hot water tank help

Discussion in 'General Chit-Chat' started by solaceofwinter, Nov 28, 2008.

  1. solaceofwinter

    solaceofwinter Guest

    We just put in a new hot water tank, it is electric and i believe 55 gallons.
    the water is hot and it works fine but we run out of hot water in less than 10 minutes in the shower. I have adjusted the temp it is 3/4 of the way up. this actually seemed to have made it worse. This is a brand new tank and voltage and all checks out fine. most of what i have read on the internet is sediment build up but this tank is just coming up on 6 months old.
    is there a way i could add a second tank to it or just buy a bigger one or can i adjust something else on the tank to resolve this.
    there is no way we are using 55 gallons or even half that in the shower...
  2. KYprep

    KYprep Guest

    I just moved to my house. I went from a apartment that had gas water heaters of a very large size. We never ran out of hot water.

    Now in the new house I have a electric water heater I think it too is about 40 gallons. Figure nozzle flow of about 2.5 per min gives you about 16 min of heated water. Plus you have to figure cold water is coming in mixing with the hot the second you turn it on. So 10 min is about right for that size tank.

    One of the things I have learned with getting this house and trying to get set up to be prepared is some of my creature comforts are diminishing, and I do love my hot showers.

    But when the lights go out or there’s a water problem and I’m using my water storage. It won’t be such a shock to my system.(LOL) At least that’s what I keep telling my self.

  3. solaceofwinter

    solaceofwinter Guest

    we get nothing close to 15 minutes, i could handle that. less than 10 minutes.
    let me throw something else out there...
    there is only one nozzle in the shower for water control.
    lets see if i can describe it...
    6 o clock is off, turning counter clockwise turns on cold water, once you get to 3 o clock some hit begins to come out. 1 o clock is full on hot water but what i wonder is what is the cold set to at this point? its on too. so im thinking its full on cold mixed with the hot so it runs out faster. im thinking if i changed that so i could at least adjust the two independently it would help.
    what do you think?

    i cant handle a 5 min warm shower lol.

    also, i asked my older brother about it, he has 4 kids and says he has never run out of hot water. i have no idea what size his tank is but it was possibly the same as mine. he felt it didnt seem right. i thought id ask around on some opinions.
  4. backlash

    backlash Well-Known Member

    Make sure the cold line and the hot are not reversed.
    If they are you will run out of hot water pretty fast.
    It should be labeled on the top. Just run the hot water and feel the pipe to see if they are correct.
  5. Big B

    Big B Well-Known Member

    Backlash might just have it for you Solace.
    Also, try this, one of the two heat elements might not be working.

    I just got back from a friends 'off the grid' cabin in the woods. He had a Bosch inline on demand waterheater that ran on LP gas, if you have natural Gas you might want to look at one. Normal hot water heaters waste a ton of energy keeping all 55 gallons hot all day until some one uses it once a day.
    This Bosch came on when you opened the tap, and it took about five seconds. It was so hot, you could make tea or coffee with it.

    It is OFF until you need it.

    He told me you could run the water for two hours and it would never run out.
    Thats cookin......:p
  6. Tex

    Tex Pincushion

    Tankless heaters are the way to go if you need to replace your current water heater. They aren't much bigger than a briefcase, so you'll have more storage space. They cost more, so wait until your current system quits working. I think they come in gas and electric versions. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
  7. SJZ

    SJZ Proud American

    There are some flaws in the way you are thinking about this.
    -Cold water does not actually mix with the hot water in the tank. There is a "dip tube" attached to the cold water inlet, which routes the cold water to the bottom of the tank where it is heated by the element (or burner, in the case of a gas or oil unit). The hot water rises and exits thru the hot water outlet. If the dip tube is bad, or the inlet/outlet are reversed, you may hear a "bang, bang" noise when your run hot water. This is from the cold inlet water making contact with the hot water at the top of the tank.
    -You cannot make this a simple math problem by saying 40 gallons /2.5 GPM =16.5 minutes of a hot shower. Since you are tempering the very hot water coming from the heater, with colder water, you are not using a full 2.5 gallons per minute thru your shower head, but some number lower than that, depending on how hot you want the shower. If you have the hot water heater set for 130*, you are most likely not using only hot water in the shower. Electric heaters are generally low on recovery rates, but there is some recovery rate.

