Hot Water Issues

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by rew70, Feb 13, 2009.

  1. rew70

    rew70 New Member

    Jan 21, 2009
    Richmond, VA
    I have 2 issues going on with my hot water. I suppose they are related, but don't know for sure.

    First, it takes an unusually long time for the hot water to begin to flow. Didn't use to be this way, but now when the HW is cut on at the faucets (not as bad in the shower, I assume because more water is flowing and thus takes less time) cold water is all we get for a minute or so and then it gets warm to hot.

    Second problem is that we used to be able to have 2-4 people shower comfortably and now the second user can barely make it through before the water gets cold. You have to have the faucet set all the way to hot just to have a lukewarm shower towards the end.

    Any ideas on what's going on and how I can fix this without having to place a service call? Thanks in advance for any and all help.
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Aug 31, 2004
    San Diego, CA
    Check the date on your water heater. May be the first 4 digits of serial. If you can't figure it out, post the brand and serial.

    If your WH dates from roughly the mid 90's, it was part of the dreaded "dip tube problem" , which causes the symptoms you have. The dip tube can be replaced, but if the WH is that old, you might rethink spending money on it.

    Other possibilities: do you have a recirculating pump on it? Is your gas or electric bill up, possibly indicating a leak or crossover in hot water?
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  4. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Sep 1, 2004
    Yakima WA
    Sure sounds like a dip tube. If the heater is otherwise working OK, it would be worth replacing the dip tube. They are only about $5 at any hardware store. Might have to cut the end off, but that's simple. The tube should go to the bottom of the tank. To determine if the tube is the problem, just shut the water off, disconnect the cold water intake line including the nipple that goes into the tank. The dip tube has a flange that suspends it in place directly below the nipple. Use you little finger and fish the tube out. If there is nothing left but the flange, drop a new tube in and you're good to go. Apparently there are just a few makers of these tubes and in the mid 90's there was some sort of problem that caused the tubes to break about half way or so down. The purpose of the dip tube is to direct the incoming cold water to the bottom of the tank to begin the heating process. If it is missing or broken, the cold mixes with the hot water near the top of the tank and the water at the bottom doesn't heat, and you run out of hot water very quickly. An electric tank could have an element out. If the dip tube doesn't fix the problem, I's advise calling a plumber to check your elements. It is possible that the crud has built up in the bottom of the tank to the level of the bottom element and has shorted it out. If that is the problem, then a new tank is in order. Stay away from Whirlpool:eek: GE/Rheem are good.
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