If you’ve felt the pain of your bath or shower suddenly going cold, no one needs to tell you how unsettling it is. Honestly, we find it more irritating than an entirely cold shower because of the shock element. While there’s nothing you can do about the temperature of the water in a hostel or at a friend’s house, there are things you can do to help ensure the water in your home is hot when you want it to be. The following will take a look at some of the simpler ways you can make sure you’ve got hot water galore for yourself, your family members, and your guests.
Address The Sharing Water Problem
Sometimes we don’t have an issue with the amount of hot water, but more so, we have a problem with the sharing of hot water. If your shower suddenly goes cold (or scalding hot) when someone flushes a toilet or runs a tap elsewhere in the home, there are solutions that can help you out. Plumbing is commonly configured via what’s called a trunk and branch system. This involves one large pipe running across your building with smaller pipes branching off of it into individual rooms and taps. This is efficient, but if one branch needs water while another is using it, stealing can occur. The toilet or tap might be taking some water from the shower (the toilet flushes cold, so it tends to steal cold water making your shower scalding, the kitchen tap tends to be put on warm or hot and so steals hot water making your shower cold).
Foremost, you can reduce the speed at which your toilet uses water by closing the valve slightly. This will make it take longer to fill up again but will limit the shocking temperature difference in the shower. You can also install (or have a plumber install) a newer mixing valve in the shower which will help reduce the fluctuations in temperature (when the cold gets limited slightly, it will automatically limit the hot in tandem, so there are no shocks). More drastic plumbing solutions include increasing the amount of available water within your system (typically done by increasing the diameter of the trunk or branch pipes) or by installing a manifold with home runs (this is a massive plumbing job that results in each water fixture in the home having a dedicated pipe to the manifold.
Consider Getting A Water Heater
For some people, the issue isn’t that the bathwater is cold when someone else in the home is using water elsewhere; it’s that the water grows cold long before the ideal shower length is done. If this is the case, you might want to look into a tankless water heater. A tankless water heater will work by using either an electric element or a gas burner to warm water as it travels through the pipes. What this means is that you’ll have a nearly endless supply of hot water. This is contrasted with the more traditional system of a tank water heater where the tank fills and heats the water, but once that’s all used, it takes some time to fill and heat the next batch.
Check Out Your Water Settings
If the issue is that none of the water is hot enough—not at the beginning of your shower or at the end of your shower this hints that you might want to look at the setting on your hot water heater. Because people have different sensitivities to heat, you might find that the previous owner or tenant had the hot water turned way down. Most water heaters have a dial that’s visible on the front and labeled; there could be anywhere from two options (warm and hot) to several along a temperature scale. Don’t assume the hottest is going to be the best. That’s one way to burn your fingers while washing dishes. Make an adjustment, and then test the water carefully. Then adjust again. Continue making smaller tweaks to the water temperature until you’ve found a sweet spot that works for you. If you can’t find the dial or the water heater, give a plumber a call—they should be able to help you find it and figure out how to adjust it.
The above tips should help you sort out some of the more basic cold-water struggles. Of course, if none of the above work, it might be time to contact your local plumber. Occasionally, a bigger plumbing problem could be the cause of your water troubles.