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New apartment - hot water runs out fast 5-10 min.


ColdSnowden
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We recently moved into a new apartment and the hot water only lasts about 5-10 minutes. It is a 40 gallon tank and has 4500 watts at the upper and lower elements made in 2005. We told the management and the maintenance man checked out the elements and said that it looked ok. They claim that a lot of tenants have this problem and cranking it up to 140 solved it for them. We had to sign a waiver to take it above 120 and now it is at 130 and it is not much better.

Could it be a dip tube issue? Though I have heard that only effects 90s models. Sediment buildup?

When water has not been run for awhile the cold intake will become hotter than the the hot outtake, is this normal or a sign of a problem? The hot gets hot and the cold gets cold as normal when hot water is used though.

I really don't like how this apartment complex is leaving me no choice but to raise the temperature when this could be a defective unit. Not sure what to do.

Edit (may be significant or worth nothing): I just ran some cold water while feeling the pipes. The outtake pipe was still burning hot from earlier hot water use. The cold water intake was also getting somewhat hot and felt like water was flowing through it (Could be wrong about this). If it was cold water surely the pipe would be cool? Could some hot water be running back through this pipe?

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No the water was not drained as far as I know. Unless this can be done fairly simply. I don't recall the valves being touched or anything.

The pipes do not appear to be switched the blue side gets cold when the hot water is running and the red side pipe gets very hot.

I was thinking that our shower head is 2.5 GPM and with a 40 Gallon capacity that should be FULLY heated water available for 40/2.5=16 minutes. Since we do not use full on hot water it should last even longer.

Edit: Maintenance just came and replaced the upper element and the rod that goes into the heater. It was extremely discolored from hard water buildup. Waiting to see if this fixes it, I mentioned the bottom one might be bad too but unfortunately I'm on a wait and see if this works basis.

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For the symptoms you describe, the top element is the wrong element to replace.

The top element heats the top third or so of the water. When the temperature setting is reached by the upper thermostat it turns off the top element and turns on the bottom element.

When cold water comes in at the bottom of the tank the bottom element comes on but will shutoff if the top thermostat reaches its turn-on temperature (because you drew a lot of hot water), at which point the top element heats and then turns it over to the bottom element when the upper thermostat is satisfied.

Both elements are never on at the same time.

If the top element were bad, the thermostat (upper) would never turn on the bottom element.

You might as well just flip the breakers off.

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If the top element were bad, the thermostat (upper) would never turn on the bottom element.

Not quite.

Download Attachment: icon_photo.gif waterheaterwiringdiagram.jpg

102.33 KB

There are three thermostats. They each actuate on a temperature rise. The high limit thermostat removes power from both lower thermostats when a defect has allowed the water temperature to reach the max design temp of the appliance. This resettable thermostat isn't field adjustable but is set by the factory. The two lower thermostats are each paired with a heating element and have a normally closed (NC) contact that energizes that respective element until the water temperature arrives at the preset value, whatever that is. To prevent both elements from becoming energized at the same time, the middle thermostat has an additional pole, this one a normally open (NO), that removes power from the lower thermostat whenever the upper thermostat is actuated. The appliance isn't intended to power both elements at the same time.

Marc

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The red says hot next to it and blue says cold. I saw this as well to confirm they were hooked in the right place.

Well the supervisor was the one that came back after the upper element replacement didn't work (no surprise). So after testing the lower element he said it was bad even though the previous three people said it was fine after doing their testing. So now the lower element and thermostat is replaced and hopefully this will correct the problem.

Hopefully this isn't the norm for maintenance, but I am glad they at least stay on it as long as it doesn't work.

Not sure if the top thermostat was replaced as well. I just know the the upper element was replaced earlier. And now the lower thermo and element as well.

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So, what is "not quite" here?

The 'high limit switch' is merely a safety disconnect and has nothing to do with normal operation. If it was open you would have no hot water.

They don't want to know how to build a watch.

If the upper thermostat is not temperature satisfied (hot) the lower element will never come on.

If it (upper element) is open or not heating adequately the lower element will not come on.

The OP has hot water for five minutes. So it can not be the upper element.

