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Posted: 11/22/2002 4:58:17 PM EDT
i have an electric water heater. my hot water runs out real fast. i bumped up the tank temp but it does not seem to help. the water is hot when i first turn it on but i can barely make it through a shower with hot water. what could be the problem? i think they sell new heating elements for these but i dont know if thats the problem because the water is hot in the beginning. the tank is only a few years old. any suggestions would be appreciated. thanks.
Link Posted: 11/22/2002 5:14:58 PM EDT
You didn't say how old the tank, but it sounds like the lower element is burned out, which is a common problem. Go to Lowe's or Home Depot, get a plumber's book and then ask the people there what you need. Don't forget to take the nameplate information in with you: - tank model number - watts per element - Unscrew the lower access plate so can see the element end itself and see if its one that screws in or is attached with 4 1/4-20 bolts. Get the appropriate one at your local home improvement store. If you've nver changed one out, it can seem daunting, but if you shoot and maintain an AR-15, it won't take you long to figure it out. Hope this helps. Merlin
Link Posted: 11/22/2002 5:19:27 PM EDT
What capacity water heater is it?
Link Posted: 11/22/2002 5:24:01 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/22/2002 5:27:30 PM EDT by AR-10]
Could be several things. The tank may be half full of calcium/lime/rust/grunge, reducing the capacity of the tank. Do you ever drain some of the water out through the spigot at the bottom? Twice a year open the spigot and let the water run out till it runs clear. The elements may be crusted up or broken. You can replace the elements, but it is a pain in the butt. In a gas water heater, there is a tube on the cold water side that directs the cold to the bottom and forces the hot water up. Not sure if this is true for an electric water heater. It is possible that the plastic tube is in the wrong side, or was not in the heater to begin with. Least likely of the three guesses, but I have seen it happen. If the tube was taken out, the cold water will dump into the top, mix with the hot, and you will soon run out of hot water, although there will be plenty of hot left in the tank.
Link Posted: 11/22/2002 5:26:39 PM EDT
it's only about 3 years old. it holds 50 gallons. Thanks for the help. Do i need to drain the tank to remove the heating element? Are they reasonably priced compared to a whole new water heater? I am a fix-it kinda person so im not concerned about doing the work. i just need to know what to do. [:)] i have no experience with electric water heaters.
Link Posted: 11/22/2002 5:28:45 PM EDT
Elements run about $20.00 each. You have to drain the tank.
Link Posted: 11/22/2002 5:30:04 PM EDT
AR-10 i will try the stuff you suggested tomorrow. i have never drained it. i guess im a water heater maintenence slacker. [:)]
Link Posted: 11/22/2002 5:34:58 PM EDT
Three years old! What's the warranty? Maybe it's still covered.... 1- make sure you turn off the power to the water heater. Turn off the cold water coming to the tank. 2- garden hose usually connects to bottom to drain. if it flows slowly, open up a hot water facet near it or the overflow valve to get some air in. If it's still slow...not good.
Link Posted: 11/22/2002 5:40:00 PM EDT
Finally, a problem on AR-15.com that I know somehting about. Problem is only one of several things: 1. Lower element is out. Easy to replace. Be sure to turn off the power (or gas) and drain the tank before you unscrew the element. Be sure to refill the tank before you power (or gas) it back up. 4500W element will cost you $10. The tool will cost $6. 2. Lower thermostat is out. Easy to replace. If electric, be VERY sure the power is off. Use a volt meter and have a trusted person gaurd the breaker box. 220V can kill you dead for sure. Cost you $12. 3. Drop tube (take in-coming cold water to bottom of tank)is broken. If broken up high the in-coming cold water is not getting heated by the lower element. Not likely on a relatively new HWH. Hardly ever breaks. 4. Heavy deposits in bottom of tank or on lower element. Do you have like the hardest water in the world? If so, replacin the lower element will get you only a little more life. Out in far west "Gods Country" Texas you have to replace HWH's every 2 to 3 years. Course, true Texans don't use hot water, but the wives generaly do. Heck don't use cold water much either! 5. Do have the same problem on all faucets or just in the shower? If only in the shower, you may have one of those fancy sisified adjustable type faucets. Easy to re-set, but you have to know how. Thing is, if the cold water is now REALLY cold (as it is now winter) it will chill off a luke warm to sorta hot tank in a hurry. Been there. Most of the time it is either the lower element or lower theromostat. Get the cover off of the lower thermostat. Use a plastic handled screw driver to crank the temp all the way up. If you do NOT hear the water start to boil on the element in just a few seconds, it is one of these two. Easiest to change is the thermostat. Try it first.
