It can be frustrating when the water in your Elizabethtown home doesn’t heat up or stay hot for long. The following are some of the more common reasons you run out of hot water at home.
Water Heater Temperature Is Set Too Low
The Department of Energy recommends setting your water heater at 120 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure hot water while preventing scalding. Water heaters commonly default to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Setting it below 120 degrees Fahrenheit can lead to bacterial growth and conditions promoting Legionnaires’ disease due to stagnant water.
Stagnant water issues disappear for homes with tankless water heaters, but overly hot water can still harm your skin. Regardless of the setting, be aware that a water heater above 120 degrees Fahrenheit poses a burn risk, especially if you have young children or elderly individuals susceptible to burns. Consider 140 degrees Fahrenheit only if there are immunocompromised people, you live in a multi-occupant home, or your dishwasher doesn’t preheat.
One reason to lower water temperature is to save money, as water heating accounts for 14% to 18% of home energy consumption. Lowering the temperature by 10 degrees Fahrenheit may save up to 5% on energy. However, note that the bacteria causing Legionnaires’ disease can survive in water up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit. Balancing comfort, health, and energy consumption goals is crucial.
Issues With Tank Insulation
Improper insulation of your water heater results in heat loss to the exterior, causing cool water to return to the heater. This constant cycle leads to a water heater that is always running and consistently running out of hot water.
It is advisable to install insulation to maintain hot water inside the tank. Although insulating the water heater tank incurs a moderate expense, this relatively straightforward project can significantly reduce heating costs.
For tank insulation to be effective, it should cover a minimum of 90% of the outer surface area of the storage tank on all sides. Insulating blankets for tanks are sometimes used. However, for them to work, they must make proper contact with all sides of the water heater. Despite seeming like a simple do-it-yourself job, it’s best to leave this project to professionals. They can assess whether your insulation needs replacement or if additional insulation is necessary to prevent hot water loss.
Water Heater Sediment
Minerals and particulates in your water can accumulate in your boiler’s hot water tank over several months or years. The sediment, if not removed, can render your boiler unusable. The speed at which sediment builds up depends on the mineral content of the water in your area. Homeowners must know the signs indicating sediment buildup.
If your home’s water isn’t heating up and you hear a hissing, rumbling, or popping noise from your boiler, it may be because the heater is burning the sediment at the tank’s bottom.
Frustration in the morning due to a shower that won’t get hot enough, even with the water heater set to the highest level, could be caused by sediment. When sediment accumulates in the tank, it forms an insulating layer, reducing heat reaching the water. The more sediment, the harder the heating element works, eventually leading to your boiler’s inefficiency.
If your water pump isn’t heating up and you notice odd-colored, cloudy, or rusty-tasting water, it could indicate sediment corroding metallic elements. Besides making the water look and taste unpleasant, sediment can eat away at the tank’s lining over time.
Electric and Gas Water Heaters
If you own an electric water heater and experience a lack of hot water, check the breaker to ensure it hasn’t been inadvertently tripped. If tripped, reset the circuit, and your water heater should resume normal operation. If the circuit trips again, a deeper issue may be present, requiring attention from a boiler professional. A potential problem with the heating element may exist for electric water heaters without disturbances in electricity, necessitating repair or replacement by a professional.
Ensure the pilot light is on for gas water heaters with no hot water. In winter, the lines may freeze if the temperature drops low enough, requiring thawing before heating. If the pilot light is on, the water is not frozen, and there’s still no heating, a plumbing professional should assess the issue.
Wrong-Sized Water Heater
Choosing the right size is crucial for water heaters to ensure sufficient heat. If it is too small, you may run out of hot water mid-shower. If it is too big, you waste money on heating you won’t use.
Determining your home’s hot water needs involves calculating the first-hour rating (FHR), indicating the hot water a heater can deliver during its busiest hour. Typically found on the energy guide label, a general guideline is to allocate 12 gallons of hot water per person. Calculate the maximum capacity based on bedrooms and add one. For example, if you have four bedrooms, add one to get five. Multiply five by 12, resulting in a required FHR of 60 as the minimum for your home.
Diagnosing thermostat issues can be tricky. It’s less likely for the thermostat to fail than for the heating elements to fail. However, if you’re not getting hot water and the heating element is working correctly, testing the thermostat is advisable. In a single-element heater, a failed thermostat results in no hot water at all. For a two-element water heater, there might be a thermostat for each element.
The upper thermostat controls the upper element at the tank’s top. When the water is hot in the top of the tank, the thermostat turns off the power to the upper element, redirecting power to the lower element. If the lower thermostat goes out, you still get a limited amount of hot water. However, if the upper thermostat fails, you won’t have any hot water. A thermostat issue may be indicated if the high limit switch, designed to prevent water from reaching temperatures higher than 180°F, continually pops out. Thermostats require evaluation and repair by water heating professionals.
Loss of Water Pressure
Water heaters may cease functioning due to a dip in water pressure stemming from various issues. The TPR valve opens when the water pressure becomes too high. If the water heater inlet is directly connected to the main water supply line without a safety valve, any increase in water volume might flow back to the water main when heated, potentially causing a leak. Alternatively, municipal water supply pressure may exceed the TPR valve setting.
Installing an expansion tank at the water-line inlet allows increased water volume to escape, preventing the TPR valve from opening. Loss of water pressure can result from factors such as adjacent water line issues, loose heating-element bolts, compromised connections, fittings, gaskets, or a compromised water tank. Temporarily reducing water pressure can be achieved by lowering the thermostat setting. To address a TPR valve leak, placing a bucket under the valve and opening the handle to flush it might help. If the valve leaks after flushing, it will likely require repair or replacement.
Quality Comfort Services in Central Kentucky
At Absolute Services, we are a family-owned and -operated business. We proudly provide our customers with reliable services they can trust regardless of the circumstances. We vow to be there every step of the way, offering the highest standards of workmanship and fast services.
Our services include HVAC installation, maintenance, and repair. We offer general plumbing and electrical work and install and repair garage doors. Contact Absolute Services today and see how we can give you what you need when it comes to keeping your home safe, efficient, and comfortable.