Why Is There Never Enough Hot Water?

Posted on: 14 April 2015

Hot water supply issues plague many households. The last family member to take a shower might get water that is lukewarm at best. There are several reasons why your hot water supply may be continuously inadequate. Some problems you can handle yourself, while others will require water heater repair or replacement.

Lifestyle changes may play a part in hot water shortages. If the number of residents in your household has increased, your present hot water heater may be too small to meet the additional demand.

Weather can play a part in hot water shortages. Cold weather will cause your home to be cooler. If your supply pipes from your hot water heater are not insulated, heat loss can occur. Your tank may also require additional insulation. You can buy foam insulating sleeves to wrap around your hot water pipes and an insulating blanket for your hot water tank at your local home improvement store. Both of these actions will save money and energy in addition to helping to keep your hot water from losing heat.

Troubleshooting your hot water heater

If you don't have enough hot water, or the water is not hot enough, you should first adjust the setting on the temperature control dial on the side of your hot water tank. It will generally be set at a medium setting, which is often adequate for household needs, but not hot enough to scald small children or the elderly if they turn on the hot water. You can increase the temperature setting to the next higher setting, then test the hot water after several hours to see if it is too hot for vulnerable members of your household.

If you have a gas water heater, you should check for signs that the gas burner may be dirty and clogged. The gas flame may sputter and vary in intensity, or may go out altogether if it becomes too clogged. If the opening where the flame is burning looks clean, the problem may be in the thermocouple, which causes the burner to ignite when the water temperature falls below the selected setting.

There is also a possibility that the dip tube inside your water heater is broken. This tube should direct cold water to the bottom of your hot water tank to be heated. If it leaks near the top of the tank, it could mix with the heated water and cool it before it leaves the tank.

Issues such as replacing a thermocouple or a dip tube are best left to a water heater repair professional like one from McDermott Plumbing Service and Repair. This may also be a good time to consider a tankless water heater installation. Tankless systems heat water on demand, so you never run low on hot water, and you don't need to compete with family members for a hot shower.