Water heater PROBLEMS!


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Old 09-25-09, 05:01 PM
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Water heater PROBLEMS!

Hi!
We are just beyond frazzled with our water issue here at our house.
About a month and a half ago we started having only warm water throughout the house. We have lived here for 19+ years. We had a plumber out and he checked the dip tube and it was in perfect condition (hot water heater=12years old). He suggested that we need a new hot water heater, just because we weren't getting hot water. So, we called the plumbing company back and they sent someone else out (the owners' son). He checked everything out and thought maybe it was the mixer in our upstairs hall bath (we don't use our 2nd bath upstairs). So, we had the mixer changed out. Still, no hot water - just warm. So, after a couple more weeks (we didn't have the money before), we decided to change out the water heater thinking "what else could it be?" And now, today, 4 hours after it was replaced, we seem to still be getting only warm water out of the new heater.
Any thoughts on what else it could be?
We have never heard of this problem - we've lived here so long, so we know we didn't have a previous problem and the plumbers seem to be mystified as well.

Thanks in advance!

Lisa

edited to say....I should also include that our gas bills (our gas is only for the water heater) has been astronomical. They went from ~$40.00 to $259.00 last month! I don't know what's going on! Please advise
 
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Old 09-25-09, 05:53 PM
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so previous to this situatiion you had supper hot water on all the fuacets and the water pressure was just as good as the cold side faucets?need to know this result.........if you hook a hose up to the HWH drain is that hot water draining off and with good pressure?what position has the temperature dial on heater been set at typical is at the 12 o'clock position on most?if the pressure started to get weaker on the hot side months ago you might have mineral build up on the hot water outlet fitting on the top of the tank.....yyyou stated he hecked the rodon the hot water out side but did he check if pipe was clear of stuff where the copper starts?
 
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Old 09-25-09, 06:16 PM
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Yes, we had good water pressure for hot and cold previous to this.
we haven't hooked up a hose to the new one yet - I thought it would be fixed.
I would think he would have looked for mineral buildup but I didn't ask.
The temp dial is set at "B" - at what is supposed to be 120 degrees according to the maual.The pressure hasn't really faultered on the hot side, just the temperature. It has prograssively gone from warm to really not quite lukewarm (either that or it's just colder in the morning, so it feels colder now?)

Also, I guess I left it out earlier because it would take a long time to type out, but there is something else that I have noticed and the plumber that we've had out has not know why, but our kitchen faucet takes a long time to get cold. The fixture is approx. 3 years old. When I turn on the cold water it goes warm for a good minute and a half (at least) before getting cold. I realize during the summer there may be a moment from warmth in the pipes, but, as I said, we have lived here for 19 years and I have noticed RIGHT when we started having this whole hot water issue, the kitchen sink started to have a marked delay in delivering cold water. I don't know if it has to do with the problem, but I wanted to get that out just in case.

Thank you for getting back to me so soon, I hope my new information might be helpful.

-Lisa
 
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Old 09-25-09, 08:02 PM
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Maybe one of the plumbers will check in here soon, but this HAS to be a vent problem.

$40/mo. for nothing but a WH is steep in CA. Mine is about $20. But for it to go to $260??? THAT'S outragous!!

About the only other thing it could be is a leak in the hot water line someplace. What's your water bill doing??
 
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Old 09-25-09, 08:19 PM
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Momma --

Having thought about it for a couple minutes -- forget a vent issue.

You have a water leak. In CA, chances are at least 70% that your house is on a slab. You have a broken water line under the slab.

Won't be cheap to find -- won't be cheap to fix. Leak detection will find it and pinpoint it really close. Now you are looking at cutting concrete in that area.

If you are one of the LUCKY 30%, your house is on a raised wood floor. THAT'S just a matter of somebody crawling under the house and locating the problem.
 
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Old 09-25-09, 11:44 PM
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Hi Lefty,

you know, I haven't compared my water bills - i'll have to do that. We do have 8 people in our household, though.

Our pipes were replaced in our house (yes, we are on a slab) about 10 years ago - we had the faulty ABS pipe.

would it have anything to do with the whole kitchen faucet thing? I turned the water to the kitchen sink off, and it seems like the water in other faucets is warmer (markedly).

