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jricke
hot water doesn't last long

I have a hot water heater that is eight years old. It is set on the hottest setting and the water is hot not scalding.
in the winter the hot water last for only ten minutes(the heat is forced air)in the summer that hot water seems to last longer. This doesn't seem to make sense to me. I thought because in the summer we use more cold water than hot. Should I replace the hot water heater?

JLMCDANIEL
Re: hot water doesn't last long

If it has always been this way, the first thing to check is to see if the W-H's plumbing is hooked up backward. If it something that has just started happening it may be that the dip tube has broken off and needs to be replaced or the lower element or thermostat is bad.
Jack

goldhiller
Re: hot water doesn't last long

This sounds very reminiscent of a WH with a broken off dip-tube, but…if 8 years old this likely isn’t the problem. There was a rash of this problem some years back, but the newer dip-tubes (such as yours) aren’t nearly as likely to suffer from that problem. If/when a dip-tube breaks off….the cold incoming water will mix with the hot water near the top of the tank and you’ll be out of hot water very shortly as a result. You can Google broken dip tube or similar and find much info concerning this situation.

However, since your WH shouldn’t really be suffering from this problem …I will guess that your WH is electric and that the bottom heating element is burned out. If so…..replacement isn’t that difficult or expensive. Then again…depending upon your particular water supply…the WH may be nearing its life expectancy (the tank rusts/rots out and leaks) and replacement of the element won’t lengthen that tank’s life expectancy. A new WH might be a better investment. It all depends.

If you are on a city water supply….I’d suggest you ask around (call a plumbing supply house or similar) and find out how long WHs in your area normally last. This should give you some guidance. If on a private well….ask the neighbors also on private wells who have been in the area for quite a while what their experience is concerning life-expectancy. LE on city water and private wells can vary drastically. It sure does around here. City water = about 6-8 years. Private wells = 30 years plus. It’s all about what’s in the water.

PS- JL's notion is sure valid. If the water heater is plumbed backwards.....the end result is the same as a broken diptube. If you moved into this house "recently" and the situation has always been this way....then plumbed backwards is a definite possibility. If you've been there a while and this is a "new" occurance....then I suspect a burned out element....presuming a tank-type electric heater. *If* this is a tank-type gas-fired heater instead...post back and tell us so. The remedy may be simple. It depends.

Blue RidgeParkway
Re: hot water doesn't last long
jricke wrote:

I have a hot water heater that is eight years old. It is set on the hottest setting and the water is hot not scalding.
in the winter the hot water last for only ten minutes(the heat is forced air)in the summer that hot water seems to last longer. This doesn't seem to make sense to me. I thought because in the summer we use more cold water than hot. Should I replace the hot water heater?

if your short supply is only during the winter like you said it does make sense for a few possible reasons. maybe you have hot water lines in uninsulated areas or exposed to unheated area like basement or crawlspace, and the pipes carrying the hot water from the tank are transfering the heat out to the colder air around them and the hot water in the lines is cooling off too quickly. you might want to get some pipe insulation for the hot water lines. you could drain some hot water from the bottom of the tank and measure the temperature of it there to test the theory of if the water in the tank is heating to the set temperature or not. the other thing about summer having more hot water mabe that the incoming cold water to the tank isn't as cold as it is in the winter so the replacement water cools the tank water down faster in the winter as you use the hot water.

scale might have built up in the bottom of the tank or encrusted the temperature sensor or element in the tank also. some of the anode rods when they decompose can deposit a gooish slimey yuk on the bottom of the tank and/or the lower element or temperature sensor too. mabe the upper element if electric is not working.

if the water heater tank is in a cold room you might want to invest in a water heater insulation blanket.

bsum1
Re: hot water doesn't last long
Blue RidgeParkway wrote:

if your short supply is only during the winter like you said it does make sense for a few possible reasons. maybe you have hot water lines in uninsulated areas or exposed to unheated area like basement or crawlspace, and the pipes carrying the hot water from the tank are transfering the heat out to the colder air around them and the hot water in the lines is cooling off too quickly. you might want to get some pipe insulation for the hot water lines. you could drain some hot water from the bottom of the tank and measure the temperature of it there to test the theory of if the water in the tank is heating to the set temperature or not. the other thing about summer having more hot water mabe that the incoming cold water to the tank isn't as cold as it is in the winter so the replacement water cools the tank water down faster in the winter as you use the hot water.

scale might have built up in the bottom of the tank or encrusted the temperature sensor or element in the tank also. some of the anode rods when they decompose can deposit a gooish slimey yuk on the bottom of the tank and/or the lower element or temperature sensor too. mabe the upper element if electric is not working.

if the water heater tank is in a cold room you might want to invest in a water heater insulation blanket.

Personally I doubt it has anything to do with exposed pipes.
Sounds more like the diptube is cracked or broken. It's very possible the cold water is colder in the winter than the summer which would cool off the warm water quicker in the winter than summer.

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