Has to be the lower element or more likely a broken dip tube.

Replacing the upper element will not solve the problem.

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ColdSnowden- Regardless of the condition of the hot water heater, its operation (or lack there of) is unacceptable. You may be aware that temperatures above 120 degrees are a scalding hazard, even more so with small or infant children. Your building maintainence person should be told in no uncertain terms that you are paying rent and it is reasonable to assume that the unit should come with more than 5 minutes of hot water at a safe temperature. Save yourself some time and request a new heater.

"They claim that a lot of tenants have this problem and cranking it up to 140 solved it for them. We had to sign a waiver to take it above 120 and now it is at 130 and it is not much better."

THEY are advising you to turn your water heater above 120 degrees and YOU have to sign a waiver?

Get a new heater or a new apartment.

-Just an opinion.

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To the last poster: I feel this is a really bad way to handle this problem I'm glad that someone else agrees. Hopefully the work they have done will fix it but if not they are going to give me a new water heater, and I am not cranking it up any more. I felt that 130 was at least somewhat reasonable with 30 seconds to scalding time. But 140 at 5 seconds to scalding time is a different matter to me.

yes the elements were checked with an ampmeter.

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I felt that 130 was at least somewhat reasonable with 30 seconds to scalding time. But 140 at 5 seconds to scalding time is a different matter to me.

Hi,

Where did you get those times? When I was in the Army three years of my career was spent as a Juvenile Investigator in the Norddeutschland Military Community. Anything related to crimes involving someone under the age of 18 on base or off base if they were dependents of US military was mine.

Scaldings was one of the things I had to deal with quite often. It's pretty horrible when one has to respond to a hospital to investigate how a 3 year old's feet and ankles had sustained 3rd degree burns. Lots of G.I.'s seem to prefer really hot showers after a long gruelling day, so they'd crank their water heaters way up without giving any thought to the possibility that their small child might inadvertently be placed into a tub where someone had forgotten to turn the cold water on.

We needed a baseline for what was a "safe" temperature so we contacted command medical and asked them to determine what the last "safe" temperature was and how long it takes for a child to sustain third degree burns at 125F degrees, 130F degrees and 135F degrees. I don't know where they came up with those figures but they eventually came back with 120 degrees as last safe temperature, said that it takes a child or an adult with "sensitive" skin (Not your hardcore soldier) 3 seconds to sustain a third degree burn at 125 degrees, one second at 130 degrees and on contact at 135 degrees.

Once JAG checked out their sources and approved those figures as defensible, Command issued written guidance that soldiers residing in government housing were not permitted to turn their water heater settings beyond 120F degrees unless, if they went past 120F degrees, they tested the water temperature at the nearest fixture to ensure that even with convective heat loss the temperature delivered to the fixture never exceeded 120F degrees.

From that point on, whenever I responded to a scalding incident and found the water temperature had been set past 120F the soldier's career was placed in jeopardy, because he was cited for disobeying a lawful order, and he risked losing overseas sponsorship of his family.

Since then, that's the figure I've always referred to: 120 = safe, 125 = 3 seconds, 130 = 1 second, 135+ = on conact.

Just sayin'

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

P.S.

Dunno why, but this site suddenly won't display the degrees symbol when I key in Ctrl, 2, 4, 8. Doing so produces a question mark instead. I've never had that problem before. Anyone know why?

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Dunno why, but this site suddenly won't display the degrees symbol when I key in Ctrl, 2, 4, 8. Doing so produces a question mark instead. I've never had that problem before. Anyone know why?

I've always used Alt-0176 for ? . Alt-248 also works. Is Ctrl-248 maybe something you assigned in Word?

EDITED...Huh! OK, the posting box showed the degree symbol but my actual post also came up with a question mark. Wierd!

ANOTHER TRY copying and pasting the symbols from notepad. degrees ?, ?

Yup, there's something goofy going on with the site! Chad upset any Russians lately?

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OK,

That's fine; guess they are the safey experts. However, I'm going to continue to use my model. It's more conservative and is more likely to keep my butt out of the wringer than the CPSC version will. I bet that's why MedCom gave us the figures that they did.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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