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Does your water heater fail to heat water the way it used to? If you’re left standing shivering in the shower or frustrated while attempting to complete other household chores, several things might be at the root of your issue. This, of course, could depend on the type of water heater you have installed in your home. 

If you’ve noticed that your water heater isn’t performing the way you’d like, here are several potential causes:

Potential Causes of Reduced Hot Water

  1. Broken Dip Tube

When cold water enters your water heater, it does so through a dip tube that forces the water to the bottom of the tank to get heated. If your dip tube is broken, the water will remain in the top of the tank, and cold water will mix with anything that has been heated. The result is that you will get more “warm” water than “hot.” (See our FAQ section regarding dip tubes.) 

 

  1. Sediment in Tank

Minerals in your water will create a buildup of sentiment over time in the bottom of a water tank, which is where your heater is located. When this happens, your heating efficiency will suffer, and the unit will have to work harder to produce hot water. 

 

  1. Heating System Malfunction

When water heaters have problems, they often center in one of three areas:

 

• Heating element

• Thermostat

• Thermal switch

 

If your water heater isn’t functioning properly, a licensed technician can inspect the unit and let you know if repair is possible. 

 

  1. Water Heater Distance

When your water heater is too far from where the hot water is needed, you may run into some issues. This is particularly the case in colder climates where hot water runs through cold pipes and loses some of its heat. You can insulate pipes or move the unit to address this problem. 

 

  1. Your Needs Have Changed

One thing that many people don’t consider is that their needs might have changed over time. Perhaps your household has grown in size, or your daily habits have shifted. 

 

Remember, your water heater will only provide ⅔ of its capacity in usable hot water. So, if you have a 50-gallon tank, you’d get 33 gallons of hot water. You could get a 15-20 minute shower without temp drop if your showerheads are limited to 2.5 gallons per minute (GPM). But a 5 GPM showerhead would only give you up to 10 minutes of hot water. 

 

If you are using more hot water than you did in the past, the water heater you have might be insufficient to keep up with demand. 

 

How to Test Your Hot Water System

It can be frustrating when your water heater isn’t performing the way you’d like. If this is your current situation, you probably want to get to the bottom of the problem as quickly and affordably as possible. Here are a few tests you can try. 

First, begin with a completely recovered tank, meaning you haven’t placed a hot water load on it for several hours. Get a thermometer with a range up to 160 degrees and 5-gallon bucket. Fill the bucket with hot water from your tub spout with water running through the thermometer. Note how many times you can fill the bucket before you see a 20-degree drop in temperature. This will tell you the hot water capacity of your tank. If it isn’t ⅔ of the total tank, you may need to consider repair or replacement. 

You can also test your showerhead’s GPM rate. Hold that same bucket up to your showerhead and fill it for 30 seconds. Measure how much water is in the bucket. Double this amount and you have your GPM. You may wish to consider a low flow showerhead to get more from your hot water supply if you fill more than ⅓ of the bucket in 30 seconds. 

Sometimes, there may not be anything wrong with your water heater. We already mentioned that your pipes might be cooling the water on the way to your shower or sink during the winter. You might have also changed some of your fixtures to higher flow rate models, which increases the load on your system. 

Whether you’ve performed those tests, or want someone else to do them, and suspect that you have an issue with reduced hot water, we can help. Contact Fast Hot Water Heater Company for an assessment of your system. We’ll get to you “fast” and let you know your options for repair or affordable replacement.