Ok, I just read all the old questions on this forum about water heaters going back to early 2012, and don't feel any nearer to an answer. Many of them have elements of my problem, but none address all the issues I'm having, and there are parts of my issue that nobody has talked about.
My problem is that only AFTER flushing the heater, I run out of hot water much too quickly in the shower. I have to keep turning the (Moen, I think) single handle valve more and more towards "hot" until by the 15-minute mark, it's barely lukewarm.
We have a municipal well in our town and there's some iron in the water, based on the light orange staining I see on stuff. The plumbing in the house is all copper, but I haven't looked at the intake side of the meter to see what kind of pipe that is. Could be cast iron. The house dates to 1956.
This is how it started: Four days ago I decided it was time to flush the sediment out of my 50-gallon Richmond 12-year-warranty gas water heater. Nothing was wrong, I just hadn't done it for a year, and had a day off, so I went for it.
1. I shut off the cold water feed to the heater and 2. set the gas valve on it to "PILOT." 3. I put a short hose (clothes washer hot water hose) on the water heater drain and ran it to a cast iron pump. 4. The output side of the pump went up an over the partition to the laundry sink so I could watch what was coming out.
5. I also stuck a bucket under pressure relief / overflow pipe that's connected to the pressure relief valve on top of the WH. (That pipe goes down the side of the WH and ends maybe 14" above the floor.) 6. I turned the lever on that valve and balanced it carefully so it would stay open. A trickle came out but then stopped. 7. I fired up the pump and water started coming out the end of the long hose into the sink. I could feel air being drawn into the relief pipe.
I really didn't see to much crud in the discharge in the sink, but I 8. let the tank go empty, shut off the pump, and 9. turned on the cold water feed again. When water started coming out the relief pipe, 10. I let it run into the bucket briefly, then shut that off.
11. Then I went back to step 6 and repeated the pump and flush. I think I then did steps 6 - 10 a third time too.
12. I let the tank fill again and when it was full, switched the control to normal again. The burner switched on immediately.
I am the first one up most mornings, certainly this week, and take the first shower. No one else is up while I'm in the shower. Since that drain and flush, the water gradually gets cooler until after 17-18 minutes, I have it cranked all the way over. I know, I take way long showers. But we've had people take two and even three showers, one after the other, and if they're all short (10-15 minutes), we don't run out of hot water.
The shower valve is some sort of anti-scald type, but it hasn't been touched or tampered with. After getting out of the shower this morning, I ran hot water in the sink in the same room as the shower. It would normally be too how to hold your hand in, but it isn't now. I ran it for two full minutes and it was warm to hot, but nowhere near as hot as it used to be.
As suggested here, I will turn off the hot water valve at the WH and see if there's any flow available from the hot water tap at any sink or the shower. But I don't think there's any sort of recycle or mixing valve anywhere, except in the shower. I had that shower wall torn apart 4 years ago and my friend the master plumber (since retired) came and installed the shower valve. I saw the plumbing, and there's nothing tricky in there at all, no cross connection, just straight hot-to-hot, cold-to-cold, and the pipe from the valve to the spout and shower head.
Any ideas? Thanks in advance.