Do You Run Out of Hot Water?

In the cold months of winter in Missoula, many homeowners take longer-than-normal, hotter-than-normal showers to experience the joy of a hot shower on a cold day.

I have to chase my teenagers out of the shower nearly every day in the winter.

But your perfect hot shower experience is often shattered because the hot water runs out too soon!

Hot Water Runs Out After A Very Short Period Of Time

Running out of hot water quickly may be an indication of a faulty or failing heating element in your water heater.  Most water heaters have two heating elements: one at the top, and one at the bottom. The top heating element is responsible for continually reheating the water near the top of the tank. The bottom heating element heats all the water added to the tank – storing it at a constant temperature (which you can adjust). That’s how it is SUPPOSED to work.

If your bottom heating element stops working, then most of the water in your tank isn’t heated very much. In this case, you are using the small quantity of water your top element heats. This runs out very quickly.  When the top heated water runs out, your water heater sends the rest of the water – which is unheated.  This makes for a nasty shower surprise … the sudden blast of cold water. To fix this problem, you must replace your tank’s bottom water heater element. This is work we are happy to do, for you.  It’s inexpensive and usually does not require replacing the entire water heater.

Water Never Heats Up Above Lukewarm

There is a dip tube in your water heater which pushes the cold water to the bottom of the tank. There, the lower element heats it before you use it. If your water heater’s dip tube isn’t working properly, then all the replacement cold water mixes with the hot water already inside. As a result, you get a lukewarm mixture of hot and cold water.  

If you discover small chunks of plastic in your shower head or sink strainers, this may be parts of your broken dip tube. Replacing a dip tube is relatively cheap, quick, and easy.  If you’d like help, we are here for you.

Running Out Of Hot Water Before Everyone Is Finished

Is there a daily race to the shower to make sure you get hot water?  Do you want to kill your teenagers because they always leave you with cold water?  Are you able to shower while the dishwasher or the washing machine is running?

Your water heater is probably too small. Conventional water heaters can supply an amount of water equal to the size of their storage tank. If you use more water than the tank can provide, then your heater spends 20 to 30 minutes reheating new water. If your water heater is too small for your needs, you’ll have to replace it with a bigger one.  This is common for growing families.

There Is No Hot Water At All!

Your water heater has a thermostat which controls how hot your water gets. It works just like any other thermostat: you tell it how hot you want your water, and your elements heat to that temperature. If you’re not getting any hot water at all, then your thermostat may be malfunctioning… or it may simply be set improperly!

If you use natural gas heat, it is possible your pilot light has gone out.  We see this all the time.

Most water heaters have a reset button. Troubleshooting your thermostat is as easy as clicking that button. In case that doesn’t work, locate the thermostat itself and make sure it’s set correctly. If you still have the owner’s manual, the manufacturer should have included the settings inside … or you can go online.  Do a search for the make and model of your water heater, all major manufacturers have their owners manual posted online.

Need Help?

If you are not seeing your specific issue here or if the solutions did not work for you, contact us – that’s what we are here for!  If you are in the Missoula Montana region, our team will be there to help.