Hot water is one of the most important modern amenities. Whether you need hot water for cooking and cleaning or simply for a soothing bubble bath after a long day, hot water is an essential resource for your household needs. For this reason, few things are more annoying than water that never seems to get hot enough or that simply runs out. Fortunately, there are ways to increase the hot water output instead of just running the faucet and hoping for the best. A look at the top ways to boost hot water output can help you heat things up each time.
What Factors Can Lower Your Hot Water Output?
Perhaps you have a standard tank water heater that always seems to run out of hot water. Even if you set the water heater thermostat to “hot,” it can often seem that standard tanks never produce enough hot water to go around. You may even have a large family, and the typical 40-gallon water reservoir can no longer keep up, or you simply want enough hot water to exceed the average 10-minute shower.
Common causes of lowered hot water output include sediment buildup, worn-out parts, faulty heating elements, or insufficient tank capacity. Sediment buildup occurs when dissolved particles like magnesium, calcium, or rust form a layer in the water tank. This sediment can displace a significant amount of water in the tank. The sediment layer can also insulate the heating source and prevent it from doing its job. In this instance, you would need to contact a professional plumber to remove the sediment or replace the water heater.
If your tank has worn-out parts like a broken dip tube, cold water can mix with heated water and lower its overall temperature. A plumber can replace a broken dip tube so that your desired amount of water remains properly heated. Similarly, the tank’s heating element or devices can eventually reach the end of their productive life span. Whether the source is an electric short or faulty wiring, a professional can identify damage to your heating element and recommend solutions.
Finally, a common cause of lowered hot water output is simply an insufficient capacity to accommodate all residents in your household. If you have several bathrooms or multiple family members, you may require a larger or more efficient system. A plumber can assess the situation and offer recommendations for your replacement or upgrade.
What Are the Best Options for Increasing Your Hot Water Output?
In the past, traditional recommendations for increasing hot water output included insulating the system or replacing fixtures. For example, a common suggestion was to use an insulating blanket on the water tank or attempt to insulate the pipes. However, these suggestions often fail to address the source of the hot water issue and do little to increase water output. Similarly, while a plumber can certainly replace shower heads or fixtures if necessary, a fundamental problem with your tank or heater might require a more significant upgrade.
Tankless Water Heaters
A tankless water heater is a device that instantly heats water as it flows through an inner chamber. Also known as demand-type or instantaneous water heaters, these devices dispense hot water only as needed. Unlike conventional tank water heaters, tankless devices do not store water in vats in order to keep it warm. As a result, tankless equipment does not accumulate standby energy loss associated with traditional water storage tanks.
Tankless water heaters are typically freestanding units. When you turn on your hot water faucet, the cold water heats up via thermal conductivity or heat exchange. As a result, this advanced system can supply a continuous flow of hot water. You do not need to wait for a tank to refill and heat up before using hot water again. Depending on the model, tankless water heaters can use either natural gas burners or electric elements to do the heating. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a gas-powered tankless water heater can produce hot water at a rate of 2 – 5 gallons per minute. Having a professional plumber install a tankless system is an efficient solution for obtaining hot water on demand.
Indirect Water Heaters
If your home uses a hot water boiler, you may wish to consider upgrading to an indirect water heater. Also known as a sidearm tank or indirect-fired water heater, this device produces hot water via thermal exchange with your boiler. The sidearm tank or indirect water heater does not use its own burners or flue. Instead, it operates using the same heating element as the boiler.
Because the indirect heater does not need its own flue pipe or insulator, it sustains heating much more efficiently than a conventional water tank, and the system fires up much less often. As a result, the hot water output is significantly greater.
Water Recirculation Pumps
Some home designs can accommodate a water-recirculating pump. The purpose of this device is to provide hot water on demand. This device attaches to your water heater and recirculates unused cold water back to your heater either through a dedicated line or through the cold-water line. A secondary valve also delivers hot water to your faucets on a consistent basis. Instead of waiting for the water to reheat each time, this continuous flow ensures that hot water is always available at the faucets and consumption points.
High-Recovery Water Heaters
The speed at which a heater warms up water for domestic use is called the recovery rate. Industry professionals measure this rate in metrics of gallons per hour (GPH). The higher the GPH number, the more efficiently the device can produce hot water. As a result, high-recovery units take much less time to produce an ongoing flow of warm water. Also known as a quick-recovery heater, this type of unit can mean that you do not have to wait long periods before using hot water for showers or other purposes.
If your home uses a centralized water system, you may wish to inquire about installing a tempering valve to increase the hot water output. Also known as a mixing valve, this device blends hot and cold water to produce the ideal temperature for distribution to sinks and showers. Upon installing the device, the stored water can heat to levels well above conventional settings. The device then combines this heated water with cooler water outside the tank so that perfectly warm water flows from your faucets. This method works best for newer heaters and newer homes, so a plumbing professional can help determine if this solution is right for your residence.
Large Capacity Water Heaters
For some households, the most straightforward solution for increasing hot water output is to install a larger capacity water heater. In the past, the 40-gallon water heater remained the standard device for newly constructed homes. For individuals who operate home businesses or work remotely at home, however, the standard water heater simply may not cut it. If you constantly find that hot water is in short supply, consult with a plumber about whether your house can accommodate a water-heater capacity of 50 gallons or more.
Plumbing Expertise at Your Disposal
Tired of running out of hot water just when you need it most? A professional plumber can provide solutions to give you all the hot water you want. At Cal’s Plumbing, we offer superior plumbing services for Tucson and the surrounding areas. This includes a full line of options like inspections, installations, repiping, drain cleaning, water treatment, and more. Whether you would like to upgrade to a tankless water heater or explore another alternative, we can provide the right fix for your plumbing issues. With legendary service since 1948, we have the experience you can trust to keep high-quality water right at your fingertips. Give us a call today.