Your idea of luxury might be a palatial home with a large, tucked-away master bath. But the grander the bathroom, the more hot water delivery becomes an issue. One of the things we get asked about most is, “Why does it take so long for me to get hot water in my bathroom?”
Think about the physical distance between your water heater and the bathroom itself. Until the hot water that’s being generated at the water heater has a chance to travel that full distance, you’re not going to feel it at the tap.
The next question is usually “If I add a tankless water heater, will I get hot water more quickly?” And the answer, of course, is “no” if that tankless water heater is going to be in the same place as the existing one. What you can do, though, thanks to the small size of tankless water heaters, is add one to your existing system and effectively zone your domestic hot water system by having two complete supply loops (one upstairs and one downstairs, for instance). That way, you’re not pulling water all the way from the basement up to a second-floor master bath every morning, waiting and wasting a lot of water in the process.
If you’re thinking of adding or upgrading fixtures, be clear on whether or not your existing plumbing system will be able to provide the water supply, pressure and temperatures required. The age of your home is the first clue, because that’ll tell you what kind of piping you’ve got to work with. For instance, if you’ve got a pre-1930s classic of a home, you’ve probably got steel or iron pipes, too. These cut down on water pressure and supply over time thanks to interior rusting that actually closes down the flow, kind of like a clogged artery.
Pipe replacement with a more modern, dependable material (such as strong, flexible PEX) is definitely an option if you fall into the clogged pipe zone, although it’s also definitely expensive and complicated. A three-step approach can help control costs and isolate the problem areas, and we recommend starting by replacing the main water line from the well to your house. Second, replace all accessible, horizontal steel pipes, such as those in the basement. Then finish by replacing any inaccessible pipes, such as those that feed the upstairs baths, on a case-by-case basis.
If you’re tired of waiting for hot water for your morning shower, or dealing with reduced water pressure, zoning your hot water system and replacing clogged pipes can work in tandem to ensure a bountiful supply of hot water when you need it.