Why Does my Water Heater Take So Long to Heat Up?

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Are you sick of waiting forever for your water to heat up? It’s frustrating when you have to waste precious time before work standing next to your shower, waiting and waiting for the water to get to a comfortable temperature.

There are many reasons why this issue may be occurring. Here are the 5 most common reasons why your water heater may take a long time to heat up and how you can fix the problem:

1. Inefficient Water Pipe Material or Placement

The location and material of your water pipes have a large impact on how quickly hot water can make it to your shower and faucets. Heavy pipe material such as copper absorbs more of the heat as the water passes through the pipes. Colder pipes will also absorb a lot of the heat from the water. This coldness may be due to the material that the pipes are made out of, or it may be due to the placement of the pipes. For example, if the water lines leading from your hot water tank to your faucets run through your basement, then they will likely be pretty cold.

When your pipes absorb a lot of the heat from the water that passes through, it means that you’re essentially having to warm up your pipes before you are able to warm up your shower. There are a few different steps that you can take to improve the efficiency of your pipes.

  1. Insulate your water pipes. This is the simplest solution. If your pipes are well insulated, then they will take less time to warm up. This means that your shower or sink water will also take less time to heat up.

  2. Replace your pipes. You may want to hire a reputable plumber to come and replace your piping if your water pipes are just too inefficient.

  3. Move your water lines. A plumber can also move your water pipes if they run outside, through the basement, or through another especially cold area in your home.

2. Small Pipe Diameter

Another cause of water taking a long time to heat up is water pipes that are too small. The smaller the diameter of your pipes, the longer it’s going to take for the hot water to make it from your water heater to your shower or faucet.

The only way to fix this problem is to have a plumber replace the piping in your home.

3. Distance Between the Water Heater and the Faucet or Shower

If your hot water heater is on the opposite side of the house from the sink or shower that you’re trying to heat up, then the water has a long distance to travel before reaching that sink or shower. This means that the water will take more time to travel the length of the piping to the faucet, and it will have much more piping that it needs to heat up before getting to the faucet.

One way to identify if this is the issue is to time how long a faucet close to the water tank takes to heat up and compare it to how long it takes a faucet far from the water heater to heat up. There are a couple ways that you can improve how long a far-off faucet takes to push out hot water.

  1. Insulate the piping. This likely won’t completely fix the problem, but it will make it a bit better.

  2. Replace your water heater. There are hot water heaters that are designed specifically to address the distance issue. You can get your water heater replaced with a more efficient model in order to fix the problem.

  3. Warm water circulation. If you mount a small pump underneath the sink furthest from the water heater, it will allow the water to circulate. This vastly speeds up the time it takes for the furthest faucets and showers to heat up.

4. Low Flow Rate

Sometimes the issue lies with the faucet or fixture. If the faucet or fixture has a low flow rate, it won’t pull water from the hot water tank as quickly. With the recent popularity of aerators, you may not even realize that your sink or shower has a low flow rate. Aerator screens mix air with the water that flows out of your faucet so that you use less water but still get high water pressure.

Because of how efficient these aerators make your sink and shower, it’s not recommended that you remove the aerator in order to improve how long it takes for your faucet to receive hot water. Instead, try piping insulation, replacing your water heater, adding a water pump to the sink furthest from your water heater, or replacing your water pipes with less cold or less heavy ones. One or more of these methods will very likely improve your hot water delivery rate.

5. Long Water Heater “Recovery Time”

Finally, a long time for water to heat up may be due to a long recovery time. Recovery time is the amount of time that it takes your water heater to fill up with hot water after it’s been used up during someone else’s shower, a clothes wash cycle, or a dishwashing cycle. You can usually tell that this is the cause of the issue if your water sometimes heats up quickly but takes a while at other times.

You may experience a long recovery time because your hot water tank is too small for your needs or it’s merely inefficient. In either case, the best fix is getting a new water heater installed.

If you’re experiencing issues with your hot water, call Denton Roto-Rooter Plumbing & Drain. They’ll discover the reason that your water takes a long time to heat up and fix it promptly. With over 80 years of plumbing experience, they’re the best team to turn to for your plumbing issues.