Shower water won't stay hot

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Old 02-16-14, 01:18 PM
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Shower water won't stay hot

Hi - this is my first post here, hope I've come to the right place for some much needed help. About a few months ago, my wife and I began noticing that the temperature of our shower water began to get cooler about 5-10 minutes into a shower and we'd have to keep adjusting for more hot water. It's steadily gotten worse, to the point where we are now ending our showers with the faucet set to maximum hot and still the water is cool. I've searched for this problem on the net and found some material that suggested the valve cartridge needed to be replaced, and I promptly set out to replace mine, but the problem persists.

Couple of background facts that hopefully help pinpoint the cause of this:
- Problem was noticed simultaneously in both second floor bathrooms (the only showers in my home), which struck me as more than coincidental.
- House is less than 8 years old, fixtures are mostly builder grade.
- Fixtures in question are American Standard, 1 handle, which lift up to turn water on, left for hot, right for cold.
- I found a diagram of the entire valve assembly on American Standard's website - the entire assembly consists of a number of components, of which I only replaced the cartridge, so I'm wondering if the cause of my problem might lie with one of the other components, for example the pressure balancing unit?
- My biggest concern is that I'm chasing a red herring and my real issue is more serious (and potentially expensive).

Sincerely appreciate any assistance I can get from the rest of this community .
 
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Old 02-16-14, 01:35 PM
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Welcome to the forums. Electric water heater?
 
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Old 02-16-14, 02:07 PM
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Hi mitch17 - thanks, glad to be here learning. I believe I do have an electric water heater. However, I want to note, this problem is only showing up when we shower. Water is super hot for my shaves, washing dishes, etc. Also want to point out, we've never had a shortage of hot shower water in the nearly 8 years we've lived in the house, with the exception of the past 4 to 6 months. Thanks again!
 
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Old 02-16-14, 03:02 PM
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How big is your water heater? I'm guessing 40 gallon as it's most common.

What you are doing with the water like shaving or dishes does not matter so much as how much water you are using. When shaving are you at the bath sink which probably uses less water than the shower? I bet if you put a bucket in the shower or tub and measured the amount of water used when it turns warm & cold, then put the same bucket in the kitchen sink and filled it with hot water it may turn warm at about the same. About how much hot water do you get before it turns warm?

Without knowing the results there are a couple things that can cause less hot water volume. A burned out element, bad thermostat or a broken pickup tube in the water heater.
 
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Old 02-16-14, 03:07 PM
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Hi Pilot Dane - could you suggest a course of action I might consider? Do I need to bring in a professional, or is it something a weekend wannabe handyman could reasonably tackle with the right level of research/study?
 
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Old 02-16-14, 04:45 PM
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Take a 5 gallon bucket and fill it at a tub with hot water. Dump it and repeat.. Keep doing this while testing the temperature of the water... With a 40 gallon heater you should get 6 buckets before the water starts getting cooler...

Do that test and let us know...

Take a pic of the heater and post it here so we can see..
 
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Old 02-16-14, 04:54 PM
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Hi lawrosa - thanks for the suggestion, makes good sense as a way to rule out a problem with the heater. Btw, Pilot Dane's points are well taken. But it still seems unusual to me that our family's hot water consumption pattern has not changed significantly in the last few months. And a shortage of hot water to shower with has never before been a problem for us.
 
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Old 02-16-14, 04:58 PM
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Could be a dip tube issue
Element or t stat issue
Check valve on a recirc line issue if you have one
Or a slab leak, if your on a slab.

Rare both shower valves would go bad at the same time...
 
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Old 02-17-14, 12:18 AM
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My thoughts, in order of likeliness and ease of testing are:
1. Bad lower element and/or thermostat.
2. Broken or leaking dip tube.
3. Continual flow of hot water due to a leak somewhere.

Post back for troubleshooting hints.
 
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Old 02-17-14, 08:59 AM
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Ok, so after searching the water heater forums and youtube for dip tube posts, I excitedly thought I was onto something, then I went down to my basement to look for my water heater (pics attached), and mine doesn't look a thing like the one I saw on youtube . Sorry for the poor quality, these are taken with my phone.

