreign solid substance transported by water, passes through the pipes with the water and into the hot water tank at your house, creating mineral accumulation. The particles that can be contained in water heaters may be sand or debris from a well.

Minerals also form part of the soil, typically in calcium carbonate form. The sediment will increase in size over time and gets so big that it displaces a substantial amount of water in the tank. This decreases the amount of hot water that comes into your house.

For instance, a 50-gallon water heater with 20 gallons of build-up sediment would hold just 30 gallons of hot water.

2. A Faulty Bottom Element

Electric water heaters have two components heating the water; one at the tank bottom and one at the rim. Essentially, the lower dimension does the bulk of the job. Cool water is moved to the bottom of the tank for the lower element to heat.

When the hot water rises to the surface naturally, the upper element is engaged. This only happens periodically to keep the water at a constant temperature. So, if the lower element is faulty, you’ll find a drastic drop in the amount of hot water that’s available to you right away.

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3. Multiple Hot Water Devices Running Concurrently

Dishwashers and washing machines are the biggest culprit when it comes to consumption of hot water.

So, if you have too many of these hot water machines working at the same time, it can cause a shortage of available hot water and leave you in a deep freeze in the shower.  That is why it is advisable to schedule the running of these hot water appliances to accommodate when members of the household are going to want to take showers.

4. Your Water Tank is too Small

Most water heaters have a label that tells you the number of gallons of water that they heat per hour. You can have a water pump, for example, which can heat up to 40 gallons of water an hour.

From this figure, you can plan your hot water usage based on how much water is needed at any given hour.

If you have a big family that has several people needing to shower, lots of dishes and clothes to wash, then what you need is a bigger tank of water.

5. The Water Coming in is too Cold

Incoming water can be icy cold in the winter months for areas with a cold climate. So, it may take more energy to pump in and then heat the water. This can slow down or decrease the amount of hot water you ultimately have available.

6. Your Boiler is Running Out of Steam

When your boiler stops producing hot water all of a sudden, the most possible reason is a reduction in the pressure.

Boilers will usually operate at a pressure of 1-1.5 bar and when the pressure decreases below 1 bar the boiler turns off automatically.

A reduction in pressure is typically caused by water flowing out of the system through leaks. You would need to get a boiler specialist to check if this keeps occurring.

7. Your Boiler Is Nearing the End of its Shelf Life

The efficiency of your boiler decreases over time due to age. On average, the shelf life of hot water heaters is 8 – 12 years. Anything above that limit, the materials will fail and output will suffer.

If you no longer get enough hot water and you recently have your tank flushed of sediment, consider the age of your hot water heater, it could be the cause.

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8. The Thermostat Stops Working

Every water heater comes with a thermostat which controls the temperature of the water. If the temperature decreases inside the tank the heating system is activated by the thermostat. Without this critical component, the water will either get too hot or too cold inside the tank.

It’s not unusual for the thermostat to stop working. The problem can also be solved by increasing the temperature setting. If increasing the temperature setting doesn’t fix the problem, you may need to buy a new component.

Fortunately, this is a fast and simple fix, but the safest thing to do is to hire a plumber for this. Not only will they remove the thermostat but the plumber will test the heating unit as well. You’ll have more than enough hot water for your morning shower after they fix this problem.

9. Someone Mistakenly Tripped the Circuit Breaker

Examine the circuit breaker box to see if the water heater has been tripped. A water heater usually needs its own dedicated electrical circuit. If tripped, the water heater breaker will be easy to spot – it won’t be in line with the other breakers inside the case.

10. Burned-out Components

An electric water heater uses heating elements to heat up the water. A burned-out element greatly limits the water-heating ability of the water heater, particularly when it is a lower heating component.

You can check for a faulty element by shutting off the water heater breaker and adding a continuity tester to the leads If no continuity occurs, then the element is burnt out and must be replaced.

If there is continuity, the item for the job may be undersized. Check the water heater specifications for voltage and ampere, and substitute the components with the right ones.

