Although a standard tank-style hot water heater doesn't have an infinite supply of heated water, it should provide enough for a satisfying shower or any other task you need. If your hot water is running out quickly or simply not warming up sufficiently, then you may be able to blame one of the three following problems.
1. Sediment Buildup
Sediment in a hot water tank is the result of dissolved minerals in the water. If you live in an area that has hard water, then this problem can easily occur. The heat in the water tank causes the sediment to evaporate out of the water and solidify on the sides of the tank. The sediment then cracks and falls into the tank, thus reducing the available capacity. The result is that your hot water heater runs out of heated water more quickly, so it can no longer serve the volume needs of your household.
Fortunately, this issue can be repaired easily by having the tank drained and flushed out every couple of years so that sediment doesn't collect inside.
2. Damaged Dip Tube
The dip tube ensures that the hot water is delivered to your taps instead of the incoming unheated water. Generally, the dip tube should deliver cold water to the bottom of the tank to be heated, thus enabling only the hot water near the top of the tank to flow out when you turn on the hot water tank. Sometimes a dip tube can break or develop a leak, which then means that cold water is being delivered instead of the hot water.
A hot water heater repair technician can easily replace a broken dip tube and solve this problem.
3. Malfunctioning Heating Components
There are two main heating components in any water heater — the heating elements and the thermostat. Heating elements can burn out over time, or they can become encrusted with sediment that prevents them from properly heating the water. Thermostats can also fail, thus leading to poorly heated water.
A service technician can test a thermostat to see if it is functioning correctly. If not, it can be easily replaced. As for the heating elements, your tech will replace any that have burned out or become covered by sediment. They may also replace the anode rod in the tank. The anode rod attracts sediment so that it doesn't build up on the elements again in the future.
Contact a water heater repair service for more help.