5 Common Issues With Hot Water Shortage And Their Causes

5 Common Issues With Hot Water Shortage And Their Causes

There are a wide range of possibilities for why your home’s water heater isn’t making enough hot water. Sometimes a water heater’s settings may be off what they should be, or the heater itself could be too small, or it’s possible that there’s a more serious issue. For instance, built-up sediment, cracked dip tubes, and leakage can all prevent your heater’s water from staying hot.

But fear not! By identifying precisely how your hot water isn’t coming out when it should, you can resolve the issue. Once you know for sure why you’re running out of hot water, you can try to solve the issue on your own or contact The Plumbing Works for an on-site expert to help. 

Your Hot Water Runs Out Very Quickly

The majority of water heaters are built with two heating elements: one at the top, and another at the bottom. The top-most element regularly re-heats your water nearest to the top of the tank. The bottom element heats all the water added to the tank to store it at a consistently hot temperature.

However, if your heater’s bottom element stops functioning, then it isn’t able to heat the water in your tank as intended. Instead, you’ll have to rely on the small amount of water that your top element heats. When that top-most water eventually runs out, your heater will bring you unheated water instead, which can be for shocking surprises in the morning shower. To solve this, be sure to have a professional replace your tank’s bottom water heater element.

Your Water Fluctuates Between Hot And Cold

If your hot water fluctuates between running hot and cold regardless of anything you do, it’s likely that there’s sediment build-up in the tank for your water heater. This kind of sediment builds up quicker when your home produces hard water, if it has older pipes, or if your water heater’s anode rod is worn down. Sediment ultimately leaves little room for hot water within the tank, often absorbing too much of the heat created by the heating element.

To address this, you might first flush and drain the tank. However, we usually recommend having the experts do a full drain of the tank and flush it once every year. If you find that you’re running out of hot water even after a tank flush, then there’s likely too much sediment built up and a professional should replace your tank. 

Your Water Stays Lukewarm

The purpose of your water heater’s dip tube is to push cold water to the bottom of the tank. At the bottom, the lower element heats the cold water before you use it. But if your dip tube stops working, then all the replacement cold water brought into the tank mixes with the hot water that’s already there. This results in a lukewarm mix of hot and cold water that isn’t’ comfortable for anyone.

If you discover that your heater’s dip tube is broken, you may find small chunks of plastic inside your showerhead or even your sink’s strainers. Try taking off your showerhead to inspect for debris. If you find any or just want an experienced opinion, reach out to us for help replacing your heater’s dip tube or to take a closer inspection to make sure there aren’t additional issues. 

You’re Hot Water Runs Out Before Everyone Can Use It

If this sounds like a familiar situation at home and you’re unlucky enough not to be the early riser, it’s likely that your water heater is too small. Typical water heaters can provide quantities of water equal to the size of their storage tank. If your home uses more water than the tank can offer, then your heater probably needs 20 to 30 minutes to reheat fresh water. If the water heater is consistently too small for when you need it, the best option is to call an expert to help schedule a replacement.

You Can’t Get Any Hot Water At All

The thermostat on your hot water heater operates just like a normal thermostat: you tell it how hot the water should be, and your tank’s elements heat the water to the temperature you want. But if you’re unable to get any hot water at all, it’s probably that your thermostat is either malfunctioning or set up poorly with misleading information.

The good news is that most water heaters have a reset button. Troubleshooting your thermostat is often as simple as pressing that button or flipping the manual reset switch. If that doesn’t solve the issue, find the thermostat itself and try to make sure it’s set properly. If you still have the heater’s owner manual, the manufacturer will likely have included the settings there. But if you have no idea where that manual is (most people don’t), you can almost always find the settings online based on your tank’s brand and model number or other identification code. If none of that works, contact The Plumbing Works as soon as possible to schedule an appointment with the expertise to help.

Contact The Plumbing Works

If any problems come up with your hot water, or if you just have questions about maintaining your water heater or scheduling an appointment, please contact your local Reading, PA plumbers! If your needs require more than a quick DIY repair, The Plumbing Works is dedicated to serving you! Schedule your appointment online today.