Can You Shower With A Broken Water Heater?

We’ve all learned to love a nice hot shower after a long day. It relaxes our muscles and begins the nightly routine we’ve had the luxury of developing. But what happens when that lovely warm shower turns cold? A bad feeling, that’s for sure. We’ll discuss all the basics of a water heater, what to do if it breaks, and how to live with it. Let’s dive in.

It’s been a long day, and nothing sounds more appealing than a nice warm shower. So, you grab a towel, turn on the water, wait a minute, and jump in. Nice in theory, right? Well, that’s right, until it turns out to be absolutely freezing rather than that blissful hot water you were waiting for.

We’d imagine you’re not feeling terribly warm and fuzzy at the moment, considering the temperature shock you just experienced. No worries, let’s take a look at the hot water heater and how to live without it (not ideal, we know).

How Does A Hot Water Heater Work?

First, let’s take a look at the basics; how does a hot water heater work? There are 2 different types of hot water heaters, a water heater tank and a tankless water heater. Not sure what the difference is (other than one has a tank and one doesn’t)? Let’s take a look.

Water Heater Tank

A water heater tank is the most popular option and is seen in most homes. To fully understand the concept, let’s look at how they work. When you turn on the shower, water flows through the main valve and into your home. Before the heater tank, the water splits off into two lines.

The water enters the heater tank through the hose. The cold water flowing into the tank sinks to the bottom, pushing the hottest water to the top. The cold water is heated to the temperature set by the water level through the heating mechanism at the bottom of the tank and rises to the top as more cold water flows in. The hottest water on the top travels through the hot water supply line and out of the shower head. Voila, hot water.

Tankless Water Heater

The tankless water heater is like the one above but, you guessed it, without the tank. This option continues to grow in popularity, as it saves energy and does not run out of hot water.

In this scenario, a flow sensor activates in the heater unit when the shower is turned on. The water passes through the heating unit and out of the shower head; like magic, you’ve got hot water.

How Can I Live Without A Hot Water Heater?

In short, yes, you can live without a hot water heater. While it’s definitely not ideal, it is, in fact, doable.

Hot water provides some of life’s luxuries, a hot shower or bath, clean dishes (even though they may be a pain to do), coffee on those mornings when waking up just isn’t it, and clean clothes. In the event you don’t have a hot water heater, while there are some things you’ll more than likely have to give up, you can survive.


Ok, so we all know how lovely it is to put dishes in the dishwasher and not worry about washing them by hand, no? Well, now you have no hot water heater, and while you can still run the dishwasher, the cleanliness of the dishes is up in the air. If that doesn’t bother you, then have a running dishwasher, but if it does, boiling water with the kettle and washing dishes by hand may be the best option for the moment.


It’s crazy how many appliances rely on hot water. Not to be the bearer of bad news, but your washer is one of them. Hot water is very beneficial at removing stains from clothing and is helpful for extra clean clothes, but no, it is not necessary. If there is no hot water, the washer will pull cold water, and minus a few stains, it’s business as usual.

How Do You Shower With A Broken Water Heater?

Showering with a broken water heater can go one of two ways. You can suck it up and take a cold, dare we say, rejuvenating shower. Or, you can befriend a kettle. You could skip the shower altogether if you’re feeling fortunate, but we’re not even discussing that one. Now, we’re going to go out on a limb and assume you know the basics of taking a shower, but let’s discuss the kettle option.

Now, if you don’t have a kettle, grab a big pot, fill it with water, and set it to boil. In the unfortunate event you’re in the middle of winter when your water heater breaks, perhaps place a space heater in your bathroom; it’ll help soften the blow. Once the water is boiled or to your desired shower temperature, take the kettle or the pot to the bathroom. From there, set it on the side of the shower, bathe whatever is necessary, or complete an entire sponge bath.

Now, will it be a lovely experience? Probably not. Will everyone else be grateful that you showered in some way, shape, or form? Yes.

Can You Run Out Of Hot Water With A Water Heater?

If you have a hot water heater tank, chances are, you don’t have an unlimited hot water supply. Over time, sediments form along the bottom, causing your heater tank to run out of hot water quickly. To combat this, an annual flush of your water tank is in order. While you can do this yourself, calling a plumber is more than likely to be your best bet.

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