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Question DetailsAsked on 1/21/2017

Takes very long time to heat water in kitchen sink and dish washer. What can I do?

New water heater installed last year. House built in 1997, always had the same problem. Hot water takes a long time to show up at end of house in kitchen sink and dish washer. Searching for a tank less or something to heat water at this end of house instead of throwing away gallons of water just waiting. Seen differnent brands but on line but according to reviews, choosing something to work reliably is not a guarantee.

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2 Answers


Four common solutions and two uncommon - which is best for a particular location depends on your particular circumstances, distance, accessibility of piping, and whether piping is run in cold crawlsapce or basement or not - would have to talk to Plumbers about relative viability and costs for your situaiton.

1) add a second (maybe smaller) conventional or tankless water heater at that end of the house - most commonly done in houses where laundry and maybe a bathroom is also at that end, so a lot of hot water use. Also commonly done (if space for second water heater exists conveniently) if overall water heater is not meeting demand (say due to baby in house or teenagers or more household residents), so second heater can solve both cold initial flow by being closer to demand point, and add overall increased hot water production and recovery for the house.

2) add a small -capacity "point-of use" water heater (commonly under kitchen sink) to provide hot water for that particular location - commonly works well enough for kitchen sink and dishwasher (as long as both are not running hot water in quantities at same time), provided it is sized for the dishwasher water demand rate, which is commonly in the 1-3 GPM range (depending on water pressure) and takes commonly about 10-20 gallons per washing. (Washing machines can go up to about 20-40 gallons per washing, wash and rinse cycles combined).

3) insulate the hot water pipes better - will not eliminate the wait for fully "tank hot" water, but initial water will be warmer unless it has sat unused for extended period of time (like first thing in morning) if it runs through cold crawlspace or such. Will NOT create instant-on hot water, just takes longer to cool down in the pipes and the initial flow will, unless running through a cold area without significant insulation of any kind, might take it from cold to warm (like house temp) immediately after water is turned on.

You need to consider, particularly if hot and cold run in same joist bays through cold area, whether the hot pipe is keeping the cold water pipe from freezing - it is not uncommon for someone to insulate the hot water pipe with slip-on foam insulation only to have the cold one freeze up during the next cold snap because the hot water pipe radiated heat was keeping the cold pipe warm enough to not freeze - especially in crawlspaces or unheated basements where the pipes run in the joist bays with a single R-13 batt of fiberglass insulation tucked in under them to "insulate" them (or no insulation).

4) put in a hot water recirculation pump (usually near the water heater) and a return hot water line, so hot water is constantly being recirculated from the kitchen back to the hot water heater to be reheated. If pipes run through cold area (so a lot of heat loss) or you run air conditioning a lot in the summer, the pipes (both to and from kitchen) would have to be well insulated to avoid excess energy loss from the pipes or excess heating of the house, which would be energy inefficient. Recirculation is somewhat energy inefficient anyway unless your house is constantly in heating season, but can run into the $30-100/month range if being recirculated at full temp through uninsulated cold areas. Also, like insulation solution above, watch out for cold pipe freezing issues.

5) uncommon solution - relocate water heater closer to the highest-demand points - more to middle of house maybe for ranch or spread-out single story so longest distance to demand points is reduced by averaging them out, or to the end more frequently wanting hot water (kitchen and laundry commonly), with the realization that bathrooms at the other end will then have a longer wait for hot water then they used to. This is not commonly done both because what you gain at one end you lose at the other if there are demand points towards both ends of the house, and also most houses do not have convenient or aesthetic available space for a water heater just anywhere in or under the house.

6) other uncommon solution - repipe so the pipes avoid cold areas and run through interior heated walls - though like insulating, that takes the "cold" initial flow up to room temp if it has sat for a substantial time, not to "instant hot" - for that you need a local water heater (primary or supplemental or point-of-use) or a recirculation system.

Choosing can be tough - easier in areas where you pay for water use at a high cost, because the water savings might contribute a bit of annual savings to help offset the cost of improving the current situation, whichever method you use. Cost from usually a few hundreds for insulation only, to thousand to several thousand for other options depending on which is selected and accessibility for any plumbing/piping revisions.

Here are links to several previous questions with answers about the recirculating system solution FYI -

Answered 3 years ago by LCD



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