Lisa:helpme 2:
 
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Old 09-26-09, 05:22 AM
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it sounds like the hot water is mixing with the cold water after the HWH or the lines are parallel touching going up into the house.if your cold water is warm on first opening on any faucet it has to be getting that heat from the hot water pipe.when you run the hot water in the house check the OUT pipe at the HWH should be super hot* right out of the tank!the days temperature or slab/ground temps don't change enough to effect water lines within an insulated house...try the hose to HWH drain and tell us the pressure and if the water is HOT.piping the HWH backwards would only effect the the way the water was heated ..could that be it verify cold/IN hot/OUT* on top there
 
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Old 09-26-09, 08:34 AM
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ok,
Just check the hot water out pipe on top of the HWH - I ran hot water from a faucet in the house and, while it was still running, I went and felt the hot water out pipe on top. It was warm. Not hot by any means - just warm...just like our water.
I haven't hooked up the hose to the HWH heater yet.
I will do that soon.
My BIL's coming today to check any buildup on the inside of the hot/cold pipes on the top of the HWH as someone had suggested, but the water pressure in the house is fine.
If it was a leak in the foundation where we don't see it, wouldn't the water at the HWH be hot?
A leak in a pipe wouldn't affect the water being hot would it?
I could see how it would affect our gas bill, because we'd be constantly losing hot water, but that's not the case.

Also, Sminker, the only faucet that runs warm when its at the cold spot (for maybe ~min.-min.&half) is the kitchen. No where else in the house.

Thanks - I do appreciate the feedback,

Lisa
 

Last edited by mommamontgomery; 09-26-09 at 08:37 AM. Reason: addition
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Old 09-26-09, 10:26 AM
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Shut off all of the faucets in the house and make sure no other water is running. Then go look at your water meter.

The meter will have a row of numbers that look like the odometer in the car. It will have a large poiter that points at numbers around the edge. and it will have a little star pointer (that will probably have 3 points on it.) That one is the one that tells you if water is running through the meter or not. With all of the faucets in the house shut off, that little star pointer shouldn't be moving at all.

If it IS moving, water is flowing through the water meter.

With a pipe leak in a hot water line, you would have lukewarm water because the water isn't staying in the water heater long enough to get hot.

You gas bill is almost 7 times nornal, and the onlly thing you are using gas for is the WH. That tells me that the WH is running pretty much 24/7.
 
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Old 09-26-09, 12:00 PM
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This last post by lefty is on the track. I am betting that your burner is running full time but water is running out faster than it can heat it up. You have either an underground pipe leak, or a serious crossover issue. IMPORTANT QUESTION: Do you have a recirculating pump and/or loop???
 
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Old 09-26-09, 01:10 PM
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something else to digest.......if when you checked the OUT pipe with the hot water runnig upstairs and it was warm right on the top of the tank.....if the burner wasn't running then the stat was satisfied prior to the test it should of come on with the cold water entering the tank to replace the warm water going up inot the fauset.did you notice if the HWH burner was on when you checked the pipe or did it cycle on when you where a the heater.this is going to be a good one to see the fixBeer 4U2Beer 4U2Beer 4U2
 
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Old 09-26-09, 08:55 PM
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Unfortunately, all this discussion illustrates the importance of getting a competent person to make a good diagnosis of the problem. That still hasn't been done, so far as I can see from the comments made.

ALL the things suggested so far should have been checked out on the FIRST service call.
 
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Old 09-26-09, 09:16 PM
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SeattlePioneer,

EXACTLY!!

(Sure, I'm in CA and so is mommamontgomery, but there's almost 700 miles of I-5 from me to the Mexicn border.) I'm on a computer and I'M GUESSING!!

The first guy out should have been able to find the problem.

A "mixing valve problem" -- NO!! That would have been happening from day one.
 
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Old 09-26-09, 10:16 PM
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O.K. sorry it took some time to get back here. I really appreciate the input from you.

So, we have noticed a couple things.
1) In our downstairs bathroom and upstairs hall bathroom (both located centrally for plumbing purposes) we could here water "running". So, we turned off the cold water going in to the HWH and the constant "running" disappeared.
2) We then went out to watch the water meter while having someone turn the cold water valve going into the HWH back on. The water meter was running pretty swiftly (after, of course, the initial 'burst' from being turned on) once we turned the cold water valve to the HWH back on - even though we had NO water running in the house.
3) Next, we turned the cold water valve to the HWH off and waited. **recall in a previous post I had said the pipe bringing hot water out of the HWH was only warm...not by any means hot** We waited about an hour (I know we probably didn't have to wait that long) and started running hot water at the kitchen sink while the cold water valve was turned back on (the pipe was HOT this time!). We finally, after ~2 months, had HOT water through the kitchen sink! But, of course, it didn't last long.

so, we have concluded (but would like to hear your input/expertise) that there is a leak somewhere in our hot water pipes.
What do they do for this? How does "leak detection" work?
I mean, we are on a concrete slab.
I'm pretty sure (from past experience) insurance usually doesn't cover actual plumbing repairs (but they may pay to put it all back together).
We had our house ripped apart 10 years ago because of faulty ABS pipe...this wouldn't have anything to do with that would it? It was so long ago - and I think it was just drain pipes.
Also, I thought I would mention this too because I wouldn't think it would tie in to any of this, but - in the last 2 months, we have had to have 1) our kitchen sink snaked because of a stoppage - this has NEVER happened to me before - in almost 20 years! 2) we have had to have our sewage main snaked (yes, we had sewage back-up) in the front yard not once, but TWICE. The plumber said it was tree roots.

