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Why Do I Always Run Out of Hot Water?

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Every Albertan knows that having hot water in the house isn’t a choice, it’s a necessity. Staying warm in our frigid winters requires the occasional hot shower and a warm water supply prevents our pipes from freezing. But have you found yourself running out of hot water when you need it most?

There are a few reasons that your hot water supply might not be providing what you need. If you’ve got a hot water emergency, it’s always best to call our team for immediate service. For less urgent matters, consider these factors when you’re frustrated with a limited hot water supply.

What Type of Water Heater Do You Have?

The first step in understanding why your hot water keeps running out is knowing how your home heats its water. Most homes in Alberta have a hot water tank installed, but you may have an alternate water heating system.

Tank Water Heaters

A tank water heater is a vessel that stores a large volume of water and heats it internally. In Alberta, these are typically located in a basement or ground floor and fuelled by natural gas. The tank is designed to refill automatically, constantly keeping a hot water supply available.

The upfront costs of a hot water tank are lower than most tankless options. A tank water heater can be replaced in a few hours. The size of a hot water tank varies by needs and available space. It is recommended that all tank water heaters receive professional maintenance at least once a year.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters heat water instantaneously as it is being used. Also known as continuous flow, flash, or on-demand water heaters, this hot water system runs water through a hot coil before it comes out of the showerhead or faucet. Tankless water heaters are ideal for homes with limited space and high hot-water demand.

The initial costs for installing a tankless system are higher, but a properly installed and maintained system can last up to 20 years. A professional plumber should service your tankless water heater each year, and more often if you are using hard water (Calgary) or prefer high-temperature water.

A man looking up at a shower head yelling with soapy hair because he ran out of hot water

Reasons You Have No Hot Water

Depending on the age of your hot water system and the unique conditions of your home, there are a few reasons you might struggle to consistently get the right amount and the right temperature of hot water. Professional plumbers are experts in troubleshooting hot water tanks and finding solutions to keep your water hot, so give us a call if your showers are too brisk.

Too Much Water Being Used

If you have a traditional tank heater you could simply be draining the hot water supply before the tank can replenish itself. Think about all the places that use hot water in your home: showers and baths, dishwasher, laundry machine, and taps and faucets. There are many sizes of tank storage water heaters but capacity is typically 75-300 litres.

Larger families running multiple appliances and taking several showers in a day may be running out of available hot water. Nobody wants that cold water shock halfway through a shower! Try using dishwashers and laundry machines during times the shower is not used. One of our technicians can evaluate the size of your tank and make recommendations to keep up with your family’s hot water demands. 

Old Water Heating System

Sometimes the simple truth is that your water heating system is past its prime. All good things come to an end and this is true in water heaters, too! An average water heating system will last about 8-12 years. If your unit is at least a decade old, it’s probably time to get a replacement.

A new hot water system may be backed by a warranty and give you peace of mind that steamy showers are here to stay. Ace Plumbing offers financing options that make it easier to replace an old, rundown hot water system with a modern, reliable solution. 

Too Much Sediment

Our water supply carries natural mineral sediments that settle in your hot water tank as water is being heated. Being at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, Calgary has a hard water supply, full of calcium and magnesium. A hard water supply is safe to consume, but over time it can affect plumbing and water tanks.

The best way to avoid sediment build-up and keep a steady flow of hot water in your home is to have your tank flushed regularly. Like any appliance, regular service will help you get the most out of your hot water tank. One of our technicians can flush sediment from your tank, increasing water capacity and allowing the unit to heat water more effectively.

Broken Dip Tube

If you have a hot water tank in your home, the unit has an internal dip tube. This tube transfers cool water from your home’s external water supply at the top of the tank down to the bottom where it is heated. Once the water is hot, it rises to the top of the tank and more cool water enters as the cycle continues.

A failing dip tube will not carry water all the way to the bottom of the tank. This leads to tepid, lukewarm water, instead of a true hot water supply. Some dip tubes become brittle after years of use. Look for white plastic flakes in your water supply to indicate a broken dip tube. Regular maintenance will allow a professional to replace your dip tube before you’re stuck with cold water. 

Miscalibrated Thermostat

Just as your home has a thermostat to control air temperature, your hot water supply has a thermostat to control water temperature. Locate the thermostat on your water heater and confirm the temperature is desirable. A hot water tank should rest between 48-60 degrees celsius (120-140 degrees Fahrenheit). This is hot enough to prevent bacteria from forming but not scorching enough to scald your skin.

When your water supply isn’t hot enough, try turning up the thermostat incrementally. If problems persist, have a professional take a look at your hot water heater and decide on the best steps.

Power Supply Issues

In some instances, the reason for a lack of hot water has nothing to do with your hot water system itself. Hot water tanks in Alberta will usually use natural gas to heat the tank element and keep a steady supply of hot water. If there is an issue in getting natural gas to the tank it will prevent the water from staying warm. 

Look for a pilot light at the bottom of your tank to be lit. If this is out, there is probably a gas supply issue. Checking your home’s furnace or a gas-powered stovetop can also confirm if there is a natural gas issue. Ace Plumbing offers furnace and HVAC services that can help solve gas-related problems.

A tankless water heater uses electricity to keep the heating coils hot and your water supply toasty. If your heating system appears to not be operating, or water is coming out without being heated at all, you could have a power supply issue to the unit. Get in touch with us to have a plumber assess your hot water system.

Staying Ahead of Hot Water Issues

Fighting the cold and comfortable showers both require hot water in your home. While a problem with your hot water supply can occur unexpectedly, it can usually be fixed with the help of professional plumbers. The best way to prevent a sudden lack of hot water is to have regular maintenance on your hot water system. An expert can diagnose trouble spots before they affect your daily routine.

Running out of hot water at the wrong time can be a burden for anybody. Help yourself by being a little bit familiar with your hot water system and knowing when to call a professional.

Written by Jack Devetten

The company was built on dedication to quality services, skilled and experienced technicians, and competitive prices. Our owner, Jack Devetten, brings more than 45 years of experience with him. All our staff members are focused on delivering 100% satisfaction on every job they do – we guarantee it!
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