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Old 02-02-2011, 02:35 AM   #1
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New water heater heats poorly unless used


Our water heater was leaking and had to get a plumber fast. Called around until finding one who could come and replace it same day. Seemed to do a good job. 40 gallon, gas water heater. From day one, we noticed that, if we did not use it all day, we would get one shower or bath and the next was tepid or cold. After 30 minutes, my wife, and any guests in the house had plenty of hot water. There are normally just 2 of us living here. Plumber has no solutions for a brand new heater, and no response from the installing plumber. Any ideas? Somebody sells bad water heaters to people needing same day installation?

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Old 02-02-2011, 02:48 AM   #2
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New water heater heats poorly unless used


That is weird what kind of hot water heater is it? Maybe there is a setting on it to conserve energy. You didn't say it was a power vent so I am assuming it doesn't have a lot of electronics on it. (IE The power vent I put in I have a programmer for it to keep the tank at 75 degrees for extended periods of time when nobody is around all weekend)

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Old 02-02-2011, 08:34 AM   #3
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New water heater heats poorly unless used


Nope, no electronics, and no power saving, at least not that I now have it almost as high as it goes on the dial. Strangely, at my old house where I was the first owner of a tract home, the water heater did the same thing from day 1 of use. Some sort of cheap, no name, water heater trait?
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Old 02-02-2011, 09:21 AM   #4
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New water heater heats poorly unless used


Thermostats have a differential as a part of the specification--the upper end is the shut off and the lower end is the start up. Some differentials are adjustable. Perhaps the differential on your water heater is set to a wide range and that is causing the problem.
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Old 02-02-2011, 10:36 AM   #5
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New water heater heats poorly unless used


I don't know how easy it is to change the differential (setting, not a piece of hardware) but it is not unusal for a water heater to not kick on until the entire tankful (well, most of it) drops below a really low temperature. When it does kick on, then after about 15 minutes you get a fairly steady amount of hot water. This often happens gradually as a water heater ages. If you manually turn the dial just one notch and it kicks on then you may have such a differential problem. So you can get around the problem by turning the dial up a notch and then back, 20 minutes or so before you take a shower.

(I suggest not leaving the heater on "very hot" unless it has aged a lot and never holds a decent temperature.)
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Last edited by AllanJ; 02-02-2011 at 10:43 AM.
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Old 02-02-2011, 12:46 PM   #6
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New water heater heats poorly unless used


Quote:
Originally Posted by mhmyers View Post
Our water heater was leaking and had to get a plumber fast. Called around until finding one who could come and replace it same day. Seemed to do a good job. 40 gallon, gas water heater. From day one, we noticed that, if we did not use it all day, we would get one shower or bath and the next was tepid or cold. After 30 minutes, my wife, and any guests in the house had plenty of hot water. There are normally just 2 of us living here. Plumber has no solutions for a brand new heater, and no response from the installing plumber. Any ideas? Somebody sells bad water heaters to people needing same day installation?
Do you have an electric or gas water heater?
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Old 02-02-2011, 09:27 PM   #7
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New water heater heats poorly unless used


On a 40 gallon tank, you can expect to get about 32 gallons of hot water +/- which would translate to about 14 minutes worth of showering (with a water saver shower head) Now that will vary depending on water pressure, cold water temperature, and things of that nature. If space wasn't an issue and the price difference being so little, I always recommend a 50 gallon tank in place of a 40. What is the gas valve setting on?
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Old 02-26-2011, 05:26 PM   #8
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New water heater heats poorly unless used


Another possibility...
If a plumber solders the fittings directly onto the tank instead of remote soldering and screwing the assembled fittings into place, then the heat of his torch during soldering can melt a hole in the plastic fill line directly below the cold water intake.
This will mean that the cold water entering the tank can then shortcut across to mix directly with the hot water leaving the outlet and cause all kind of hot water difficulties. Often this results in a tank not providing great hot water for the first shower but can be better after the tank's hot-cold gets mixed up with usage.
The only way to tell is to remove the cold water intake nipple & fill line for inspection. I'd only do this as a last resort since the active torquing of this fitting on & off puts stress on the glass lining of the tank.

Last edited by how; 02-26-2011 at 05:37 PM.
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Old 02-27-2011, 12:36 PM   #9
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New water heater heats poorly unless used


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Do you have an electric or gas water heater?
Disregard my question. I stupidly missed that you said you have a gas water heater in your original post.
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Old 02-27-2011, 01:03 PM   #10
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New water heater heats poorly unless used


how may have something here. The newer tanks have plastic "dip tubes" in them that will melt easily if hit with molten solder on a new installation where there is no water in the line to keep the tube cool. The same thing could happen to the plastic HOT and COLD check ball cages in the inlet and outlet on the tank. They normally make sure the water only flows one way, but if a plumber wannabe melts a half roll of solder to make a joint (Not remotely) and the cage melts from the molten solder you could get the same result. The fittings on the top of the tank will have to be removed and the ball checks and dip tube must be removed and inspected. There is also a possibliity that no dip tube was ever put in. There should be one on the cold side and they are sold seperately as needed at some hardware stores, Home Depot, Menards, and plumbing supply houses.

Last edited by Grampa Bud; 02-27-2011 at 01:08 PM.
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Old 02-27-2011, 01:05 PM   #11
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New water heater heats poorly unless used


Get a fiberglass water heater blanket to wrap around the heater. For a gas heater you will need to cut a few large rectangular notches out of the bottom edge.

Have you noticed a pattern after repeated tries:
1. Slowly turn the dial up 1-1/2 notches and slowly turn it back. Heater burner goes on and quickly goes off again. Problem with hot water is or is not there.
2. Turn the dial up and then back as above. Heater turns on and stays on for awhile. Wait 20 minutes before taking shower. Problem with hot water is or is not there.
3. Turn the dial up and then back as above. Heater does not turn on. Problem with hot water is or is not there.

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