Why Do I Have to Run the Hot Water so Long to Get Hot?

South End Plumbing, Heating, & Air Expert Tips

Long Time For Hot Water
Long Time For Hot Water

Why it Takes So Long For Water To Get Hot

Hot water taking forever to get to a shower or sink is a common complaint. It may be just one fixture in one room. It could be in a bathroom or the kitchen. This is annoying. It can go from annoying to costly when you realize the inefficiency goes to your water and energy bills, too. In the time it takes for hot water to get to your shower, you can run gallons of water down the drain. It’s a waste of time and money. How can we solve this problem?

Reasons Your Water Takes Forever to Get Hot

  • The size and diameter of the pipes

The pipes themselves can be the issue with effective hot water delivery. The diameter of the pipes may be slowing how long it takes warm water to reach the fixture. Even the dimensions of the pipes’ walls can change it. For steel pipes, the thicker the product, the more the pipe material itself is drawing heat from the water as it moves. If you have galvanized pipelines, which are thicker than copper pipes, you could notice your water cools off on its way to your fixture.

  • Distance from the water heater to the fixtures

One more reason it can take so long for hot water to get to a shower or sink is the length of the trip it’s making. For example, if your heater is in a basement, it’s going to take longer to reach and second or third-floor bathroom. Then if hot water goes on a winding trip, now it’s long and inefficient. Cold water will flow until the hot water gets there, this makes the wait longer and increases water usage.

  • An old or inefficient water heater

If you know the hot water is taking longer and longer, or the hot water isn’t as hot, or it runs out sooner than it used to, the water heater itself could be the issue. Most water heaters last 8-12 years. It could be getting old and breaking down. If your hot water heater appears to be losing its juice over time, call a professional expert to check it and give you the diagnosis.

  • Buildup in the system

Minerals, sediment, dirt or mold can build up in a tank or the pipes. This is usual over long periods of time. It’s more common and can happen faster with hard water. The water that flows into our homes has minerals in it, such as calcium and magnesium. It’s regular for water to have some mineral material. Hard water may contain more than 60 milligrams of liquified minerals per liter. All these materials can build up at the output of a water heater’s tank. A tank with reduced water flow will put out hot water slower to the whole system.

Hot water taking too long
Hot water taking too long
  • Other parts restrict water

A volume of water other parts of your system can handle, such as a showerhead, plays a role with your hot water. Some parts are made to reduce capacity for the sake of conserving water. It’s meant to save water. However, this may mean you get colder water for longer and wait longer while it’s running. If you have an efficient system, this might not be a noticeable difference. With an older or problematic system, it could combine into a larger problem.

  • It’s cold outside

This might not be the case too often in the Carolinas, but when it’s cold outside, your system works harder to heat water and deliver it. A hot water heater typically is set to heat water to 120-140 degrees. In cold weather, more energy is needed. Then once the hot water is in route, cold pipes, especially if it’s a long trip from the heater to the shower are making the hot water not so hot.

How to Speed Up Your Hot Water

  • Insulation

If it seems the pipes throughout your home are the issue, adding or improving insulation to the pips might be a big help. Insulating pipes properly keeps heat in. According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy, insulated pipes make water temperature 2-4 degrees higher on average. More benefits shown are reduced mold and reduced noise. Insulation for pipes varies in quality and material. There’s fiberglass, rubber or foam to learn about and choose what works best for your system.

  • Switching to a hot water recirculating system

A potential answer is putting in a new hot water recirculating system. These systems send your extra water back to the heating system, so the hot water stays closer to where you’re going to need it again. This cuts down on waiting for hot water and saves water and money. It’s important to ask about if a new system for your home will run as needed or constant.

  • Going to a tankless water heater

Another great answer could be updating your plumbing system with a tankless water heater. A tankless heater as no tank. Instead, it is heating water as it flows throughout the system. It’s basically on-demand hot water for every point in your house. When you turn on a fixture anywhere, you’ll get a constant flow of hot water much faster. You’re not waiting for a tank to heat everything in the tank, then for hot water to replace all the cold water which was already sitting in the pipes. A tankless system heats 2-5 gallons of water a minute. This is usually enough for every use in a house.

A tankless water heater installed literally in place of an old water heater could still be far away from some of your fixtures. If you’re interested in the ultimate hot water solution, talk with an expert about multiple and/or “point-of-use” tankless heaters for your home.

  • Proper maintenance

You can prevent hot water problems and other plumbing headaches by staying up to date with the right maintenance. Preventative maintenance is focused on catching issues early or stopping them entirely instead of waiting until something breaks. Having an expert maintain your hot water heater regularly can help you catch issues when they are minor.

South End Plumbing specializes water heater repair so remember, we are just a click away. We also specialize in leak detection – give us a call! South End Plumbing is one of the only companies that will give you a free estimate. Call us at 704-919-1722 or fill out the form online to schedule a visit.

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