How Long Does It Take For Hot Water to Come Back?

December 15, 2021

You’re taking a nice, warm shower when suddenly the water turns ice cold, which is a distinctly unpleasant sensation.

When will your hot water get warm again? Or maybe this is a constant pattern, and you’re wondering what the cause is. Well, it depends on your water heater’s recovery rate, which is how long it takes to reheat the water tank once it depletes.

On average, an 80-gallon tank water heater can take anywhere from 1-2 hours to recover.

However, this is just a ballpark figure. To help you better gauge a more precise estimate for how long your water heater will take to recover, in this article, we’ll discuss:

  • Average water heater recovery times
  • Key factors that influence water heater recovery times
  • Common problems that slow down recovery time

Is your water heater taking too long to recover? Contact Red Cap Plumbing & Air for a water heater repair that’s quick and efficient. We guarantee our professional plumbers will arrive on time, and in most cases, we’ll fix your water heater the same day we diagnose the issue!


Average Water Heater Recovery Times

Let's talk about the average water heater recovery time or what is considered a "quick" recovery. This way, you can easily identify if yours is taking significantly longer than usual.

For example, the average recovery time for an 80-gallon tank with an incoming water temperature of 62 degrees is:

  • 60-70 minutes (for a gas tank water heater)
  • 120 minutes (for an electric tank water heater)

You’ll see that gas water heaters can heat your water much faster. The faster heating is because gas water heaters use burners that reach higher temperatures sooner than the heating coils in electric water heaters.

That said, these are just quick comparison averages. Several key factors, which we’ll discuss next, impact your specific water heater’s recovery time, so your recovery rate may be higher or lower than the average.

Key Factors That Influence Water Heater Recovery Times

Key factors such as tank size, first hour rating, fuel type, and temperature rise will significantly impact your water heater’s recovery time.

Let’s look at these factors in more detail below.

1. Tank size

The Energy Guide label on your water heater will tell you the tank size and First Hour rating. / Source: Federal Register

In general, the larger your water heater’s tank, the longer it will take to recover.

Most residential water heater tanks can hold anywhere from 20 to 100+ gallons. If yours is on the larger end, it will take more time for the burners or heating elements to heat the water.

And once your tank nears the end of its supply, recovery times take even longer for larger tanks. As new cold water flows in, it will greatly reduce the temperature of the existing hot water in the tank.

2. First hour rating

Because the tank is constantly replenishing its water supply, every tank water heater has a “first hour rating,” which tells you how many gallons of water the unit can supply in one hour when it starts with a full tank of hot water.

First hour ratings depend on key factors like your heating source, burner size, and more. But, as a rule of thumb, the higher your first hour rating, the faster you can expect your water heater to recover.

Curious what your first hour rating is? Check out the Energy Guide label on your water heater.

3. Fuel type

Electric water heaters take roughly twice as long to recover when compared to gas water heaters.

Why? Because gas water heaters use gas burners, which can reach higher temperatures faster than electric heating coils.

Although more expensive to install, a gas water heater is incredibly energy-efficient, and you won’t go without hot water for long. If you want hot water fast, it might be worth the investment.

The installation costs decrease if you already have gas lines installed. Also, gas water heaters are less expensive to maintain as gas is more affordable than electricity as a fuel, especially with Florida being one of the top natural gas producers.

4. Temperature rise

Your desired hot water temperature affects the temperature rise.

Depending on the climate you live in, the temperature of your area’s water will vary. For this reason, it’s important to factor in “temperature rise” when calculating your water heater’s recovery.

Temperature rise refers to the difference between the incoming water temperature and the temperature you want your water to be. The bigger the difference between the two, the longer the water heater’s recovery time.

You can calculate temperature rise as follows:

Desired hot water temperature - Incoming water temperature = Temperature rise

Let’s look at an example. If you’re a homeowner in the Tampa area:

  • The EPA estimates your incoming water temperature will be around 72 degrees
  • Your desired hot water temperature is 120 degrees

120 degrees (desired temperature) - 72 degrees (incoming temperature) = 48 degree temperature rise

According to the formula, your temperature rise would be 48 degrees.

Now, let’s say that you live in New Hampshire:

  • The incoming water temperature is around 47 degrees.
  • Let’s use the same desired water temperature of 120 degrees.

We can calculate that the temperature rise would be 73 degrees.

Compared to the Tampa example, this is almost double the temperature rise, which means the New Hampshire homeowner’s water heater will have to work that much longer to heat their water.

Common Problems That Slow Down Recovery Time

When sediment builds up at the bottom of your water heater, call a plumber to flush it. / Source: St. Cloud Gov

Even if you have the most energy-efficient water heater, you may still encounter some problems that can slow down its recovery time.

Common problems include:

Sediment buildup:

Sediment buildup happens when the dissolved minerals in your water (calcium and magnesium) settle onto the bottom of your water heater. Over time, this creates a thick, crusted layer that can restrict your water heater’s ability to heat water.

Broken dip tube:

The dip tube is a water heater component that pushes incoming cold water to the bottom of the tank for heating. If the dip tube breaks, incoming cold water will mix with heated water, decreasing your overall water temperature.

Worn heating elements:

If your gas burners or electric resistance coils go bad due to normal wear and tear or damage, your tank water heater may have trouble recovering.

Incorrect sizing:

If your water heater has always taken too long to reheat, your water heater is likely too small for your needs. Water heaters that are too small for your household or heating needs can quickly deplete, which means the tank never catches up and fully recovers because you’re drawing too much water from the tank.

Contact a professional plumber to inspect and flush your unit if you have any of the above problems with your water heater. Depending on its condition, they may need to repair or replace it.

Water Heater Taking Too Long To Recover? Call Red Cap Plumbing & Air.

Red Cap plumbers are ready to help you get hot water faster.

If you think your water heater recovery time is too low, or if you’re not sure, just contact Red Cap for a water heater repair. We will take a look at your water heater, diagnose the issue, and fix it in no time.

If your water heater is too slow for your taste and you’d like to upgrade, we’ll offer our recommendations for a tank water heater, tankless water heater, or solar water heater that fits your budget and hot water needs.

Call us at (813) 963-3056 (Tampa) or (727) 474-8287 (Pinellas) or schedule an appointment online.


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