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Imagine that you come home from a long day at work and all you would like to do is take a hot shower. Before you can indulge in that, you find yourself loading the dishwasher and starting it up, and placing a load of laundry into your washing machine. After completing these two chores, you decide now is the time for your shower. Unfortunately, you turn the water on in your shower and the water is still cold after five minutes. This leads to many questions. How long for water heater to heat up? It depends on the type of water heater and ranges from 30 minutes to over an hour.

Let’s take a look below at what that entails and what we can expect.

What Are The Types

Believe it or not, there are a variety of water heaters available. It is a good idea to read up on which unit makes sense for your home. Let’s take a look below at what your choices are.

  • Tank – gas versions will use a pilot light to heat the cold water that is drawn into the tank and then heated and pushed back out to the hot water lines. Electric tank heaters use an internal heating element that heats up the cold water that circulates through the tank.
  • Tankless – these units work the same as a tank water heater does. Tankless water heaters only heat the water as needed. So, there is no need to store any excess water. Keep in mind that if multiple sources need hot water, these units might not produce as quickly due to the output of hot water.
A basic tankless water heater for the home.
A tankless water heater in the home.

How Long Does It Take

Getting an understanding of how long each type of hot water heater takes to heat up your water is important. Being an educated homeowner will allow you to save money and time. Let’s take a look at the differences between an electric hot water heater and a gas hot water heater.

Electric

Due to the fact that you are relying on heating elements, thermometers, and the temperature that a water heater is set to, the electric water heater takes longer to heat your water. Additionally, if one of those items isn’t functioning properly, you might never get the hot water you desire. In most cases, a hot water heater needs at least an hour to heat your water. Here’s a look at the breakdowns based on the gallons of water your tank holds.

  • 40-gallon electric water heater – can take up to 60-80 minutes.
  • 50-gallon electric water heater – will take up to 145-150 minutes.
  • 80-gallon electric water heater – typically take up to 120-130 minutes.

Gas

If you are looking for a speedy response to heating your water up, look no further than a gas-powered water heater. Having a flame lit inside your water heater allows the water to be heated at a more consistent rate. Remember that in most cases, your water heater already has access to water. With that being said, if your shower faucet is closest to the water heater, then you might experience hot water in a fairly quick amount of time. All heating scenarios are based on how insulated your pipes are if all parts in the water heater are set and working properly, and the distance your faucet is from the water heater. Here is a look at the breakdowns for how long it takes a gas-powered water heater to heat your water depending on the number of gallons your tank allows.

  • 40-gallon gas water heater- will take up to 30-40 minutes to heat 40-degree water to 120 degrees.
  • 50-gallon gas water heater – can take up to 40-50 minutes to heat 40-degree water to 120 degrees.
  • 80-gallon gas water heater – typically takes up to 60-70 minutes to heat 40-degree water to 120 degrees.

Why Does It Take So Long

Believe it or not, all is not equal when it comes to heating your home’s water source. Keep in mind that a variety of factors come into play when we are looking at why hot water isn’t coming out of the faucet a lot faster. Here is a list of reasons why hot water might be slower coming out of your faucets, regardless of if you have a gas or electric water heater.

  • Distance – if you have the farthest water faucet for your shower, it might take a few minutes for the water to travel from your water heater to your hot water faucet. The larger the house and further the distance, the longer the wait for the hot water.
  • Low volume restrictor – in some cases, your shower or other appliances have a low volume restrictor installed. This device restricts the flow of water and can delay how quickly hot water gets to them.
  • Old water heater – always keep tabs on how old your water heater is. The older the water heater the less likely it is to perform. On average, a water heater can last around 10 years.
  • Sediment – make sure you flush your water heater tank. In many cases, sediment builds up around the water heater walls and settles at the bottom of the tank. This prevents water from heating up in the tank as it blocks the transfer of heat to the water.
  • Size – in some cases a builder of a new construction or an older home might have a smaller water heater installed. This is usually due to cost savings. If your tank is too small to produce the volume needed for your home, you need to consider an upgrade to a larger tank. Also, consider adding a second water heater to the home, if your home is very large.
Do forget to drain your water heater tank to clean out sediment.
Clean out your tank sediment by draining and refilling the water heater tank.

Water Recovery Time

Keep in mind that as you use your hot water it may take the water heater tank time to refill and circulate more hot water. The time that it takes to replenish and recover your hot water flow depends upon the working parts of a tank water heater. The tankless water heater pushes water consistently as needed through your pipes and does not need recovery time.

The basic rules of recovery time rely heavily on the size of the tank, the type of energy source (gas or electric), and the temperature that the water is set to be heated.

Other Recommended Maintenance

When looking for a new water heater, you have many types to choose from. However, if you chose a gas water heater, you may wonder if it needs electricity. The answer is no, a gas water heater doesn’t need electricity once the pilot light is lit. Keep this in mind if your home if needing electricity concerns you and this type might be a good one for you.

Next, while your water may feel great in the home, you might have a problem with increasing the water pressure. Sometimes, it may be something in the neighborhood, while other times it could be the aerator or regulator. If you aren’t sure, contact a professional for assistance.

Lastly, as with anything, there is always maintenance. These maintenance ideas are flushing the water heater, adjusting the temperature and resetting, turning the gas water heater off and on, and checking the drain valve.

A tankless water heater repair.
Call a professional for water heater repairs.

When Do I Call A Professional

Anytime you are dealing with a system like your hot water heater, you will want to call a professionally licensed master plumber. This is important because they are certified to make sure your home has the correct hot water heater and your home remains safe. If you aren’t sure who to call, reach out to your local home inspection team. They can inspect your hot water heater and recommend a reputable professionally licensed master plumber to assist with your needs.

Conclusion

Not getting the proper hot water circulating through your home as needed can be very frustrating. Hot water heaters are essential for ensuring your shower, sinks, washing machine, and dishwasher all have hot water. Also, depending on the type of hot water heater that you have will determine how fast that water gets to its needed location. If you aren’t sure which hot water heater best meets your needs, call on Waypoint Property Inspection East can inspect your hot water heater during a home inspection in South Florida.