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Thread: Water heater only putting out warm water

  1. #1

    Default Water heater only putting out warm water

    Okay so the next plumbing issue I've discovered in this house I've moved into is that the water heater is only putting out warm water.

    It's a new Bradford White "DEFENDER SAFETY SYSTEMŽ
    ATMOSPHERIC VENT ENERGY SAVER MODELS" according to the model#



    At first I thought it was just because the thermostat dial was set to "Vacation" so I turned it up to one of the middle "icon" settings waited awhile but that didn't do anything so I cranked it up to the max and that still didn't do anything.

    All the faucets (2 bathrooms with tub/shower and sink and kitchen) are putting out the same lukewarm water.

    Letting the hot (warm) water run in the kitchen and feeling the water pipes on the heater the cold one stays cold and the hot water one only feels warm to the grasp like the water temperature itself.

    I also flushed out some of the water from the tank itself. At first the water was cold and then slowly it got warmer though never as warm as the water coming out of the kitchen. I shut it off before waiting to see if it would get as warm since I wasn't sure how much water was safe to flush out of the tank with the setup I had (gas was still on, cold water valve still open).

    Edit: I hooked up a hose to the spigot since there wasn't really room to just put a bucket underneath so some of that cold water may have been from that.

    I tried to look at the pilot light and burner unit but I couldn't see anything with only the front panel off and I didn't want to try and take off the inner one.

    My guess at this point is that the thermostat is not hooked up/wired/working properly. Are there any other simple things I can check/test out to verify the actual problem? Assuming it is the thermostat is that something a complete plumbing novice (though I did manage to install my new kitchen faucet with no leaks...so far ) could fix? Or should I just bring in a plumber?

    The realtor of the person who sold the house installed the water heater and based on the other work he did on the house I'm assuming he didn't do a good job/do it properly so you might want to take that into consideration.

    Couple more pics of the water heater. It's sitting in a outside closet:



    Last edited by MikeW888; 09-12-2008 at 07:12 PM.

  2. #2
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default hot water

    That setting on the thermostat is somewhere between 110 and 120 which would only be "warm".

  3. #3

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    This is the big version of the image showing the thermostat:

    http://randjunk.com/images/water_heater_02.jpg

    You can see the "Very Hot" setting is just a couple of markers to the right of the arrow/notch. I had it set there for a while but it didn't seem to do anything so I dialed it back slightly just for the heck of it.

  4. #4
    Plumber Winslow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    That setting on the thermostat is somewhere between 110 and 120 which would only be "warm".
    100* is considered hot. The maximum (according to upc) that you can put down the drain is 120* which is very hot. You generally lose up to about 5* from heater to fixture unless the piping is insulated.
    Last edited by Winslow; 09-12-2008 at 10:36 PM.

  5. #5
    DIY Senior Member Mikebarone's Avatar
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    Default Give this a try...

    When you slowly turn the dial from the vacation point to hotter setting, (counter clockwise) you should hear a “click” where the thermostat wants to turn on the gas burner. When you here the click, then you should hear the sound of the gas “poof” on. If you don’t here the “poof”, you may have to check to see if the pilot is on. I think that style of tank has a small inspection window that you can see if the pilot is on or not. If it’s not on, follow the directions on the tank on how to light the pilot. It kind of sounds like the pilot light is on, and that is what is heating the water to the warm temperature that you are getting out of it.
    If the tank is new, the chances of the thermostat being bad is kind of unlikely. Maybe give the stuff I’ve suggested a try, and get back with us.

    Mike, (the handyman).

    PS. This sounds kind of dumb, but make sure he installed the cold water line into the cold water side of the tank, and likewise with the hot water line.
    Last edited by Mikebarone; 09-12-2008 at 10:24 PM.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikebarone View Post
    When you slowly turn the dial from the vacation point to hotter setting, (counter clockwise) you should hear a “click” where the thermostat wants to turn on the gas burner. When you here the click, then you should hear the sound of the gas “poof” on. If you don’t here the “poof”, you may have to check to see if the pilot is on. I think that style of tank has a small inspection window that you can see if the pilot is on or not. If it’s not on, follow the directions on the tank on how to light the pilot. It kind of sounds like the pilot light is on, and that is what is heating the water to the warm temperature that you are getting out of it.
    When I turned it the first time from the original Vacation setting I did feel a slight click but didn't hear that poof. I'll get down on the (dirt) ground tomorrow and see if I can see anything down there.

    PS. This sounds kind of dumb, but make sure he installed the cold water line into the cold water side of the tank, and likewise with the hot water line.
    Heh, given the quality of his other work that's actually not such a dumb thing to check.

  7. #7
    Plumber Winslow's Avatar
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    upon further review it appears that the thermostat is set on pilot. I hope you turned i to the on position after you took the photo

  8. #8

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    I just did before you posted

    I went to go check the pilot light and checked the thermostat again before crawling down on the ground and noticed that.

    I'm amazed that thing was either able to heat water with it set that way or had enough warm water in there to last the last 2 weeks (though I am only one person in the house ATM).

    Edit: oh and I did hear the "pfoosh" sound this time so hopefully everything is fine now.

  9. #9
    Plumber Winslow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeW888 View Post
    I just did before you posted

    I went to go check the pilot light and checked the thermostat again before crawling down on the ground and noticed that.

    I'm amazed that thing was either able to heat water with it set that way or had enough warm water in there to last the last 2 weeks (though I am only one person in the house ATM).
    another mystery solved. Enjoy your hot water

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by winslow View Post
    another mystery solved. Enjoy your hot water
    I will

    Thanks for the help.

  11. #11
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default temperature

    100 degrees is considered "hot"? In my area that is only 2 degrees above body temperature and would be considered "tepid" at most. It doesn't even get "warm" until it is about 110 degrees.

  12. #12
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default heater

    Very Hot is probably about 150 degrees, and the long bar is probably 120. In the "old days" very hot was 160 and the long bar was 140 degrees. I have mine set one notch past the long bar and my wife resets it there when she notices that the water is cooler and finds that it was accidently turned down.

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