Monday, June 2, 2014

Never Run Out of Hot Water Again

Never Run Out of Hot Water Again

Chalk it up to first world problems if you want, but a cold shower can throw a serious wrench in your morning routine. To make matters worse, Murphy’s Law and Plumbing 101 both dictate that the time you rely on hot water the most – when guests are visiting – is when it’s most likely to go frigid.
Hot Water
Whether your water heater is powered by gas or electricity, if it has a tank, it will run cold if it’s overused. But that doesn’t mean you need to resign yourself to an icy-shower fate! With a little bit of planning, it is possible to prevent cold showers. Here’s how:

Know Your Limits

Take a look at the capacity of your water heater. Tank heaters will generally only deliver 2/3 of their capacity as hot water (this is because cold water enters the tank and dilutes it). So, a fully heated, 50-gallon tank will deliver roughly 33 gallons of hot water at any given time. The average shower uses 2 gallons of water per minute, so that same 50-gallon tank is good for a little less than 17 minutes of hot water. Tip: As a general rule of thumb, you should aim for a tank capacity of 10-15 gallons per adult in your house.

Know the Refill Time

If, when calculating your average shower time, the numbers come up shorter than you’d like, you don’t need to go shopping for a bigger water heater just yet. A 50-gallon water tank will require about 20 minutes to refill and another 20 minutes to heat (call it 60 minutes to be safe). So if Uncle Bob drains all of your hot water, plan on waiting an hour before taking your turn.

Separate Shower Times

If water-heater math and waiting to shower isn’t your style, simply dividing showers between a.m. and p.m. slots will help ensure everyone stays warm. This can require a little planning ahead if you have a full household, but it’s probably the simplest solution. Tip: Use a paint chip calendar to keep track of your schedule.

Check for Other Issues

If you try all of these things but are still plagued with icy cold interruptions, there may be a problem with your water heater. Some red flags to look for include:
  • A rotten egg smell with gas-powered water heaters can indicate a faulty aluminum rod (this smell can also indicate a gas leak!).
  • Uneven pressure or spurts of water could mean there’s clogging in your water heater.
  • Popping or cracking sounds coming from your water heater are signs of sediment buildup.
  • Puddles or mold surrounding your water heater mean there’s probably a leak.
If you discover any of these issues, the best thing to do is contact a qualified professional to come properly diagnose and solve the problem.
A special thanks goes out to for this article.
And for assistance with all of your home repair needs, Pro-Fix Home Repair stands ready to help.  Contact them by calling 770-575-2533.
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  1. This is a very useful article for big families or for people who have house guest often. We can avoid the arguments and the race to the bathroom for a hot shower if the details are kept in mind. Investing in a bigger capacity water heater does not need to be the solution. The important thing to keep in mind is that we don’t waste water and use it sensibly. The rotten egg smell tip was a life saver as we kept wondering what could be the reason for it. The morning and evening bath timings is a great suggestion to avoid panic.

  2. I just moved to a new apartment complex. I have only ever lived at home before and had never experienced a cold shower. All of my roommates took pretty long showers one morning and without thinking anything of it I went in to take a shower. It was warm for maybe the first minute or two then the rest of the time it was cold water. I am guessing it is a tank heater at my apartment like you had explained. I am now always going to wake up earlier to take the first shower.