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Old 11-26-2015, 01:07 PM   #1
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Help troubleshooting hot water running out quickly (replaced dip tube already).


This is a rental and the tenants recently began reporting that the hot water was running out quickly when taking showers.

I inspected the dip tube and it had holes in it, and was extremely brittle... couldn't pull it out because it broke, so i just pushed it off to the side and installed a new dip tube (no threads on the new dip tube, it just slid down in the hole).

They are still reporting short showers, but they also say that it seems like they can use the hot water in the kitchen for forever... it's just that the hot water runs out fast in the bathroom.

I dont know how much attention they are paying to everything, so i'm going to go over there today while they are away for thanksgiving and try to do some troubleshooting.

The shower is controlled by two handles... it isn't a one handle type of deal.

Water heater is a 30 gallon gas heater, manufactured in 1992.

1. There dont appear to be any leaks, but i haven't inspected underneath the house yet. Still, if they have plenty of hot water in kitchen, that tells me that there probably arent any leaks. Is there anything screwy that could be going on with the pipes/assembly of the shower that could cause this issue?

2. The burner fires properly when you turn on the hot water. Could the thermostat be malfunctioning and causing it to turn off too quickly (I have it set to the highest setting at the moment)?

3. I plan to go over there and test it with a 5 gallon bucket at the tub. I want to make sure the tank is fully heated before i drain it... am i correct in assuming that the burner will stay lit until the tank is fully heated? If so, then i will wait for the burner to turn off, and then i will run only the hot water and see how much i get. Is this the appropriate way to do a test like this?

This really sounded like a dip tube issue, and when i saw that the old one had holes in it, i thought for sure that replacing it would fix this problem. I'm trying to think if i could have messed up that installation, but it just sits down in the hole... so i dont think i could have. I suppose a little water might seep around the lip of the tube and enter the top of the tank, if it wasn't a tight seal, but i wouldn't think that that would cause a big problem.

Any ideas are very much appreciated. I may have some more info once i go over there and test it out more thoroughly. I'm most interested to know if my method for testing the hot water output is correct (i.e. wait for the burner to turn off, and then start running the hot water).
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Old 11-26-2015, 01:49 PM   #2
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If there is plenty of hot water everywhere else in the house as you say, then I agree with you, could be tempering control issue with the shower valve.

Good that you replaced the dip tube. Yes, most are not threaded, usually they just drop down the cold water inlet and have a built-in molded washer on top that prevents it from going all the way through. Then the nipple tightens down on top of it. Sounds like you did it right to me.

others will be along with more advice/suggestions.

Hope you find out the issue soon. Let us know what you find. Thanks.
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Old 11-26-2015, 02:01 PM   #3
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If you have single handle valves there is a chance they are cross connecting cold to hot. Only way to check that is shutting off water at all single handle lavs. To see if it go's away. If it doesn't replace the cartridges in the tub or shower valves. This is especially true with moen brand. The other thing that might be occurring is if the valves have a pressure balance spool it may be getting stuck and lowering temp.
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Old 11-26-2015, 02:24 PM   #4
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Thanks jmon and Ghostmaker.

Quote:
If you have single handle valves there is a chance they are cross connecting cold to hot.
I want to confirm that we are on the same page here, in case i used the wrong term. This is how the tub/shower is setup... it has 2 handles to control hot/cold and then one to activate the shower:

http://i.imgur.com/0izs5rr.jpg

Would this rule out your cross connecting possibility? Or would it still apply with this type of setup?

The handles are made by gerber and have this type of stem:

http://i.imgur.com/2uBSQ5t.jpg

Now that i think about it, i recently replaced the packing and washer on the cold water stem because water was leaking from the handle. I also removed the hot water stem just to inspect, and re-installed it back.

I also believe that the issue with cold showers started shortly after i did this repair. Is it possible that something was affected, or that something in my repair was done incorrectly?

One last note... when re-installing the nut that holds the packing in place on the cold water stem, that nut shattered (i guess because i was clamped down to hard with my vise grips). It was extremely tight when it shattered, though, so i just left it that way and reinstalled it. There were no leaks visible either at the handle or underneath the house, so i assumed that it was okay. I doubt this has anything to do with the hot water issue, but just providing the info.

this is the nut that shattered:

http://i.imgur.com/s0KJ7CS.png

Edit: Also, the only connections in the house are 1 kitchen sink, washer hookups, 1 bathroom sink, toilet, and tub/shower.

