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Thread: Help with hot water heater

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    DIY Junior Member Cold_Shower's Avatar
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    Default Help with hot water heater

    Help!!!

    I can't get very hot water from my Kenmore 50Gal electric water heater and I have tried about everthing. Currently I have both the upper and lower thermostats set at max and the hottest temp I get from any of the faucets is 115DEGF.

    We have been having this problem for about a year. I replaced both heating elements and both thermostats but still have the same problem. Nothing was wrong with the ones I replaced either.

    Tring to determine if it was a broken dip tube I tried the following.....
    -Ran water for awhile and confirmed that the bottom heater came on first. (Guessing that if it was a broken dip tube the top heater might come on first).
    -After water heater was up to temp (both elements off) I opened the drain valve at the bottom of tank and got cool water. (guessing that if dip tube was broken I might get hot water)

    Now I don't know what to do except live with it. This water heater is about 4-yrs old but we recently moved here and have never had hot water. At least the 115DEGF water lasts for a very long time. Any other ideas??

    Thanks

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    Homeowner Thatguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cold_Shower View Post
    the hottest temp I get from any of the faucets is 115DEGF.
    I replaced both heating elements and both thermostats but still have the same problem. Nothing was wrong with the ones I replaced either.
    Run the hot water and check that the current draw is W/240v, so a 4500w element should draw about 19A. While it's drawing this current, check the voltage at the heater. 220v will give you 15% less heating power.

    What's your incoming water temp? Raising 50 gal of water by 70F should take a 4500w heater element about
    1.9 hrs.

    From what few samples I have of elec. WH replacement ages, only 1/4th get replaced this early.

    I am always able to get hot water out of my tank drain faucet.

    Perhaps you have a pipe or appliance somewhere mixing the hot and the cold. Finding that will be quite a challenge.

    70 gal per person per day is about normal usage.
    Last edited by Thatguy; 11-12-2009 at 01:45 PM.

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    Plumbing Contractor for 49 years johnjh2o1's Avatar
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    To check to see if you do have hot mixing with cold, run hot water and see if the hot water pipe leaving the water heater is hotter then the water at the faucet.

    John

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default water

    I had a complete explanation written out but when I sent it, the Internet screwed up and lost it, so I will abreviate it.
    If the water was really that temperature it would NOT "last a long time". In fact it would last a VERY SHORT time. Therefore, the temperature in the heater is probably more than 115, and cold water is being mixed with it somewhere to produce a usable temperature.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    The water coming out the drain should be nearly the set point of the thermostat. The dip tube normally isn't so long that it makes it all the way to the bottom, which could do that if it did, I suppose.

    Do you possibly have a tempering valve on the outlet of the WH? If you do, all you may need to do is adjust it.

    Is the hot water temp the same at all faucets, or only some?
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY Junior Member Cold_Shower's Avatar
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    Ok I think I might be getting closer. The water is mixing somewhere. I shut the hot water off at the hot water heater and I still get cold water out of the hot water spickets at about full pressure. Now I can't find where they might be mixing???? I don't see any tempering valves.

    The hot water comes from the hot water heater and then tee's into the wall and to the kitchen sink. All the sinks have individual hot and cold spickets so I don't think it would be mixing there. We have (3) showers that have the single mixing valve so I kinda suspect one of these. Only other item that uses hot water is the washer.

    Any ideas on how to determine where it might me mixing???

    Thanks for all the comments, They were great!

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    the temperature in the heater is probably more than 115, and cold water is being mixed with it somewhere to produce a usable temperature. hj
    In the Seattle area, there are code changes that require that a heater does not scald.
    Some are getting tempering valves.

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    DIY Senior Member Runs with bison's Avatar
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    I think the previous posters are on the right track. A tempering valve would explain this. Tempering valves seem a bit like McDonald's coffee. With a tempering valve you should get a lot of water lasting a long time as you describe, but none of it particularly hot. Determine if it has a tempering valve, and if so, how to adjust it. Your water heater will be less efficient and more likely to fail sooner running really hot, but it will run warm water much longer that way. On the plus side, your water could be really sterile coming from the water heater if you have it maxed out.

