Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Running out of hot water after 2-3 showers (45min-1hr)

Hi all, Just looking for some answers and this community looked really knowledgeable.

I have a 50 gallon water heater (AO SMITH #XCV 50 200), and hot water seems to always run out extremely quick. The hot water is always running out within 2-3 showers. If my wife and daughter shower(wash their hair...you guys know what I mean), we tend to run out of water really quick.

Is this a boiler problem? Do I need a bigger boiler? The boiler is used for two families for a total of 6 adults. But not everyone showers and uses the hot water at the same time. The boiler is on the basement and our shower is on the 2nd floor.

How long does a typical 50 gallon heater usually last?

Thanks in advance ya'll! I really hope I can start taking hot showers!


  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,479
    To me it looks like that water heater is doing what it was designed to do -


    You could bump it up some by running the tank hotter and mixing it down but that will only get you so much. If you want more and you have a boiler you should look at getting an indirect that uses the boiler as the heat source.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,455
    Let's see here... a low flow shower head (do you have those?) ay run around 2 to 3 gallons per minute. Suppose that we say 3, and since you probably have the water heater set to an economical temperature, half of that is hot and the rest cold. That's 2 gpm. So... a 50 gallon typical electric heater will run from about half an hour (25 minutes from storage, and 5 minutes from recovery).

    Then you will be chilly.

    There are several solutions. One is an electric tankless for each shower -- but you may not have the power coming into the house for that. Another is a gas tankless, if you have gas available. Another is an oil-fired or gas-fired tank type heater, which have far faster recovery and should cope. Another is to go for a much bigger -- 80 to 100 gallon -- electric, but that might not be enough -- you really need around 120 gallons storage for an electric to work for you, unless it is tankless.

    Or you could try Navy showers, but I expect the ladies wouldn't go for that...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,546
    What is the water heater set at ?
  • bob eck
    bob eck Member Posts: 930
    First install good 1.5 GPM shower heads.
    Second do you have hard water? If you have hard water do you have a water softener? If you have a water softener make sure it is working.
    If you have hard water there could be a layer of limestone built up on the bottom of the tank and this would cause the heat transfer not to be as good as to when the water heater was new. If you have a boiler go with a 40 or 80 gallon indirect water heater and store the water at 150* or 160* F and use a mixing valve to mix back to 120* F going out to the faucets. You could also install a 199,000 BTU tankless gas water heater. They will produce about 5 GPM at a 70* F temp rise. Water temp coming in at 45* F will go up to 115* F should be able to run two showers at 1.5 GPM shower heads. Hard water will kill a tankless gas water heater.
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,338
    Hello: In addition to what's been said, it won't hurt to check for cross connection. This could be making things worse for you. Do the check by shutting off water to the tank and opening up a hot tap. It should stop running in seconds. If it runs with any force, it is certainly cooling down your hot water also.

    Yours, Larry

    ps. A damaged dip tube could be part of the problem also. :#