Don’t get into hot water by running out when you have guests

don't run out of hot waterIt’s the cold, hard truth – no one likes to run out of hot water. But having guests over the holidays can tax your water heater – and a little forethought can help you avoid the cold shoulder – and cold showers.

A water heater is often an overlooked appliance tucked away in a garage or utility room, so it might be helpful to review a few basics on how it works:

  • Hot water is stored in a reserve tank.
  • When hot water is turned on from a faucet, the hot water tank sends the hot water to the tap or line.
  • A hot water heater is rated by how much hot water it can produce in one hour. (For example, a hot water rating of 30 means it can supply 30 gallons of hot water in one hour before it needs to refill and reheat.)

Not all water heaters are the same

There are standard storage water heaters and hybrid water heaters, and the reasons you run out of hot water vary depending on the model, and how it’s used. They include:

Insufficient capacity

If you have guests, more people are using more hot water than usual in the household.

Overuse

People may be overusing the hot water by taking especially lengthy showers, or additional baths.

Small tank

Your tank may be too small to accommodate your household.

Tankless restrictions

If you have a tankless water heater, it only heats on demand – making it good for a household of one or two people.

Reduced capacity

There may be a build-up of sediment in your water heater that is reducing tank size.

Repair needs

There may be broken water heater parts, such as burned out elements.


It follows that for every problem, there is generally a solution – including ways to avoid running out of hot water. These include:

Take shorter showers

Less showering means less water used. When you’re going through the food line, you take less so everyone has enough. Likewise, it’s okay to remind everyone there’s a long line to use the shower, and to practice the same consideration.

Wash laundry in cold

Cold water does a great job of cleaning clothes, especially when you use cold-water detergents. Make a note to stock up before guests arrive.

Time your dishwashing – They get just as clean in the middle of the night, and that’s presumably a low demand time for showers.

Get a bigger water heater

You may simply need to upgrade to a larger, more efficient water heater to accommodate the needs of your household.

Schedule regular maintenance

Have your water heater flushed and filled regularly to avoid sediment build-up. Regular maintenance is also a good way to spot a broken part or avoid burned out elements.


Running out of hot water is no fun – so avoid the discomfort and embarrassment of running out of hot water when you have guests over the holidays and all through the year.