We’ve all experienced the disappointment of cold showers in the morning or waiting for water to heat up when we wash dishes. There are several reasons why your water heater doesn’t seem to do its job.
1. Distance From the Heater
Most people keep their water heaters in their basements or on the ground floor. If your trying to run a second-story bath, it takes more time for water to go through your plumbing, which leaves you waiting while cold water runs.
2. A Low Volume Restrictor
Low volume restrictors are installed in a variety of fixtures to reduce the amount of water that flows through them at any time. Without these restrictors, many faucets and showerheads would break from excessive water pressure. They save both money and water, but they can also lead to delays in getting hot water. This is more of a problem when it’s compounded by another existing issue.
3. A Broken Dip Tube
In a tank heater, the dip tube connects directly to your water line and sends new water directly to the heating element or burner at the bottom of the tank. This heats it up right away before it goes up to the tank outlet. If the tube has a leak, the water can’t heat up as quickly as it could before.
4. Water Already in the Pipes
The most common reason for hot water delays is that there’s already water waiting down the pipe. Water comes through as soon as you turn on your faucet, and it takes a little time for water to come from your heater. There are ways to sped up the process, however.
5. Outside Temperatures
You might notice that it takes longer in the winter for water to heat up. On top of that, you tend to get lower temperatures than at other times of the year. The water’s cooler because the pipes are exposed to cooler ground temperatures. Not only does your water heater have to work harder to get water to the proper temperature of 120-140 degrees Fahrenheit, but that water has to travel through a colder pipe inside your house.
6. The Size and Thickness of Your Plumbing
Pipe diameter plays a major factor in how quickly hot water can travel. Larger pipes mean more water inside of them, so it takes longer for hot water to get to any given faucet. In the same vein, thicker pipes draw more heat out of the water before it can reach its destination. Different materials can also lead to different arrival temperatures. Most homeowners with copper pipes won’t notice a significant difference, but galvanized pipes make a marked change for the cooler.
7. Your Heater Is Too Small
This is more likely to happen in households that have grown over the years. You may have purchased your last heater when there were just one or two people in your home, so having more people putting demands on the heater can lead to the tank running out of water faster than before.
8. Your Heater Is Malfunctioning
If you notice a sudden change in how long your heater takes to work, it could be a simple malfunction or old age. The average lifespan for a water heater is between 8-12 years. The older the heater, the worse its performance and the closer it is to death. Thermostats can fail, heating elements stop working and thermal switches can get stuck. A professional can tell you what needs to be fixed or if your heater needs to be replaced.
9. Too Much Tank Sediment
Most water has minerals in it, but some homes have harder water than others. Over time, hard water leads to mineral deposits at the bottom of the tank. As those deposits build up, there’s less space for water. This leads to you running out of hot water more quickly than before and waiting longer for it to return.
How Long Does It Take for Hot Water to Return?
Ultimately, it depends on the size of the tank. An average 50-gallon tank with a gas burner takes about 40 minutes to refill and heat water while an 80-gallon tank with a gas burner can take up to an hour. Electric tanks can take even longer. If the water was colder to start with, it will also take another 10-15 minutes to reach temperature.
How Can I Get Water to Heat Up Faster?
If you’re sure that a cold environment is the problem, you should look at insulating both your plumbing and the tank itself. Insulated pipes have been proven to keep water up to four degrees warmer than uninsulated ones. If you can, prioritize pipes on your exterior walls and the longer stretches that go to second-story faucets. You can also look at insulating blankets to keep the tank warmer.
2. A Hot Water Recirculation System
A hot water recirculation system is designed to circulate unused water back into the heater and keep hot water in certain areas of your home. This system can either be installed at the furthermost faucet from your heater or on the heater itself. It includes either a timer or a thermostat to determine when to circulate the water. Avoid getting systems that run constantly as you’ll end up using far more water.
3. A Tankless Water Heater
Also known as on-demand heaters, these don’t store hot water in any tank. A strong heating element heats the water as it runs through it, so not only will water heat right away, but you won’t run out after a certain time period. Like tank heaters, these come in both gas and electric, and they can heat up to five gallons per minute, which is enough for both your shower and your kitchen sink simultaneously. For longer distances, smaller point-of-use units can also be installed at places far from your heater.
Whatever your problem, the experts at Apollo Plumbing will be there to solve it. We can explain what’s wrong in simple terms, and we provide reasonable and competitive rates for our services. Contact us today for more information.