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With the kids back to school you might be working around new schedules for who gets to use the bathroom and who can take a shower first. If you are the last one in the shower, you don’t want to be thinking, “What happened to the hot water?” Of course, it will get lukewarm before it gets really cold.

You might be thinking that a shower should be counted on to be good and hot when you need it to be. If you have a hot water tank that supplies your hot water, it has its limits. Your water heater is seeing an increased demand now that everyone needs to shower before heading off to school or work. But the water heater can’t handle it. It needs time to regenerate hot water.

If your water heater is working overtime and causing you to run out of hot water, you probably have a conventional water heater that stores heated water in its tank. With a conventional water heater, the water has to start off hot for you to get hot water. Once you use all the hot water available in the tank there will be a time delay before enough stored water is heated back up again.

Although you might not have time to wait for the water to get heated again, there are some steps you can take to limit your hot water usage. And you won’t always have to be the first in line for the shower. The amount of hot water you have at any given time depends on the type and size of your water heater, and your needs. So your options are to lessen the demand or make a change such as installing a different water heater.

Let’s look at 5 things you can do to stop running out of hot water::

  1. Limit times in the shower to help everyone get their shower while the water is still hot. This option obviously requires everyone to cooperate and can be more complex than it actually sounds. Who will monitor the times and what do you do if someone goes past his allotted time?
  2. Have everyone turn off the water while they are lathering with soap. Once you get wet, you don’t need the water until you are ready to rinse off. Turning off the water until you are ready to rinse is great to way to save on water, not just hot water. But it also requires cooperation with no way to monitor it.
  3. Check the temperature of your water heater. Although this won’t fix a problem when hot water runs out in your tank, your problem could be with the temperature or an element. If the water never gets very hot at all, your temperature might not be set correctly. But be careful not to set the temperature too high. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends setting to 120 °F. And if you have an electric water heater, there could be a problem with one of your elements that causes the water to only get hot for a short period of time.
  4. Limit consecutive usage of hot water appliances while you shower. If the kids are taking showers right before you do, they may have used up all of the hot water. The dishwasher and washing machine also use up a lot of hot water, and taking a shower during a wash load could result in a cold shower. Always allow 30 minutes after the last shower or wash load to allow the water heater to regenerate more hot water.
  5. If you are ready for a change, replace your conventional water heater with a tankless water heater. A tankless system will bypass the tank and route heated water straight to taps or appliances instead. Your water will get heated on demand. Take as long a shower as you want. Then the only reason to time someone’s shower will be because someone may be waiting in line to get in.

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