Is my water heater failing?

Old 02-16-17, 08:21 AM
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Is my water heater failing?

OK guys. 40 gal standard water heater. NG fuel source.

Don't remember brand.

I've noticed a HUGE drop in it's ability to heat, and amount of hot water provided.

It's gotten to the point where we have to stagger our showers hours apart. And when int he shower, we only get a few minutes of hot water. And that's WITH turning the handle towards hot every 15 seconds or so.

By the end of a shower, the handle is 100% on hot, and the water is ice cold.

And when I say few minutes, I mean it. Enough to wash body and hair, and get the heck out.

We have low-flow showerheads, and make sure nothing else has used the hot water for at least 2 hours before we shower.

If I have run the washer within 2 hours prior to a shower, there's not enough water to even get a few minutes. MAYBE enough to rinse off, but no washing.
(yes, washer is an HE unit too, low water usage - and it's on warm, not hot)

A bath is out of the question, not enough to fill a tub.

Thing is, it appears to heat properly, the gas fires on and off, and does so at the right temps, it just seems the capacity is super-low.

It was not always this way. A couple of years back I had hot water forever (it seemed like). Don't know what happened.

Also, if it means anything, I have started noticing a foul smell coming from the faucets when I turn the hot water on. Not strong or ever powering, but noticeable.

I notice it from every sink in the house. But I do NOT notice it from any shower/tub. (but I wonder if that's because they flow at higher rates, so it dissipates before I notice it - in the sinks it dissipates after 20-30 seconds)

The cold water does NOT have the same smell. Just the hot.
I looked it up, and it could be the heater, according to google.

What say you guys? You're the experts.

Does it have to go?
Is it bad?

If so, I can do it.

I actually have a high end Rheem tankless 8.4gpm unit sitting here unused. (however how to test it's functionality prior to install is a question - and posted in another thread)

But if I have to install a new tank, I can do that instead. I just want hot water back again.

Thanks, guys!
Old 02-16-17, 08:30 AM
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Have you ever flushed the tank. There is a valve on bottom that looks like a hose bib. Flush tank for about 10 or 15 minutes and see if this improves your hot water.
Old 02-16-17, 08:35 AM
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I have not. Good call. I will do so this evening, and report back.
Old 02-17-17, 06:52 AM
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How old is this heater?
Sounds you may have two different issues going on.
The anode rod may be causing the smell.
A rusted off dip tube may be causing your lack of enough hot water.
Old 02-17-17, 06:59 AM
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I agree the sediment needs to be drained/flushed out of the tank BUT since it's never been done opening the tank spigot might be problematic. Sometimes they won't completely shut off I'd still flush it but be prepared to replace or service the spigot.
Old 02-18-17, 08:55 AM
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Go to Home Depot or a garden store and buy a cap used to cover the unused end of a daisy chainable lawn sprinkler. Use that to cover the drain valve of your water heater if you can't shut that off completely.

Turn off the water heater heat before draining the heater. Have a hot faucet gushing for a minute beofre turning the water heater heat back on. The water heater will self destruct if it kicks on with a large air pocket inside, more critical for all electric heaters.

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