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One of the most frustrating issues homeowners can experience is coming home from a rainy day and jumping into a hot shower, only to get cold or lukewarm water. The first place you would want to check is your water heater to determine if the electricity is working or if the pilot light is out if you have a gas heater. Then find out if your washing machine or dishwasher is also running. These appliances can use a lot of your hot water before you even get some from your shower. How long for water heater to heat up? The type of water heater will determine how long it will take to heat your water.

Let’s take a look below at what each type of water heater can do to heat up your water.

What Are The Types

Homeowners should know that they can purchase a tankless or a tank water heater. In many cases, new home builders will install a tank water heater. However, it is a great idea to understand which water heater works for your home. Let’s take a look at some more details below.

  • Tankless – these types of water heaters are energy-efficient as they only heat the water that is needed. No extra water is stored and the biggest concern is getting hot water quickly. Typically, these units do not push out a large output of hot water all at once.
  • Tank – there are two versions of a tank water heater. You can purchase an electric tank water heater or a gas tank water heater. Electric will heat an internal heating element that transfers the energy to the water as it flows through the tank. Gas will use a pilot light to heat the water as it flows through the tank and then pushes it out to your hot water lines.
A tankless gas water heater might heat your water faster than other heater types.
You can utilize a tankless gas water heater to heat your water source.

How Long Does It Take

Believe it or not, there is a variation in the times that each specific type of water heater takes to heat your water. The time will often depend on if you are running an electric heater or a gas heater. Additionally, the time varies based on how many gallons of water the heater can hold. Let’s take a look below at the differences.


Electric water heaters utilize thermometers and heating elements to heat the water. Whatever temperature your thermometer is set to will determine how hot the water will become. Most of the time, your water heater needs at least one hour to heat your water. Here is a breakdown of how many gallons of water and the time it takes to heat the water.

  • 40-gallon electric water heater – typically takes between 60 and 80 minutes.
  • 50-gallon electric water heater – typically takes between 145 and 150 minutes.
  • 80-gallon electric water heater – typically takes between 120 and 130 minutes


Deciding to go with a gas water heater can be a great idea. You can really heat a lot of water fairly quickly with a gas-powered water heater. Essentially, the pilot light is lit and it heats the water as it flows across your system. This type of water heater provides more consistent heating of your water. However, the main downfall is the further away your faucet is from the water heater, the longer it may take to get you hot water.

  • 40-gallon gas water heater- typically takes up to 30-40 minutes to heat 40-degree water to 120 degrees.
  • 50-gallon gas water heater – typically takes up to 40-50 minutes to heat 40-degree water to 120 degrees.
  • 80-gallon gas water heater – typically takes up to 60-70 minutes to heat 40-degree water to 120 degrees.

Why Does It Take So Long

When it comes to heating your water source there really is no guarantee on the time it can take to heat the water. There are a variety of factors that play into this scenario. Let’s take a look below at some reasons why it takes so long to heat your water.

  • Travel time – the distance it takes for water to travel across your hot water lines can determine how fast you can receive your hot water. The further away the faucet is the longer it takes for the hot water to reach it.
  • Size – if you have a large gallon water heater then you are likely to have more hot water stored. Heating more volume allows you to have hot water longer in your pipes. This will increase the likelihood of getting hot water in a timely manner.
  • Old age – a water heater that is older will typically take longer to produce enough heat energy to increase your water temperature. The average lifespan of a water heater is 10 years.
  • Low volume restrictor – these devices can be installed in your shower or other appliances. Their purpose is to restrict the flow of water so that hot water does not immediately flow out of the faucets or pipe and burn you.
  • Sediment – as the tank gets old, the items inside can corrode. This creates sediment that settles into the bottom of the tank. The sediment then blocks the water from getting heated as it will block the transfer of heat energy.
Do forget to drain your water heater tank to clean out sediment.
Clean out your tank sediment by draining and refilling the water heater tank.

Water Recovery Time

As you use the hot water in your water line, the water heater needs time to replenish the hot water that was used. How fast your water heater replenishes the hot water in your water line will depend on the size of the tank and the energy source being used. Keep in mind that a gas heater and electric heater will produce hot water at varying rates.

Other Recommended Maintenance

Now that you understand how fast water can heat up in your hot water heater, it is a good idea to also understand the working parts of your water heater. For example, knowing what a gas line sediment trap is can help you understand how to maintain it and keep the longevity of your water heater going.

Next, if you are experiencing an issue with hot water lasting longer, it might not be a bad water heater. Consider what is being used at the same time you need the hot water. Oftentimes, homeowners will run a dishwasher and washing machine at the same time. This will substantially reduce the available hot water for your shower. So, be sure to read up on the ins and outs of how you can make your hot water last longer.

Lastly, while you are getting your water heater looked into by your local home inspection team, be sure to get a mold inspection done. If you are using a humidifier in your home you want to ensure that it isn’t creating excess moisture in your home. Creating excess moisture can lead to mold growth. So, be sure to ask your home inspection team the right questions.

Leaking water heater.
Call a professional to repair your leaking water heater.

When Do I Call A Professional

When dealing with any plumbing issues you will want to call a professional. Especially when it comes to a hot water heater. There are so many parts and pieces involved that unless you are aware of how it all works and have the proper equipment, it would be nearly impossible to fix. Also, if you aren’t sure of a reputable master plumber, call on your local home inspection team. They can inspect your plumbing system, which includes the water heater, and recommend a reputable local master plumber.


When the flow of hot water has stopped, this becomes very annoying for a homeowner. The use of hot water is necessary for every home. Various appliances use hot water to disinfect and clean your dishes and clothing. The functionality of hot water is expanded way beyond the simple shower. If you aren’t sure which hot water heater meets the needs of your home, you should call on your local home inspection team. Reach out to Enviroquest Home Inspections for water heater and complete home inspections in Harrisburg, PA.

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