Link Posted: 11/22/2002 5:44:09 PM EDT
Lower element is likely bad. Could be thermostat but I doubt it. Yes, gotta drain the tank. If you flushed it every month or two you wouldn't be on here asking about this! New water heaters have a notoriously worthless drain valve. Have a very tiny hole so they plug easily. Remove it and install a nipple and full port ball valve. (FP valve ain't cheap but will outlast several heaters!) Add a hose bib to the new ball valve. Drain often. All the lime needs to be removed before installing new element or its life will be hours. Some tanks are so packed with the crap it is easier to just replace with new tank. Be careful; tank is glass lined and if you damage the glass it will leak before long. I drag lime out with coat hanger and also a length of 1/2" EMT (conduit) Copper tube works good too. If you have a volt ohm meter, I can tell you how to check the various parts.
Link Posted: 11/22/2002 5:48:35 PM EDT
thanks guys. i love ar15.com. you can get answers to just about any question. i hope i can mess with it tomorrow. i will post when i do. thanks again guys.
Link Posted: 11/22/2002 6:27:46 PM EDT
I’ve successfully changed elements a couple of times, so it can’t be that hard!! [:D] Don’t forget you’ll need a short piece of hose when you drain the thing. And don’t unscrew the drainage valve too far or it may pop off (at least mine did!!). Of course you'll need to open the relief valve at the top when draining. If the drainage valve gets clogged as you drain, you may mistakenly think that the tank is empty. When you remove the element, you’ll discover otherwise!! Again, been there, done that! I turn off both the circuit to the water heater and the main – shutting down the entire house!! That means I have to work with a flashlight and reset all the clocks, etc., later, but I don’t care. Many years ago when I was in high school, one of the teachers (in maybe his mid-twenties) was fixing his wife’s electric clothes dryer (also 220 volt) and did something wrong – his life went out like a candle!! You just can’t make any mistakes around 220 circuits! Good luck!
Link Posted: 11/22/2002 7:35:39 PM EDT
Hello, I am a Master Plumber in real life, not just on TV. Hee! Crock has trouble shot this one pretty good, listen to his advice. BE FRICKEN CAREFUL ABOUT SHUTTING OFF THE POWER, DONT DO THIS ON THE FLY WITH THE POWER STILL ON. Pull the fuse in question or tape off the breaker switch. Its a pain in the arze to do an old element or a realllly cooked one, but it is not out of the realm of possibility for a tyro. Take your time, DONT get frustrated. Hope it all works out well for you. Dram
Link Posted: 11/23/2002 11:29:26 AM EDT
i think i fixed it. i went up to home depot and bought the element, thermostat, and the element tool. figured i would just get everything incase. i shut down the power and checked twice with my meter and voltage tester pen. i drained the tank. that took forever. i just wanted to get to it but had to wait. the element came right out. no problem at all. put the new one in just as smoothly and filled the tank back up. when i turned the juice back on i was happy to hear noise coming from both the elements. i believe that was the problem. im gonna hang on to the thermostat for a couple days just incase its not working properly. thanks for the help guys. you told me everything i needed to know and the fix was a breeze. i luv you guys. [:D]
Link Posted: 11/23/2002 4:17:41 PM EDT
Was there any lime in the bottom of the tank?
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