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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 3/27/2006 4:16:14 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/27/2006 4:25:28 AM EDT by tippman]
Ok I have a 30 gallon gas hot water heater that is about 8 - 10 years old. The water doesn’t stay hot for very long. I have turned up the temp on the tank as far as it will go and I get about 10 - 15 minutes of hot water out of it when taking a shower. The GF attempted to take a bath and ran out of hot water before the tub was even full. It then takes about 45 minutes to an hour and a half for the tank to reheat. Don’t even think about taking 2 showers in a row or taking one if the washer is running. In true ARF fashion we tried to solve this issue by taking a shower at the same time but we didn’t get much actual showering done, and then when it was all hot and steamy the hot water ran out. So is it on its way out?

ETA: No I do not have pictures!!

Link Posted: 3/27/2006 4:20:58 AM EDT
I would bet my next paycheck on this:

Lower heating element. Easy to replace - about $20-$30

Link Posted: 3/27/2006 4:24:34 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Greywolf2112:
I would bet my next paycheck on this:

Lower heating element. Easy to replace - about $20-$30





May want to flush tank too.
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 4:24:41 AM EDT
have you drained the tank on an annual basis as recommended? (helping to eliminate sediment build up at the bottom of the tank, which requires more heat/time to heat the water)
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 4:27:28 AM EDT
I agree, it is most likely just the heating element or possibly the thermostat. You really should have a replaceable filter inline just before the tank so there is no need to drain it every year, or ever for that matter.
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 4:27:50 AM EDT

Originally Posted By RED_5:
have you drained the tank on an annual basis as recommended? (helping to eliminate sediment build up at the bottom of the tank, which requires more heat/time to heat the water)



I just moved into this place. Judging buy all the updates that the owners DIDNT make. I think it would be a safe guess that it has never been flushed.
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 4:29:09 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/27/2006 4:32:36 AM EDT by wildearp]
8-10 yrs old? Replace it. Spending any money on it will be a waste when you have to replace it in a few months.

(It will start leaking after you flush it, or very soon after, I would bet money on it)

This is the cry once or cry twice thing......
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 4:29:59 AM EDT

Originally Posted By tippman:

Originally Posted By RED_5:
have you drained the tank on an annual basis as recommended? (helping to eliminate sediment build up at the bottom of the tank, which requires more heat/time to heat the water)



I just moved into this place. Judging buy all the updates that the owners DIDNT make. I think it would be a safe guess that it has never been flushed.



I suggest flushing the tank, replace heating element, and then place a filter in just before the tank. The whole project should be less than $50 if you do it yourself.
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 4:30:24 AM EDT

Originally Posted By tippman:

Originally Posted By RED_5:
have you drained the tank on an annual basis as recommended? (helping to eliminate sediment build up at the bottom of the tank, which requires more heat/time to heat the water)



I just moved into this place. Judging buy all the updates that the owners DIDNT make. I think it would be a safe guess that it has never been flushed.



BTDT.. I moved into my first house. w/in a month the Heater/Hotwater system (Heat transfer system) failed big time.. middle of january too! Lesson learned. always get the warranty!!

draining your tank may help. check what the other have recommended too. good luck!
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 4:31:00 AM EDT

Originally Posted By wildearp:
8-10 yrs old? Replace it. Spending any money on it will be a waste when you have to replace it in a few months.

(It will start leaking after you flush it, or very soon after, I would bet money on it)



That is a good idea but it kind of depends on his budget.
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 4:31:20 AM EDT

Originally Posted By jmarkma:

Originally Posted By tippman:

Originally Posted By RED_5:
have you drained the tank on an annual basis as recommended? (helping to eliminate sediment build up at the bottom of the tank, which requires more heat/time to heat the water)



I just moved into this place. Judging buy all the updates that the owners DIDNT make. I think it would be a safe guess that it has never been flushed.



I suggest flushing the tank, replace heating element, and then place a filter in just before the tank. The whole project should be less than $50 if you do it yourself.



Water heaters are very cheap. Judge from where it is located, just how bad leak damage will be. the other thing that I guarantee it that the tank will start to leak while you are on vacation, or while you have a house full of guests.
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 4:32:37 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/27/2006 4:34:42 AM EDT by Admiral_Crunch]

Originally Posted By Greywolf2112:
I would bet my next paycheck on this:

Lower heating element. Easy to replace - about $20-$30



Yup. I had the exact same symptoms, and my lower heating element had gone out. You didn't mention whether you have a gas or electric water heater, but I'll bet it's electric, and the lower element is dead.

The upper element is keeping the water in the top of the tank hot, which is what is drawn off first, but the lower element isn't working, so the water in the bottom of the tank is cold.

If you have a continuity test meter or a multimeter, you can easily check the element. Turn off the power to the heater and remove the cover plate over the lower element. if there's any insulation or a plastic cover plate, remove them, and then touch one probe of the tester to each screw/bolt on the surface of the heating element (it'll be the 2-inch wide bolt with two screws on the surface of it). If you have no continuity, the element is bad.