    To the original poster-
    Are you sure you are running a 220V heater on 220 volts? What is the actual temperature of the hot water only at your kitchen sink?
    It's possible the thermostat control on your heater is no good, especially since it seems to make it worse when you turn the temperature up.

    Consumer Information - Water Heater FAQs
  8. The_Blob

    The_Blob performing monkey

    nice link SJZ

    personally I prefer the much faster rate on the gas hot water tanks, we have an 80 gallon & it never seems to run out of hot water
  9. skip

    skip Old hillbilly

    I have live on a well most of my life. As children, we were forbidden to be in the shower more than 10 minutes to help the pump last longer. Old habits die hard, and I still use a shower to clean my funky body, and not my caffeine.

    Around here, our water is very hard. I can almost depend on changing the bottom element in our heater every year. That might be part of your problem. You might also think of changing your shower head to a low-flow head.
  10. solaceofwinter

    solaceofwinter Guest

    i doubt there is too much wrong with the tank itself, it is brand spankin new.
    i think it comes down to being a smaller tank and as others have said as it refills as you use it it will cool down the rest etc.
    I may switch out the nozzle for one that uses less water etc.
  11. SurvivalNut

    SurvivalNut Retired Army


    3 things;

    Yes, you can run 2 water heaters in a series, one feeding into the other. The first one I used as a pre-heater, it was not turned up all the way to save energy. Did that in my old house when all 5 kids were still at home.

    Which gets to the second point, my ground water comes in very cold and in the winter I have to turn my thermostat way up, but after a point, that does not help much either. It is also a scald hazard.

    The third point is 6 months ago I had a well seasoned water heater repair guy come over. He replaced the dip tube on the water heater with a longer dip tube. As he explained it, it fills the cold water from the bottom up and caused less turbulence and mixing. He showed me and I could see the new dip tube was longer than the old one. The change was dramatic and has been permanent.

    I still adjust my thermostat in the winter, because the colder water does affect the refresh rate, but assuming a working water heater and correct installation, I too would suspect the dip tube. It is an easy fix and can be done by removing the cold water inlet on the top of the heater. Simple!
  12. Rancher

    Rancher Active Member

    The problem is very likely in one of your heating elements. To check them, first cut off the power to your water heater. Remove the access plates to the upper and lower elements and double check that the power is indeed off by checking with a voltmeter. (Better safe than sorry.) Once you have ensured that there is no power to the heater remove the wires from the lower element and check for continuity with an ohmmeter. If the meter shows continuity then the element is probably good. If it does not show continuity then the element is likely bad and needs to be replaced. Reconnect the wires and repeat the procedure on the upper element.
    If one of the elements needs to be replaced.
    Again, ensure the power is off to the heater. Cut off the cold water supply to the tank. Attach a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank and drain the tank. Disconnect the wires from the bad element and remove the element using the appropriate wrench. A replacement element can be purchased at your local Home Depot or Lowes. Depending on the element it may be necessary to wrap the threads of the new element with teflon tape before installing it.
    Reconnect the wires and fill the tank with water before turning the power back on.

    All that said here is a reminder. Electricity can kill you! :eek:
    If you are not comfortable working with electricity then I highly recommend hiring a qualified plumber to do the job.
  13. Rizzoni

    Rizzoni Guest

    What do you do about sediment buildup? I think that is the problem with my hot water tank. The hot water runs out within 10 or 15 minutes of your shower....and you can be the first person to shower all day!
  14. Tex

    Tex Pincushion


    Drain your tank every year or two. The stuff in the bottom will come out of the drain port. You can hook a hose to it and send it to your garden or home foundation.
  15. tamvp

    tamvp New Member

    Tankless are TERRIBLE!

