One of the biggest complaints that we hear from our customers during the winter months is that they don’t have enough hot water. They’re often frustrated because they are stuck taking cold showers or waiting until there is enough hot water to go about their business. Our customers are always asking us why this happens; especially since the water heater was working perfectly fine and supplied enough hot water just a few months prior.
To help answer this question, we’re going to do some math. Do you remember thinking why you would ever need to learn algebra back in junior high? Well, today is the day that it comes into good use. We’re going to do an exercise to calculate how hot water is used and why so many people run out of hot water during the colder months.
Here’s what we know:
During winter months, the average temperature of the water entering your home is ~45˚.
During summer months, the average temperature of the water entering your home is ~78.9˚.
The average shower temperature is ~105˚ (this, of course, varies depending on personal preference).
An average shower uses ~2.1 gallons of water a minute.
So what does this all mean?
During the summer, let’s say that the water temperature entering your home is 80˚ and you like your showers at 100˚. That means that it would take 1 gallon of hot water mixed with 1 gallon of cold water to give you 100˚ water for your shower. An average 40 gallon water heater (typical in most homes) would provide you with 40 gallons of hot water. This equals a ~19 minute shower.
Now let’s say that during winter, the water temperature entering your home is 40˚ and that the temperature that you like your showers is still 100˚. That means that it would take 3 gallons of hot water to mix with 1 gallon of cold water to give you the same 100˚ water temperature. This means that an average 40 gallon water heater only provides you with ~13 gallons of hot water. This equals a ~6 minute shower.
Once it’s depleted, and assuming your water heater is working efficiently, the average gas water heater takes 30-40 minutes to fully heat up the water in its tank (an hour to an hour and 20 minutes for an electric water heater).
So just based off of the above information alone, you can quickly see how a brand new water heater can change in its ability to provide you with enough hot water during the summer months but not be able to keep up with your demands during the winter months. Again, this is assuming that your water heater is well maintained and installed properly; which we often find that it’s not.
One of the biggest reasons we find water heaters are not able to keep up with demand has to do with how it’s maintained; or even if it’s maintained. Last month, we talked about Is Your Water Heater Safe. Unfortunately, improperly installed and improperly maintained water heaters are a real problem. Most people don’t think about their water heater until it stops working and don’t take the time to care for and maintain them like they would a normal household appliance.
We encourage our customers to be proactive in caring for their homes to avoid damage and costly expenses later. This is why we offer a lot of free services, like inspections, to help them have a handle on what’s going on inside the four walls of their homes.
Before the cold hits this winter, you should find out if your water heater can handle your hot water needs. Don’t wait until winter to find out if your water heater will be able to supply you with enough hot water to last you through the colder months.
Call us today to schedule a FREE plumbing safety inspection and a free water heater check-up ($165 value).
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