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Home /  Home Maintenance / How Long Does It Take for a Hot Water Heater to Heat Up
last_updated_date Last updated: June 22nd, 2023

How Long Does It Take for a Hot Water Heater to Heat Up? Is Your System Working Well?

PUBLISHED: June 19, 2023 • 6 MINS READ

It is inconvenient when your hot water runs out during your morning shower. You may wonder why it takes time, how long it takes to heat up, or whether it has broken down due to its poor performance. These questions often arise when people suspect their water heater is broken.

The answer to the question ‘How long does it take for a water heater to heat up’ can vary depending on several factors. Reasons range from the type of water heater, the size of the tank, and the water temperature.

This blog post explains various reasons for the abovementioned factors for your benefit. Moreover, we have some super hacks for you to maintain and increase the efficiency of your water heaters! Keep Reading.

How Long Does It Take for a Hot Water Heater to Heat Up

Types of Hot Water Heaters And Time Taken To Heat Up

Many types of water heaters are available on the market, each with unique pros and cons. And, water heating time is one such thing that depends on the type of the product. Electric, gas, and solar are the most common water heaters. Which one do you own? Let’s find out how much time your water heater should ideally take to heat up!

Tankless Water Heaters

These are the most convenient type of water heaters; due to the minimum installation requirement, and thanks to modern technology, there is no waiting time to get hot water with a tankless heater.

If you have a gas tankless water heater, it should only take a few seconds for that warm water to reach you. On the other hand, electric tankless water heaters can provide warm water within minutes; however, depending on the power supply, they may take slightly longer.

Storage Tank Water Heaters

These are the most common water heater type as they are economical and can be used in most climates. If you have a gas storage tank water heater, it must take about 30 to 40 minutes to fill a 40-gallon tank because it uses a gas burner at the bottom of the water tank to heat water. Electric storage tank water heaters, compared to gas ones, take nearly twice as long to heat a given volume of water.

Solar Water Heater

Solar water heaters use the sun’s energy to heat the water, so you can expect them to take a long time to heat up. Although the most expensive, solar water heaters are energy efficient and can help you save money in the long run.

So, does your water heater takes the ideal time to heat up? If not, your system may have some issues. However, before concluding, let’s analyze the aspects that can impact hot water timing and make you wait in the shower!

Factors That Affect Hot Water Heater Heating Time

Many factors can affect the time your water heater will heat up. The type of water heater you have, the size of the unit, the age of the unit, the temperature of the water, and the climate all play a role in how long it takes for your water heater to do its job. Considering these factors, you can narrow down the potential causes and find a solution. Take a look.

Size of Hot Water Heater

Your water heater’s size will directly affect the time it takes to heat up. Most residential water heater tanks have a capacity of 20 to 100 gallons. If your water heater’s tank is larger, the heating elements will therefore require more time to reheat all the water in the tank. Hence, the larger the tank, the longer it will take to heat water.

Temperature Setting

While water heaters don’t require many technicalities once installed, check for the temperature setting if your equipment is not heating the water. Sometimes it’s low by default, so you can adjust it according to your requirements.

First-Hour Rating

Your water heater’s first-hour rating indicates the amount of water it can heat in an hour. As a result, the higher the first-hour rating, the faster your water heater will release hot water.

Age And Conditiong

Like any other mechanical equipment, your water heater’s age may ultimately affect its efficiency, including how long it takes to warm up. Moreover, inadequate routine maintenance, and failure to remove any possible dirt that may have built up in the pipes, may also affect the time taken to heat the water.

BTU Rating

British Thermal Units, or BTUs, are units of measurement for the energy required to generate a specific amount of heat. A water heater with a greater BTU rating is more effective than one with a lower BTU rating, producing more heat.

Incoming Water Temperature

If the coming water or ground water’s temperature is low, the water might not heat up as quickly. Shallow ambient temperatures in the room or space where water heaters are kept can also affect the time taken for water heaters to heat the water.

Pipe Diameter

Your home’s water pipes may factor in the hot water delivery issue. The time it takes for hot water to emerge from a faucet may depend on the pipe diameter. Larger diameter pipes can carry more water, so it takes longer for hot water to travel from point A to point B.

Distance Between Heater And Bathroom

The greater the distance between your heating system and the bathroom, the longer it may take for heated water to reach. If you are installing a new water heater, ensure the installer determines this situation so it does not result in a major concern.

Can You Speed Up Hot Water Heater Heating Time?

Apart from the abovementioned factors, another situation can affect the heating time. If you’ve ever had to wait for hot water to come back after flushing the toilet or running the dishwasher, you may wonder how long you should expect to wait.

The answer, unfortunately, is not very clear. It all depends on the size of your water heater, the amount of water in your pipes, and the water temperature.

For instance, the typical recovery period for an 80-gallon tank that works properly with incoming water at 62 degrees is up to 120 minutes. You’ll observe that gas water heaters heat water much more quickly.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to minimize the wait time for hot water, but only when your system is working correctly. For example, you can insulate your pipes to help keep the heat in or install a hot water recirculating system. You can ensure you’re never left waiting for hot water again with a little work.

