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Old 05-20-2010, 05:23 PM   #1
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Water Heater last 5 minutes?


We just moved into our new home last saturday and all has been great! The wife calls today and said she was in the shower for less than 3 minutes and it went ice cold on her. We have not any hot water today besides her shower. We have a 40 gallon tank, and a low flow shower head. If it was really 3 minutes she only used about 5 gallons of hot water. The temp is set at 120*.

What tests can I run to check out my water heater to help figure out whats wrong with it?

As everything else was almost new and the WH looked older?? The water heater was the only appliance I questioned before I bought the house, and what do you know, less than a week and its acting up

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Old 05-20-2010, 05:42 PM   #2
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Water Heater last 5 minutes?


is it gas or electric? if its gas can you here the burner fire up?

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Old 05-20-2010, 05:54 PM   #3
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Water Heater last 5 minutes?


sorry I always forget there is more than one kind. its electric..
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Old 05-20-2010, 06:35 PM   #4
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Water Heater last 5 minutes?


Do you have a multi-meter, and the skills to check the electrical connections and parts?

Couple of reasons for your problem.

1. Element is blown; Which causes heating problem, or causes thermostat to trip altogether then there is no heating.
2. Thermostat has malfunctioned; No heat.
3. Breaker has malfunctioned; yet again no heating.
4. Broken wires; no heat.

Non electrical related
1. Diptube is broken on cold supply, so heat is only pulled from top end of heater.

Let us know what your skill level is for checking electrical, and the tools you have. Then we can proceed.
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Old 05-20-2010, 06:51 PM   #5
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Water Heater last 5 minutes?


Some breakers don't look tripped, but they are.

This one should be easy.
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Old 05-20-2010, 06:55 PM   #6
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Water Heater last 5 minutes?


electric bill paid?
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Old 05-20-2010, 07:09 PM   #7
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Water Heater last 5 minutes?


I vote on the dip tube. the cold after 5 minutes is 9 times out of ten a bad dip tube.
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Old 05-21-2010, 08:55 AM   #8
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Water Heater last 5 minutes?


I had this same issue a year ago. The bottem heating element was bad due to lime build up in the bottem of the tank.
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Old 05-21-2010, 09:04 AM   #9
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Water Heater last 5 minutes?


Quote:
Originally Posted by justlosther View Post
The bottem heating element was bad
A 4500w element at 240v should measure (240^2)/4500 = 13 ohms.
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Old 05-21-2010, 11:08 AM   #10
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Water Heater last 5 minutes?


I have a multimeter.. Used to do alot of electrical on cars, but houses are new to me. I am pretty willing to try anything to learn though, this should get me started on what to look for now I just need to find some how to's to do the above.

Thanks for all the help!
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Old 05-21-2010, 12:31 PM   #11
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Water Heater last 5 minutes?


Being as this is an older unit: I would look into a bad bottom element first as they do seem to get lime build-up on them and quit working. Look into the other suggestions also. Yes, the dip-tube could be causing this also. David
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Old 05-21-2010, 12:32 PM   #12
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Water Heater last 5 minutes?


Quote:
Originally Posted by cbzdel View Post
. . .electrical on cars, but houses are new to me.
Building wiring is the only thing that has phantom voltages because of conductors running next to each other for long distances, and any incand. bulb kills them. So, load down your meter with a bulb when making voltage measurements.
Keep us posted. . .
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Old 05-21-2010, 02:03 PM   #13
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Water Heater last 5 minutes?


I vote on a bad lower element.

Another caution: After you drain the water out through the valve, make sure the heater is truely empty and that the valve isn't just plugged with sediment.

First time I replaced one of these I ended up w/ about 5 gallons of water on the floor!
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Old 05-21-2010, 03:32 PM   #14
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Water Heater last 5 minutes?


after some research I am thinking something is up in the lower area now to.. I removed the thermostat cover plates and I could touch the tank area surrounding the thermostats. The upper portion of the tank was hot, the lower portion of the tank had no heat what so ever.

I had to pull out our stacked washer dryer (soon to be another thread haha) to get to the water heater. behind the the stacked washer dryer was a new thermostat, and a thermostat wrench.. Let just hope its that, since i have a new part in hand I might as well give it a shot to install it right??

I go on vacation tomorrow morning so I am debating if I sould attempt it today... i need to google this more to see how much work it will be..
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Old 05-21-2010, 04:58 PM   #15
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Water Heater last 5 minutes?


leave it till you come back. turn heater off at panel , less headache now if you have never done before and who wants to come back to a leak

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