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5 Reasons Why Your Water is Taking Longer to Heat

We are used to having hot water on demand, and if it takes too long to warm up, we tend to notice it quickly. If your water is not heating up, there could be a number of possible causes. In this article, we will look at five reasons why your water may be taking longer to heat up and how to fix the problem.

  1. The Distance from the Water Heater

The further your plumbing fixture is from your water heater, the longer it will take to heat up. Hot water will lose its heat as it travels through pipes, and this is very noticeable if the pipes are not insulated. If you’ve relocated a water heater, recently the extra distance travelled may be the cause of your problems.

2. Sediment Build-up

Over time sediment will build-up in your water heater due to the presence of hard water. The elevated mineral content in hard water is calcium, magnesium, and to a lesser extent, iron. This material settles at the bottom of the water tank where the heating element is located. Eventually, a crusty layer of scale will be formed that will inhibit and ultimately prevent the necessary heat transfer. It doesn’t matter if the heating element is electric or a gas burner; they are both affected in the same manner. This scale formation will slow the production of hot water. The only way to fix this problem is to get a local certified plumber to flush the water heater and clean away the sediment to improve the performance and efficiency.

3. A Low Volume Restrictor

Many people install a low volume restrictor installed on plumbing fixtures. These units do save water, but they can slow the flow of both cold and hot water. If you have a low volume restrictor, it may need to be removed to get the hot water flowing quickly again.

4. Undersized Water Heater

If you installed a new water heater in the last few years when fewer people were living in the home, it might not be sufficient for your current needs. A growing family increases the demand for hot water, and your existing water heater may not be up to the job. If you make an upgrade to a larger hot water heater, this may fix the problem. It’s also worth noting that the latest water heaters are more efficient than units manufactured only a few years ago.

5. A Failing Water Heater

Many people believe that a water heater simply fails, and you don’t get any more hot water until it is repaired or replaced. In reality, this isn’t the case; a water heater will gradually fail and lose efficiency until the user cannot cope with the lack of performance. But, if a water heater is approaching or over a decade old, it is reaching the end of its service life. At this stage, it is far more likely that the water heater could fail suddenly and without much prior warning. The best way to get an accurate idea about the state of your water heater is to ask a local certified plumber about a health check. They can offer advice on the service, repair, or replacement options to get your hot water running again.

Water Heater Recovery Times

Every storage water heater has a recovery time, which is when the tank is ready to deliver hot water again after it has been emptied. This recovery time is affected by four key factors, and understanding these can help you to make informed decisions.

  1. The Water Tank Size: If you have a larger water tank, it takes longer to recover.
  2. Fuel Type: An electric water heater typically takes twice as long to reheat when compared to a gas unit.
  3. Temperature Fluctuations: If the incoming water is colder, it will take longer to heat than water that is already warmer.
  4. First Hour Rating (FHR): The higher the rating, the less time it will take for your water heater to recover.

To put these factors into perspective, an average 80 gallon gas water heater will usually take around an hour to fully recover. The factors shown here will determine the recovery time for your water heater in relation to this arbitrary benchmark.

Improving Hot Water Performance

There are two main methods to get hot water to your plumbing fixtures faster. They are a hot water recirculation system and a tankless water heater. Let’s take a look at them in more detail.

  1. Hot Water Recirculation System

This is a system that can be attached to your existing water heater or mounted near a faucet. The larger unit will have a pump and timer to keep the hot water circulating from your water heater. The system reduces the volume of wasted water while you wait for it to heat up in three key ways.

  1. Hot water is moved faster from the water heater to the tap.
  2. The used water is recirculated back to the water heater keeping the heated water closer to the faucets.
  3. The hot water recirculation system is activated via a thermostat or timer.

The main benefit of this system is that it can usually be used with your existing water heater.

    2. Tankless Water Heater

A tankless water heater can provide hot water on-demand because the water passes over a heating element. There are three main advantages to this type of water heating system.

  1. The water is made hot instantly.
  2. This reduces heating costs because you don’t need to store unused hot water.
  3. A tankless water heater can be a larger unit or a smaller point-of-use unit located near a faucet.

The obvious disadvantage is that you need to install a new water heater unless you want to run a smaller point-of-use system alongside your existing water heater.

In Conclusion

A water heater can consume 25% of the energy you use in your home, and choosing a more efficient system can have a dramatic effect. You need to meet your hot water needs, but improving efficiency will lower your utility bills considerably. Contact your local certified plumber if you want to learn more.

We are used to having hot water on demand, and if it takes too long to warm up, we tend to notice it quickly. If your water is not heating up, there could be a number of possible causes. In this article, we will look at five reasons why your water may be taking longer to heat up and how to fix the problem.

