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Old 04-18-2013, 09:28 AM   #1
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Water heater problems- thought I fixed the problem- what do I do next?


I'm new to this forum, so I hope this is the right place for water heater questions. I saw other water heater stuff, so I think I'm in the right place!

We noticed last week that our water in the upstairs shower was not quite as hot as usual. We have a single handle faucet in the shower, and it took pushing it further to the hot side to get full temperature. And even then, it "felt" less hot. Also, the hot water we did have wasn't lasting as long as usual, and the overall hot water pressure in the faucet seems lower than usual, and definitely lower than the cold water pressure. Also, the hot water seems to take longer to "kick in" than it should.

After some research, it seemed like it was likely the water heater. So I went out and bought a good multimeter that could test ohms and everything else, and I followed instructions online to test the various water heater elements.

Both heating elements registered between 12-13 ohms of resistance, so it seems they are alright. Touching one probe to a screw and another to the tank or bare metal produced zero reading, so from what I read online(assuming the articles were true), nothing is shorted out and the heating elements are fine.

I tested the volts coming into the water heater. 240 volts, no problem. Then I tested the volts coming into the top heating element. It registered as virtually nothing. So that led me to believe that the upper thermostat is bad. When turning the temperature dial, I couldn't hear it kick in either. So I went and got a new upper thermostat and replaced it.

The problem is still there. I did lower the temp on the thermostat to 120 since both were running at 135 and our water definitely used to get too hot. But the low pressure in the shower, along with less time of hot water, nothing was fixed.

So before I move forward, replacing different pieces, I wanted to ask what to do next. I was going to flush out the water heater, but our hose nozel got bent. So I need to get a new one and try to flush it out since we haven't done that in the three years we have lived in the house(I didn't know to, but I'm learning now!).

Could it be that flushing out the unit will fix the problem? Could it just be THAT dirty? The low pressure kind of tells me that it might be clogged somewhere. Am I right?

Also, our valve that is attached to one of the two pipes going into the top of the unit, seems to turn backwards than I would usually assume? The whole time we have had our house, i haven't touched it, and it is turned "all the way to the right". Normally, this would make me assume it's CLOSED, and turning it to the left is my only option. But we've never had a problem. Does this sound right?

Sorry for the long post and lots of questions. I want to attack the rest of this methodically and not do too much extra work since time is limited.

I GREATLY appreciate any help that is given. Thanks!

Brent

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Old 04-18-2013, 09:52 AM   #2
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Water heater problems- thought I fixed the problem- what do I do next?


Is it just the shower that has the lower temp.?
If so it's not the heater, most likly it's the antiscald valve inside the control valve on the shower.

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Old 04-18-2013, 09:58 AM   #3
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Is it just the shower that has the lower temp.?
If so it's not the heater, most likly it's the antiscald valve inside the control valve on the shower.
The shower has some of the worst pressure, but other faucets around the house also have the problem where I have to turn the hot water on more to get it "hot" than usual, and when going from cold water to hot, it seems to me that the pressure goes down in all of them(I need to finish testing more faucets later). The shower in question is the furthest away from the water heater, so that may be why it's got the worst pressure? No?

I need to do more tests when I get home from work, but when testing faucets this morning, I just found myself getting frustrated and unsure of whether I was seeing less pressure than usual or not. So I just put it all down and went to work to start fresh later.

If it is the shower faucet, which IS definitely something I want to check, is it pretty straightforward? I've not taken this particular faucet apart before so I hope it's not too difficult to access what I need.

I'll still drain the water heater just in case, even if it's not the source, since we've never done it before. It's probably filthy.

Brent
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Old 04-18-2013, 10:06 AM   #4
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Water heater problems- thought I fixed the problem- what do I do next?


There's no need to "drain" the heater, only need to let it drain for a few min to get the sediment out.
First thing I would do is remover the shower head and see if it or the filter and flow restictor is plugged up.
Also check the aerators on all the faucets.
It's a good idea when you do flush out the heater to remove them anyway and flush out the lines because your going to be sturing up the trash inside the tank.
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Old 04-18-2013, 10:22 AM   #5
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There's no need to "drain" the heater, only need to let it drain for a few min to get the sediment out.
First thing I would do is remover the shower head and see if it or the filter and flow restictor is plugged up.
Also check the aerators on all the faucets.
It's a good idea when you do flush out the heater to remove them anyway and flush out the lines because your going to be sturing up the trash inside the tank.
Sorry, I guess I've read so many different things lately that I don't even know what to do. Some say to drain the heater completely, some say to just let the water run through for a bit but not drain it.