Here are the top five things you can consider.

Insulate Hot Water Heater Tank

Insulating your water heater tank could cut heat losses by 25% – 45% and lower water heating costs by 7% – 16%. Hence, it also helps to lower the heating time.

Reduce Hot Water Demand

You may be depending on the water heater too much. Living in a cold region is an exception; otherwise, consider lowering your water heater usage.

Install A Recirculating Pump

A recirculating pump ensures that hot water is always available on demand at any faucet or shower. These systems gradually circulate hot water through your pipes via a dedicated or cold water line.

Upgrade To Tankless Heater

As we’ve already mentioned, a tankless water heater produces hot water instantly. Most tankless water heaters run for 20 years. They also have simple parts to swap out, which could add many more years to their lifespan.

Consider Getting A Larger Tank

If you frequently run out of hot water, consider resizing your water heater tank and replacing it with a larger capacity.

Tips For Hot Water Heater Maintenance

Maintaining a water heater in top condition is critical so that it operates seamlessly throughout the year. The list below will demonstrate how to carry out some of the most typical water heater maintenance procedures and keep this vital device in working order.

Tips For Hot Water Heater Maintenance

Flushing the Tank

Take a bucket and pour the remaining water into the tank, and then run the cold-water supply just long enough for it to mix the sediment buildup in the bottom of the tank. Finally, drain, then rinse until only clean water emerges.

Checking the Anode Rod

Connect a hose to the drain cock on the tank and release a few gallons of water. Your anode rod should have a thickness of about 34 inches. If the rod is corroded or covered in calcium, consider replacing it with a new one.

Cleaning the Burner or Heating Element

A water heater burner needs to be cleaned occasionally as part of routine maintenance. It stops debris from entering the burner gas ports, orifice, and gas line. You might need to slightly push the knob in to make the gas control valve turn OFF.

Take out the interior door. For cleaning, remove the main burner. It is acceptable to clean with a vacuum, hot water, and soap.

Replacing the Thermocouple

A broken thermocouple will likely cause a pilot light that won’t stay lit in your gas water heater. A new one is affordable and can cost between $5 and $10, and is simple to install. To do so, turn off the gas flow.

The thermocouple should be taken off the burner. Use the same procedure you used to remove the old one to install the new one. Restart the gas, then follow the water heater’s lighting instructions.

Adjusting the Temperature

Locate the temperature dial on the tank’s side and remove the cover. Using a flathead screwdriver, turn the dial to 120 degrees or lower when the water heater is unused. If you expect to be gone longer than three days, turn off the water heater or lower the thermostat.

Signs It’s Time to Replace a Hot Water Heater

Despite many hacks, if you’re not getting as much hot water as you used to, your water heater has broken down and needs to be fixed. It could be due to various factors, but an aging water heater is often the culprit.

Your water heater is one of the most essential appliances in your apartment. But like any appliance, it has a lifespan. And when it reaches the end of its lifespan, it can become less effective and more prone to breakdowns.

Here are a few signs that it’s time for a new water heater:

  • Your energy bills are increasing. An old water heater is less efficient than a new one, so it will cost more to operate.
  • There are water leaks in the tank. This leakage is a sign that the tank is starting to fail and must be replaced.
  • The tank is making strange noises. Such noises usually indicate that the tank is beginning to rust and wear out.
  • If your water heater is over 15 years old, it is a definite indication to replace it.

If you notice these signs, it may be time to shop for a replacement!

Hot Water Heater Replacement

You can opt for a new water heater via retail shops, but if you have a home warranty that covers your water heater, you can save big time.

Some home warranties will cover the replacement of your water heater if it breaks down due to normal wear and tear and is not deemed repairable. Other home warranties will only cover the repair of your water heater, not the replacement.

If you’re unsure whether the home warranty will cover the replacement of your water heater, the best thing to explore is the leading home warranty companies available in the market. You can also read our comprehensive guide to learn about water heater replacements!



How Long Does It Take For A 50-Gallon Water Heater To Fully Heat Up?


It takes about 40 minutes for a 50-gallon gas water heater to heat up and up to 150 minutes for an electric water heater. This time frame can be affected by several factors, such as the initial temperature of the water, the ambient temperature, and the level of insulation on the tank.


How Long Does A 40-Gallon Electric Water Heater Take To Heat Up?


It will take between 60 and 80 minutes to heat a typical 40-gallon electric heater.


Why Does It Take So Long For Hot Water To Come Back?


There are many causes, including the distance from the water heater, the piping’s diameter, and the water flow rate. Heat transfer to the shower faucet takes longer when the hot water travels farther. Having a bigger home makes this especially true.


How Long Does It Take For A Hot Water Heater To Heat Up After Installation?


A properly installed water heater will supply hot water as soon as possible. A typical 40-gallon heater will provide hot water in 30 to 40 minutes, whereas an 80-gallon tank will provide hot water in 60 to 70 minutes.


How Long Does A Hot Water Heater Last?


The average lifespan of a tankless water heater is 20 years or more. You can expect a conventional water heater with a storage tank to last up to 15 years.

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