Hot Water Gone Too Soon? Consider These Culprits

Posted on: 4 January 2019

Unless your hot water heater violates the laws of physics, you'll eventually use up your hot water supply if you're not careful. During the winter, this can happen faster than you'd expect. The following outlines a few issues that could cause your hot water supply to vanish without a trace.

1. Increased Hot Water Usage

If you have guests over or recently made new additions to your household, then you can expect your hot water usage to increase. A growing family can quickly drain a small water heater meant to serve a smaller household. Upgrading to a larger water heater can help bring your home's hot water supply back in line with your household's needs.

2. Standing Heat Loss

An unheated and uninsulated basement or garage can conspire to cut your available hot water supply. The cold outside air surrounding your hot water tank can steal heat away from the unit, forcing it to run longer while at the same time reducing your home's hot water supply. Insulating your hot water tank can help curtail some of the heat loss.

3. Higher-Flow Shower Head

Switched shower heads recently? Changing from a low-flow to a high-flow shower head can make it seem like you're running out of hot water faster than normal, especially during a long and luxuriously hot shower. Keep flow rates in mind whenever you're upgrading shower heads and faucets.

4. Broken Dip Tube

The dip tube is a device that forces incoming cold water towards the bottom of the tank where it can be heated. Once heated, the hot water rises to the top of the tank where it's siphoned off for later use. A broken or missing dip tube causes cold water to mix throughout the tank, making the hot water colder and your supply of hot water limited as a result.

Plastic dip tubes can crack or even fall off and get stuck inside the water heater. Some water heaters were even built with defective dip tubes that could crack apart over time. Replacing the dip tube can help restore full hot water capacity.

5. Sediment Buildup

Minerals and debris from your home's incoming water supply can settle and accumulate along the bottom of the hot water tank. Not only does the sediment take up valuable space meant for hot water, but it can also insulate the water from the tank's heating element. It's not unusual for heating element failures to occur due to sediment buildup, ultimately resulting in a truncated hot water supply.

For this reason, you should have your water heater tank drained and flushed on a regular basis. This maintenance task can be done on your own or with the help of an experienced plumbing service.