I am an electrical contractor, while on a call to check a water heater, I found that the cold and hot water connections were reversed. It has been in service like this for at least 7 years. I have never came across this before. Is this a problem? should it be corrected or left as is? Thank you for any advice on this matter.
Well, you don't need to be a genius to know that, in that case, there's probably inadequate hot water output for the size of the tank (maybe adequate for the residents, if they are low consumers of hot water) and that they're wasting money paying for hot water and getting warm water...thermostat may be adjusted upwards to compensate...!
My cold water comes in from the bottom; some electric heater have cold water come in at the top but the plastic tube delivers it down at the bottom. Hot water rises therefore in your case you are drawing water from the bottom and feeding cold water at the top...
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Most water heaters have a dip tube in the cold water inlet of the tank. The cold water is taken to the bottom of the tank and this "pushes" the hot water out the top. It could be that (for whatever reason) the installer switched the dip tube to the hot side. There is really no difference since the inlet and outlet are just connectors welded into the top of the tank. The exception would be if there were heat type backflow preventers in the unit. Hot water would be limited to less than 5 gallons if the dip tube was not in the cold water inlet.
If you have never made a mistake, you haven't done much.