Your water heater is one of the most important appliances in your home. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy those long hot showers. Unfortunately, it is also the one piece of equipment that is often overlooked. Looking after your water heater is essential if you want it to last for years and remain energy efficient.
The simplest way to achieve this is to choose a high-quality water heater, such as the Rheem hot water heaters. Of course, you’ll also need to have it serviced regularly to keep it working efficiently. If you’re wondering why maintenance is so important then consider the level of minerals in your water supply. These minerals react with the metals inside your heater and pipes, causing corrosion and the build-up of deposits. Both are detrimental to the lifespan of your water heater.
However, even if you look after your water heater you can find yourself regularly running out of hot water. It can be frustrating, especially if you’re mid-shower when it happens. The good news is there are several reasons why you don’t have enough hot water and things you can do to resolve the issue.
Tank Not Big Enough
Most people use hot water tanks. These are heated via an element inside the tank to a given temperature. When the water reaches temperature the heater shuts off until the water drops below temperature. This is all controlled automatically.
When you use hot water the tank doesn’t refill automatically, it waits until the tank is two-thirds empty. At this point it allows cold water in, dramatically reducing the temperature of the water in the tank.
It can take hours for the tank to reheat.
Put simply, if you use more hot water than you have available, you’re going to run out.
The experts recommend at least 150l tank for a household of three, going up by 50l per person. If you have four people and only a 150l tank you’re going to run out of hot water. Naturally, three people can also run out of hot water if they have a 150l tank but enjoy long showers.
The only answer is to replace the tank with a larger one or space your showers out.
It is worth noting that your demand for hot water may have increased without the length of your showers increasing:
If you love taking baths and have recently changed your bath your new one may simply use more water, draining the hot water tank faster.
The same is true if you have just replaced your showerhead. Often aftermarket showerheads have additional features to make showering more pleasurable or beneficial. These features can also cause you to use more water.
Additional Facilities or People
If you’ve just added an extra bathroom or have more people living in your home then you’re likely placing an additional strain on your water heater. This will reduce the amount of hot water available and can make it seem like your hot water heater is no longer up to the task.
Equally, adding new appliances to your home can increase the strain on the hot water heater. Although in most cases modern appliances use cold water, this is not always the case. You should consider this when ordering appliances, it will ensure they are energy efficient and the best choice for your water supply.
Water Heater issues
One factor that should never be overlooked is faults with your hot water heater.
There are many different types of water heaters, you’ll need to know what type you have to establish if there is an issue. The most common type has heating elements in the tank. These can be in direct contact with the water, or not. They work by heating the water around them and you’ll normally have two or three elements.
The larger the heater, the greater the number of elements.
If one element fails the water heater will still produce hot water, but it won’t last as long. The temperature is likely to be cooler, increasing the hot water versus cold water balance in the shower. This will cause the tank to drain faster.
Other issues can be to do with the thermostat, preventing the hot water from reaching the defined temperature and effectively reducing the amount of hot water available.
You may also find there are issues with the supply regulator. In this case, cold water is allowed to mix as soon as you start drawing hot water. The result is a drop in water temperature and an immediate reduction in the water heater’s ability to provide you with enough hot water.
How To Solve The Hot Water Issue
As mentioned, the most obvious cure in many cases is to replace the water heater. However, before you spend out on a replacement heater you should get your local plumber to take a look. They can advise on what the issue is and may be able to repair it for you.
But, even if they can’t repair the heater, they will be able to tell you what the issue was. This can help you to prevent it from happening again. For example, if the heater has reduced efficiency due to an element not working you’ll know to replace it. You’ll also know that they are vulnerable and can be protected by using anodes and replacing them regularly.
Regularly checking the anodes can save you a significant amount of money and inconvenience.
Tank Less Options
If you already have a large tank and it’s simply not enough water then you may want to consider switching to a tank-less water heater. This may be the only option if you don’t have the space for a bigger heater.
These water heaters are generally smaller and more expensive than a standard tank heater. They use electric elements to heat the water as it is needed. You can also get tank-less water heaters that run from gas.
There are several types of tank-less water heaters. The most common ones are the small over-sink model and the larger, whole-house unit. They are very effective but not generally as energy-efficient as the water tank-style heater. However, they do ensure you’ll never run out of hot water, regardless of how many people are in your home taking long showers.
If replacing the water heater isn’t currently an option and it is working properly then you’re going to have to create a schedule. You can work out what two-thirds of the volume of your water tank is. For example, you can use 100l of a 150l tank without an issue.
An average shower lasts eight minutes and uses 50l of water. Not all of that water is hot. With a little trial and error, you can work out how many people can shower at the same time and how long your heater takes to reheat the water. This will allow you to work out a schedule that lets everyone know when they can shower without running out of hot water.
Of course, this doesn’t make any allowance for additional showering but you’ll have to worry about that when it’s needed.
Cold Water Too Cold
If you find you’re running out of hot water in the winter months and not the summer then it could actually be because your cold water is too cold! As the outside temperature drops so does the temperature of the water. When this mixes with your hot water in your shower it means you need more hot water to get the temperature right.
You can eliminate this issue by turning the thermostat up slightly on the water heater during the winter months. A couple of degrees can make a big difference without breaking the bank.
Of course, your heating element needs to be working correctly for this to be applied, it’s worth having it checked.
Water Pressure Too High
Finally, you should consider whether the water pressure is set too high. This will increase the cold water coming to your shower, forcing you to draw more hot water to get the shower temperature right. Turning the pressure down slightly will reduce the draw on the hot water tank, allowing the hot water to last longer.
Lower pressure will also reduce the strain on your water pipes and joints, helping your plumbing system to last longer.
The most common reason for running out of hot water is because you are using too much. You can easily work this put by looking at the size of your heater and the usage of hot water. If the tank isn’t big enough you’ll need to adapt it or the usage to ensure there is always hot water available. However, if you think the issue is connected with a fault you should get professional help. There are so many potential issues that the professionals are likely to give you the fastest solution.
By Jesse Huges