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Hot Water Heater Taking Too Long? Here’s What to Do


One of the most common questions we hear is "Why does it take so long to get hot water at my tap or shower?" The answer is - it depends. Sometimes it's just a matter of the hot water having to travel through a lot of piping to get to its destination, other times it's a problem with the plumbing itself.

If your hot water heater is taking too long to do its job, here's what you should know and do.

How Does a Hot Water Heater Work?

Gas and electric tank water heaters fundamentally work the same way, though gas-fueled water heaters cost less to operate. Both tank heaters convert energy to heat and transfer that heat to the water inside.

The tank has an incoming cold water supply pipe and one or more outgoing hot water pipes, which feed the heated water to taps and appliances throughout your home. A thermostat detects the water's temperature and regulates fuel delivery to the burner. And a temperature pressure relief valve on or near the top of the tank automatically opens when the temperature or pressure inside exceeds safe levels.

Having other issues with your water heater like excessive noise or a weird smell? Learn about the causes here.

Is it Hot Yet? Reasons Your Hot Water Heater is Slow

In addition to travel distance, there are several common water heater problems that can make your hot water heater slow.

  • Sediment build-up in the tank. Cold water that comes into the tank usually carries some dissolved minerals and trace amounts of other debris such as sand. This debris eventually settles to the bottom of the tank, blocking the burners and making your water heater less effective at producing hot water.
  • Faulty heating system. Older heaters (those 10 to 15 years old or more), could have a heating system problem, typically with the thermal switch, thermostat, or heating element. These problems also occur if the recommended regular maintenance on your water heater, like annual flushing, has not been performed.
  • Time for replacement. Eventually you're bound to see signs your hot water heater needs to be replaced. Whether it's the age of the tank or a serious malfunction, all water heaters-even the best of them-have a life span of about 10 years. Signs it may be time for a new unit include rusty water, rusty pipes, noise from the heater, and leaks.

Solutions for a Slow Hot Water Heater

It's always worth having any problem checked out by your plumber first, but if your tank is old or is experiencing serious signs of trouble, the best solution is usually replacing it. There are a few options to choose from. You can:

  • Install a recirculation system. Not only can you save up to 12,000 gallons of water per year with a recirculating pump, it'll also reduce the time it takes for hot water to reach showers and faucets.
  • Replace your existing water heater with an electric, gas, or hybrid electric heat pump water heater.
    Find out which water heater is right for you
  • Install a tankless water heater and never take another cold shower again!

Get Help for Your Slow Hot Water Heater Today

Waiting for your hot water heater to produce hot water is not only inconvenient, it can raise your utility bill. If your old equipment has reached the end of the line, today's new tanks are designed to deliver hot water on demand and offer incredible energy savings possibilities. Contact David Gray Plumbing Services today or call us at (904) 605-8190 to learn more.