Beep, beep, beep. It’s 6:30 A.M., and your alarm is ringing. Time to get up, you think, as you blearily rise out of bed and head toward the bathroom. At least a nice, hot shower will get me going! You were right—that shower feels great! You’re just about to rinse the shampoo out of your hair when, suddenly, you’re hit with an icy blast of cold water. YIKES, that’s FREEZING! This shower just got a little too invigorating!
Does this sound familiar? A shower that unexpectedly turns cold can really put a damper on your morning routine. If you find yourself frequently stuck with cold showers, or you have to wait forever for the water to warm up enough to wash dishes, your hot water heater could be the culprit.
What to Consider
First, check the simple causes. Is your water heater of a large enough capacity to meet your needs? A home with three showers and six occupants will likely need more hot water per day than a home with one bathroom and two occupants. Is the temperature set too low? Adjusting the dial to 120 degrees is typically high enough to provide sufficient hot water; any lower, and you may find your hot water isn’t hot enough. Has there been much colder weather than usual? Water coming into your water heater at a significantly colder temperature than usual will take longer to heat, and traveling through very cold pipes on the way to your faucets may reduce its temperature. If you have a gas water heater, is the pilot light out? Relighting it should solve the issue.
There could be a more complicated reason for a lack of or drop in hot water. The thermostat on the water heater may be in need of repair or replacement. Perhaps you have a leak—is there water pooling around the unit? If you hear loud banging or high-pitched whining noises coming from your tanked unit, you likely have sediment build-up. Flushing the tank could resolve the issue.
If you’ve ruled out the potential causes above, your water heater might simply be getting old. The typical lifespan of a traditional tank-type water heater is eight to twelve years. By comparison, a tankless model has a longer lifespan, lasting twenty years or more.
Other factors which play into how long your water heater will ultimately last include the quality of the model, how well it was maintained, its location in your home, and the quality of your incoming water supply. A heater which is annually inspected and well-maintained will obviously last longer than one which is neglected. Likewise, one located in a temperature-controlled closet will last longer than one in an unheated garage or crawl space, as the unit in an unheated environment has to work much harder to heat water. Heaters in homes with hard water tend to have higher deposits of sediment, which shorten their service lives.
What to Do
If your water heater is only a few years old, check to see if it’s still under manufacturer’s warranty before repair or replacement.
Nothing lasts forever, so if you notice warning signs that your heater is on its way out, and you’ve eliminated other potential causes, it’s worth considering a replacement before your heater fails for good. Waiting until your water heater is lifeless will not only be stressful, it will also mean more energy consumption in the meantime.
If your Middle Tennessee water heater is in need of repair or replacement, let our professional plumbers do the work for you.