There is nothing more shocking then having your shower suddenly go from hot to cold. Are you finding that your hot water system can’t keep up? Finding out why your shower keeps running out of hot water is the first step in getting the problem fixed. Good Plumbing Detectives always get to the source of the problem before trying to replace equipment or fix parts.
Your Shower is Too Long
This is a very common cause of cold showers, and it can creep up on you over time as your showers get longer and longer. Unless you have a clock handy, it’s very easy to lose track of time in the shower and you may be in there longer than you realize. Set up a timer and see just how long you’re running the shower. You shouldn’t have to rush for 3 minutes of hot water, but if you’re lingering for 10 or more, then you might be expecting too much from your system.
Someone Else is Using it
Double check that someone else in the house hasn’t started running an appliance that uses hot water (like the dishwasher) or is running a bath or showing in another bathroom. This applies to any use immediately before your shower as well as during it. It takes time for the hot water tank to heat another batch of water.
Hot Water Tank Problems
Once you have the simple and obvious issues out of the way, you can start to look at more serious concerns about your hot water system.
One possibility is that a heating element has worn out. If you do have some hot water, then one element must still be working so it’s not both. Replacing a heating element is something you may be able to do on your own though it can be an intimidating job if you’re not that handy.
It may not be an actual problem (as in damaged or faulty components) but rather that your tank just doesn’t have the capacity your household needs. That can mean the volume, as well as heating speed. Having a bigger tank does mean you have more hot water as soon as you need it, though this approach will mean you have to replace the tank with a larger one. That’s definitely a job for a professional unless you have some significant plumbing skills.
But you can also increase your available hot water by improving the elements within the tank. If your tank heats up quicker, then you can replenish your hot water supply much faster. This would mean you can take a shower (with all the hot water you want) without as much concern about when the last usage was.
If you’re finding that you just can’t get things solved for your shower, or don’t want to mess with the main tank system for the entire house, you can install a smaller heat-on-demand unit for the bathroom that will create hot water as you need it.