Why am I running out of hot water?

12 October 2021


What are the most common problems with water heaters?

There is sediment buildup at the bottom of the tank

Water that flows into your water heater contains small amounts of debris. These minerals will dissolve into sediment due to being heated alongside the water in the tank. Too much sediment buildup will affect the performance of your water heater.

Your water heater is too old

A leaking water heater, or one that is humid, will most probably need to be replaced. Other signs of old age are rust building up at the bottom of the unit and water no longer being as clear as it used to be. A new water heater can be expected to last between 10 to 15 years

You’re dealing with a broken dip tube or other replaceable parts

A broken dip tube could be a reason why even a new water heater could be running out of water. The water inside your water heater tank must reach the bottom of the tank for it to heat up. If your dip tube is broken, water will stay at the top of the tank, where it will remain cold.  


Other parts of your water heating unit that could be malfunctioning are:

  • The thermostat
  • The power supply
  • The pilot light
  • A lower heater element
  • The pipes


How does a hot water heater work?

A water heater doesn’t only heat water. For it to be useful, it must also keep that water hot and ready to deliver to a shower or other household appliance. Most water heaters use a tank system for this purpose. 

Water is supplied through a pipe located at the top of the tank. A dip tube will guide it to the bottom, where a heating element heats the water. The water heater tank is insulated to prevent water from cooling once it is hot. Hot water will then flow through delivery pipes to household appliances when needed. 


Top reasons your hot water isn’t getting hot

Your hot water goes cold quickly because your household appliances use it up

Hot water is not only for showers. If your hot water goes cold quickly and nothing seems wrong with your water heater, it may be the dishwasher that is using it up. Household appliances, such as dishwashers and washing machines, require water to work, and if this water is to be hot, it must come from the same water heating tank your shower water comes from.


There is not enough water in the tank

A household may be running out of hot water because the water heating tank can’t supply the water needs of all family members. It is also possible that water use in peak hours exceeds the capacity the tank can store.

There are different sizes of water heating tanks. They are rated by how many gallons of water they can provide in an hour. For example, a water heater tank with a rating of 60 will provide 60 gallons of hot water per hour. It is best to contact a plumber to know which kind of water heater tank will accommodate the needs of your household.


You may need to drain the tank

Whether you have an electric, thermodynamic, or gas water heater that’s running out of hot water, if it has a tank, the cause might be sediment buildup. Minerals mixed with water from your water source are taking too much space in the tank. The only way to get rid of sediment buildup is to drain the tank. This procedure should be taken into account when running maintenance on your water heater. 


Solutions to prevent running out of hot water

Consider how much hot water your household appliances use

If you’re completely sure that there’s nothing wrong with your water heater, maybe your household’s water usage is causing your water to run cold. Here are some tips to save on hot water:

  • Wait until the dishwasher is full before starting it up.
  • Let a bit of dirty laundry pile up before using the washing machine.
  • If possible, wash your clothes with cold water.
  • Install low-flow aerators on faucets.
  • Run your appliances in eco-friendly mode.


Re-evaluate your water needs

Yes, showering for 5 minutes will use less hot water than a 15-minute shower. Nonetheless, there are other ways you can curb your water usage. For example, you can take a bath instead of taking a shower. It will use less hot water while keeping you warm for longer. If, however, your hot water runs out before the bath is full, it is recommended to have a professional plumber check your water heater.

Upgrade your water heating unit

Your water heater may simply not be big enough to cover the needs of your household. If this is your case, upgrading your water heater might be the solution. You can contact a plumbing company to replace and install a new water heater

Types of hot water heating units

Electric water heaters

Electric water heaters contain water heating elements inside the tank, which use electricity for heating. Water flows from the municipal water feed through a supply pipe into the tank. Water in the tank then travels through a dip tube to the bottom of the tank, where it is heated by the heating element. Electric water heaters are the most common water heaters in homes and can be acquired in different capacities.

Instant water heaters

The main difference between electric water heaters and instant water heaters is that the latter has no water heating tank. Instant water heaters contain flow sensors that activate when, for example, a faucet is turned. Initial installation costs are higher than those of electric water heaters, but depending on water use, these may save energy in the long run.

Thermodynamic water heaters

Thermodynamic water heaters capture energy in the air and use it to heat water. In case there is not much calorific energy in the air, electrical power will take over as backup. This means that even in the cold winter months you can still enjoy a hot shower. 

These innovative appliances incur higher initial costs. Nevertheless, since air is the source of heat, you will get most of your hot water for free. The money you can save on energy bills after installing them makes them a very desirable choice.

Tips for maintaining your hot water heater

Check for unusual noises coming from the water heater tank

If your hot water goes cold quickly and you can hear noises coming from inside the water heater, this generally means that sediment buildup is preventing your water heater from filling up. To solve this, you will need to call a professional plumber to drain the tank.  It is advisable to drain the tank of your water heater once every four months.

Replace the anode rods

Water heaters are made of steel, and will inevitably get old and start to corrode. To slow this aging process, anode rods are placed inside the tank. The purpose of these rods is to prevent rust from growing in the tank by rusting themselves instead. However, in due course, they will corrode completely, and the tank will begin to rust as well. You can prevent this by hiring a plumber to provide regular maintenance to your water heater tank.

Need to repair or replace your water heater?

Water heaters are complex appliances and it can be difficult to find out what is causing them to malfunction. The best way to solve any issue with your water heater is to contact a plumber and let a professional take a look at your water heater.

Plomberie Pro-Drain’s 24-hour emergency line is always within reach. Our team of experts is ready to replace, repair, or install water heaters. We also perform deterioration tests on plumbing pipes and carry out preventive plumbing operations if needed. Contact us for all your plumbing needs, whether it be for your household or your business.

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