Sudden power outages can happen at any time. And this can be a problem for homeowners, especially when outages rob you of your usual amenities like showering.
But what does the power in your house have to do with whether you can shower or not? More than you think, actually. The answer to this will depend on how you get water to your shower, (basically, whether it needs electricity or not).
The thing is, most homes rely on heating systems – boilers, tankless heaters, hot water heaters, or electrical well pumps. All of them need electricity to work, and that’s where the issue during a power outage often lies.
So, can you take a shower when the power is out? Well, it depends on two things: (1) whether or not your plumbing system requires electricity to get a water supply and (2) the type of heating system you have for the shower, whether it’s tankless or has a traditional tank.
Can You Still Shower When the Power Fails?
First things first, do you have an incoming water source when the power runs out? The answer to this question depends on where you get your water supply and how you get it, whether it requires power or not.
Do You Get Water from Your Personal Well?
If you rely on a personal well to supply the water to take a shower, you might be out of luck when the power goes out. Home wells require power-operated pumps to deliver that water supply into your home. So, without electricity, you won’t be getting any water, and that means you won’t be able to take a shower until the power comes back on.
But there’s an exception. If you store water from your personal house well inside an upright tank, which then supplies water to your shower, then you might still be able to shower when the power is out, given that there’s a water reserve inside the tank.
Another exception exists when your house is equipped with a properly sized generator, which means you can get that water pump working.
Do You Get Your Supply from the Municipal or City Water?
If you receive your water supply from municipal or city water, you’re in luck. You’ll still be able to take a shower even when there’s no electricity. Typically, cities will have pressurized water systems which take advantage of gravity (water towers) or mechanical pumps, or both. Municipal and city water systems are also usually designed with redundant power sources, so there’s a backup when the power goes out.
So, unless there’s disruption from the water supply, like an earthquake, you can still take a shower if your home’s water system is hooked up to the municipal or city water.
Can You Take a Warm Shower with No Power?
So, we’ve established that you might still be able to shower when the power is out, depending on how your water is supplied. But what about a warm or hot shower when there’s no electricity?
The answer to this depends on your home or shower’s heating system. Is it tankless or a traditional tank-style water heater?
When You Have Gas Powered Water Heater
Can you take a hot shower with a gas-powered water heater? The answer is maybe, depending on how old your gas heater is.
Older style gas systems typically have an independent pilot and an ignition, so they operate autonomously when it comes to electricity. This means that they will work just fine without power. In short, you can take hot showers if you have an old gas water heater.
Unfortunately, modern gas-powered water heaters come with various electrical components. They require power to ignite the pilot and maintain water temperatures. They also need electricity to detect the hot water supply needs. In short, you can take a shower, but most probably a cold one.
When You Have Traditional Electric Water Heater
Traditional electric water heaters are one of the most common heater systems in homes. One of their biggest advantages is that they come with a traditional water tank. This means that, although this heater system uses power, there will be some heated water in the tank that you can use for showering.
But there are two downsides. First, there’s no way to know how much warm water is still inside the tank the moment your power runs out. Second, the hot water inside the tank will eventually cool after some time.
In summary, if your home uses a traditional electric water heater, you can still take a hot/warm shower when the power goes out, although with limited hot water available.
When You Have Tankless Water Heater
Even with a constant water supply when the power is out, tankless water heaters completely depend on electricity to supply hot water to your shower. This type of system heats water on demand, which means, as its name implies, there is no reservoir for hot water. Without a tank, you will be left with absolutely no hot water if the power suddenly fails.
In short, with a tankless water heater, no electricity means no hot shower.
How Long Will Water in the Heater Tank Stay Hot?
The hot water tanks in most modern gas-powered heaters and electric water heaters typically retain heat for up to three days without electricity. This means that you can take a warm shower for three straight days even without electricity.
But don’t forget to consider the volume of your hot water tank.
Showering Without Electricity
You’ll be able to take a shower even without electricity if your water supply is from the municipal or city water or if you have a generator for your personal well. Whether this will be a warm or cold shower depends on your home’s heater system.
You can take a warm shower when the power fails if you have:
- an old-style gas-powered water heater
- a traditional electric water heater (with a tank or reservoir)