Why Do I Keep Running Out of Hot Water?

Hot water coming from a shower head

Need More Hot Water?

Is there anything worse than waking up and getting ready for work late and you run out of hot water in mid-shower? There definitely couldn’t be a worse time to find out you need water heater repair or replacement for sure! Are you thinking to yourself, “I just replaced that water heater!”, then you may be wondering just how long should a water heater last.

Some brands of water heaters are better made than others, and most brands have different levels of quality with their water heaters. They can range between six years up to 12 years for most, and on rare occasions, they can last up to 20 years.

During the time you have a water heater, the frequency of water heater repairs can affect the longevity of the unit too. The quality of your water will have an impact on the lifespan of a water heater. The harder the water, means the more sediment build-up, which shortens the lifespan. Routine maintenance though, like flushing the water heater, can help extend the lifespan.

What is the most common problem with water heaters?

There are four common problems that may require professional water heater repairs:

  1. Temperature issues:  One of the three issues could be and you may be able to do your own water heater repair:
    • Cold water can be either no power getting to the water heater, the thermostat or the heating element has quit working. You should check the circuit breaker first and if it is in the off position, flip it back on and wait 30 minutes for the water to heat up. If you have a gas-powered water heater, check the pilot light is on. If the circuit breaker or pilot light isn’t the problem, you’ll need a professional water heater repair service to inspect the heating element and thermostat.
    • Water is warm, but not hot could be your water heater is undersized for your household needs. It could be the water connection of cold and hot are switched. Or again, the heating element or thermostat could be going out. Check the water line connections and make sure hot is hot and cold is cold. If that isn’t the problem, you’ll need professional water heater repair.
    • Water is too hot is usually the thermostat needs to be adjusted.
  2. Water leaks: Why is there a leak under my water heater? There are multiple reasons why your water heater may be leaking, such as the following:
  • a faulty T&P (temperature and pressure relief valve
  • high water pressure
  • thermostat overheating
  • a stuck pressure valve
  • a water connection
  • loose heating element
  • a bad gasket
  • the water tank

Before you call for professional water heater repair, check all the plumbing connections and make sure they are tight, but not over-tightened. If you still have leaking, call a professional to check the water heater.

  1. Discolored water:  When the water is coming out rusty, this is usually caused by the tank inside being corroded and rusted, or it can be the anode rod. In either situation, it is recommended to have a professional plumber inspect the unit and make any possible water heater repairs. They may suggest you need to replace your water heater.
  2. Odd sounds: – Why is my water heater making sound? No matter where you live, the water will have some sediment build-up in a water heater which can cause odd sounds. You can flush the water heater and that is a water heater repair that will often stop the sounds. If you’ve waited too long though, you’ll need to replace the unit.

How do you clean sediment out of a hot water heater?

You can schedule an appointment for a plumber to do a water heater flush, or do it yourself with the following steps:

  1. Turn the power and water off to the water heater.
  2. After the water has cooled down, connect an outdoor water hose to the drain valve which is located on the side of the water tank.
  3. Run the garden hose outside or place the other end in a sink drain.
  4. Turn the faucets on inside the bathroom and kitchen.
  5. Turn the drain valve on and let the water drain from the water heater.
  6. Disconnect the outdoor water hose from the drain valve after the water has quit draining.
  7. Turn the power and water back on to the water heater and allow it to fill.

What maintenance do water heaters need?

In addition to flushing your water heater every two years, the pressure-relief valve should be tested every two years as well. You can do this yourself or hire a plumber to give your water heater an inspection and make any water heater repairs they find are needed.

How long does it take for a water heater to heat up?

The average time for a gas water heater to heat the water is between 30 minutes and 40 minutes for a full tank. The average for an electric water heater can be as long as one hour. These times will take longer when there is sediment building up in the tank and the age of the water heater can cause it to take longer too.

When do I need water heater replacement?

When water heater repairs are becoming more frequent, or they cost 25% of what a new water heater will cost, a replacement water heater is recommended.

water heater repair

Is It Time To Upgrade?

If you are at the point of having to replace your water heater, are tankless water heaters a good alternative? It will depend on the size of your household actually and the amount of hot water that is used every day.  If your home doesn’t use more than 41 gallons of hot water in one day, a tankless water heater is ideal. And while they are more expensive to install, you’ll recoup some of the expense in the 34% energy efficiency with a gas-powered water heater.

If you would like to upgrade your water heater, give our team a call today at 703-250-4200.