Waiting for some hot water can be one of the most frustrating things in the world. Whether you want to do some dishes or you simply need to take a shower after gym, you do not want to do any of these with frozen water. But then, it may take up to a few minutes for the water to warm up. Even worse – sometimes, it gets hot straight away, but then, it goes cold and hot again. Now, what kind of issues cause this problem in the long run? More importantly, how long does it take for hot water to come back?
Having access to hot water is all about convenience. You do not want to run out of it because it is a basic necessity. Keep in mind that apart from wasting your own time, you are also wasting lots of money. Letting water run and waiting for it to warm up means you still have to pay for the cold water. Now, before finding any potential solutions to this ongoing problem, it is quite important to understand the causes behind it too.
So, How Long Does It take for hot water to come back?
Here are some of the common issues why:
Lots Of Water In Pipes
This problem will not really cause the hot water to go cold and vice versa. This is not the issue that will make the water change its temperature twice within half a minute. Instead, it will cause the water to heat up relatively slow. In other words, you jump in the shower and turn the water on, but you have to wait for a few minutes for warm water.
This is among the simplest reasons out there. Most faucets or pipes still have water inside. Once you turn the water off, there will still be plenty of water just behind the tap, waiting to get out – unless you turn the main house tap off, which no one does except for emergencies. All this water will cool down within hours or even minutes. As it comes out, it is quite cold, hence the necessity to wait – not really a water temperature fluctuation.
Problematic Water Heater
This is what you hope to never face – a problematic water heater that will need replacement at some point or another. Unfortunately, these appliances do break down and unexpected problems will still arise out of nowhere. Now, there are more signs to tell whether or not you have this problem – a little attention to the behavior of your water heater will give you the answer.
Think about your water a year or two ago. Water used to heat up in no time and the temperature was constant throughout your dishwashing or showering sessions. Today, it takes way longer for the warm water to kick in. Instead of waiting for a couple of seconds, you need to wait for just under a minute. That is a sign that you might need to change the water heater.
Another issue brings in fluctuating temperatures. You shower playing your favorite music and the water suddenly goes cold. You take the shower away from you, but then, it warms up in a few seconds. Such cold episodes last for less than half a minute, but they can be extremely uncomfortable. How long does it take for water to come back then? It depends, but it is a matter of seconds.
On another note, a water heater is designed to last for anywhere between eight and 12 years. Once it turns eight years old, you can expect small issues to kick in. Of course, there are also a few exceptions based on how well you looked after the water heater. As it reaches the end of its lifespan, getting the job done is more difficult and a replacement will be necessary soon.
Now, the first main cause that delays the hot water is easy to fix and does not have anything to do with you – just give the old water a few seconds to get out. The second problem is more difficult to deal with. Water heaters are hard to fix and the expenses do not make the operation worth the money. Therefore, most people replace them – plumbers recommend the same thing too. What about other problems then?
Identify The Actual Problem – How long does it take for hot water to come back?
Unexpected temperature fluctuations are not to fool around with. Ignore this issue for too long and other problems will kick in – eventually, the water heater will fail. If it is not that old, give it a quick check – the problem might be somewhere else. You need to know what you have on your hands first. Heaters come in all kinds of sizes and types, so you have to know what to seek troubleshooting help for.
The first step implies isolating the issue. You need to figure out exactly where the issue is. Check out the water temperature with a single shower. Every other water-using appliance in the house must be turned off – the heating, the coffee machine, and so on. When the water temperature is consistent, the issue is obviously not in the boiler, so do not rush to change it.
If you have more bathrooms or showers in the house, perform the same step with two different showers and keep an eye on the temperature. If the temperature starts fluctuating again, the problem is pretty obvious – the water tank. Most commonly, the water tank is not large enough, so it has to fill up as you use it – hence the cold episodes.
How long does it take for hot water to come back? If it only takes the water a few seconds to get back warm, you probably need a slightly larger tank – or perhaps take shorter showers. But then, if it takes the heater over half a minute to warm water, the problem is more important and you will need an actual investment.
Double-Check The Pressure Balancing Valve
Next time you take a shower, ask another family member or a friend to start another water using an appliance. It could be anything. For example, you can ask someone to start the dishwasher. Living by yourself? Keep the shower running and flush the toilet, then jump back inside and try to notice any temperature changes.
Fluctuating water temperature can also be caused by problematic well water, which is normally cool. Pressure changes all the time. A random infusion of cold water will ruin the experience. If the pressure-balancing valve is defective or shows signs of problems, the water temperature will change whenever this pump is cycled.
The valve responsible for balancing the pressure will open or close based on the water use. The same rule applies for the water flow in the piping system. When levels drop – whether it comes to cold or hot water, a problematic valve will inevitably lower the water pressure. At this point, freezing cold water ends up in the system to ruin your showering experience.
The good news – if there is any – is that valves responsible for balancing pressure are inexpensive and easy to replace. They do not make a good DIY project though – unless you are a plumber. If you are not, simply seek professional help. Keep in mind that a problematic valve might mean that your boiler is alright to use – not such an expensive replacement.
Do You Use A Tankless Water Heater?
There are more types of water heaters out there and each of them has its own particularities. Tankless water heaters represent a common option these days because they do not require tanks. They are easy to install without any professional help and they do not require too much space. You get consistent hot water on demand.
On the other hand, classic water heaters with tanks require space to store the water once it is hot. The tankless one does not – plus, it is much more energy-efficient. How does it work? The operating principle is easy to understand – the burner switches as cold water goes through the line. The water coming out is then hot.
Tankless water heaters are not perfect and cold leaks may easily get into the line, meaning temperature fluctuations are relatively common. If you have this issue, it might be normal. Therefore, changing the water heater will not help. Then, some brands came out with an innovative design – tankless heaters with tiny tanks that hold a bit of hot water. This type of design prevents cold leaks into the system.
Bottom line, how long does it take for hot water to come back? When any of these problems arise, the water temperature will fluctuate for a few seconds or up to half a minute. A second or two will not necessarily ruin your experience, but having to put the shower away for half a minute every now and then can indicate a serious problem.
While it may look like the issue is in the water heater, the truth is there are other parts that may cause these fluctuations, which is actually good news if you do not want to spend money on a new water heater.
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