Do you find yourself waiting a long time for hot water? Unfortunately, waiting 40–60 seconds for your shower to heat up isn’t uncommon in many San Antonio homes.
If your water takes longer than 10–20 seconds to heat up, it’s not only a waste of your time—it also drives up water, sewage and electric bills.
You might be wondering what’s taking so long. Well, the time it takes hot water to reach a fixture depends on 4 things:
- The distance from the fixture to the water heater
- The fixture’s flow rate
- The material of your supply pipes
- The age of your water heater and its condition
We’ll go over how these factors impact hot water time. Then, we’ll go over how you can get hot water faster.
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4 factors that impact how long it takes your water to heat up
1. Distance from the fixture to the water heater
The farther the fixture is from your water heater, the longer it will take for hot water to reach the fixture.
Your home likely only has one water heater to deliver hot water throughout your home. Depending on how big your house is, the hot water might have to travel through 40–70 feet of piping (or more) before it reaches the fixture.
2. Fixture flow rate
The lower the flow rate of the fixture, the longer it will take the fixture to deliver hot water.
Flow rate refers to how many gallons of water can pass through a fixture in a minute (gpm).
Most household sinks have flow rates between 1 and 2.2 gpm and most shower heads have flow rates between 1.5 and 2.5 gpm.
You can find your fixture’s flow rate either on the product itself (check the side of the fixture) or online in the product description.
If your fixture has a low flow rate (anything below 1 gpm), you can upgrade to one with a higher flow rate to reduce how long it takes to get hot water. Additionally, you’ll want to upgrade any fixtures with corroded heads, as dirty heads restrict how much hot water you’ll receive.
Keep in mind: A fixture with a higher flow rate won’t necessarily cut down on your water usage. Because it has a higher gpm, the higher flow rate fixture will pull more water than a lower flow rate fixture, which could increase your monthly water usage.
Contact a professional plumber to find out if it makes sense for you to upgrade your fixture to one with a higher flow rate.
3. Supply pipe material
The colder and denser the pipe material, the more heat it pulls from the water, slowing how long it takes hot water to arrive at a fixture.
When not being used, your water supply pipes lose heat and become cold (especially in winter). The longer your pipes have gone unused, the colder they’ll get, which means they’ll absorb more heat from the hot water as it runs through your plumbing.
For example, a heavy material like copper will retain more heat than a less dense material like PVC.
How long you have to wait for hot water also depends on the ambient temperature. You’ll wait longer if some of your supply piping is located in an outside wall (near the cold outdoors) as opposed to an internal wall.
Also, cold ground temperatures can contribute to slow hot water delivery. You see, many San Antonio homes are built on slab with piping inside the slab. When the ground temperature is cold, the water in these pipes will be colder, which means it may take your water heater longer to provide hot water.
4. The age of your water heater and its condition
Older water heaters will generally take longer to heat your home’s water.
You see, sediment builds up inside a water heater tank over time. Eventually, this sediment could act as a barrier between the burners and the cold water, making your water heater work longer to heat the water.
Chances are, if your water heater is older and has never been maintained, you’ll struggle to get hot water fast (in which case we’d recommend replacing your water heater). Now that you know why you have to wait so long for hot water, let’s go over how to fix the problem.
How to get hot water faster: Install a recirculating pump system
We’ve found the best solution for a slow hot water problem is a recirculating pump system.
A recirculating system (also called a “demand hot water recirculating system”) has 2 components:
- A pump that connects to the supply line in your water heater.
- A sensor valve installed on the fixture located furthest from the water heater. This valve connects to both HOT and COLD supply lines.
When you turn on the pump, or when the timer customized to your schedule tells the pump to turn on, the pump will push cold water sitting in your supply pipes—which would normally go right down the drain—back into your water heater to be heated.
The best part?
By installing a recirculating system, you’ll significantly cut down on how much wastewater your home sends to the city sewer line. That means you’ll reduce usage during wastewater averaging (occurs mid-November to mid-March), which will save you money on water bills throughout the entire year.
Need help from a San Antonio pro?Contact us
We’ll send one of our plumbers to your home to take a look at your plumbing and talk with you about your options for improving your hot water situation.