Why Does It Take So Long for My Water to Get Hot?

If you find yourself wasting gallons of water while waiting for the hot water to flow, you may wonder whether you have a faulty water heater—or even worse, faulty plumbing. While that may be the case, the true reason is likely much simpler than that. Below, we discuss a few of the factors that may contribute to a hot water delay, as well as what you can do to fix them.

Distance from the Water Heater

The most common reason for delayed hot water is your faucet’s distance from the water heater. If a single water heater supplies all the hot water for your home, the faucets that are furthest from your heater will naturally take longer to warm up. Although you can’t move your faucets closer to your water heater, there is a way to get hot water closer to your faucets.

By installing an on-demand hot water recirculation system, you can enjoy quicker hot water without worrying about your faucet’s distance. These systems rely on a pump and water loop that quickly extracts hot water from the water heater and pushes it through the pipes while sending the cooled water that’s been sitting in the hot water line back to the water heater to be reheated. This solution isn’t without some potential drawbacks. Adding more plumbing lines, which is required for this option, increases the risk of leaks. And, because they continuously push unused water back to the water heater to be reheated, these systems are not very energy efficient. 

Pipe Material

Metallic piping, like copper and galvanized steel, conducts heat. Because of this, heat from the water inside the pipes will transfer to the air surrounding the pipes.

Using more modern plastic piping, like pex, will not only transfer heat from the water more slowly, but also resist damage that may occur if the pipes freeze. Pex is a good option for any water lines in the attic or crawl spaces in a home.

Inadequate Pipe Insulation

Regardless of size, pipes that are poorly insulated will lose heat quickly, especially in the winter. This is because the excess heat is escaping from your pipes instead of keeping the water warm. 

To solve this problem, you’ll just need to wrap your pipes with pipe insulation. Pipe insulation can be found at your local hardware store and is relatively easy to install. This is also a service offered by North East as it can be labor intensive depending on the location of your pipes. 

Sediment in Your Water Heater Tank

If your area has hard water, as San Antonio does, the bottom of your water heater tank may be filled with sediment like lime, calcium, or other mineral-based buildup. This can prevent the heater from holding and heating to its full capacity. While this will not affect the amount of time it takes to get hot water to a faucet, it does affect how much hot water can be stored in the water heater’s tank.  This can lead to shorter hot shower times if the calcium buildup is severe.

Depending on the severity of the buildup and type of water heater you have, you may be able to flush your tank yourself. However, in some cases, you may require professional help or even a total replacement.


Whether you’re still not sure what’s causing your hot water woes or you want to discuss your water heating options, look no further than North East Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing. As a family-owned HVAC and plumbing company, we service homeowners and business owners in San Antonio and the surrounding communities, and we’re happy to discuss your plumbing needs at any time. Just give us a call at (210) 658-0111 or contact us on our website today to set up an appointment.

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash


Call: 210-658-0111