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Running out of Hot Water? Here’s 5 Reasons Why

There are few things more frustrating than running out of hot water when you need it most. If this is a common occurrence in your home, you don’t have to cope with cold showers forever. Your water heater is one of your home’s most important appliances, but when things go wrong, it isn’t always easy to pin down the problem. Everything from a broken component to electrical problems can zap your hot water supply in the blink of an eye. As plumbing experts, we’ve fixed water heaters all across the Valley. Based on our experience, here are five of the most common reasons why you’re running out of hot water.


1. Broken or damaged dip tube

A dip tube directs cold water to the bottom of your water heater so that it can be heated. This also keeps the cold water separate from the hot water at the top of your tank. If your hot water seems to run out quickly, or just won’t heat to the temperature you desire, it could be because of a broken dip tube.

When your dip tube is broken, it allows cold water to mix with the hot water in your tank, which means there will be much less hot water than there should be. Have a plumbing professional examine your dip tube if your hot water runs out quickly.


2. Electrical problems

If your home has an electric water heater, the cause of your hot water woes might be a blown fuse or electrical component. When it comes to electrical problems, it’s important to work with an expert for your own safety. Your home’s electrical system is an intricate one, and it’s easy to cause more harm than good if you take up a repair on your own.


3. Too much demand for a small capacity heater

When it comes to hot water, the rule is first come, first served. This means the closer a piece of equipment is to your heater, the more hot water it is able to use. So, for example, if your laundry machine or dishwasher are closer to your water heater than your bathroom is, these devices may be using all of your hot water before it gets to your bathroom. And, if you have several people trying to wash dishes, shower, or run a bath at the same time, your heater might not be able to produce enough hot water to meet demand. Upgrading to a larger capacity heater can solve demand issues.


4. Lack of maintenance

Regular maintenance can extend the life of your water heater, and keep problems like low supply at bay. You don’t want to run out of hot water when you need it most, so protect this valuable appliance with Hays’ water heater maintenance program. Some of the solutions we provide in our maintenance program include:

  • Checking water supply and delivery lines
  • Checking gas lines (if applicable) or electrical connections (if applicable)
  • Drain/Flush holding compartment/tank
  • Upgrade shut-off valve

Contact us to learn more about our water heater maintenance program and how our team can help keep your heater in great condition for years to come.


5. Aging water heater that needs replacing

If the time has come to replace your water heater, you have several options. First, you can opt to replace your unit with a newer version of the same brand and model. Or, you can upgrade to a heater with a larger tank or a different mechanism—such as changing from a traditional tank heater to a tankless one. Solar, heat pump, and condensing water heaters are options as well. You can learn all about the different types of water heaters, and get tips on how to choose the one that’s right for your home, in our article on The 5 Most Common Types of Water Heaters.

No matter what type of water heater you choose, put the following features on your buying checklist.

Energy efficiency ratings

An energy-efficient water heater is a win-win. It can help you save money by using less water, which also helps the environment. ENERGY STAR®  provides energy efficiency ratings to help homeowners like you pick the most efficient and worthwhile water heater for your home. You can look at a heater’s EnergyGuide label (the yellow sticker found on the heater) to see its estimated annual operating costs as well as how it measures up to efficient performance metrics.


Traditional storage tank water heaters tend to come with a capacity of 40 or 50 gallons. If you have a large household or otherwise require a lot of water, choosing a model with high capacity can keep you from running out. On the other hand, if you have a smaller household, a tankless water heater with a more compact footprint can strike the perfect balance between water capacity and space.

Recovery rate

This refers to the number of gallons a heater can be expected to heat in one hour. A good rule of thumb is that the recovery rate should be, in the very least, equal to the size of the heater. Following this rule, a 50 gallon heater should have a recovery rate of at least 50 gallons.

First hour rating

The first hour rating is the result of an equation that shows a water heater’s performance capacity within the first hour of use. It is calculated using the following formula:

Tank capacity x .70 + Recovery = First hour rating

First hour rating can help you determine what size water heater you need for the perfect balance of performance and hot water supply. You can find this rating on the bright yellow energy sticker found on all water heaters. If for some reason you can’t, you can look it up in the AHRI directory of water heaters by manufacturer and model number.

Fuel source

If your home has gas power, your heater will too—same goes for electric. Heat pump or hybrid water heaters offer an energy-saving alternative to traditional heaters by utilizing heat from the air to heat the water.


Make sure your new heater can fit into its new home. Measure the space it’s going to occupy (most likely your garage) or stick to a model that’s the same size as your current heater. If you’re downsizing, a space-saving tankless water heater can easily fit into a closet or spare room.


Call Hays for water heater expertise

Dealing with hot water problems? Looking to upgrade your heater? Not sure where to start? No problem. The solution to all your plumbing questions is easy—call the experts at Hays. With over 45 combined years’ experience and a strong reputation for customer service, it truly pays to call Hays. Contact us or schedule service online to get started.

About the Author

Chris Hays

Founder of Hays Cooling, Heating & Plumbing

Chris and Stacia Hays, are the founders of Hays Cooling, Heating & Plumbing; a family operated HVAC company in Phoenix founded in 2001 that services both commercial and residential customers. Chris leads a team of certified technicians who have over 45 years of combined experience and has earned and A+ rating with the BBB and a strong five star rating online. Hays Cooling, Heating & Plumbing focuses on providing support to their customers every step of the way, with exceptional service and competitive prices. If you are looking for top-notch air conditioning and heating service, contact Hays today.