Hot water runs out quickly


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Old 12-28-07, 08:10 PM
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Hot water runs out quickly

Looking for some ideas on why I've been running out of hot water quickly. I have a 30 gal. elec. hot water heater 4500 watts, the date it was installed was in 1993. I had bought this house a little over a year ago, so I'm not sure of how it was maintained or what has been replaced on it.
It always seemed like we didn't have a lot of hot water when we moved in, but I always thought it was because we are a family of 4 and have a small (30 gal.) tank. But its seemed to get worse, and tonight I did dishes (hand washed) and 30 min. later my wife tried to give the kids a bath and ran out of hot water.
I've done some research on Google about what to test. I've tested both the upper and lower elements, they have a resistance of 13 between the two screws with wires removed. And while touching a screw and the side of the tank I get no reading. With the tank on, I read 220 volts at the top element and nothing on the bottom, and then when the top comes up to temp, I get 220 on the bottom element and 0 on the top. The thermostats were set for 120 degrees and I bumped them up to 125 to see if it might help a little. With young kids I don't want to go any higher.

I know its a 15 year old heater, and time for replacement. But I'm going to be doing some changes to the house heating system and want to change over to propane for hot water. So I'm hoping to get by until this summer with this heater without putting much money into it.

And while were on the subject, what is the longest horizontal run you can have on a propane hot water flue pipe and how far away from windows does the exhaust have to be?
 
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Old 12-29-07, 01:24 PM
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It sounds like your elements are OK. 30 gallon is pretty small for an electric, but the real culprit may now be the infamous "dip tube problem". Do a google on "dip tube" to read all about this issue, and the class action settlement, which is now expired. It affected most water heaters manufactured in the 1993-1996 time frame. If you go to the website of your manufacturer, they will confirm by serial number if your unit is specifically effected. Some of the goodled sites will also have that info.


Besides the symptoms which you now have, you may be finding your aerators and washing machine hose filters clogged with little whitish plastic flakes. These are the remnants of the dip tube.
 
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Old 12-29-07, 01:40 PM
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Thanks for the help, that is it exactly. Well at least I now know. I just started getting hard white crud in my faucet aerators, I just changed my whole house filter and thought I stirred something up or maybe something flaking off the inside of the pipes.

I was just at home depot for another project and stopped by the water heater dept. and saw they had a combo pack of elements and thermostats for $30, picked them up to give it a try, guess I'll be making a trip back to return them. And thanks for saving me the time and money of replacing them.
 
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Old 12-29-07, 02:38 PM
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I was wondering if where I could find dip tubes for sale and are they expensive? I looked online and haven't be able to come up with anything, I emailed the manufacturer but don't expect to hear back until Monday or later.

Here's the specs on my hot water heater:
Ace Hardware Countryman Series 501
Manufactured by: Reliance Water Heater Co.
Model# 5 30 20RS8 FZ
Serial# J93735700
30 gal. 4500 watt
 
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Old 12-29-07, 06:48 PM
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1993? You are at the sunset on this water heater. Borrowed time, If you know what I mean. B4 you spend all that money, consider upgrading to at least a 40 gallon and getting a new one that will last for another 12 years.
 
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Old 12-29-07, 07:24 PM
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Yea, I know I've gotten all that I can out of it, and maybe a little more. But I'm doing some updates this summer, new outdoor wood boiler & tying it into the hot water heater. So I would like to place the heater where the furnace sits now for easy venting (change to gas hot water heater). So if I can find a new dip tube for relatively cheap I would be happy, I pretty sure the bottom of the tank is filled with gunk, it drained pretty slowly.
 
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Old 12-30-07, 09:53 AM
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A good hardware store will have dip tubes. Use a saw to cut the tube to length so that it directs the cold incoming water to near the bottom of the tank.
 
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Old 12-30-07, 10:43 AM
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Hot water runs out quickly

When was the last time you drained your tank?
 
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Old 12-30-07, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Concretemasonry
When was the last time you drained your tank?

I did shortly after I moved in, a little over a year ago, and then just a couple days ago. It drains really slowly so I'm thinking its partly plugged up, and I did open a hot water faucet.
 
 

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