Drain the tank and unscrew the element with a friggin huge socket if you happen to have one, or buy a cheapo element removal tool from the hardware store (5 bucks max). Unhook the wires on the element and unscrew it to remove it. Replace it with a new element and hook the wires back up. Refill the tank and check for leaks. If it's good, replace the plastic guard and insulation, put the cover back on, and power on the heater. Enjoy longer showers, and feel good that you didn't have to buy a new heater.

ETA: Well, crap. I see that your water heater is gas. Nevermind.
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 4:33:36 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/27/2006 4:37:13 AM EDT by jchewie]
This is a gas hot water heater guys.

Make sure the temperature is up - double check it. My wife and I had a 38 gallon that I had turned 2/3 of the way up and we had a difficult time running the thing out of hot water.

Second - drain the tank, let it refill, then do it again to help wash the crud out of the bottom of the tank.

Check / replace the thermostat also.
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 4:34:49 AM EDT
Sorry It is a gas Heater! Updated original post!
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 4:44:09 AM EDT
Sounds more like a mineral build-up. What is the TDS of your water and what part of that is permanent hardness? If it is anything over 120 ppm (parts per million), consider yourself lucky for having it last that long. The bottom is probably full of minerals that fall out of solution when the water is heated. Each time you run the tank until it is cold, over a half ounce of minerals drops out. That is a half pound a week or 26 pounds per year. That means over 8 years, you potentially have over 200 pounds of crap in the tank and that is with water well within national standards at 120 ppm.

If you have hard water, consider a salt-type softener for the hot water. You will SAVE money in the long run because it makes your clothes and dishwashers work more efficinetly as well as making the water heater last several times longer.

What you can do is try to drain the sediment from the tank but good luck. The minerals probably have fused into rocks which will resist any attempts at removal. The drain valve will fail when you try to close it again on the trapped mineral rocks stuck in the valve body but don't worry, a replacement is only a few dollars. Good luck trying to remove it though because they are using a PLASTIC(glass filled Nylon) valve which EXPANDS into the threads over the 8 years it has been submerged, making removal impossible without cutting the damn thing out of the threaded boss. Use a hacksaw blade held in a rag, the plastic cuts easily. Cut the remaining plastic nipple in a few places and you can remove the bits easily.

Once you have a new valve, you can try strong arm techniques like bubbling CO2 through the rocks under pressure with the heater off to dissolve the rock but in the end, replacement is far easier. You would need about 30 pounds of 90% phosphoric acid to dissolve the rock. Or a 20 pound cylinder of CO2 and a few days to do the dissloving. And with the H3PO4, you need someplace to dispose of the produced calcium phosphate. It is a fertilizer but too much for most lawns. Don't dispose of it down the sink as it will overload the sewer system. Dry it and dispose in solid waste. If you use CO2 to dissolve the minerals, you can safely dispose of it down the drain.

Now please call it a WATER HEATER. If the water is already hot, why would you want to heat it?

Link Posted: 3/27/2006 5:05:48 AM EDT
10 year old tank and running out of hot water fast = Bad dip tube.

On tanks man.between 92-97 there was a bad plastic formula used in the dip tubes.There was a class action recall of all dip tubes from these years awhile back but it is over now.

It is a real easy fix but it does require a small amount of soldering.

The dip tube is a plastic tube that runs from the cold inlet to the bottom of the tank,it forces the incoming cold water to enter at the bottom and push the hot water out of the top,when it rots it allows the cold to enter at the top of the tank and mix right away with the hot.

Cut the cold inlet pipe below the shut off and unscrew the connection at the top of the tank,stick your finger in the hole in the top of the tank and you will be able to remove the dip tube (or whats left of it) replace with a new one that ends 6 inches above the bottom of the tank.Reconnect the cold supply and flush the tank.
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 5:24:23 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/27/2006 5:25:46 AM EDT by Crowcreek]

Originally Posted By jmarkma:
I agree, it is most likely just the heating element or possibly the thermostat. You really should have a replaceable filter inline just before the tank so there is no need to drain it every year, or ever for that matter.




There is usually NO reason to replace a heater, outside of the obvious: Upgrade, tank leaks, antique - no pressure popoff. The elements and thermostats burn out on a regular basis and have to be replaced.

Sediment will build up even without a filter. With hard water, the scale bakes onto the elements and then falls off, sinking to the bottom. I put a clean hose on my wet/dry vac and cleaned mine out through the hole, after removing the lower element.

ETA: Gas, huh? Consider getting a diesel -- or a hybrid.




Link Posted: 3/27/2006 6:29:26 AM EDT
In all likelyhood there is a sediment buildup of ususlly lime in the base of the heater. When this is present the sediment has to be heated, then the water. This of course is a huge heat/eifficiency loss.

