Hot water taps don't always run hot water immediately. Sometimes, they run cold water for a while before turning hot. This may only last a couple of seconds with some taps; others seem to take an age before they produce hot water.

This is a bit irritating. Every time you want even a small amount of hot water, you waste loads of cold in the process. This increases your water usage unnecessarily and flushes your money down the drain. Why does your hot water take so long to turn up and is there anything you can do about it?

How Water Cools Down in Pipes

When you turn on your hot tap, water comes out of your hot water system, through the pipes and into the tap. When you turn the tap off, it stops taking water from the pipe by cutting off the water flow. However, this leaves some water in the pipe. It doesn't go back into your hot water tank. As time passes, this water cools down and turns cold. Next time you turn the hot water tap on, the water that comes out of your tank pushes this cold water along the pipe so that it runs through the tap first.

If you haven't got a lot of pipework between the tap and your hot water tank, you won't have much cold water coming through. However, if your system is a distance away from your tap, then you'll have longer pipes that hold more cold water. It'll take longer for hot water to appear.

How to Get Rid of Cold Water in Hot Water Pipes

If the pipe that feeds your hot water isn't insulated, then you can try adding insulation to it. The insulation layer may keep water warmer for longer. This works best on short-distance gaps. If this doesn't work, or your water has a way to go before it gets to your tap, then you can look at adding a recirculation pump to your hot water system. These pumps work to keep water hot when it leaves the tank but isn't immediately used.

For example, when you turn off the hot water tap, the pump recirculates the water left in the pipe, so it gets heated again by your hot water system. This means that your water is always immediately hot when you turn your hot tap on. You need a plumber to fit a recirculating pump to your hot water system. To find out what your options are, call your plumber and ask them to come out and give you a quote for tap repairs.