Halfway through your shower the water suddenly starts to run cold. You realize there’s not enough hot water at home. Since you’re all soaped up, you have no recourse other than to shiver through the rest of your shower using cold water.
Or, maybe you’ve noticed a slightly different version of this problem. Whenever the washing machine is running, it’s impossible to take a hot shower. The hot water simply seems to run out!
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the shower.
In your own home, living without enough hot water is frustrating at best. Why isn’t there enough? It’s an aggravating problem since sometimes you can’t plan your showers around when the washer is running. Other times, it seems like you can’t predict when the hot water will run out. It just happens haphazardly.
There are many reasons why you may not have enough hot water at home. With a better understanding of the problem, you can take the necessary steps towards making sure your supply meets the demand for hot water in your home. Here are some of the most common reasons you may be experiencing a hot water shortage:
Too Many Appliances Using Hot Water
Two bathrooms with showers, a dishwasher, and a washing machine can max out your hot water heater very quickly, especially if you’re using more than one appliance at the same time. Before you make plans to never use hot water to wash clothes ever again, some other considerations may affect your hot water supply.
One is the water flow on your showerheads and faucets. If your home is older, your flow rates may be too high, quickly exhausting your shower supply. Even faucets and showerheads installed before 1992 may have flow rates of up to 5.5 gallons per minute! You can still enjoy perfectly functioning sinks and showers with a flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute. All you have to do is replace the fixtures.
Another change that may affect your hot water supply is if you’ve recently purchased a larger bathtub. While a jacuzzi style tub may be very relaxing, it does use more hot water. So, frequently filling the tub may deplete your water supply.
Make Sure You Have the Right Tank Size
Does size really matter? Your water heater thinks so.
If your hot water demands are simply much more than what your tank can supply, you’ll never have enough hot water at home. How do you know what the right tank size is?
Your hot water needs should not exceed 75% of the capacity of your hot water tank. So, if you have a 50-gallon tank, your water needs shouldn’t be more than 37.5 gallons. Your hot water needs quickly add up. If you wash clothes using hot water and a traditional top-loading machine, you can easily use 25 gallons. Even a lower flow faucet can use 2.5 gallons per minute, rapidly adding up if you run the water for a few minutes.
If you’re using much more water than your tank can provide, then you may need a new water heater with a larger tank.
Not quite ready to change water heaters? One small change you can make is to check the thermostat on your water heater. Make sure it’s set to 120 degrees. This can help ensure that you’re not overworking your water heater, making it easier to keep up with your supply needs.
A Thermocouple in Older Water Heaters
Older water heaters may have a unique problem affecting the thermocouple. The thermocouple is what keeps your pilot light on and working correctly. So, a faulty or bad thermocouple can prevent your water heater from doing its job. One way to tell if your thermocouple is bad is to check if your pilot light is on. You should be able to light the pilot, but if it goes out again after a little bit, the thermocouple may be to blame. This is easy to fix with the help of a trusted plumber.
Having enough hot water at home dramatically improves your quality of life. With the right hot water supply, you can take a shower without fear that cold water will surprise you halfway through. A few quick evaluations in your home can help you pinpoint the problem and solve it so that you can always enjoy hot water when you need it.
As you can see, you can check many of the causes of inadequate hot water supply on your own. However, some of the solutions and evaluations may require the help of a trusted plumber for any type of water heater repair. With the assistance of an expert, you can quickly get to the bottom of the problem and stop the cold shower problem in its tracks!