What Usage Issues Cause You to Run Out of Hot Water?
- Simultaneously operating multiple household appliances: Putting a load of laundry in the washer, turning on the dishwasher and then jumping in the shower will place a demand on your water heater that it might not be able to fulfill. Scheduling these activities at different times during the day can keep you from running out of hot water.
- Frequently washing clothes: According to Energy.gov, one load of wash can use up to 25 gallons of hot water. Washing less frequently can significantly reduce your hot water consumption and help you save energy. Consider using the warm or cold water setting when possible.
- Running a half-empty dishwasher: Although they don’t consume as much hot water as washing machines, a dishwasher uses approximately six gallons of hot water per cycle. Wait until your dishwasher is full before turning it on.
- Extending usage periods: Are you in the habit of taking long showers? Do you let the hot water tap run while you’re washing dishes in the sink? Taking a look at how you and your family are using hot water and finding ways to cut back can prevent you from running out when you least expect it.
- Overfilling the tub: If you take baths instead of showers or use the tub to bathe your children or pets, be mindful of filling it with an excessive amount of hot water.
What Are Mechanical or Appliance Problems That Can Waste Hot Water or Cause You to Run Out?
- Drips and leaks: gov reports that a leak of one drip per second can waste more than 1,600 gallons of water per year. Repair any leaks in devices that use or carry hot water such as pipes, faucets and water heaters.
- Inefficient dishwashers and washing machines: How long has it been since you’ve replaced your dishwater or washing machine? These days, you can purchase Energy Star-rated household appliances that will reduce hot water consumption and save energy while delivering a superior level of cleaning. Look for the ENERGY STAR® label on the product.
- Outdated showerheads and faucets: gov indicates that federal regulations mandate that the flow rate for showerheads sold today cannot exceed 2.5 gallons per minute at a water pressure of 80 pounds per square inch. For faucets, the maximum flow rate is 2.5 gpm at 80 psi or 2.2 gpm at 60 psi. Upgrading to these low-flow fixtures can dramatically reduce your hot water consumption.
What Are Common Signs of Water Heater Issues?
- Age: Water heaters become less efficient as they age. Consider replacing your unit if it’s 10 or more years old.
- Burned-out element: If you have an electric water heater, it will contain a heating element that heats the water. The element often won’t last as long as the water heater and may eventually burn out. You can purchase a continuity tester at your local hardware or home improvement store for around $5-$10 that can help you determine if the element is functioning correctly. However, the best way to ensure you have a burned-out element is to get a qualified contractor from a company such as Haller to determine the exact source of your water heater’s issues.
- Thermocouple failure: If you have an older gas water heater in your home, it will have a thermocouple that helps keep the burner light stay lit. As the thermocouple ages, it can begin to fail. Your water heater may not be able to maintain the water at the desired temperature long enough for a shower or other household activities that require hot water.
- Insufficient tank size: It’s possible that your water heater’s tank may be too small to accommodate your household usage requirements, especially when you’re operating several appliances at once. Upgrading to a heater with a larger tank or switching to a tankless water heater can rectify the problem.
- Tank Sediment & Deposits: In gas and electric water heaters, the tank can fill up with deposits and sediment from hard water. These can gather at the bottom of the tank and act as an insulator, stopping your water tank from heating efficiently. Getting a qualified plumber to help you flush this out at a regular maintenance interval can remove deposits and improve heating performance.
- Leakage: Small puddles of water on the floor at the base of the unit often indicate the presence of a leak. Causes of water heater leaks range from a loose drain valve to an excess pressure buildup inside the tank. Leaking is also a common problem in older units. No matter the cause of the leak, you’ll need to correct the problem to avoid running out of hot water — and possibly having to deal with a flooded basement.