  1. The Distance from the Water Heater

The further your plumbing fixture is from your water heater, the longer it will take to heat up. Hot water will lose its heat as it travels through pipes, and this is very noticeable if the pipes are not insulated. If you’ve relocated a water heater, recently the extra distance travelled may be the cause of your problems.

2. Sediment Build-up

Over time sediment will build-up in your water heater due to the presence of hard water. The elevated mineral content in hard water is calcium, magnesium, and to a lesser extent, iron. This material settles at the bottom of the water tank where the heating element is located. Eventually, a crusty layer of scale will be formed that will inhibit and ultimately prevent the necessary heat transfer. It doesn’t matter if the heating element is electric or a gas burner; they are both affected in the same manner. This scale formation will slow the production of hot water. The only way to fix this problem is to get a local certified plumber to flush the water heater and clean away the sediment to improve the performance and efficiency.

3. A Low Volume Restrictor

Many people install a low volume restrictor installed on plumbing fixtures. These units do save water, but they can slow the flow of both cold and hot water. If you have a low volume restrictor, it may need to be removed to get the hot water flowing quickly again.

4. Undersized Water Heater

If you installed a new water heater in the last few years when fewer people were living in the home, it might not be sufficient for your current needs. A growing family increases the demand for hot water, and your existing water heater may not be up to the job. If you make an upgrade to a larger hot water heater, this may fix the problem. It’s also worth noting that the latest water heaters are more efficient than units manufactured only a few years ago.

5. A Failing Water Heater

Many people believe that a water heater simply fails, and you don’t get any more hot water until it is repaired or replaced. In reality, this isn’t the case; a water heater will gradually fail and lose efficiency until the user cannot cope with the lack of performance. But, if a water heater is approaching or over a decade old, it is reaching the end of its service life. At this stage, it is far more likely that the water heater could fail suddenly and without much prior warning. The best way to get an accurate idea about the state of your water heater is to ask a local certified plumber about a health check. They can offer advice on the service, repair, or replacement options to get your hot water running again.

Water Heater Recovery Times

Every storage water heater has a recovery time, which is when the tank is ready to deliver hot water again after it has been emptied. This recovery time is affected by four key factors, and understanding these can help you to make informed decisions.

  1. The Water Tank Size: If you have a larger water tank, it takes longer to recover.
  2. Fuel Type: An electric water heater typically takes twice as long to reheat when compared to a gas unit.
  3. Temperature Fluctuations: If the incoming water is colder, it will take longer to heat than water that is already warmer.
  4. First Hour Rating (FHR): The higher the rating, the less time it will take for your water heater to recover.

To put these factors into perspective, an average 80 gallon gas water heater will usually take around an hour to fully recover. The factors shown here will determine the recovery time for your water heater in relation to this arbitrary benchmark.

Improving Hot Water Performance

There are two main methods to get hot water to your plumbing fixtures faster. They are a hot water recirculation system and a tankless water heater. Let’s take a look at them in more detail.

  1. Hot Water Recirculation System

This is a system that can be attached to your existing water heater or mounted near a faucet. The larger unit will have a pump and timer to keep the hot water circulating from your water heater. The system reduces the volume of wasted water while you wait for it to heat up in three key ways.

  1. Hot water is moved faster from the water heater to the tap.
  2. The used water is recirculated back to the water heater keeping the heated water closer to the faucets.
  3. The hot water recirculation system is activated via a thermostat or timer.

The main benefit of this system is that it can usually be used with your existing water heater.

    2. Tankless Water Heater

A tankless water heater can provide hot water on-demand because the water passes over a heating element. There are three main advantages to this type of water heating system.

  1. The water is made hot instantly.
  2. This reduces heating costs because you don’t need to store unused hot water.
  3. A tankless water heater can be a larger unit or a smaller point-of-use unit located near a faucet.

The obvious disadvantage is that you need to install a new water heater unless you want to run a smaller point-of-use system alongside your existing water heater.

In Conclusion

A water heater can consume 25% of the energy you use in your home, and choosing a more efficient system can have a dramatic effect. You need to meet your hot water needs, but improving efficiency will lower your utility bills considerably. Contact your local certified plumber if you want to learn more.

By Giovanni Longo President Flood Brothers Plumbing
Giovanni Longo is a 3rd generation master plumber who has been practicing his craft and trade in the greater Los Angeles area for well over a decade and a half. A plumbing and hydraulics-engineering innovator, Giovanni’s particular world-class expertise focuses on dealing with challenging sewer system designs as well as resolving complex commercial and residential draining issues. As a certified Flood Mitigation expert, he is also well versed in a wide variety of water damage and remediation solution.