Q&A Water Heater Struggling to Fill Your Large Tub?
Monday, January 31, 2022

Q&A: My wife likes our big tub but it takes forever to fill and drains out the water heater is there any solution for this?

There are two opinions on these bathtubs... you either LOVE THEM... or your hate them... and when it comes to bathroom renovations, having it removed is one of the first things that is asked for. But if you love them, how do you fill them? A neighbor recently commented on our post in one of the local message boards asking that question... here are a couple of ideas if you LOVE your tub... but you struggle to fill it with hot water... How have you overcome this challenge?

The slower you fill it, the more chance your water heater has to try to keep up.

Gas water heaters do a better job keeping up with high demand than electric ones do.
There are also tankless water heaters that heat the water on demand which could be installed in your home.
It's not unheard of, to add a second, dedicated water heater for a tub like that... With a switch and some bypass valves... And you specifically turn it on and route water through it ahead of time, when you know you're going to be filling that tub...
The government has tried to outlaw the old larger 80-gallon water heaters, under the guise of energy efficiency and environmental reasons... But if you're able to track one down, that may also solve your challenge....
Water heaters often have a drawdown rating on the panel... For instance, a 40-gallon water heater may be able to offer 56 gallons of hot water when set to 115 degrees... (or something in that neighborhood). It's able to heat some of the incoming water before delivering it to the faucet... which goes back to what we were saying in the beginning about filling it slowly..
If two of you use the tub together, your bodies will displace more water than one person alone, so you won't need as much hot water to fill it.
You can also boil two large stock pots of water on the stove to an excessively high temperature.... And add them to the half-full tub, when you run out of hot water from your water heater. If you add 10 gallons at 200°... Then high school algebra tells me you can probably add 20 gallons at 60° and wind up with a net gain of 30 gallons at roughly around 100° (Be careful not to burn yourself... And I'm sure there's a math teacher somewhere who can correct my back of the napkin guess.)
At our house, a 40-gallon water heater takes approximately 20 to 25 minutes to get back up the temperature.... So you could fill the tub with straight hot water, shut off the flow, wait 25 minutes, and then continue adding water... Which should be enough to compensate for any heat loss that occurs during the 25-minute waiting period.

The last option, increase the temperature of your water heater.

They are typically set at safe, anti-scald levels of less than 120° F... But many can be turned up to temperatures and excess of that... You will use more electricity or gas this way as it's going to always be trying to keep the unit hotter all week-long... And you also risk getting burned unless you have anti-scold features installed at each of your faucets or a mixing valve installed just above the water heater like you'll find on boiler-based heating systems.
Going away for the weekend? I found that I could save $20 to $40 a month on my electric bill by flipping the breaker on my electric water heater when we weren't going to be home... And even at the end of the weekend, there's still enough hot water to wash our hands or do some dishes when we got home without flipping the breaker back on.
Hope that helps...

You've felt trapped in your home for 18 months... Perhaps it's time to RIP out that Soaker Tub that you hate, gut your bathroom, and put in the private, relaxing, master suite personal rejuvenation lounge you truly deserve. You work hard all day, staring at a screen, chasing the animals, and trying to get your kids to play quietly or pay attention to their zoom class. Isn't it time you created your oasis to retreat to at the end of an emotionally draining day? A place where you can escape from the dings and pings and stress of your day, and just relax in a peaceful space?
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Our team of renovation professionals can discuss various options including:
  • moving fixtures, toilets, vanities, showers, tubs...
  • rearranging floor plans and walk-in closets...
  • adding, removing, or replacing windows...
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all to make your space more functional and relaxing.

Have you had problems with your toilet not flushing properly?

It is entirely possible that the plumber didn't set up the intake vents properly. (We've seen it & we've fixed it.)
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