(206) 949-5683, Top Rated Plumber, Seattle
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 22

Thread: Can you help troubleshoot my hot water/high electricity bill issue?

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Seattle, Wa
    Posts
    3

    Default Can you help troubleshoot my hot water/high electricity bill issue?

    So here's what I know:

    1. Started noticing the the temperature of my shower water was fluctuating...generally warm but with patches of cool water.
    2. Replaced the dip stick (the old one turned out to be fine) and the lower heating coil, which in hindsight was probably OK too.
    3. Increased the temp by 5-degrees to 130. Water temp still fluctuates, but not as annoying as when cool water was coming in.

    Then,

    Received my electric bill with a huge spike in use. (Huge, as in $400 for two months--crap!)

    One more thing,

    I noticed that at one end of the house, the hot water tap is always primed with hot water. Even first thing in the AM, after not being used for 6 or 8 hours, it takes no time for the tap to deliver hot water. The hot water tank is on a different floor and the other end of the house, so it would normally take 15 or 20 seconds. The tap on the other end of the house seems to be normal, that is delivering hot water only after discharging several seconds of cold water.

    Somehow this has all got to be related, right? Anybody care to speculate what is going on?

    Thanks in advance and happy holidays!

  2. #2
    Network Engineer rmelo99's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    349

    Default

    Any hot water recirculating pump/system?

    I'll let the pros chime in but I think if there is bad valve @ a fixture/tub you could be mixing hot water into the cold. This would consume hot water meaning you have to heat your water more and it could also explain how that tap has hot water instantly even after not being used for a while.

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Seattle, Wa
    Posts
    3

    Default

    @rmelo99

    Yes, have an on demand recirculating pump, but unplugged it to eliminate it from the problem. Also, we can hear it running when it's working. I've also checked the cold water line coming into that sink, and it's cold, which leads me to think the hot water is not finding its way down that cold water line.

    Now your second suggestion is interesting. We did have some work done on a tub, probably about the time this problem started, although the tub has separate controls for hot/cold water, not a single control that would have a valve. Of course, I don't know much, or really anything about plumbing, so maybe there is a valve and I just don't know what it is. Thanks for your reply.

    UPDATE: I just ran the water in the sink again, and this time it was a normal cold discharge before getting hot. So, I'm going to dial-back what I said about the on demand pump and see what the situation is in the morning. If things seem to be normal in the AM with the pump unplugged, then I'll completely remove it from the look and see if that makes a difference long term. Thanks again for your message.

    UPDATE 2: Just as in past days the hot water was right at the tap for the upstairs bathroom. I think what happened last night was that the downstairs tap and been used, thereby draining the plumbing of hot water.
    Last edited by dwschwartz; 12-14-2010 at 07:06 AM.

  4. #4
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Yakima WA
    Posts
    7,246

    Default

    How about a leak in a hot water line? It wouldn't have to be huge to make the water heater work overtime. I don't think the recirculating system would cause very much of an increase. It seems to me you're using losing hot water somewhere

  5. #5
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    21,395

    Default

    Check the water meter to see if it is moving when you know no water is being used in the house. Do your pipes run in a slab, or through the framing? If in a slab, are there any spots that are warm if you walk around in your socks?
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  6. #6
    In the Trades Jerome2877's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    BC
    Posts
    384

    Default

    I would also guess slab leak. Close the valve that feeds the hwh, wait 1 min and turn it back on. If you hear water running through the valve you have a leak. A digital thermometer is usefull to locate the leak if you don't feel a hot spot with your foot.

  7. #7
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Posts
    25,633

    Default

    1. You have a hot water leak under the floor.
    2. It is probably at the end where you get hot water immediately.
    3. The heater is operating 24 hours a day, which is why the electic bill is high
    4. Your water bill will also be higher.
    5. When it gets bad enough, and it appears to be near that point, you will NOT have any hot water, but the electric meter will be spinning at full speed.
    6. Contact a plumber who knows how to work with a leak locator AND your homeowner's insurance to find and repair the leak, and your house.

  8. #8
    DIY Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Seattle, Wa
    Posts
    3

    Default Thanks for your comments

    I appreciate everyone's thoughts so far.

    Fortunately the plumbing is either exposed or between floors and I haven't seen any sign of water--either coming from the exposed pipe or causing any damage to the downstairs ceiling. There is one area where the pipe rises vertically between the two floors, in the wall. I'll guess I'll have to take a look at that next.

    Please keep any ideas/suggestions coming. Thanks.

  9. #9
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    northfork, california
    Posts
    3,258

    Default

    Water heater elements do weird things. For the 10 bucks, change the top one too. It does the most work. I had a few elements that pulled 20 amps each and yet put out just a bit of heat, and would trip the breaker maybe once a month or less. Testers do not seem to give readily interpetable readings.

    Learn how ro read your meter daily, and do a day without hot water.

    Have the electric company replace the meter. You'll likely get an easy to read digital one.

  10. #10
    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    7,463

    Default

    Humor us and with no water in the house running check the water meter to see if it is moving...

    Yes I know you should see a leak but just humor us this once....

  11. #11
    In the Trades Jerome2877's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    BC
    Posts
    384

    Default

    Turn the valve's on each toilet supply off to eliminate any toilets running when you do what redwood suggests.

  12. #12
    DIY Member arfeller's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Port Angeles, WA
    Posts
    77

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ballvalve View Post
    Water heater elements do weird things. For the 10 bucks, change the top one too. It does the most work. I had a few elements that pulled 20 amps each and yet put out just a bit of heat...
    That sounds pretty weird... I'm not really sure I understand.

  13. #13
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    northfork, california
    Posts
    3,258

    Default

    Neither do I. I think thatguy gve it a shot in another thread.

  14. #14
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Posts
    25,633

    Default

    quote; the 10 bucks, change the top one too. It does the most work. I had a few elements that pulled 20 amps each and yet put out just a bit of heat, and would trip the breaker maybe once a month or less. Testers do not seem to give readily interpetable readings.

    The top on does almost NONE of the work, unless you are continually depleting all the hot water from the tank. The bottom one does 95% of the work the rest of the time, or until it burns out and then the upper one does ALL of the work. IF the element is pulling 20 amps, it had better produce a lot of water, otherwise you have a bad thermostat. "Testers/instruments" DO give reliable readings, it is the "testor/person" who interprets them incorrectly.

  15. #15
    Homeowner Thatguy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    MD
    Posts
    1,460

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    "Testers/instruments" DO give reliable readings, it is the "testor/person" who interprets them incorrectly.
    Or there is tarnish/oxide on the terminals which cannot be penetrated by the low voltage that modern ohmmeters put out.

Similar Threads

  1. Leak causing high water bill Please Help
    By Stlouisfan in forum Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 06-21-2009, 03:28 PM
  2. crazy high electrical bill
    By adams211 in forum Electrical Forum discussion & Blog
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 01-01-2008, 07:49 AM
  3. My water bill is too high!
    By Randyj in forum Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Tricks
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 07-17-2007, 12:14 PM
  4. Need help with high gas bill.
    By enviroko in forum HVAC Heating & Cooling
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 05-04-2007, 01:15 PM
  5. Reliance water sending electric bill sky high
    By sivright in forum Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Tricks
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 02-05-2005, 01:31 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •