Few things are as frustrating as turning on your sink or shower, expecting hot water, and never getting it. If you have no hot water in the shower or sink, do you know what to do? We have done the research to make sure that you have the best information possible if you ever find yourself in this situation.
There are several reasons that you might not have hot water. Some of them are things you can address yourself, and some are issues that may require a plumber, an electrician, or an individual from the gas company. The list of things you can check yourself include:
- Power Outage
- Pilot Light Issue
Issues that may require professional assistance include:
- Sediment Build-Up
- Anti-Scald Devices
- Water Pressure Fluctuations
Now that we have listed the potential reasons for hot water issues, we invite you to continue reading for more information about each one. We will discuss each issue in-depth, talk about troubleshooting options, and give you a little more insight on other hot water-related questions.
Issues You Can Address Yourself
Sometimes there is a simple reason why your hot water is not working properly. Power outages, pilot light issues, and leaks are all usually things you can identify yourself. In some cases, you may be able to resolve these problems on your own, too.
Power outages are one of the most common causes of hot water shortages or issues. While this may be obvious for electric water heaters, power outages also affect tankless gas water heaters. While gas heats the water, electricity powers the actual pumping of the water. If you are without electricity, you will be without hot water -- whether you have an electric water heater or a tankless gas one.
If your power is not out throughout the house, but you do not have hot water, check your breaker box. You may have blown a fuse or a tripped breaker. You may be able to flip the breaker and restore hot water yourself. If the fuse is blown and the breaker will not flip back to the on position, you will need to contact an electrician.
Pilot Light Issues
Another quick issue that you may be able to resolve is an issue with the pilot light. Gas water heaters require a pilot light to ignite the gas and heat the water. Sometimes a pilot light may go out; a simple relight might be all that it takes to restore hot water. Locating your water heater and finding the pilot light is very straightforward. You should be able to see a bright blue flame toward the bottom of the tank. If the flame is yellow instead of blue, there may be an airflow problem. A flame that flickers could indicate a draft, while a divided flame could be caused by dirt.
If you cannot relight the pilot light or it continues to go out, you should call a plumber. There could be other issues causing the pilot light problem, including issues with parts in the water heater itself or with your gas supply.
Finally, you can check for a leak in your water heater. A water heater can leak for a variety of reasons. There are connections at both the top of the tank and the bottom. Leaks from either of these can usually be resolved by tightening these connections. However, if there are leaks in the lines themselves or the connections cannot be tightened, it is best to call a plumber.
If the leak is coming from underneath the tank, the tank is likely cracked. The older your water heater, the more likely this is the case. A cracked tank must be replaced. This type of work will have to be performed by a plumber. If you do wind up having to replace your water heater, be sure to ask the person replacing it whether you should transition from a traditional water heater to a tankless one. Tankless heaters take up much less space and will not be as susceptible to leaks.
Issues That Require Professional Assistance
Some problems are too complicated for a DIY resolution. Sediment build-up, issues with anti-scald devices, and water pressure fluctuations are best addressed by a professional plumber.
Any type of sediment build-up is one of the types of problems that normally require a plumber's help. But how does sediment build-up occur? Although water filtration has come a long way since indoor plumbing became common, minerals and other substances remain in the water that comes into our homes. Over time these minerals, like iron, can accumulate and create sediment. If you notice that your hot water is not working or looks or smells bad, sediment may be the cause.
Flushing your water heater is the most effective way to eliminate sediment. While it is possible to perform a flush yourself, it is best left to the experts. A plumber has extensive experience performing this type of work and can ensure that the tank remains in good condition during and after the flush.
Problems with anti-scald devices are another issue that a plumber is best equipped to handle. Sinks and showers sometimes have anti-scald devices as additional safety features. The purpose of the anti-scald device is to prevent you or someone in your family from being burned by the water.
In essence, the anti-scald device is a limiter under the faucet that will not allow you to turn the faucet to the highest setting. If you have hot water in your washing machine or dishwasher but not in a sink or the shower, the anti-scald device could be the reason.
Some people may be comfortable removing the faucet and locating the plastic piece, adjusting it, and turning the hot water back on to confirm the issue was the anti-scald device. However, this type of work is again best done by a plumber. Unforeseen problems may arise as a result of trying to fix the problem yourself, including broken faucets. It is always best to contact a professional whenever possible.
Water Pressure Fluctuations
Water pressure fluctuations that lead to hot water shortages are the final problem that requires professional help. If you have ever been in the shower and had water get very hot or very cold because someone flushed a toilet or turned on the washing machine, you have experienced water pressure fluctuations.
Normally, a problem with your pressure-balancing valve causes this problem. The valve opens or closes depending on the pressure.
If the valve is broken, it can fail to send warm or cold water to the right place at the right time. These valves can be replaced, but this work should be done by a plumber -- not only to ensure that there is no damage to the plumbing but also to ensure that no one is injured due to too much hot water at the wrong time.
Other Common Hot Water Questions
Now that we have discussed why you may not have hot water and what you should do to fix it, we can discuss some other questions related to hot water heaters.
How Long Should Hot Water Last In The Shower?
Many people wonder how long hot water should last in the shower. The answer depends on two things: the tank's size and the type of water heater you have. The bigger the tank, the longer the hot water will last. A 40-gallon tank generally has enough hot water for 20 minutes, while a 60-gallon tank has enough hot water for 30 minutes. Eventually, the hot water in a tank will run out.
A tankless water heater takes longer to get warm, but its warm water lasts for an unlimited amount of time. A tank heater warms and stores the water, but a tankless heater heats water as it passes through the system. The water takes a bit to warm up, but once heated, it will remain hot as long as you like.
How Long Should It Take For Hot Water To Reach The Faucet?
People also want to know how long it takes hot water to reach the faucet. Again, the answer depends on the type of heater you have. A hot water tank will push the stored hot water to the faucet in a matter of a few seconds. The closer the faucet is to the tank, the faster the water will arrive.
On the other hand, a tankless water heater can take 30 seconds to a minute to send hot water to the faucet. This is due to the amount of time it takes to heat the water passing through the system. However, once you get the hot water, you won't have to worry about running out.
Does Turning Up The Water Heater Make Hot Water Last Longer?
Most people enjoy a hot shower or a warm bath, so everyone is always interested in finding ways to make the hot water last longer. One way to do this is to turn up the temperature on the hot water heater. However, you must be careful when doing this because it is easy to burn yourself. Hot water can do significant damage in a short amount of time, and children are particularly susceptible to these types of injuries.
While it may be tempting to try to turn the temperature up to have more hot water, be sure that you don't risk your safety or the safety of a family member for the sake of hot water.
Does It Take Longer To Get Hot Water With A Tankless Water Heater?
As we have discussed previously, it does take longer to get hot water with a tankless water heater since warm water is not stored in a tank. A tankless water heater must warm up the water passing through the system, and it takes a bit of time to make that happen.
Summing It Up
Hot water is a luxury that we all have come to take for granted. When we expect hot water and do not get it, we want to know why. This blog was put together to help you understand what may be happening with your hot water and what you or a professional can do to try to fix the problem. For some helpful tips about other plumbing problems you may have, check out some of our other blogs: