Problem with new water heater (electric) - please advice

Hi All:
A few weeks ago I posted a problem with our 13-year old water heater and as per the suggestions received, we bought a new water heater.
Now the new problem: We replaced a 66 gallon with a 50 gallon water heater (66 gallon was out of stock). It is a whirlpool water heater (has two 5000 watt elements) with life-time warranty. Our household has only 3 people. When we bought the water heater we were assured that, it will be sufficient for a household of four people.
The problem we are facing right now is, the hot water is not even sufficient for two people to take a shower. The second person will end up with chilling cold water. We did not run our washer or dishwasher in the morning and hot water was not used for any other purpose.
When we noticed this problem, we increased the water temperature even up to 150 degree, thinking a higher temperature would solve the problem. The water did heat up to a higher temperature, but still the second person to shower is ending with cold water. Three people cannot take shower in the morning.
So please advice, is there anything wrong with the water heater? - Or is it just because it is smaller in capacity than what we need. Is there anyway to test that both elements in the heater are working?
Thanks for your advice and time.
Robert
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Robert wrote:

Typical shower heads flow at about 2.5 gallons per minute, and since you're obviously not running "full hot" water when you start showering, you ought to get *at least" 20 minutes of showering time out of a fully heated 50 gallon hot water heater.
If the shower is over a bathtub, how about measuring the interior volume of the tub and and do the math to compute its volume versus water depth.
Then, in the morning, start filling the tub with "full hot" water and see how many gallons you put in the tub before the water starts cooling off to the point where you'd consider you'd "run out" of hot water.
If you have an empty 5 gallon plastic bucket or two handy you could use those to measure the volume without having to calculate the tub volume.
If you can't get somewhere near 50 gallons of hot water out of that heater before running out, something's not right.
Are you sure that when the new heater was installed it was plumbed correctly and haven't accidently run the cold feed into the "hot" fitting on the heater, so the dip tube is working against you?
Let's hear what you discover,
Jeff
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Jeff Wisnia (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)

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Thanks for your reply and time. Sorry for the delay in replying. I took your advice and measured the output from the heater using 5 gallon buckets. I got 5 buckets full (25 liters) hot water. The 6th bucket was lukewarm - could use it without mixing with cold water. The 7th bucket onwards it was just chilling cold water.

I checked the plumbing and the cold water pipe is connected to the cold connection (marked by "C") and the hot water pipe is connected to the hot connection (marked by "H").
The water heater is just a month old. Now, what recourse is available for me? Whom should I talk to (1) the plumber - who installed it or (3) Lowes - from where I bought it.
Thanks for your valuable advice.
Robert
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Robert) wrote:

You bought the heater directly from Lowes and then hired a plumber to install it?
That puts you in a tougher position. Still, the plumber has some obligation to confirm that the unit is working properly. While it sounds as if the basic plumbing is correct, there could be a problem with the dip tube, thermostat settings or heating elements.
Call the plumber and ask him to come back and check it out. Once you figure out what's wrong, you can negotiate with the plumber over whether or not the problem was there to begin with or occurred after the install. Even if it is possibly a new problem, the plumber may offer to reduce his rate. OTOH, if you can confirm the problem was there since day 1, he should have caught it on install.
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Robert wrote:

If the installer was slipshod and "took a chance" by soldered fittings on the inlet piping close to the tank while they were connected to the heater's inlet fitting, he might just have melted the plastic dip tube so it fell off and is loose inside the tank.
If the intial water flow is nice and hot, then it probably isn't a thermostat setting problem, or no water at all could reach that temperature.
I'll bet it's a dip tube problem. If you remove the piping from the "cold" tank fitting you should be able to stick a finger or something into the dip tube and lift it up and out enough to see it. If it's not there, you've found the problem.
Let us know what it turns out to be,
Jeff
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Jeff Wisnia (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)

"If you can smile when things are going wrong, you've thought of someone
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Robert) wrote:

Electric heaters are generally larger because they need more time to recover than gas heaters. That shouldn't be your problem.
It sounds like either the lower element isn't working or the supply dip tube is missing. Either way, the installer should be able to confirm if everything is working correctly.
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According to Clark W. Griswold, Jr. <73115 dot 1041 at compuserve dot com>:

Or T-stats grossly miss-set, wiring defective/not attached.
Or the heater water supply and feed lines are reversed.
Or 240V elements have been inadvertently connected to 120V.
The inlaws had a situation very similar to this, turned out the 240V elements were being powered from 120V. Extremely long recovery times, could only get a shower and a half before it went cold, etc.
Call the installer back and ask they check out each of the possibilities we suggested here. Shouldn't take them long to double check them all.
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snipped-for-privacy@nortelnetworks.com (Chris Lewis) wrote in

The OP checked that, it wasn't an issue.

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Did you increase the temp on both elements or just one? The upper one should be slightly below the bottom one; temp wise. If you just increased only one like the top one. Then your really only running on one element. Check and see what both elements are set to. My nephew had the same problem recently, and he did not know that there were two set points. I moved the set points from ~115 to ~125. Mom baby and dad are very happy now. They have only a 30 gallon heater.
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