Why Am I Losing Hot Water?

Imagine yourself taking the world’s most luxurious shower. The water is hot, you’re listening to your favorite music, and your new shampoo smells fantastic. Then… it begins to happen. You feel it happening: you’re losing hot water. What was once a pleasant, warm, refreshing experience has become a shocking, bracing, and (literally) chilling one. This unpleasant scenario is a real problem for many homeowners. Why does it happen?

It happens because you’re literally losing hot water. Your hot water heater is one of the most used appliances in your home. It’s the reason cleaning gets done. Everything from your shower to your dishwasher to your washing machine to your kitchen sink needs hot water. If you’re losing hot water, it’s because your heater isn’t performing the way it should. There are a number of reasons why this might be happening. We’ll cover the most common reasons why you might be losing hot water – as well as how to fix them – below.

Sediment builds up inside the tank over time.

Sediment build-up happens. As water is heated, natural minerals like magnesium and calcium turn into sediment particles. These particles will settle to the bottom of the tank, building up over time. This build up leads to losing hot water as well as unpredictable temperature fluctuations. To fix this problem, you’ll need to get your water heater flushed with the help of a professional plumber.

Your tank is too small.

Do you know what size your water heater is? Unless you have a tankless water heater, there is an upper limit to how much water a single heater can heat at a time. If you find yourself facing consistently cold showers, this might be what’s wrong.

There are ways to determine the right size of water heater for your home. It’s not only about square footage. Installation experts determine the size your water heater should be based on several factors, including how much hot water you use and the number of people living in your house.

The dip tube has broken.

This tends to happen more frequently with older water heaters. We recommend replacing your water heater every ten to twelve years, but we also understand that that isn’t an option for everyone. If your home’s water heater was built between the years of 1993 and 1997, it may have a faulty dip tube.

The dip tube’s job is to direct incoming cold water to the bottom of the tank for heating. Common tubes manufactured during that time period were defective and would break down and dissolve in hot water over time. Luckily, you could replace your dip tube relatively easily. If your heater is old enough to contain these faulty dip tubes, however, we strongly recommend installing a new one.

The lower element has gone bad.

If you’ve started losing hot water suddenly instead of gradually, then your heater’s lower element is probably malfunctioning. There are multiple elements in the bottom of a tank that heat the water before sending it throughout the home. The lower element is the one most likely to go out first. If you suspect this is your problem, you should call a plumber to come test it using a multimeter to verify.

Just because you can diagnose what’s wrong with your water heater doesn’t mean you know how to fix it. That’s okay – because we do! Give the team at Ben Franklin Plumbing a call. We’re standing by and ready to help fix your home water and heating issues, big or small, day or night.