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Water Heater Woes


Brian G
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The water heater in our old mo-bile home is having a problem. It doesn't make enough hot water all of a sudden, or at least not as much as it did before (my daughter thinks this is a problem; SHOCK!). I tried checking continuity on both elements (electric), and both seemed fine. Both thermostats also seemed fine; when I turned them up I got the ole' *click* and they read good. That's about as far as my water heater testing knowledge goes, so I'm looking for input. Any suggestions?

And no Les, it isn't the custom-made drip pan that's doing it. [:-cyclops

Brian G.

Whut It Iz? [:-boggled

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Originally posted by caryseidner

A "hole less" X-gallon water heater will always produce X-gallons of heated water. Right? So how could it all of a sudden be producing a smaller quantity of hot water?

Maybe it is all of a sudden producing X-gallons of cooler water. I'm guessing that would mean a bad thermostat.

Broken dip tube (sudden)

Is the upper thermostat sending power to the lower tstat?

Maybe it just needs a better pan![:-party][:-party]

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This is so simple, I'm sure you've considered it, but just in case...

If the way you determined that the water heater isn't producing as much hot water as it used to is that you run out of hot water faster when showering, there may not really be anything wrong with the water heater. The incoming water that is being mixed with the hot water is colder at this time of the year, so it takes relatively more hot water per minute of usage to get the outlet temp you want at the shower or tub.

Taking long showers in the summer: not a problem. Taking long showers in the middle of the winter: possibly a problem.

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I'm with Mike O and Kurt. The element would test ok, but not heat or just sizzle. The ground water incoming remains constant (does everywhere else).

Sometimes the upgraded drip pan will place a strain on the elements - ya know, make it go 90mi per hr!

The dip tube would be number two guess.

They are not showering every day, are they?

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While we're at it...how about a gas water heater that doesn't now provide as much hot water as it used to? I know it ain't the dip tube. I know it ain't a sediment issue. That's all I know.

I suspect the thermostat might be goofy in some way; but what type of goofy, or even if goofy, I isn't sure. Thanks for any help.

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Does it get hot or only warm? Have you checked the dip tube?(For the electric tank) Corrosion of the heating elements is possible if the dip tube is eroded. Check the temperature of the hot water at the tap compared to the settings at the tank. How long is it before the water cools?.. and more importantly how long is it before the tank heats up again? An electric 50 gal tank should take 1 hr to heat from ground water temp. (I beleive gas fired tank should be 10-15 min. I have to check my notes on that as I seem to switch the gas and oil fired times up)

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Whenever I have to fix ANY type of machine, whether it be a water heater, boiler, commercial washing machine, etc., and I am having a problem figuring out what the problem is, I call the company and get help from their technical dept. They have yet to let me down, I can't think of any unnecessary parts that I have purchased, and I've saved a tremendous amount of time.

Make sure you have a multimeter including an amprobe on hand.

I don't tell them I am fixing my own item. They seem to frown on that and will recommend a technician. I simply tell them I am an inspector and am trying to figure out the problem.

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Originally posted by Les

The ground water incoming remains constant (does everywhere else).

Les, I've never measured it and have never researched it, but ...

Every morning for years I have washed my face with cold water and I truely believe the water from the cold tap is much colder in the winter then it is in the summer.

On a side note: I use cold water to remind me that many people in the world have no warm water or have no water in at all.

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Hey Mark,

I suspect there are areas that will have a variation in temps. Here in Michigan we have 56degree incoming from wells that are 30' plus. Of course it may vary a degree or two, but mostly 56degrees. "city" water may be a degree of two warmer, but it usually is consistant.

Jerry, have seen that condition several times and usually is the plastic sheath on the t-stat probe. If it is nicked or scarred during installation they don't last long. The other condition I have seen is the draft dirverter warped or scaled or out of place.

Mark makes a good observation about potable water. Not long and we may be wringing our socks for a little taste!

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Les,

I'm in Arkansas; Brian is in Mississippi. I would not be surprised if the depth that they are required to bury water lines isn't too much different from what we have here. For the record, I am on city water and always have been. Since our frost line is only about a foot deep, water lines may not be buried nearly as deeply as they are farther north. There's a definite seasonal variation in inlet temps. I can tell you that I can't come close to washing my hands with cold water comfortably in the winter. In the summer, the water borders on lukewarm. In fact, it's warm enough that I don't drink it without ice.

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Jerry,

Check to make sure that spiral baffle inside the center flue pipe of the water heater is still there and hasn't completely eroded away. Those are supposed to slow down the gases as they rise up through the center of the water heater. Sometimes they just flake completely away.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Oy! Lots of ideas; thanks gentlemen. Let me see....

I didn't check the amperage, but I can do that tomorrow. I just ohmed the elements while disconnected.

We don't have hard water, or much sediment to speak of. Water quality is very good here. I'm not on a well, and I've never flushed out a water heater in my life. When we took out the old unit, about 3 or 4 years ago, it had only some typical calcification on the elements and tank walls.

I haven't checked the dip tube, so that could be it. Is there a simple way to check that, or do you have to remove it to see what's what? I'd have to take the whole thing out of a closet to do that.

It isn't the seasonal change in ground temps. The kids have been through a few winters in that old house trailer; no problems until now. Incoming water is colder when the outside temps are colder here, but that comes and goes itself. We've had one ot two weeks of mid-60's at a time, but the hot water issue was no better for it.

Thanks again for all the input. Lordy, please be an element, not a dip tube. [:-headach

Brian G.

What Dip Designed the Dip Tube Anyway? [:-irked]

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Originally posted by Brian G

Oy! Lots of ideas; thanks gentlemen. Let me see....

I didn't check the amperage, but I can do that tomorrow. I just ohmed the elements while disconnected.

We don't have hard water, or much sediment to speak of. Water quality is very good here. I'm not on a well, and I've never flushed out a water heater in my life. When we took out the old unit, about 3 or 4 years ago, it had only some typical calcification on the elements and tank walls.

I haven't checked the dip tube, so that could be it. Is there a simple way to check that, or do you have to remove it to see what's what? I'd have to take the whole thing out of a closet to do that.

It isn't the seasonal change in ground temps. The kids have been through a few winters in that old house trailer; no problems until now. Incoming water is colder when the outside temps are colder here, but that comes and goes itself. We've had one ot two weeks of mid-60's at a time, but the hot water issue was no better for it.

Thanks again for all the input. Lordy, please be an element, not a dip tube. [:-headach

Brian G.

What Dip Designed the Dip Tube Anyway? [:-irked]

It won't be an element if it Ohmed out. It could be a thermostat.

Reguarding the crud, did you look for a hard slug of it in the bottom of the tank?

A dip who liked plenty of hot water.

I still say it's the pan that is the real problem![;)][;)]

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Just because the elements ohmed out does not mean there isn't a circuit problem. Could be a safety limit too. I've always liked to amp first when trouble shooting problems like these but that's just personal preference.

If they don't amp out correctly use a volt meter to find the open circuit.

If they amp out correctly then look for what the others have said.

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