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Thread: Gas Water heater - low hot water

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member amit's Avatar
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    Default Gas Water heater - low hot water

    Hi,
    This is my first time here and found a wealth of knowledge which made me register and post this.

    I had a RHEEM 50 gallon Gas water heater for about 10 years. Our faucets (sinks and bath tubs) have a single control for hot and cold water. Turn clockwise more and more to get hot water and anti-clockwise for cold water. Lately we saw less and less hot water coming in or we have to turn the faucets way to the max to get enough hot water to last a shower. I thought that the water heater was on its last leg and it might be time to replace it instead of calling someone to open it and see what is wrong (maybe a mistake). Anyway, now I have a brand new Whirlpool Gas Water heater installed, but have the same issue.

    This makes me believe that it is the pipes and not the water heater. Where do I begin? I read about using vinegar to let it clean the sediment from the pipes, some way to backflush the pipes or even checking the dip tube. I am handy, but probably not handy enough to risk a lot of plumbing work.

    What I also found that the cold and hot water pipes coming out of the Water heater are both hot. Should they both be hot? I would expect the cold water pipe to be sending cold water into the heater and would be cold.

    Any thoughts?

    Thank you !!

  2. #2
    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    Sorry to hear that you ripped out a good Rheem and put in a Whirlpoo Water Heater, You could have any number of problems undersized water heater, bad tempering valve, hot/cold cross over, slab leaks, and a few more.

    The hot incoming cold line is caused by convection and is quite normal.

  3. #3
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; I thought that the water heater was on its last leg and it might be time to replace it instead of calling someone to open it and see what is wrong (maybe a mistake). Anyway, now I have a brand new Whirlpool Gas Water heater installed, but have the same issue.

    That is what often happens when someone "guesses" at the problem and does something before finding out the REAL problem. It IS a mistake, (and I know plumbers who have done the same thing), and often leaves you with less money and the same problem, as you have discovered. There could be a simple explanation, such as a misadjusted temperature limit in the valve, or a failing part in the valve, OR it could be something more extreme, such as a cracked hot water line under the floor if you have a concrete slab house. The only way to solve the problem is to have a plumber come in and make his own tests to find out where, and what, the problem is.

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    DIY Junior Member amit's Avatar
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    Thank you for the responses.
    @Redwood - Thanks for confirming that the hot coldwater pipe is normal. One less thing to get worried about. Now that I am reading the complaints about the Whirlpool heater, I am more worried as to what to do.
    @hj - Thanks for your feedback. Yes, I know I made a dumb mistake to get things done quickly to avoid issues when it is extremely cold (I am in Chicago). I could have taken my time and done some research. That is what I am trying to do now instead of just calling someone to take a look and follow his suggestions without knowing what is going on.

    Is there anything I can do to confirm what might be happening? I thought it is the hot water pressure that is low, which might be due to the sediment build up in the pipes.

  5. #5
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    The whirlpool issue is several years old. I have stopped trying to keep up.....but I assume that they have made some changes to improve. It seems they do stand behind in terms of providing parts, etc. But is has been a serious pain for some folks


    Unless you have 50+ year old, galvanized iron pipes, then sediment in the pipes is a non issue. Your problems are probably in the system components...shower valves, faucet cartridges, etc.

  6. #6
    DIY Junior Member amit's Avatar
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    Jimbo - It is a 10 yr old townhome community. So, I guess sediment in the pipes is a non-issue.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    ANYTHING in the pipes affects the volume, NOT the temperature. You need to do more diagnostic testing, but we cannot tell you HOW to do it. It is something that comes with experience, which is probably why you need a plumber.

  8. #8
    DIY Junior Member amit's Avatar
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    Ok hj. I understand you are a plumber and want to have us call one to get this done. My aim of using this forum is to try and identify where the problem is - the water heater or something else. This will help me decide whether I go to the company (Lowes) who installed the water heater or call another plumber who is better suited for it. Anyway, thanks for your insights.

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    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amit View Post
    Ok hj. I understand you are a plumber and want to have us call one to get this done. My aim of using this forum is to try and identify where the problem is - the water heater or something else. This will help me decide whether I go to the company (Lowes) who installed the water heater or call another plumber who is better suited for it. Anyway, thanks for your insights.
    Well not exactly...
    HJ is saying that you need a good plumber to figure this one out.
    I suspect you will not find that in a Lowes installer....

  10. #10
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    I really don't care WHO you call, but you are NOT giving us much information to make a diagnosis, and from what you are describing, it appears that YOU also cannot make the necessary diagnosis. You can call a handyman, and he might take several hours to come up with an answer, (and if you had called him originally HE might have recommended changing the water heater), or you can call a plumber who, even though his HOURLY rate will be more, should take a lot less time, and therefore the bottom line would be less. My recommendation to call a plumber was to try to save you any more unnecessary expense and/or inconvenience. I advise plumbers when they have problems like this, but it is your call at this point.

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