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Why Does It Take a Long Time To Get Hot Water?

November 30, 2021


These days, when we want something, we want it now. So if you’re stuck waiting for the water in your home to get hot, it can be a little frustrating.

Several things can affect how long it takes for you to get hot water out of your faucets, including:

  • The distance from your water heater to the faucet
  • Sediment buildup in your water heater
  • The size of your water heater
  • The type of fuel your water heater uses
  • Water heater failure

In this blog, we’ll discuss each possible issue and what you should do to get your hot water flowing faster.


Do you need a trusted, experienced plumber to evaluate your hot water issue? Ranshaw Plumbing & Heating has more than 50 years of industry-leading experience in Queens. We are always thorough, so you can count on us to get to the bottom of your hot water issue. Call us today at 718.767.0707 for reliable service or schedule your appointment online.

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Distance from the water heater to the faucet

Simply put, the further away from the tap your hot water heater is, the longer it will take for hot water to flow because most water pipes rarely go in a straight line. For example, if hot water needs to travel to a bathroom on the far side of your home, it likely has to flow through 60 to 70 feet of pipe. Depending on your water’s flow rate, anywhere from 5 to 15 seconds of travel time can get added.

Sediment buildup in the water heater

Over time, the minerals and sediment from your water can build up at the bottom of the water heater. Minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium can precipitate out of your water and create a crust. This buildup can prevent your water heater’s heating elements from heating the water evenly. Over time, the sediment can start to displace water in the tank or clog valves, drains, and water lines. Not only does displacement reduce the flow of hot water to your taps, but it also reduces the efficiency of your water heater overall.

You likely have sediment in your tank if:

  • You have a sudden loss of hot water followed by a rush of water that may be too hot
  • You hear a loud popping sound when the water heater is running due to air bubbles moving up from the bottom of the tank and breaking through the layers of crust inside

To fix this issue, you’ll need to call trained plumbers for help. A plumber can remove the sediment and make sure you have consistent hot water.

The size of the water heater

At Ranshaw, we install Bradford White residential tank water heaters and other top brands

The size of the water heater will affect how long it takes to replenish hot water if you’ve depleted your supply. So, the bigger the tank, the longer it will take to heat the full tank and send hot water to your faucet.

Most residential spaces have a water heater between 30 and 100 gallons. General recommendations for water heater sizing use the number of people in your household as a basis. For example:

  • 1 to 2 people: 30-40 gallons
  • 2 to 3 people: 40-50 gallons
  • 3-4 people: 50-60 gallons
  • 5+ people: 60-80 gallons

A smaller tank water heater between 30 and 50 gallons will take 30 to 40 minutes to heat up, assuming the water is coming into the tank at about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. If the water is colder—like it can be in the New York winter—it will take longer to heat.

A water heater larger than 60 gallons can take about an hour and 20 minutes to heat the water in the tank, again, assuming the water is coming in at about 60 degrees. Colder water will take longer to heat.

You can also opt for energy and space-saving tankless water heaters. A tankless water heater only takes about 15 seconds to heat your water since it pulls water in and immediately forces it through a heating chamber. Of course, you still have to wait for the hot water to make its way through your pipes to the tap, but you’ll never run out of hot water with the tankless option. However, tankless hot water heaters do have several drawbacks, such as expensive installation and repair costs and a shorter lifespan than traditional tank water heaters.

The type of fuel the water heater uses

Most water heaters in the Queens/NYC area are fueled by gas or run on electricity. Gas water heaters can heat a full tank of water nearly twice as fast as an electric water heater.

For example, a typical gas-fueled 50-gallon water heater would take about 60 minutes to warm up the water. Meanwhile, with the same-sized electric water heater, it could take up to 3 hours to heat a full tank of water.

If you have an electric water heater, you might be experiencing a lag in getting hot water, assuming that the water coming into the tank is about 60 degrees. With colder water, it will take longer to heat regardless of the fuel type.

Water heater failure

If your water heater is older, it may not be working as efficiently, which means it’s taking longer to heat a full tank of water. Gas water heaters typically last 8-12 years, while electric water heaters can last 10-15 years before they need replacement. A tankless water heater will usually last about 10 years before replacement is necessary.

If it is about time to replace your water heater, you may also notice loud noises coming from the water heater, rust on the outside of the unit, or water leaking from the tank.

No matter what type of system you have, it may be time to call an expert and replace your water heater if it’s reaching the end of its lifespan.

Still not sure why it’s taking so long to get hot water? Let the trained professionals at Ranshaw take a look.

We’ve been serving the community for more than 50 years. Our plumbers are experts at troubleshooting hot water issues. You can be sure we’ll get the job done right. Call us today for service at 718.767.0707 or schedule your appointment online.

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