Should I just run the water out long enough for it to appear clear? If I don't completely drain it, will that not just let some of the sediment float around but never come out? Just curious.

The shower head on this particular shower is actually brand new. Probably three weeks old at most. So the head itself isn't likely the problem, I don't think. But maybe.

I'll check the aerators and see what I find. I guess that is my next step, starting with the shower in question. But if the problem is also happening in other faucets, could they all be bad at once?

The change in temperature and pressure and longevity of the hot water happened literally in the period of one day. It wasn't gradual. That's why I figured that something went out instead of just a pipe getting clogged over time.

But I'm just guessing here. I appreciate the suggestions. I hope it doesn't seem like I'm doubting you. Just thinking through it all.

Brent
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Old 04-18-2013, 10:38 AM   #6
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Water heater problems- thought I fixed the problem- what do I do next?


Originally posted by brandal: Also, our valve that is attached to one of the two pipes going into the top of the unit, seems to turn backwards than I would usually assume? The whole time we have had our house, i haven't touched it, and it is turned "all the way to the right". Normally, this would make me assume it's CLOSED, and turning it to the left is my only option. But we've never had a problem. Does this sound right?

Maybe your ball valve is not opening all the way or has sediment buildup reducing your hot water pressure? Just guessing. You say it turns both ways? usually they have a stop. Is handle loose?

Can you please post a couple of pics of hwh and ball valve so the guys could better help you. Thanks.

Last edited by jmon; 04-18-2013 at 10:41 AM.
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Old 04-18-2013, 10:43 AM   #7
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Water heater problems- thought I fixed the problem- what do I do next?


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Originally posted by brandal: Also, our valve that is attached to one of the two pipes going into the top of the unit, seems to turn backwards than I would usually assume? The whole time we have had our house, i haven't touched it, and it is turned "all the way to the right". Normally, this would make me assume it's CLOSED, and turning it to the left is my only option. But we've never had a problem. Does this sound right?

Maybe your ball valve is not opening all the way or has sediment buildup reducing your hot water pressure? Just guessing. You say it turns both ways? usually they have a stop. Is handle loose?

Can you please post a couple of pics of hwh and ball valve so the guys could better help you. Thanks.
I can try to post pics tonight when I get home.

The valve on the pipe coming into the heater is like those found on outside hoses. Just a handle you grab and turn to one direction or the other.

I've always though of the whole "righty tighty, lefty loosey" thing when opening and closing values. But this one seems to work in reverse. The whole time we've had our house, it's been turned all the way to the right. But since we've never had problems until now, I'm assuming it's "open" and water is filling the tank. It just seems backwards to me, that's all.

Brent
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Old 04-18-2013, 11:07 AM   #8
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Water heater problems- thought I fixed the problem- what do I do next?


Ok Brent, then it's an old gate or globe valve not a ball valve, sorry, I just assumed it was a ball valve on your hwh. No, it's not backwards gate/globe valves turn both ways as you have stated above. The difference is globe valves can usually be rebuilt, gate valves usually are replaced with ball valves. When you get home tonight and have some time, please post a couple pics, will go from there. Thanks.

You said everything (low water pressure, low hot water) happened in a course of 1 day and affects all fixtures in house. Any recent plumbing done? Did you turn any valves on/off lately? Did water company shut off water to fix broken main somewhere?

If the gate valve on your hwh has never been turned in years, you may have some scale/sediment buildup going on reducing your pressure. I don't know - just guessing. The problem with old gate valves, once you turn them all the way off then back on, they never seem to work right again. So don't try turning it off and on right now, you may end up with no hot water at all. Stay tuned and wait till the pro's come on to tell you what you should do next. Please post pics when you can, they help the pro's give you much better and accurate advice. Thanks Brent.

Last edited by jmon; 04-18-2013 at 12:13 PM.
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Old 04-18-2013, 11:32 AM   #9
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Water heater problems- thought I fixed the problem- what do I do next?


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I can try to post pics tonight when I get home.

The valve on the pipe coming into the heater is like those found on outside hoses. Just a handle you grab and turn to one direction or the other.