    I just checked out consumer reports on a tankless water heater. YES! They do save you space... that's it! They are $1200.00+ (waste), If you loose less than 5 gallons of water (wash face, shave... etc.) The water won't warm up. I don't see wasting 5+ gallons of water, FIRST, to get a warm shower. That's ridiculous! The savings in the heater are not cost effective either. Take a look and watch the report... Are tankless water heaters a worthwhile investment?
  16. Grape Ape

    Grape Ape Fat old dude

    OP It sounds as if the water heater was not full when the power was initially turned on and one of the elements has burned out. Follow the above directions to check it.

    As for the tankless heaters. I say BS on the 5 gallon number. It may take 5 gallons of water to get from the tankless heater to the faucet but it doesn't take 5 gallons of water to get hot water. I am an electrician, I install dual element electrical tankless water heaters on a regular basis. They require 2 - 40 amp double pole breakers. I installed one in a laundry room and we tested to see how well it worked by inhooking the hose from the washer and turning the hot water on. It took literally seconds before there was hot water coming out of the hose. Hot enough to burn you if not careful. The delay in getting hot water is the same as a water heater and is based on the length and volume of the pipe from the heater to the faucet.

    As for $1200 price tag, there are many out there that I have installed that cost around $400.
  17. Canadian

    Canadian Well-Known Member

    The tankless block heaters are awesome. My mom installed one in her building and it takes literally seconds to get boiling hot water. The space savings are good and the energy savings are even better. The system uses almost no power unless you turn the tap on - unlike a traditional tank that stays hot 24/7.
  18. Viking

    Viking Well-Known Member

    Have you checked the thermostats to make sure the resets aren't popped out and if they are both in, turn off the breaker for the water heater, disconnect the wires from the t-stats and check the continuity with an ohm meter you can also check the continuity in the heating elements at the same time. I have a 40 gallon water heater and it provides plenty of hot water but when I built our home I installed all the plumbing in a wall that is not on an outside wall. Our power bills seldom exceed $40 a month. One thing I should have done when I built our place is that I should have plumbed lines to our wood stove and installed a water coil in the stove as well as had connections for solar water heating. When I grew up my grandmother had a wood cook stove that had a water coil in the fire box attached to a 50 gallon tank behind the stove. It's amazing how quickly that tank would heat up. She would hang my PJs on the oven door so after my bath I'd jump in my PJs run upstairs and jump in bed, the attic bedroom had no insulation so it was damn cold at times.
  19. Nadine

    Nadine Guest


    I live in an apartment with 2 bathrooms but only in one of the bathrooms is the faucet mixed up. When you turn it to hot it's cold and vise versa. The other bathroom's faucet is correct. We run out of hot water in 10 minutes and no one could have used the hot water all day. Do you think this is due to the mix up on the one faucet or do to sediment build up?
  20. sailaway

    sailaway Well-Known Member

    I agree with the tank being too small as the basic problem, getting a slow flow shower head is a good idea. We have a 55 gallon gas tank at the bedroom end of our house, and my wife and daughters shower until it is cold. They are always fighting over who showers first because of the reheating cycle. My showering philosophy is get in and get out. When I live aboard in the Carribean, you hop in the ocean, get out , lather up, hop back in rinse off, then get out and have a no more than 30 second fresh water shower to get the salt off. Fresh water is such a valuable commodity down there. I also like the idea of an on demand water heating system, I have looked into them and they cost more, but with the price of energy they are probably a good idea. I have been told they are better for use in florida, and aren't as efficient up north. I have also been told to purchase the larger size one if you get one. I will be investigating these further in the future when my system needs replacing.