I have been asked what my top five favorite things are in life. Every time, I say that hot showers are one of them. I love them any time of day and every day of the year, but one of the best feelings ever are when I get home after being outside in cold, rainy weather and I’m chilled to the bone. After hours of this crappy weather, all I can think about is my warm, luxurious shower or bath and I’ll be good as new.
Tonight is one of those nights. After getting home, and even though I’m hungry and need to start prepping dinner, I don’t want to alert my family that I’m home yet, so I go straight to my bathroom, turn the shower on and set it to a nice, hot setting. Then, I wait a minute to make sure it’s good to go, I step in and OMG, it already feels so good. Next up is lathering up my hair and I prepare to enjoy this for a good 10-15 minutes, at least!
Hmm, the shower doesn’t feel as hot as it did a minute ago. I must have been really cold. Let me turn it up. Ah, yeah, there we go. Another 30 seconds pass and uh, this definitely isn’t as hot as it was at the beginning. I turn up the heat all the way. Urgh. It’s not getting hotter :-(.
What the heck?! It’s now getting downright cool! Great, my hot water runs out in the shower yet again. I quickly rinse off and get out. Well, that totally ruined my night. I put on some sweats and head to the kitchen to hear, “What’s for dinner?” Ah-ha! That’s the culprit—my two teenagers hanging out with still wet hair. They used up all the frickin’ hot water! The things I go through for these kids, I tell you.
You may have a similar story or maybe you’re lucky enough that you don’t have to share or you have a nice, new water heater. However, if you’re like the majority of us, there’s a chance that it’s time to get your water heater serviced or replaced.
Possible Culprits of the Not-Hot-Enough-Water
- You and your housemates are overusing hot water.
- The water heater tank size is too small for your family’s needs.
- Your water heating system has sediment build-up.
- Parts inside the unit are damaged or worn.
You’re overusing your hot water
Showers, the washing machine, the dishwasher, shaving, and washing dishes by hand all use up a lot of hot water and. So…just be less clean. Wear your clothes a bunch of times before washing them, lick your plates clean, and role play that you live in the olden days when people showered once a year. I’m just kidding, of course! We don’t want you eating off of bacteria ridden plateware and, well, we’re not going to hang around you if you’re stinky. Avoiding cleaning your items or yourself because your hot water runs out doesn’t seem like a good solution.
The hot water tank size is too small
This can be very likely if you have a large family and a not huge water heater. Maybe you’re family has grown over the years or you recently moved into a new place. Getting rid of one of your kids to ensure because the hot water runs out doesn’t seem like the best idea (unless you really don’t like your kid!) How do you pick what size tank to use? Learn more about that here: What size tank should I get?
Your water heating system has sediment built up
Sediment travels with the water through the pipes and can end up in your hot water tank. The sediment found in water heaters could be sand or debris or minerals, often in the form of calcium carbonate.
Hot water heaters have filters, but these don’t capture everything and often times, minerals, such as calcium, iron, and magnesium build up in the bottom of your tank. Over time, this sediment can take up a lot of space, which leaves less space for water and a tank that has lost capacity. It then becomes less efficient at heating the water and you start to run out of water more quickly. So, the hot water runs out because of sediment, too.
You would need to hire a professional serviceman to know for sure if this is the issue, but if you hear popping or crackling sounds coming from the tank, this may give you an indication that sediment is a problem.
Parts inside the unit are damaged or worn
There are several parts that can become damaged or worn over time. The dip tube or aluminum rod may be the culprit. The heating element may be burned out. The thermostat may not be working properly. You may also have a leak (usually noticeable with signs of water or mold. A service professional will be needed to diagnose the issue and hopefully fix it. To avoid these potentially expensive service calls, also check out our maintenance tips for hot water heaters.
Moreover, Standard hot water tanks do have a shelf life. So, yes, sometimes you’re hot water runs out because of old age and old parts. They generally last 8-12, and maybe 15 years. If you are having issues with getting hot water and your hot water heater is older than that, instead of putting hundreds of dollars into servicing an old tank, it may just be time to buy a new one. Before purchasing, read this article about the pros and cons of a tankless vs. tank water heater.