Hot Water Heaters 101


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Old 01-11-01, 10:56 AM
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My husband and I have just moved into a much larger house. For several years, we lived in a small house with a moderately sized hot water heater (sorry I don't know the exact sizes here). We rarely ran out of hot water - only if we had a house full of guests all showering at once or something. In our new house, however, we run out of hot water every day. We try to shower at least an hour apart so the second one doesn't start to get very cold by the end. And if I fill up my big jacuzzi bathtub with hot water, no one else in the house can have any until it heats up again, I guess in the hot water heater.

My question is this: we have no idea how to remedy this problem. Can you make a hot water heater more efficient? If so, how? Or should we look into buying a newer/bigger/better one? If so, how do you evaluate hot water heaters before you buy them? Could the culprit be the house size (about 5000 square feet), and if so, should we have more than one hot water heater? Can you have more than one? You can probably get the gist of what I'm looking for here - more hot water in my house, but I havent' a clue about how to get that. Thanks everybody for your help!
 
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Old 01-11-01, 11:57 AM
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Hi:marti aaron

Based one the square footage of you house, the tank size should be at minimum 50 gallons. Not uncommon to have an 80 or 100 gallon tank which it should have currently.

Since there is only one tank, high hot water demands in a short time span will cause the problem your experianceing. So will a tank that is too small.

Not knowing your current tanks capacity, any one of the above stated problems could be causing the current conditions you have.

I would suggest a circulation pump be installed on either the existing tank, if it's not more then 5 years old or too small a capacity.

If the current tank is too small or too old and will be replaced soon, have the circulating pump and plumming done at that time. You'll also need to upsize the tank if it's too small.

A plummer will be able to install the correct size tank, if need be, and add the pump and required plumming.

The plummer may also determine if and where another water heater can be to zone in to the house. Houses of your size should be zoned with two tanks anyway. It may cost more initally but be cost effective in the long term.

Since there are several options you can select from, I would suggest you obtain 3 estimates and suggestions from 3 different plumming companies.

 
  #3  
Old 01-11-01, 01:53 PM
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Is your house a single or multi story??

What energy source heats your hot water?

Do you have any gas-fired appliances near the area where your greatest hot water usage (and frustration *G*) occurs...

When I moved into our current home 12 years ago, it had an electric water heater with a 50 gallon tank. It was sufficient for my needs over the years but, having gotten married recently, my wife (and eventually I) complained of inadequacies...

The existing unit had a good 5 gallons worth of mineral deposits in the bottom when I finally replaced it last year (I was afraid to drain and flush it because of the possiblity of the drain valve failing....my fault).

Our new heater is LP (gas) fired, with a 50 gallon tank, and we can now take multiple showers and run the washer or dishwasher at the same time.

Gas fired units have a much faster recovery rate than electric units and there are often different Btu inputs available for the same tank size...

If you are familiar with (or want to learn about) this stuff, you can size and install your own water heater...lots of info out there. If you feel uncomfortable working with gas or electricity and plumbing, getting professional assistance will be worth far more than the money you spend....
My particular heater cost me around 300.00 for the unit and plumbing/gas/venting parts (the flue already existed from a previous installation). I would surmise you could add another 3-400.00 for a professional installation and removal of the old heater.

Going to zoned heaters, as Tom suggested, is the best way to solve the problem in a house that is plumbed with that solution in mind. The distance from my water heater to master bath is nearly 80 ft., all of which is underground (slab home). I wish the previous owners had put in multiple heaters.
There are pumps, as Tom mentioned, to circulate water to bring you hot water more quickly but they won't help with a heating plant with inadequate recovery ability.

Perhaps if you could provide some details about your situation, we could help further...

And do consider having a professional look at it...having hands on the problem makes a world of difference.

Good luck!

Pat
 
 

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