It happens far too often – you’re in the middle of taking a shower, or washing your hair and the water goes from comfortably warm to freezing cold in a heartbeat.
Depending on where you are in the wash/rinse cycle determines whether or not you tough it out to rinse off the soap, or you turn the water off and wait for your water heater to catch up.
Either choice is uncomfortable, but your tolerance for cold water or how much time you have makes the decision; if you’ve got to get to work, it’s cold water time, but if you can wait ten or twenty minutes, you may decide to stick it out for the hot water.
Why does your hot water run out so fast? There are several reasons, and there are solutions to your problem.
1. Low Capacity of Water Heater
According to Ockham ’s razor, the simplest solution is often the best; therefore, look at the size of your water heater, and your usage. A water heater that worked fine for just you or you and your significant other is not big enough once you add a kid or two to the mix.
You’re running out of hot water because your usage needs have outgrown your current water heater’s capacity. It’s time to upgrade to a larger water heater.
An upgrade will let you have enough hot water to go around, and it may save you money over time; constantly emptying and refilling your water heater’s tank can run up your water bill over the course of a month, as well as increasing your electric or gas bills.
2. Reducing Flow Rate and Simalteneous Usage
Nothing feels better than a long, hot shower – until the hot water runs out in the middle. One possible cause is you’re running your shower at too high a flow rate. Your water heater has a finite capacity, and running the water too fast runs the hot water out fast as well.
Reducing the flow rate keeps the hot water from running out so fast; a low-to-medium flow rate will help your shower stay warm longer.
Also, if you’ve been running out of hot water consistently, schedule your usage so you’re not trying to use the hot water all at the same time – no showers while doing the laundry or washing the dishes.
Cutting down on the number of times you wash the dishes during the day and running full loads through the washer also saves hot water.
3. Rising Temperatures on your water heater
One way to balance your hot water consumption is to raise the temperature on your water heater. Running your heater at a higher temperature causes you to adjust the mix of cold and hot water; you’ll achieve a comfortable mix with less hot water, thereby making the hot water last longer.
You need to be careful if you do this, however; it’s easy to scald yourself while adjusting the mix.
4. Keeping the Hot Water Flowing
Knowing some of the reasons why you’re running out of hot water, what can you do to fix the problem? Here are some ways you can keep the hot water flowing:
5. Increase Your Water Heater Capacity
The easiest solution is to replace your current water heater with a larger one. Doubling the capacity of your current heater should certainly keep your showers hot till the end. If you’re not a DIY kind of a guy, find a reliable plumber to do the work.
6. Go for Tankless Water Heater
Using a water heater is actually very energy-inefficient; keeping a large tank of water hot 24/7 uses large amounts of gas or electricity, depending on the type of water heater you have installed.
A better option is to install a tankless water heater. Such heaters heat the water as it’s used, instead of keeping a tank of water hot while waiting to be called on.
They also deliver hot water instantly, instead of waiting for the cold water in the pipes to run out. The price ranges from $240 up to $1,100, comparable to traditional water heaters, which run $399 up to $1,500.
7. Change Your Water Usage Habits
While the best solution is to increase your water tank’s capacity or go tankless, changing your water usage habits is still a good idea; doing so can result in saving water, energy, and money.
Adjusting your water flow, washing dishes once, maybe twice a day, washing full loads whenever possible – all these changes will result in a traditional tank water heater not running out as often, as well as conserving water and energy.
See also: My Water Heater Is Leaking! (Solved)
8. Use Your Dishwasher
It may seem counterintuitive, but using your dishwasher saves water, including hot water; the average dishwasher uses approximately four gallons of water. Doing a full load of dishes by hand uses considerably more; it also runs out your hot water faster.
Rinsing dishes off in cold water before placing them in the dishwasher doesn’t impact your hot water, and lets you fill the washer up before running it – which also saves water, both hot and cold.
Having your hot water run out on a regular basis is a real drag; it makes keeping your family happy a hard thing to do, too. No one likes getting a burst of cold water in the middle of a long, hot shower.
Changing your water usage habits lets you cope with the situation short-term, and is a good idea for long-term water conservation; however, increasing your water heater’s capacity is your best overall solution.
Choosing whether to go with a traditional tank or to go tankless when you upgrade is a significant decision; since the prices have come down on tankless models, the decision is now based on the actual pros and cons between the two types.