I've always though of the whole "righty tighty, lefty loosey" thing when opening and closing values. But this one seems to work in reverse. The whole time we've had our house, it's been turned all the way to the right. But since we've never had problems until now, I'm assuming it's "open" and water is filling the tank. It just seems backwards to me, that's all.

Brent
Have tried to turn the gate valve off and check to see if it actually shuts the hot water off at the fixtures?
Sounds like a broken valve stem But may only be part of your problem
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Old 04-18-2013, 11:52 AM   #10
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Thanks guys. Looks like there is a lot for me to look at.

I'll be honest, if it were just the water heater, I'd be fine. But I'm a little overwhelmed with it all at the moment. I'm sure I'll figure it out with your help, and I don't want to call anyone to come do it for me if I can do it myself.

I guess I just have to have a systematic way of going about things. It seems that every article, every person I talk to and every other place I look has different answers, and just thinking about having to test so many things gets a little frustrating since time is limited.

When I get home, I'm going to check and see if our downstairs shower has BOTH the problem of lower pressure AND limited heat. That is one place I haven't checked yet, and they have similar fixtures. That will help tell me if it's just the upstairs shower.

If it is just the upstairs shower, at least I know that it's not the water heater. Oh well, wasted $15 on a thermostat for nothing, I guess.

I don't have many plumbing tools for cutting pipes and everything, so I hope that the solution isn't something that requires anything special. Money is already running tight with a second baby on the way, so I'm praying for a cheap solution, lol.

I'll post more once I can get back to working on things after work. Thanks to everyone who has replied so far.

Brent
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Old 04-18-2013, 11:53 AM   #11
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Have tried to turn the gate valve off and check to see if it actually shuts the hot water off at the fixtures?
Sounds like a broken valve stem But may only be part of your problem
Is the handle on top of my water heater the one that controls water INTO the heater, or OUT OF the heater? I thought it controlled water going in, no? Or are you talking about something else?

If I shut the valve on top off and run the fixtures, they would still get hot water that's already inside the heater, right? It just wouldn't refill?

So confused.

Brent
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Old 04-18-2013, 12:08 PM   #12
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Ok, I see that some people online that have posted pictures have TWO valves on top of the machine, one on each of the metal pipes that are going to the machine.

I only have one valve, the round one that I mentioned already. How do I know if it's the cold water supply, or the valve sending water into the house?

Brent
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Old 04-18-2013, 12:24 PM   #13
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Water heater problems- thought I fixed the problem- what do I do next?


Brent, on top of your hwh there are two pipes going into it. The one with gate valve on it should be where the cold water is coming in. You can trace that back to see for sure if you want. The other line is where your hot goes out to your fixtures in the house. It doesn't usually have any valve on it. If you close the cold water coming in (gate valve) You will have no hot water at all going to your house and the tank will not refill. It requires incoming water pressure to work. As you draw hot water out of your hwh fresh gets drawn in to be heated.

Last edited by jmon; 04-18-2013 at 12:28 PM.
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Old 04-18-2013, 12:31 PM   #14
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Brent, on top of your hwh there are two pipes going into it. The one with gate valve on it should be where the cold water is coming in. You can trace that back to see for sure if you want. The other line is where your hot goes out to your fixtures in the house. It doesn't usually have any valve on it. If you close the cold water coming in (gate valve) You will have no hot water at all going to your house and the tank will not refill. It requires incoming water pressure to work. As you draw hot water out of your hwh fresh gets drawn in to be heated.
Ok, that helps. I did look up my heater model and noticed that just a few minutes ago.

What I'm wondering then is if maybe the cold water pipe was actually partially open when I first turned it, and maybe I accidentally closed it all the way? But then again, we do have hot water still. Just with the problems above.

Somebody mentioned above not trying to open and close it until the "pros" show up to let me know what to do. But I wonder if I try to run the shower with it all the way in either direction, if I can perhaps find out if that is the case.

Added to the list of things to check, lol.

For reference, I have a whirlpool E1F5ORDO45V model, in case it helps anyone.

Brent
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Old 04-18-2013, 08:25 PM   #15
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Water heater problems- thought I fixed the problem- what do I do next?


Post your water heater serial number if is dated before 2000 the problem is a defective dip tube
this is a problem with all water heaters mfg between 1995 and 2000 the dip tube breaks into little pieces that flow though your hot water pipes and clog up all your faucets and shower valves, and also shower heads no matter how new they are

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