Of course, if oyu aren’t sure how to do any of this, call your friendly plumber!

What Are the Possible Solutions to Running Out of Hot Water ?

On many occasions when you have extra guests at home you will run out of hot water because they are all taking baths or showers, one after the other. This will empty the hot water already supplied and make it necessary to wait for the water to heat up again.

Before considering other possibilities, wait a little bit longer to see if the hot water supply will resume as normal again. If there is still no hot water, then you may have a more serious problem.

When you run out of hot water regularly and have not had your water heater repaired in years, the remedy is most likely to be to flush your water heater. Essentially, to get rid of the waste, you drain the water tank and wash it with fresh water.

You should do so yourself, following the instructions of the maker. But ensure you take the manufacturer’s safety precautions very seriously. It’s always safer and better to enlist the services of a professional plumber, though.

Replace your water heater with a model with greater capacity. Water heaters are available in tank sizes of between 28 gallons and 100 gallons.

Most experts recommend a tank of 30 gallons as a minimum for one or two people, a tank of 40 gallons for three or four people, and a tank of 50 gallons or greater for five or more people.

As you go for a new water heater, be mindful that gas water heaters are improving more quickly than electric water heaters.

Most water heaters are fitted with a thermostat to regulate the temperature. You have to check that the temperature setting is set high enough to suit your needs. If the thermostat is set too low, you’ll never have enough hot water or you rhot water will remain lukewarm at best.

Although this cannot normally be adjusted accidentally, it is worth checking even if the hot water has been fine up to date.

The moment you find any water leaking from the water heater, urgent action must be taken. It might also be a hint that the thermostat isn’t functioning properly.

Note that leaking water inside the water heater can also suggest an internal malfunction. In that case, it’s best to engage a skilled plumber to fix leaks from water heaters.

Your hot water system has parts and elements that are built to work together to supply hot water to your home. If any component doesn’t function properly, such as a broken thermostat or unit, a leakage pressure valve or faulty pipes, this will affect the volume and quality of hot water you’d get from your hot water device.

Regular repair and maintenance of the hot water system should help ensure the optimum efficiency of the system so that no components are missing or damaged.

Getting your hot water system checked once every two years will increase the lifespan of your appliance and help ensure you are getting enough hot water delivered to your home.

When you know how long it takes to run out of hot water and how long it takes to replenish the supply, you can better time your showers so you’ll never get unpleasantly surprised halfway through with cold water.

Usually, a 50-gallon water pump takes 20 minutes to refill and another 20 minutes to reheat down to the base temperature. If you have a bigger water heater, you can expect to keep it much longer, taking at least 60 minutes.

One solution to the issue of insufficient hot water is to install a tankless water heater. Rather than having a tank with a specific storage capacity, tankless water heaters heat water on demand anytime you need it.

Not only do you have an infinite supply of hot water anytime you need it, even when running multiple devices – and even several showers – you can still also use hot water. Tankless water heaters save you more money over time compared to standard ones and offer a longer service life.

How Long Should Hot Water Last in the Shower ?

How long hot water lasts depends on a range of variables like what kind of water heater you are using, tank depth, how hot you like to shower, tank recovery time, showerhead flow rate and many more.

When you have a 40-gallon water heater, the hot water will usually last about 45 minutes to an hour. Yet the fact is, It doesn’t matter how long it will last. When you run out of hot water regularly when you’re in the middle of a shower, then the hot water probably doesn’t last long enough and you need a better alternative.


Final Thoughts

While there are many reasons why you might be out of hot water, there is no need to put up with the inconvenience of bathing or showering with cold water where there are lasting solutions and better alternatives.

Hampshire Plumbers can help if you are sick of running out of hot water due to an outdated, unreliable or broken water heater.

We will install a new natural gas, electric, diesel, propane, or solar water heater with a larger tank or tankless water heater that can support your household needs with expanded capacity and functionality.

If you need a plumber in Hampshire then please use the contact form below

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