I would first open the drain cock on at the base of the heater with the heater under pressure and try to flush it as has been described above. This problably wont work well because it hasnt been done regularly and the sediment is too solidified. I would not go through the trouble of using acid to clean it. It takes a very very long time for it to work effectively.

Installing a filter on the inlet line wont help this because the particles are too small to be filtered.

The average lifespan of water heaters is about 8 years, so youre right on track.

I would eiter get a new heater installed of the conventional variety or better yet go with a tankless model.

The tankless models are about 2x the cost initially (about $2000 installed, but a $300 dollar tax credit can be taken as the Federal Govt. just initiated a new plan. So immediately take $300 off the top. The tankless heaters also save approximately $100 per year in operating costs so extended over the life of the heaters (which actually come witha 15-20 year warranty dependent on the manufacturer) saves you considerably more.

I am a plumber by trade and if it were my home the tankless heater would be installed.

Eric Austin
www.austinplumbinginc.com
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 6:32:37 AM EDT
97.4% of people that come into the store with water heater problems usually involves the thermo coupling.

replace your thermo coupling.
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 6:38:07 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/27/2006 6:38:58 AM EDT by 53vortec]
Why are you heating your hot water in the first place?
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 11:07:45 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Tread1:
10 year old tank and running out of hot water fast = Bad dip tube.



Yup!
Link Posted: 3/28/2006 8:13:15 AM EDT
Thanks for the input! I think I am just going to get a new heater. Looks like its time to call for quotes!
Link Posted: 3/28/2006 8:19:36 AM EDT
+1 on the heating element. But it might be throwing good money after bad. You may want to just replace it. Depends on how tight money is right now.

Personally, I would try the heating element and a good flush.
Link Posted: 3/28/2006 10:24:36 AM EDT
Dip Tube - Believe me - I'm a plumbing contractor.

DIY

Dip tube is in the cold water inlet side. (Side note - Don't worry about the anode rod. Those things are a bitch to get out!)
Link Posted: 3/28/2006 10:28:18 AM EDT
Thank God it's just your HOT WATER HEATER and not your WATER HEATER, otherwise, you wouldn't have any hot water!
Link Posted: 3/28/2006 5:24:33 PM EDT
check the bottom heating element, there is a dip tube that sends the cold water to the bottom of the tank , so this element gets the most work.
Link Posted: 3/28/2006 5:33:32 PM EDT
yep , if its gas and runs out of hot water quick , its like tread1 said its the dip tube.
Link Posted: 3/28/2006 5:36:52 PM EDT
DIp Tube. Don't waste your money on fixing a 8 or 10 year old water heater. Don't bother to TRY to drain the sediment out also. If you don't do it from new it's not going to work.
Link Posted: 3/28/2006 5:37:20 PM EDT
As stated you could attempt to change the dip tube and annode. These are highly probable causes of what your seeing. However as also stated you may be throwing good money after bad due to the age of the tank itself. The tank has basically run its usefull course. Replace it if you have the money, and don't chins out on the new tank. Look for something with a warranty, they are available.

Also if your at all handy they are not hard to replace yourself. Just remember to repipe it properly and be extremely carefull to install the flue according to code.
Link Posted: 3/28/2006 5:56:34 PM EDT
Being a journeyman plumber well versed in water heaters of all sorts......it worries me the type of advise given, makes me wonder about (any) other topic


The answer is possibly given in the preceding post barring the possibility of a leak on the HW side or a bypass OR the fact that 10 to 15 min @ 2.5 GPM showerhead = you do the math....

GAS WHs don't use elements so I'll call Greywolf2112 on his paycheck bet.
Link Posted: 3/28/2006 6:12:38 PM EDT

Originally Posted By luckypunk:
Being a journeyman plumber well versed in water heaters of all sorts......it worries me the type of advise given, makes me wonder about (any) other topic


The answer is possibly given in the preceding post barring the possibility of a leak on the HW side or a bypass OR the fact that 10 to 15 min @ 2.5 GPM showerhead = you do the math....

GAS WHs don't use elements so I'll call Greywolf2112 on his paycheck bet.



20 years in the gas appl and utility biz, bro. Some of the guys are absolutely correct that the dip tubes [some] in the mis 90s tended to disintigrate and fall apart. Average life of a water heater is around 12 years or so. Thats why we are recommendeding replacement. The fiberglass liner is probably cracked and the tank has a limited life span after that happens. If sediment has built up [not been drained/flushed on an ongoing basis] then heat transfer will be impeded causing higher costs.
So a few overlooked the elec/gas bit. Easy to do especially if they are from an area without natural gas and little use for heating. Even if they use heating oil, a gas [propane] water heater is not usually used.

After 8-10 years I would not bother trying to take out a dip tube, after paying for labor to replace it you're better off replacing the entire thing. New gas water heaters are around $250 $300 anymore thanks to the feds and antiflashback BS. Make sure you get a filter for the fresh air intake if it is offered.
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