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  • Writer's pictureBrian Harm

Why am I running out of hot water?

A hot shower should be relaxing — not a race against time. However, running out of hot water before you’re finished is very common. This isn’t something that you just have to live with, though, because once you know the cause, you also know the solution.

Too Much Demand on the Water Heater

When too many people turn on faucets, or too many appliances start drawing from the supply at the same time, something’s got to give, and it’s usually your shower. Your home has a limited supply of heated water. Yes, large water heater tanks and tankless heater styles are both supposed to provide “unlimited” hot water, but even that has limits because the heating can’t keep up with excessive demand.You’ve got three solutions here. One is to schedule showers so that only one person uses the hot water at a time, and so that appliances like the dishwasher don’t add to the demand. Another is to replace your water heater with one that has greater capacity to store or heat. The third is to get a second water heater. For example, if you use a tankless heater for your house now, place the clothes washer and dishwasher on a new, separate tankless heater. Separating the supplies often solves the problem.

The Thermostat Is Set Too Low

Your water heater has a thermostat that you set to a particular temperature. The water is supposed to reach that temperature at the fixture that you’re using. However, if you set the thermostat too low — maybe you want to save money — you risk ending up with a cold shower.At first that doesn’t sound right; if the thermostat is too low, wouldn’t the entire shower be too cold? What’s happening here is that the thermostat may be a few degrees lower than it should be. So your shower starts out feeling hot, but as you get used to the water temperature, you start to feel cool, if not cold.Set the thermostat to at least 120F. You can set it a little higher if you want, to help stop the growth of Legionella bacteria, and if you do that, you can install an anti-scald device. Lower than 120F, though, is just too low from both a comfort and health standpoint.

The Thermostat Is Simply Broken

One more possible cause is that the thermostat is plain broken. Maybe it looks fine most of the time, but an extended hot-water draw makes it shut down. In that case, you need to get at least a new thermostat, but preferably a new water heater. If the thermostat breaks, chances are the heater is old enough to replace anyway.

Do you want to solve your hot-water woes? Contact Ashley Heating Air & Water Systems for an estimate. Ensure your shower water stays hot.

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