It probably has nothing to do with this current problem, but I thought it was worth mentioning as we have had NO other issues it just seems like we are getting SOCKED with it all at one time....

thank you so much for your insight.

-Lisa
 
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Old 09-27-09, 07:44 AM
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I'd call the plumber that misdiagnosed the problem. You paid him to fix the problem and he didn't. I would insist that any labor for installing the probably un-needed water heater be credited to fixing the real problem.
 
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Old 09-27-09, 08:31 AM
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Look in the Yellow Pages under Plumbers and find a plumber that does "leak detection". They have listening equipment that can locate where the leak is.

If you are not seeing water damage or water on a floor, a wall, or a ceiling, then the leak is probably under the slab.

Insurance isn't going to pay to repair the leak, but it would pay for any damage that the water caused (sheetrock repair, etc.) If the leak is under the slab, it's not damaging anything.

Drain and waste lines clog. As far as the waste line that clogged in the front yard, it probably was tree roots. You'll know for sure in a year or two because more than likely it'll clogged again.
 
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Old 09-27-09, 01:31 PM
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ah, we installed the HWH. Well, I should say, my BIL did...
 
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Old 09-27-09, 02:07 PM
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OK -- Since your BIL installed the new WH, you won't be getting any of the labor costs back.

Still, the plumber who checked the dip tube, and then the second plumber who changed the mixing valve upstairs (I'm assuming that you are talking about the tub/shower valve) -- either one of them SHOULD have been able to come up with the correct diagnosis of the problem. Some of what they came up with makes no sense.

A faulty dip tube wouldn't give you constantly lukewarm water. You would have hot water, just not very much of it.

The faulty tub/shower valve in an upstairs bathroom? OK -- that would EVENTUALLY give you lukewarm water, but at the valves closest to the WH you would have hot water for several minutes before it went lukewarm. And, assuming that he shut the water off at the meter to work on that upstairs valve, he should have noticed that the meter was running.
 
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Old 09-27-09, 09:35 PM
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Originally Posted by lefty
it probably was tree roots. You'll know for sure in a year or two because more than likely it'll clogged again.
Lefty - it did clog again - 1 month later.
Do you think tree roots could be to blame for the hot water leak as well?

I'll be talking to the plumber tomorrow, but was curious...
 
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Old 09-27-09, 09:50 PM
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Lisa,

No, they are not related.

I knew the waste line would probably clog again at some point, but A MONTH!?!? That's crazy. Once mine started clogging due to tree roots, it would clog about every 18 months. The cure was to finally dig it up and replace the old clay pipe with ABS. ABS really can't be affected by tree roots. The joints are glued together and there's virtually no way that a root can get into the joint.

But that's all happening out in the front, back, or side yard.

I'm pretty sure that your broken hot water pipe is under the slab. It's highly unlikely that there are any tree roots there.
 
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Old 09-30-09, 03:33 PM
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OK...just thought I would check in with you - I really appreciate all the help - it really helped us figure out what was going on when the plumber couldn't.
Needless to say, he felt really stupid when we called and told HIM the problem!
We had a leak detector out yesterday and found the leak - under out hardwood laminate
the reason for the warm water (when I turned the cold on) in the kitchen is because the hot water pipe break is flooding around the cold water pipe and warming the water.
aaahhhhhh.......
it's nice to know the problem...now to fix it...

Just wanted to let you know.

Thx a bunch!

Lisa
 
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Old 09-30-09, 03:51 PM
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If there is ANY WAY to access the leak WITHOUT pulling up the laminate, do THAT!!!

I pulled the laminate out of a kitchen earlier this year to redesign the kitchen and install new cabinets. Plan was to re-install the hardwood laminate. THAT turned out to be almost impossible!! It just doesn't go back together the way it used to be!! The joints are CLOSE, but not perfect like they were. And it was a 2 day FIGHT to get it back that close.

Had I of known, I would have figured new laminate into the bid!
 
 

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