    Your dishwasher and handwashed dishes will need 120 F minimum anyway for best performance You might help yourself out by insulating the hot water lines where accessible. It won't work miracles, but depending on the length of the runs and whether or not they run through the attic/basement it might give you 1, 2 or even 3 F extra at the taps for the same water heater/tempering valve set point. Insulating lines like this is almost free money, but more importantly, it improves the usability/comfort of the system.

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    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Do you have Moen faucets/valves...and how old is your home....

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default mixing

    The washer CANNOT cause mixing. Your single handle tub/shower faucets are the culprits. IF they are Moen, Groehe, or similar they can be repaired. If they are Mixet, which is a good possibility, then the only way to cure it is to buy a special "third party" stem which eliminates the "built in crossover" of the Mixet valve. Nomix Inc. repair cartridges that fit Mixet brand valves

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    DIY Junior Member Cold_Shower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    The washer CANNOT cause mixing. Your single handle tub/shower faucets are the culprits. IF they are Moen, Groehe, or similar they can be repaired. If they are Mixet, which is a good possibility, then the only way to cure it is to buy a special "third party" stem which eliminates the "built in crossover" of the Mixet valve. Nomix Inc. repair cartridges that fit Mixet brand valves
    Any way to determine which one it is?? I tried shutting the hot water tank off and running one of the sinks on hot while I listened to each of the valves. All were about the same.

    Also how can you tell which brand the faucets are. They are all unmarked.

    Thanks

  12. #12
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    A picture might help. Some handles are distinctive to a manufacturer, and other times we might need a picture of what it looks like under the handle. What you have to do is shut off the water heater, turn ALL the tub/shoer valves to ALL HOT, open the kitchen hot water side, then go to each tub/shower faucet and listen for the sound of water flowing through it. If there are more than one bad one, you may not be able to hear it, but usually that is not the case.

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    DIY Junior Member Cold_Shower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    A picture might help. Some handles are distinctive to a manufacturer, and other times we might need a picture of what it looks like under the handle. What you have to do is shut off the water heater, turn ALL the tub/shoer valves to ALL HOT, open the kitchen hot water side, then go to each tub/shower faucet and listen for the sound of water flowing through it. If there are more than one bad one, you may not be able to hear it, but usually that is not the case.
    Thanks!

    I will try this again and see if I can tell which one it is. The one I suspect is a Moen. I tried to pull the cartride but it did't come easy so I gave up before I broke it. I will get the correct tools and parts before I try it again.

    Since I am getting full water pressure when the hot water is shut off and it is not obvious (from sound) which one it might be, Could it possibly be mixing somewhere else?

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    Journeyman & Gas Fitter Doherty Plumbing's Avatar
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    It seems to me that you have a pressure balancing valve built into your faucet and it has failed.

    The pressure balancing valve will basically force the faucet to always have cold water. You can't ever have just pure straight hot water. If you do the balancing valve will basically close so you don't get scalded.

    So this would explain why you can't ever get hotter then about 115. And why you always have cold water at the faucet even when the hot is shut off.

    I have seen this problem with cheaper valves like Blanco.

    *throws his 2 cents in*
    Last edited by Doherty Plumbing; 11-16-2009 at 09:05 PM.

  15. #15
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default mixing

    quote; The pressure balancing valve will basically force the faucet to always have cold water. You can't ever have just pure straight hot water. If you do the balancing valve will basically close so you don't get scalded.

    That is an incorrect statement. The balancing spool will always insure that there is cold water AT the faucet, (and also hot as lack of either one will shut off all flow), in case you are using a mixed flow, to insure that the MIXED temperature does not change because of usage elsewhere. BUT, you can adjust the temperature from all cold to all hot, or at least to the maximum temperature allowed by the internal adjustable high limit. If the high limit is removed or adjusted to the maximum, you CAN use water as hot as the heater is set for. There is a possibility of crossover ANYTIME the hot and cold are interconnected without a controlling device, but in many cases that crossover is unique to a given building because of something the occupants have done as a "convenience", such as installing a shut off valve on the shower head so they do not have to adjust the water temperature every time they take a shower, or because the shower head was dripping.

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