Why Does My Hot Water Run Out So Fast?

Why Does My Hot Water Run Out So Fast?

Why Does My Hot Water Run Out So Fast

Hot water running out quickly in the shower can be a frustrating experience, especially when you’re in the middle of lathering up your shampoo or conditioner. No one wants to be in the middle of a nice, relaxing hot shower when suddenly it happens. You run out of hot water and are immediately violated by a rush of cold water. No one likes a cold shower; it’s like being caught in the rain without an umbrella.

Does your hot water run out too fast? Or maybe it runs out quickly after only one person takes a shower or in just 10-15 minutes? Is your hot water just not lasting as long as it used to?

If any of the above scenarios are true for you, check out this article and learn why your hot water runs out so fast and what to do next.

How long should hot water last in the shower?

How long your hot water lasts will depend on various factors, including what type of water heater you’re using, the size of the tank, how hot you prefer your shower, the recovery rate of the tank, the flow rate of your showerhead, and many more.

If you have a 40-gallon water heater, your hot water should last about 45 minutes to an hour.

But the reality is, how long it should last doesn’t matter. If you’re constantly running out of hot water while in the middle of a shower, then your hot water just isn’t lasting long enough and you need a better solution.

Hot water should last for as long as you need it to. So if you prefer to take long, hot showers and live in a household of multiple people, then you’ll need more hot water than someone living alone who takes quick showers.

8 Reasons Why Your Shower Runs Out of Hot Water So Fast

Learn some of the most common reasons why your shower’s hot water runs out so fast and what you should do next to solve the problems.

1. Sediment buildup

If your hot water doesn’t last as long as it used to and you noticed this as a gradual change, then chances are you have sediment building up inside the tank.

Water contains natural minerals and sediments. Over time, the dissolved minerals and sediment will settle on the bottom of your water heater tank, effectively decreasing the capacity of your water heater.

For example, if you have a 40-gallon tank with 5 gallons of sediment buildup, you only have room for 35 gallons in your water heater now.

Signs of sediment buildup in your water heater

Some of the most common signs of possible sediment buildup in your water heater include the following:

  • You can see sediment in your hot water.
  • Rumbling, knocking, cracking, popping, or hissing noises coming from your water heater.
  • Your hot water never gets hot, only lukewarm, especially if it used to be scolding hot in the past.
  • Your hot water is cloudy or rust-colored.
  • Your pressure relief valve is leaking.

Solution: Flush your water heater. To flush your water heater, drain the tank and clean out the sediment by rinsing it with fresh water.

2. The water heater tank is too small

Hot water not lasting long enough? One of the most common reasons why your shower’s hot water runs out so fast is that your water heater is too small for your household’s needs.

Water heater tanks come in various sizes to accommodate household sizes. A large family will need a bigger tank than someone living alone. If your household grew in size or you have a large family or multiple people living in your home, you may need a larger water heater to keep up with the demand.

Generally, a household of 2 people will need about a 40-50 gallon water heater, and each additional person adds another 10-15 gallons to the size. So a family of 5 would be looking for a 70-80 gallon water tank.

If you have a 40-gallon tank in a household of 4 people, you might consider installing a new water heater.

If you recently replaced your water heater and your new water heater runs out of water quickly, then chances are your last water heater tank was larger.

Solution: Upgrade to a larger water heater.

3. Uninsulated Hot Water Pipes

One of the most common reasons for hot water running out quickly is a lack of insulation around the hot water pipes. This can cause heat loss, making the water cool down faster as it travels to the shower. Insulating the pipes can help keep the water hot for longer.

Solution: Insulate your pipes.

4. Not reheating fast enough

If your water heater only runs into issues when you take unusually long showers or have guests over, then your issue is probably the recovery time. Taking showers back to back can drain the hot water from the tank, leaving you to wait until the water reheats again. Large or high flow showerheads can use a lot of hot water in a short period of time, which can quickly deplete the hot water supply.

Solution: Replace your showerhead with smaller, low flow showerheads or try to space out your showers if you can and see if that fixes your problem.

5. The water heater’s thermostat is set too low

Did you know your water heater has a thermostat? Find the thermostat on your water heater and try resetting it.

If that doesn’t fix anything, try raising the temperature. Your water heater should be at least 120 degrees to prevent diseases but no more than 140 degrees to avoid scalding.

Solution: Reset your thermostat or raise the temperature.

6. Faulty lower heating element

If your water heater just started running out of hot water quickly, then the problem might be a faulty lower element.

Most water heaters have two heating elements that heat the water; one at the bottom and one at the top. The lower element heats incoming cold water at the bottom of the tank, while the upper element turns on periodically to keep the water at the top at a consistent temperature.

So when your lower element goes bad, you’ll notice a drastic decrease in how long your hot water lasts because the cold water at the bottom is no longer being heated.

Solution: Have a local plumber inspect your water heater, they can repair or replace the element if that’s the issue.

7. Broken dip tube

Water heaters have a dip tube that pushes incoming cold water down to the bottom of the tank, where the lower element heats it.

If your water heater’s dip tube breaks or falls off, incoming cold water no longer gets pushed to the bottom of the tank and instead mixes in with the water at the top of the tank that’s already been heated. As a result, this incoming cold water never gets heated like it should and instead flows right out into your shower, lowering the overall temperature of the water.

Solution: Have a local plumber inspect your water heater, they can repair or replace the dip tube if that’s the issue.

8. Your water heater is too old

As water heaters age, they tend to lose their efficiency, which can lead to hot water running out quickly. If your water heater is more than 10 years old, it may be time to consider replacing it with a newer, more efficient model. Water heaters typically last 8 to 12 years. So if your water heater is over 10 years old and does not fit your needs, it’s probably time to start considering replacing it. This is especially true if your water heater leaks or needs other repairs, such as a bad lower element or broken dip tube.

Solution: Replace your water heater.

How to Make Hot Water Last Longer

You can make your hot water last longer by doing the following:

  • Install low flow showerheads
  • Flush the water heater
  • Raise the temperature on your water heater
  • Take showers instead of baths
  • Insulate the water pipes in your house
  • Install a second tank
  • Replace your water heater

Running out of hot water while showering can be a frustrating experience. However, by understanding the common reasons why this happens, homeowners can take steps to fix the problem and enjoy taking long showers with hot water again. If you are unsure of how to fix the problem yourself, it is always best to consult with a professional plumber to ensure that the job is done correctly.

One Reply to “Why Does My Hot Water Run Out So Fast?”

  1. My husband and I have recently noticed that our hot water has been running out really quickly lately. Thanks for mentioning that that can be a sign that our water heater has a faulty lower element. Since neither of us knows much about water heaters, we’ll have to look into plumbers that could help us get that fixed. It would be nice to have more hot water again, and I think getting a professional would help us make sure everything would be done correctly.

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