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 a variety of 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.
In general, 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 consistently 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’re someone who prefers to take long, hot showers and lives in a household of multiple people then you’ll need more hot water than someone living alone who takes quick showers.
7 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 just doesn’t last as long as it used to, or if this change was gradual, then chances are you have sediment building up inside the tank.
Water contains natural minerals and sediments and 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 really only have room for 35 gallons of water in your water heater now.
Solution: Flush your water heater. To flush your water heater, all you have to do is drain the tank and clean out the sediment by rinsing it out with fresh water.
2. The tank is too small
Hot water not lasting long enough? Water heater tanks come in a variety of sizes to accommodate different household sizes. A large family will need a bigger tank than someone living alone. If your household grew in size, you may just need a larger tank.
In general, 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, then you might want to consider installing a new water heater.
Solution: Check the size of your water tank and determine if it meets your household’s needs.
3. Not reheating fast enough
If your water heater only runs into issues when you take unusually long showers or when you 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.
Solution: Try to space out your showers if you can and see if that fixes your problem.
4. Thermostat issues
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 temperature should be a minimum of 120 degrees to prevent diseases, but no more than 140 degrees to prevent scalding.
Solution: Reset your thermostat or raise the temperature.
5. Bad lower 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.
6. 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. 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.
7. Your water heater is too old
Water heaters typically last 8 to 12 years. So if your water heater is over 10 years old and does not fit your needs, then it’s probably time to start thinking about replacing it. This is especially true if your water heater is leaking or in need of 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:
- Installing low flow showerheads
- Flushing the water heater
- Raising the temperature on your water heater
- Taking showers instead of baths
- Insulating the water pipes in your house
- Installing a second tank
- Replacing your water heater