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Thread: week vacation, now hot water is a pretty weak

  1. #1

    Default week vacation, now hot water is a pretty weak

    I am looking for ideas, I have an 11 year old electric water heater.

    It's most noticeable when I take a shower, I have to throw it to full hot just to be able to stand the water. I was gone for a week, no one using the water for a week.

    Random other thoughts, the bathroom faucet was reacting the same way. I have some pretty brutal iron problems, and use a water softener to help combat. I notice no change in flow from full hot to cold.

    I have to go to work now, but I was wondering if anyone had ideas to try.

    *edit: Guess I found out it was 9 years old*
    Last edited by Trepidation; 10-31-2009 at 09:09 AM.

  2. #2
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Well I suggest you call a plumber to come and fix it...

    I will guess you have no idea how one works baised on your question...and if so you need to place the call...

  3. #3
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default hot water

    I assume this a gas heater if you are able to adjust the thermostat that easily. IF so, then there should be no relationship between your problem and your vacation. There are several possibilities, but all of them are so rare that we cannot say exactly what the problem is without being there to diagnose the heater.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    I assume this a gas heater if you are able to adjust the thermostat that easily. IF so, then there should be no relationship between your problem and your vacation. There are several possibilities, but all of them are so rare that we cannot say exactly what the problem is without being there to diagnose the heater.
    I probably should have put a disclaimer in the beginning of my post that I am a terrible communicator.

    The heater is electric, I haven't touched the thermostat. Everything I was looking at was at the end, from the faucet. The bathroom, shower, and kitchen don't have individual faucets for hot and cold... so when I say full hot, or cold, I am just operating the lever from one side to the other.

    I have had problems with iron in the past, when I moved in the house had been unoccupied for about 4 months. I went to use the shower for the first time, the iron deposits from the water had fowled up the faucet so bad that I couldn't adjust the temperature (the quickest showers of my life). That is why I mentioned it, I suspect that it has been shortening the life of all things plumbing in my house and it could be partly responsible for this problem.

    When I get home, I will flush the tank and comb through the manual to see if there are any other owner maintenence things to perform.

    such as life eh? Isn't fall and winter fun?

  5. #5
    DIY Senior Member Runs with bison's Avatar
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    When was the last time you replaced an element in the water heater? If never then it likely needs one. Tank could be shot or full of sediment at this age.

    When I was young our well water was so hard that I probably changed the bottom element once/year.

    If the element has been getting caked with more and more solids you would expect to really notice it at the onset of winter because the incoming water is even colder both to the tank, and the cold mix to your shower/faucets.

  6. #6

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    drained the tank, yanked the elements. both were had a black crust on them, and the lower one had chunks (of the pretty crust) flaked off of it. I'll get some pictures.

    Never pulled the elements on a water heater before, it was kind of exciting to do it until I saw the inside of my tank. Flushing the tank will probably be a new routine, more frequently until I am convinced the sludge has taken a vacation.

    First stop was the hardware store close to my house, when I was looking for a socket or a wrench for the element I asked the person there and he looked at me like I was from outer space. "inch and a half socket, or specialty wrench for removing hot water heater elements?"

    Second stop was Lowes, I was hesitant because of all the gripes about their water heaters and as I suspected their elements were whirlpool branded. They had the nifty tool, if you would go so far as to call it that. Grabbed 2 new elements (proper wattage for my model) which I walked right past because I expected them to be hanging on pegs and not in big bins.

    I saw their hot water heater display, I see why people buy them, they're cheap and look easy to install (haha one was painted black and a mock stainless steel color). Just from reading gripes and horror stories, I don't think I will ever buy a hot water heater from a hardware store unless I know the house is going to be destroyed in less than 3 months.

    *edit: silly me forgot to mention, the hot water has never been this good since I moved in
    Last edited by Trepidation; 10-31-2009 at 10:04 AM.

  7. #7
    Journeyman & Gas Fitter Doherty Plumbing's Avatar
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    With an electric HWT when you suddenly have limited hot water it's because the top element has failed. Replace both.

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    *edit: silly me forgot to mention, the hot water has never been this good since I moved in
    New elements will do that.

    If the top element goes bad, no hot water at all.

    When the lower element goes bad, the top will still heat half the tank, so it will feel like very little water that is heated.

    These things work in series, not at the same time.
    The lower element never comes on until the upper thermostat is satisfied.

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