Why Do I Run Out of Hot Water So Quickly?

no hot water

Do members of your household frequently shower at the same time, or back to back? Do you find yourself getting frustrated with the lack of hot water available if you aren’t the first one to shower? Do you ever turn on the shower and stand there in the freezing cold, waiting for it to warm up, just to realize there’s no more hot water? If you answered yes, to any of these questions, your hot water heater may not be working to the best of its ability. When your hot water heater is working properly, it should hold enough water for everyone in your household and get warm relatively quickly after adjusting the tap. 


So Why Does Your Hot Water Run Out So Quickly?


  1. Too Much Hot Water Demand at One Time

Using hot water in multiple rooms throughout the house at once could lead to a quick depletion of hot water from the water heater. This could be caused by the laundry machine or dishwasher running at the same time you are using the shower. 


You may also find yourself in the middle of a shower and the water gets spontaneously boiling hot. This is typically caused by someone in the household running cold water or flushing the toilet. 


If you limit how much demand you are putting on your hot water, you may be able to avoid running out so quickly. We know that when you have a full horse, this can be a difficult feat, but just making a few minor adjustments could do the trick. 


  1. The Number of People in Your Home Has Increased


Although this may seem like an obvious issue, it’s not always just the fact that your family has a few new additions. It could be the fact that the people in your household are maturing and beginning to take longer showers than they used to. This could be draining your water heater at a faster rate, and could indicate that it’s time to invest in a larger tank. 


  1. Your Dip Tube is Broken


If you are noticing more frequent issues with your temperature controls there could be an underlying issue with your dip tube. To find out if this is what you are experiencing, you can check for small pieces of plastic that may be lodged inside your shower head or drain strainer. If you find any plastic bits, there is a good chance your water heater’s dip tube is damaged or broken. 


The dip tube’s primary function is to send cold water to the bottom of the tank to get warmed up before getting sent throughout the rest of the house. If this component becomes broken or damaged, then the cold water remains at the top of the tank and gets distributed through your home. The best way to resolve this problem would be to contact your locally trusted professional plumbing company to come out and replace the dip tube as soon as possible. 


  1. Wrong Temperature Setting on Water Heater


If your water heater is not set to an appropriate temperature setting, you could be experiencing water that is way too cold or way too hot. It is best practice to always have your water heater set between 120 and 140 degrees. If it is set lower than 120 degrees, simply turn it up to 120 or higher and see if that resolves the issue. Note: You want to be careful not to set the water heater temperature too high, because this could result in serious burns. If you have any small children in your home, the recommended water heater setting is a comfy 125 degrees. 


  1. Time to Replace Your Heating Element


It is common for most typical water heaters to use two different heating elements. In most cases, there is one towards the top of the tank and another towards the bottom. The lower heating element is responsible for the majority of the water heating because water heats up through conventional currents. Essentially, cold water goes to the bottom of the tank and once it’s hot it naturally begins to rise to the top. Therefore, the heating element located at the top of the tank is really only being used to maintain the water temperature.If the lower heating element stops working properly, you will notice a significant change in the amount of hot water available throughout your home. 

Below are a few of commonly seen causes of broken heating elements:


  • An electrical short in the wiring connected to the element
  • A malfunctioning thermostat
  • Sediment build up on the element, causing it to overheat


  1.  Mineralized Sediment Build Up on Your Water Heater


Overtime, it’s not uncommon for sediment to begin to build up inside your water tank. If you aren’t performing annual system flushes as a part of your plumbing maintenance, this could be the reason your hot water is running out so quickly. Sediment build up can be from sand, rust, or silt that take up space inside your water tank. This could also be affecting your heating elements, as we discussed above. If the sediment build up is on the heating elements, the sediment would be getting hot instead of the water. Flushing out your entire water heating system is the only sure way to fix the issue entirely. Although it is possible to perform this on your own, you are much better off calling a professional plumber from FiveStar who can properly drain your water tank without the risk of a flood!

One way to avoid running into these issues is to set up annual water heater maintenance with your locally trusted plumbing company. This will help you minimize the risk of running into sediment buildup problems and also allows for us to look for potential leaks or broken dip tubes. 


  1. Surpassing Your Gallons Per Minute (GPM) Capacity


Sometimes we find ourselves running a load of laundry and the dishwasher at the same time that another household member is in the shower. There’s a really good chance you are exhausting your water heater to its limits. It’s important to decide which hot water utilization is the most important at that time. Prioritize times for running dishes, laundry, and showers to make sure the hot water heater isn’t being overworked. Oftentimes this can simply be just because the shower and the kitchen sink are both using hot water at the same time. Another example would be running the dishwasher and then heading up to take a shower. This can exhaust a tankless water heater way past its limit. One way to resolve this issue is to install more than one tankless water heater in your home. Each of them should be connected in parallel to allow for more demand for hot water throughout your home. There’s also the option of installing separate tankless water heaters for each appliance, such as a dishwasher or laundry machine. 


Contact FiveStar Plumbing and HVAC For All Your Water Heating Issues

FiveStar Plumbing and HVAC technicians have been proudly serving the Greater Nashville Area for over 40 years. Our team of experienced and qualified technicians are ready to serve you with any commercial or residential plumbing or HVAC issue that may arise. Simply give us a call at (615) 382-8131 to schedule an appointment or same day service today! Give us a call so that everyone  in your home remains comfortable all year round!