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Water Heater Runs Out Of Hot Water When Showering – What To Check?

How can my water heater run out of hot water so quickly? When I take a shower the water will get colder the longer I take a shower. After 10 minutes the hot water turns cold. This water heater heats the water to the complete house. I do not run the dishwasher or washing machine when I take a shower. My water heater is electric and is 2 years old. Why is the water getting cold after only a 5 to 10 minute shower?

Water Heater Runs Out Of Hot Water When ShoweringHow can my water heater run out of hot water so fast?



Hot Water Runs Out When Showering – How To Fix?

There are many common reasons a water heater can slowly stop providing hot water. Some examples that can cause this are appliances using hot water while you shower, faulty heating elements, sediment build up inside the water tank, or other similar factors can cause your water heater to only supply hot water for 10 minutes or so. There are a few easy things you can check yourself to fix this issue.

Reasons why the water heater runs out of hot water quickly:
– One of the heating elements has gone out
– The temperature is not set correctly
– Winterized home and faucet left open
– Appliances that use hot water are running
– The shower is in constant use

– Sediment build up stops water from heating

On most electric water heaters there are 2 heating elements. One is located in the top of the water heater and one is located in the bottom. If one of the heating elements has burnt out or stopped working, the water will get colder the longer you take a shower.

If the water heater is only heating half of the water, the hot water will not be able to keep up with the demand.



First be sure that if you have winterized your home that no faucets either inside or outside the home have been left open. It could be possible a faucet in a bathroom was left open while the home was winterized and this is using up all the hot water.

For more information on water heater issues or maintenance, check here:
Where Are The Temp Controls Located On A Water Heater?
Water Heater Preventive Maintenance
New Water Heater Not Heating Water
How To Tell If Water Heater Is Bad?
Water Heater Making Noise – How To Fix?

Water Heater Is Leaking Water – How To Repair?
What Temperature Should My Water Heater Be Set At?

If not, make sure all other appliances that use water are not running when you take a shower. If you have the dishwasher or the washing machine running while you shower, it could be using the hot water at the same time and cause the water to become lukewarm when showering.

If no appliances are running and no faucets have been left open from winterizing your home, check the water heater to be sure the setting is adjusted to the appropriate temperature.

There is a thermostat on your electric water heater on both the top and bottom of the heating elements. (See the image below)

This is where you can change the water heater temperature to make the water hotter. Use caution as if you turn it too hot, scolding can occur. Do not set the temperature over 120 degrees Fahrenheit. What water temp to use with dishwasher?

Water heater illustrated parts breakdownWater heater illustrated parts breakdown



If all the above does not apply to you, call a professional to inspect your electric water heater for proper operation.

To check the water heater yourself, turn off the power to the water heater using the main breaker. Remove the 2 small doors covering the heating elements. Here you can check the heating elements with a meter to know if one has shorted out or burnt out.

Hot Water Running Out? Shower Is In Constant Use

Why does the hot water in my shower run out fast? Another issue might be that if you have multiple people taking showers at the same time in sepearate bathrooms this can cause an issue of hot water recovery time.

Showering at the same time or having the shower in constant use by guests drains the hot water from the water heater tank very quickly. In this type of scenerio, there is nothing wrong with the water heater, it just needs time to recover for the water to heat. In this situation, waiting for some time between showers will remedy this issue concerning recovery time.

Is Sediment In The Water Tank Reducing Hot Water?

Another reason you may be running out of hot water is the sediment inside the tank. The sediment that is at the bottom of the tank makes the hot water run out fast. The sediment from hard water takes up space in the bottom of the water tank. This leaves less area for hot water as the sediment is using that space up.

Heavy sediment from hard water can also insulate the water in the bottom of the tank from heating. This means the sediment is so deep that it may be near the bottom element and the water cannot heat. Draining the water heater to remove the sediment may be needed.

Remember that water is in the tank so if you need to remove the sediment buildup or a heating element for replacement, you need to drain your water heater. Draining your water heater can be done by connecting a common garden hose to the bottom of the tank and opening the valve.



Remember to always have the water heaters electrical power turned off when troubleshooting or completing maintenance for obvious safety reasons. See below for how to drain your water heater tank the easiest way.

Connect garden hose to water heater to drainHow to easily drain a water heater

How To Easily Drain A Water Heater – STEP-BY-STEP

1. Turn off power to water heater
2. Turn off water inlet valve
3. Wait a few hours for water to cool down
4. Connect garden hose to drain valve
5. Be sure end of hose is in a safe area
6. Open drain valve to let water drain out
7. Let the water drain out of the tank
8. Once drained turn drain valve off
9. Remove garden hose from drain valve
10. Turn water inlet valve to tank on
11. Once filled with water turn on power


How To Drain A Hot Water Heater To Remove Sediment Or Heating Element

A tip to keep the hot water flowing in your water heater… To conserve heat from the water heater, consider adding insulation to your hot water lines and your water heater. This will conserve heat when the weather is cold. Insulating the pipes and the tank can help keep the heat. See pic below to see how insulation is put on pipes.

Add insulation to hot water lines and water heaterAdd insulation to hot water lines to conserve heat

Need help or assistance with your water heater? Please leave your issue in the form below and we will assist. Please let us know if your water heater is gas or electric.



ALLEN VETTER - DIY Repair Assistant
Allen is a Home Maintenance/Appliance Tech and the author/creator of this website. He has 33 years of experience troubleshooting and repairing all types of appliances. Contact here

1 thought on “Water Heater Runs Out Of Hot Water When Showering – What To Check?”

  1. Richard B Popovich

    You most likely need to turn the temperature on the heater. But you have to be careful if you have small children, because the hot water on full flow will be a lot hotter and can scald the skin. This has a potential for serious injury. If you have children who do not understand how to mix hot and cold water, it is better to leave the setting on the lower temperature. You will have to compensate by being faster in the shower!

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