How to Get More Hot Water From a Shower
There is nothing that can turn a good morning into a bad day as quickly as a hot shower that becomes a cold one while you are still soaping yourself! If you are experiencing this problem regularly, then you might be wondering what you can do to get a consistent flow of hot water from your shower.
Hot water systems can only keep hot water hot for so long before it becomes lukewarm, and if you are just setting the water too hot when you turn on your shower, then it might just be a simple problem of making the temperature hot enough.
There are various reasons that your shower could be lacking hot water. Here are a few things you could try to fix the problem.
Check your water heater:
- First, check the dip tube. The dip tube is the pipe that feeds cold water into the water heater. Coldwater should shoot through this tube into the bottom of the water heater where it begins to heat up. If the dip tube is damaged or broken, the cold water will remain at the top of the tank and will not be heated efficiently. This is a simple DIY repair and it should not be costly.
- The element in the water heater may have burnt out or you may need to adjust the thermostat – especially if you live in a very cold region. While this can be done yourself, it requires totally emptying the water heater first in order to remove the element. This can be tricky if your heater is wall mounted.
- Your family’s needs may have outgrown the size of your water heater. You might need to install a larger one or add an under-counter water heater. This one available at Amazon has good reviews and can store 2.6 gallons, but there are other less expensive ones available.
- Do some general maintenance such as cleaning out sediment from the tank. General instructions can be found here. If one isn’t already fitted, you should consider fitting an in-line water filter, especially if you live in a ‘hard water’ area. Not only will this reduce the impurities in the water but it will extend the life of your heater and avoid build-up of sediment and scale. The cartridge types are easy to fit and can benefit the whole home. Remember to change the cartridge every few months.
Check your taps:
Check the hot water flow from all the taps in the house to determine whether it is a general problem or limited to the shower. Install a dual-handled faucet on the shower to reduce the draw of hot water from the tank.
Check the showerhead.
It is possible that it has become clogged with minerals and needs some mechanical maintenance. It could be that there are just some built-up deposits on its spray holes, or maybe there is an issue with the thermostat, in which case you should call a plumber to fix it for you.
Also, look for adjustments on your shower head. It is possible that you could have inadvertently turned down the flow of hot water without noticing it. Check its settings and make sure they are all in their original position, or try to recall whether there was a time when you changed them without knowing it.
Check the valves:
The shower valve mixes hot and cold water ensuring a perfect temperature. The O-rings or washers can wear out and then the valve no longer mixes the water adequately. This is a simple do-it-yourself repair and the washers are easily available. Here is a YouTube video that demonstrates the process.
Check the pipes:
If you have a hand sprayer in the shower that gets hot when the main shower is turned off, a cross-connection may be the issue. It could be a bit tricky to do-it-yourself because you need to access the built-in shower plumbing behind the wall and a professional plumber is probably needed to fix this problem.
- Clean pipes using a home remedy or a commercial product.
- Ensure that there are no leaks from joints in the pipes.
- You could try shortening the distance of the pipes from the water heater to the shower or insulate the pipes to prevent heat loss.
Check the usage times:
Remember that there is only so much hot water that a water heater can produce at a time. If you and your family are using multiple appliances that require hot water, as well as taking a number of showers all in a row, this will place too much demand on the hot water supply and someone is going to end up with a cold shower – probably you!
Install a re-circulation pump:
If you have a regular water heater, you will notice that you need to run the faucet for a while before the hot water arrives. This is because the water that has been waiting in the pipe has cooled down and has to be replaced by hot water. The length of time before the water feels hot will depend on how far the faucet is from the water heater. It also means that a lot of water just runs down the drain and is wasted.
Installing a re-circulation pump not only saves water but also ensures that you get hot water quicker and the lukewarm water is sent back to the water heater to be reheated, therefore it is not wasted. You can find re-circulation pumps on Amazon or contact your local plumber for more information on how to install this type of pump.
A word of caution!
If you do manage to adjust/increase the temperature of the hot water in your shower, always remember to inform other members of your household about the change in temperature. A very hot shower could be dangerous for young children or the elderly, so make sure that they are informed and assisted before they take the first shower after your successful handiwork.