Water heater 'forgets' to heat

I know it sounds strange, but my water heater seems to fail to fully heat the water once it initially gets hot. If I take a shower after not using any hot water for several hours, it doesn't get past lukewarm. Not cold, but definitely not hot. However, if I've recently run a few gallons of hot water (i.e. within the last hour or so) the shower is very hot for as long as I'd want to shower. It's a 30gal, nat gas, Hotpoint model #HG30T1A, approx 4.5yrs old. Anyone else experience this? Anything that can be adjusted to take care of this? Thanks, Andy
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If this is an electric water heater it has two elements an upper and a lower. And, two thermostats, one turns off the other element. Here is how it works. As you use a lot of water the upper element comes on. As the water at the top gets hot, it goes off and the lower one goes on to heat the reserve water.
Al
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Big Al wrote:

Well since the OP wrote that is is a "a 30gal, nat gas" I doubt if it is electric. :-)
I am glad I am not the only one who missed important parts of the message.
I am going to make a wild, not thoughtful guess that it might be a bad dip tube, but that does not seem to fit everything described. The only other thing I can think of is a defective thermostat.

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Joseph Meehan

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My first thought was the thermostat or a lot of sediment (NG heates from the bottom right?)
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No wrote:
..

More like from the middle I believe.
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Joseph Meehan

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Are you guys serious?
The burner is at the very bottom - you can see the flames. So it heats from the very bottom.
Rich
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RichK wrote:

That is where the fire is, but the heat moves up the center of the water heater through the vent and the heat is transferred to the water through the walls of the vent all the way up. It is not just at the bottom. I would agree that there may be more heat transferred at the bottom, but a significant amount of heat is also transferred all along the vent. There are even baffles in the vent to slow the flow to allow more heat transfer.

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Here's a link to dip tube info:
http://www.thehomeinspector.com/Clients/DipTube2.html
I recently had a similar problem, with water temp being either hoter, or not so hot. It seems the were two temperatures available :-)
I flushed the tank and replaced the anode. Also desinfected the tank, while at it, with a 1/2 gal of chlorine bleech.
Seems the temp is stable now.
Rich
PS Have a read about water heaters here:
http://www.thehomeinspector.com/Clients/DipTube.html
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Big Al, she said "nat gas".
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Christopher A. Young
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actually N/G heaters heat from the bottom and interior flue. Theres a heat deflector inside the entire flue to disperse the heat into the tank.
everyone should disassemble a tank someday, its a learning experience
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http://waterheaterrescue.com/pages/WHRpages/English/Troubleshooting/not - enough-hot-water.html
One other thing to consider is the temp range of your thermostat. If your thermostat is set at 120 degrees, it's not going to light the burner at 119 degrees and put it out at 121 degrees. Your particular thermostat might let the water in the tank cool to 110 degrees before it kicks on and then heat the water to 125 degrees before it kicks off. When you turn on a faucet at a given time, you might get 110 degree water or 125 degree water at the same thermostat setting. Wait until you are home all day some day and check the water temp with a meat thermometer once an hour. You will be surprised at the range of temperature without touching the thermostat.
John
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try turning up the thermostat a bit, but first move it fully around at least 5 times.
thermostats are kinda pricey, with a tank approaching 5 years old you MIGHT be better off just replacing the tank. I priced a thermostat a year ago they wanted $125 but ended up covering it under warranty since the tank was just a year old
thermostat is about a 1/3 of new tank price????
Hotpoint are the low price tanks. At least according to a tank buying guide here. Given that its probably better to replace it
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Why are people so eager to fill up the dumpsites?
Even if it does cost 1/3, you're saving 2/3. Of course we have a very sick system of free enterprise, if small parts are that expensive. Try to find a cheaper source for the part first, or a cheaper plumber.
Change the anode at the same time and maybe the drain valve and you have practically new water heater for 1/3 the cost.
Rich
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Good question.

Absolutely. With compound interest, this money wll be worth a lot when it is time to retire.

Remove NOPSAM to email me. Please let me know if you have posted also.
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Why are people so eager to fill up the dumpsites?
Even if it does cost 1/3, you're saving 2/3. Of course we have a very sick system of free enterprise, if small parts are that expensive. Try to find a cheaper source for the part first, or a cheaper plumber.
Change the anode at the same time and maybe the drain valve and you have practically new water heater for 1/3 the cost.
Rich
Ahh! You must realize hotpoint heater have at longest a 4 year warranty according to a buying guide here. brand new they are aboiut 250 bucks
it doesnt make economic sense to spend 50% of a new tank on a thermostat. besides changing a thermostat is a hassle. I had to have a licensed plumber do mine, and show the receipt to the home buyer as part of selling a home. inspector claimed there was a gas leak plumber found nothing!
with a low end tank the thermostat replacement may likely cause a new leak, when the tank is disturbed.
I hate doing jobs twice
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Yes there may be these cases :-( Anyone who buys a 4 year water heater for $250, should have his head examined. Then 4 years later spend another $250, because some marketing enlightened designer made sure it fails after 4 years.
In my book it should be illegal to make water heaters that last 4 years. But as long, as fools keep buying them, they will be on the market.
The OP did not say (maybe did not know) the expected life of his heater, so it's difficult to make a rational decision. Another requirement I'd make - clearly mark the year of manufacture, expected life and efficiency of every appliance.
Most people easily fall for the tricks of the so called "free market" - free to rip you off :-(
The saying that market competition "brings out the best in products and worst in people" (D. Sarnoff) is no longer true. It's now the worst in both.
Rich
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