Hot water heater running out of water

Hi,
We've been in our house for about six months and recently we started
losing hot water.
It would last for only about 10 mins or so then run out. We figured
that since the water heater
was somewhat old (2000) that we should just replace it. We bought
pretty much
the same one, a 50 gallon GE electric water heater. After a couple
of weeks we're still seeing
the same problem, even with the 1st shower of the day. I've got the
temp pumped up to
like 135-140 degrees. That seemed to help but it not the solution.
Any ideas what else this could be? I've ordered a low flow shower
head.
Thanks,
Jay
Reply to
Jay
After a couple
Coincidence. The GE sold by Home Depot is a Rheem. I bought one a few years back, and it was the single worst (most trouble-prone) appliance purchase I've ever made.
Very early in its life -- 6 weeks, maybe -- it ate its first heating element. I replaced the first, and the other element died about six months later. I replaced both with stainless.
I've also had unending problems with the sacrificial anode on it, but that's another (really long, boring) story.
So, start from scratch. Google, and here:
formatting link
These things are really simple, and the troubleshooting procedure is straightforward.
Reply to
Robert Barr
What was coincidence? Your story or my troubles with two water heaters? :-) Thanks for the help!
How long of a shower do you get now with the heating element changed?
Reply to
Jay
Do the tests on the elements/thermostats. If all checks OK, there might be a "bypass" occurring between cold supply and hot lines.
This can occur inside a single-handle faucet cartridge (even when OFF) or in a washing machine solenoid valve. Less likely, there might be a temperature compensating valve in the system.
Also, check that the heater was plumbed correctly; Cold supply to the nipple marked "COLD". It's an easy mistake to make and produces exactly your symptoms when done backwards.
Jim
Reply to
Speedy Jim
The latter is my thought as well, running out of hot water quickly is a classic symptom of a lack of dip tube, which would explain the failure of the first water heater ('cause it was old and the dip tube fell apart) and also the continuing symptoms from the second ('cause it got inadvertantly hooked up backwards.)
nate
Reply to
Nate Nagel
The heater was definitely plumped correctly. Could the bypass be in a shower water control? Not sure about the element tests. It appeared ok, but the instructions were a little unclear on the bobvila site. I'm gonna call rheem tomorrow and have them walk me thru it.. Thanks j
Reply to
Jay
Would that fail right away? The heater is only 2 weeks old... Definitely hooked up right! :-)
Reply to
Jay
you could try shutting off the valves to all single handle faucets in the house then take a shower. if the problem goes away then it's a bypass in one of those faucets. if it persists, then try shutting off the stop valves to the shower then run hot water somewhere else in the house. if you have good hot water there then your shower valve is the problem.
nate
Reply to
Nate Nagel
Ok, It's tough to do though because the problem doesn't happen every time... My guess is it may be the shower valve, the molding is kind of loose as well as the lever controlling if the shower or tub gets the water...
Reply to
Jay
When you run out of hot water at the shower, is the water also cold at the bathroom and kitchen sinks?
Reply to
Andy
It seems fairly likely that the new heater does not have a functional dip tube. It might not have been installed, might be in the hot side, or might be broken. I would check for it in the inlet pipe and pull it up as far as possible to see if it is okay. If you can not pull it out very far, it should be possible to remove the lower element and see it with a flashlight and mirror.
Another possibility is that you have a leaking hot water line somewhere, particularly under a concrete slab. That will prevent the heater from ever heating the water hot enough, especially at the bottom of the tank. This can be detected by the outlet pipe staying hot for a long distance from the heater when no hot water is being used.
Don Young
Reply to
Don Young
No, not right away. HOwever, was it even installed? It should be in the cold water side; it carries incoming cold water all the way to the bottom. It is not usually something that is installed at the factory. If it is gone, the hot water at the top (heat rises) mixes with the incoming cold water, providing exactly the problem you describe. A dip tube costs $10 or so.
Reply to
Bob M.
The Dip tube isn't installed by default?? You gotta be kidding me... That would do it....
Reply to
Jay
The Dip tube isn't installed by default?? You gotta be kidding me... That would do it....
Reply to
Jay
Missed that, only read this far: "We figured that since the water heater was somewhat old (2000)..."
(giving head a shake)
Reply to
cavedweller
Can anyone tell me if a GAS hot water heater has (or is supposed to have) this drip tube as welll!???
Reply to
BSAKing
normally its installed at the factory HOWEVER a buddy of mine had a similar trouble............ one likely cause of this problem you should NEVER sweat a pipe installed in a tank! or the dip tube will melt and fall to the bottom. OP may have soldered pipe on tank, stressed it bad, a few days later it broke off..........
Reply to
hallerb
Jay,
Yes the dip tube is installed by default. But brand new products are sometimes not put together correctly so it might be the dip tube. Your local library will have books on home repair and maintenance. You need to buy a voltmeter and learn to use it if you don't have one. Your problem predates the new water heater so I suspect you have a leak, either in a pipe or in a single handle faucet. I suspect that you bought a new water heater when there was nothing wrong with the old one. Welcome to the DIY Homeowners Club, we all make stupid mistakes. It's how we learn.
Dave M.
Reply to
David L. Martel

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