Thanks for all the suggestions so far, I definitely have a much better understanding of the situation, and I feel like I'm close to putting it all together, just need a little more push over the line . Holding out hope I can avoid a call out for service.

EDIT: I had a look at the owner's guide stuck to the boiler unit and it's evidentally connected to my oil tank. Seems this unit does double duty supplying heat and hot water to my home. And from what I can make of it, there's a tankless coil unit attached to this heating system that's responsible for heating my water supply. Could my problem be with this coil?
 

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Old 02-17-14, 02:07 PM
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Ok, did a little more reading and i'm beginning to suspect my tankless coil may be suffering from mineral clogging. based on what i'm reading, the method for fixing this condition (acid flush) is dangerous, and arguably of limited value since it may promote repeat clogging to return more quickly. could anyone comment on whether a workable approach might be to adjust the tempering valve to reduce the mix of cold water? how much life for the unit would that buy me, assuming i'd just be putting off an eventual major repair? it's sounding to me like an indirectly fired water tank is a more efficient and reliable system.
 
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Old 02-17-14, 02:15 PM
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You could spend money on a new coil, mixing valve...etc... But IMO I would install a stand alone electric water heater and be done with it...

Also then make the boiler a cold start by a small aquastat control modification...

Then your boiler will not run in summer just to make hot water...
 
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Old 02-17-14, 05:24 PM
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I'm really hoping to avoid a major spend right now. Is there any low cost (<$250) short term action I can take to improve the hot water output immediately, while planning for the major action, say in a year's time? Also, I'm guessing that if I were to reduce the cold water mix, I'll probably experience reduced pressure? Since hot water flow is being restricted by the calcification in the coil, reducing the cold water mix would effectively simply reduce overall output volume? Is it fair then to say I could achieve the same effect just by not turning on the hot water to its fullest force while showering?

Also, lawrosa I see you're in the same part of the country as me, any idea what I might expect to pay to have a pro come out and replace the coil? For comparison's sake, what would I be looking at to convert to an indirect firing electric tank? Thanks for the tips, really appreciate it.
 
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Old 02-17-14, 06:47 PM
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Wheres the mixing valve? Try turning the handle back and forth and reset the temp. They get cruded up some and that may fix your flow issue some...
 
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Old 02-17-14, 07:44 PM
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Using a hand valve to adjust the temperature coming from a tankless coil is impossible. Every time the temperature changes, either the hot or the cold, or the flow rate changes the output temperature will change. You need to install a thermostatic (automatic) tempering valve at the very least. Remember also that the thankless coil is the second worst way to heat domestic water ever invented.
 
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Old 02-17-14, 07:48 PM
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Ok, I'll bite...What's the first?
 
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Old 02-17-14, 08:17 PM
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I've posted this several times over the years and NJ Trooper likes to repeat it.

The absolutely worst method of heating domestic water is an open kettle on a wood-burning stove.
 
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Old 02-17-14, 08:46 PM
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Thought there was an actual mixing valve there...

Well here is an example..

AM100C-UT-1LF - Honeywell-Sparco AM100C-UT-1LF - 1/2" NPT Lead Free Union Mixing Valve
 
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Old 02-18-14, 01:31 PM
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Ok, so I spoke to a professional plumber to review my options, and though a free standing water tank may be the preferable water heating option in an ideal world, in my case the deciding factor is the fact that my system is less than 8 years old. Therefore, I'm going to seek to have my coil flushed. I was hoping to be able to do this myself, however my Laars Newport burner doesn't have service valves, so the job requires cutting pipe and putting everything back together afterward, something I'm not confident attempting myself. So at the end of the day, what this boils down to (pun intended ) is I'm going to look to bring a pro in primarily to install service valves so I'll be able to flush the coil every year myself going forward. Do any of you see any glaring flaws in this plan, or any major consideration(s) I may be overlooking?
 
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