Last edited by tireshark; 11-26-2015 at 02:31 PM.
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Old 11-26-2015, 03:41 PM   #5
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Went to the tub and only got about 16 gallons of hot water out, so definitely an issue somewhere. Might be the tank i guess, but i would hate to replace it and still have this issue if it is something else besides the tank. Will check the hot water output at kitchen sink next, just to see. Also will check meter to make sure there isnt a leak anywhere.

Could the thermostat be malfunctioning? Maybe not heating the entire tank up like it should? What puzzles me is that this problem seemed to just appear a week ago... but i guess parts have to fail at some point... but it seems a drastic difference in such a short time.
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Old 11-26-2015, 05:06 PM   #6
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Do you have any single handle faucets in the house?
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Old 11-26-2015, 05:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tireshark View Post
Went to the tub and only got about 16 gallons of hot water out, so definitely an issue somewhere. Might be the tank i guess, but i would hate to replace it and still have this issue if it is something else besides the tank. Will check the hot water output at kitchen sink next, just to see. Also will check meter to make sure there isnt a leak anywhere.

Could the thermostat be malfunctioning? Maybe not heating the entire tank up like it should? What puzzles me is that this problem seemed to just appear a week ago... but i guess parts have to fail at some point... but it seems a drastic difference in such a short time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tireshark View Post
Water heater is a 30 gallon gas heater, manufactured in 1992.
Tank is almost 24 years old. Unfortunately I agree with you tireshark, it may be time for a new one. I wouldn't invest too much money into fixing it up.

You can get a new basic gas 40 gallon water heater no bells or whistles with a 6 year warranty at any big box store for 219.00 dollars everyday to stick it that rental and the tenants will be very happy. Just a suggestion.

Last edited by jmon; 11-26-2015 at 05:52 PM.
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Old 11-26-2015, 07:55 PM   #8
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The thermostat was turned as high as it would go and what was the temperature of the water? Did the heater come back on during that test?

If the hot valve flows 2 gal. / minute a 30 gallon heater won't recover that fast.
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Old 11-26-2015, 08:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmon View Post

You can get a new basic gas 40 gallon water heater no bells or whistles with a 6 year warranty at any big box store for 219.00 dollars everyday to stick it that rental and the tenants will be very happy. Just a suggestion.

When was the last time you bought one?

$429.00 is like the basic price now.
@tireshark Unless the valve is leaking into the wall when open outpacing recovery time is about the only option. Tub valves flow at a higher GPH than kitchen faucets.

Sediment buildup in the bottom of the tank may be reducing the actual space available for water. A 30 gallon gas tank should yield 40-50 gallons of hot water in the first hour. Perhaps not quite as hot at the end as in the beginning.
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Old 11-26-2015, 08:44 PM   #10
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You are correct colbyt, a new one will set you back about 400 dollars or so. My bad. Don't know what I was thinking. Too much turkey and wine I guess.
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Old 11-27-2015, 04:07 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghostmaker View Post
Do you have any single handle faucets in the house?
There are no single handle faucets in the house.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SeniorSitizen View Post
The thermostat was turned as high as it would go and what was the temperature of the water? Did the heater come back on during that test?

If the hot valve flows 2 gal. / minute a 30 gallon heater won't recover that fast.
The temperature gets scalding hot. When i turn the hot water on, after about 30 seconds the gas burner will light at the WH.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxx

After the WH was fully heated, i went to the kitchen faucet and did the same bucket test i did at the tub. This time i got about 22 gallons of hot water, and 24 of what i would consider sufficient for a warm shower. Considering that you shouldn't get a full 30 gallons of hot water (due to the amount of cold water entering the tank while the faucet is wide open), then this seems to indicate that the WH is functioning at normal levels... at least if i am understanding this correctly.

And if the WH is producing the correct amount of hot water at the kitchen faucet, then that means the issue might be with the plumbing connections at the bathroom and not with the WH. Does that sound accurate?

I'm going to repeat the bucket tests tomorrow to confirm that that 10'ish gallon difference between the two locations is accurate.

I'm also going to give it a proper flush, in case there is any sediment built up like some of you mentioned.

thanks!
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Old 11-27-2015, 04:34 AM   #12
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The cloths washer may be allowing cold water to pass into the hot water line.
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