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IowaCowboy
Iowa native
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join:2010-10-16
Springfield, MA
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Water heater question

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I may be staring down the barrel at replacing this water heater as it does not seem to be heating the water as good as it did when it was first installed. The reason I would do it is the landlord would put in the cheapest (and most likely an energy hog) water heater and I want one that is energy efficiant (GE GeoSpring would be nice but I'll settle for the Whirlpool EnergySense at Lowe's). I am capable of doing it myself but there is a nice utility rebate but that requires a plumber install to get the rebate. The current one was installed in 2003.

My question is: what is the fitting in the picture.

Edit: I do pay the electric bill in this unit and the electric rates here are higher than the national average.


tschmidt
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Milford, NH
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Really hard to tell without seeing more plumbing. Depending on warranty and water conditions may make sense to replace it even though it is not yet leaking but you ought to make sure you know the root cause or you will have the same problem with the replacement.

The device does not have a handle so it is not the PTRV. Looks like there are two pipes connected so my guess would be a tempering valve.

Before you run out and replace the heater need to do a little investigation. What specifically is the problem?

1) Is the water not hot enough? Check the upper and lower elements and thermostat. The bottom thermostat and element do the majority of the work. Tpp one only comes on under high demand to keep temperature up.

2) If hot water runs out too quickly may be the dip tube is broken or heater is installed backwards. Second is not likely since it worked until recently.

3) When it is actively heating check the voltage at the element. Low voltage will not affect final temperature, that is controlled by the thermostat. But if voltage is low recovery time is adversely affected.

/tom



jack b
Gone Fishing
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join:2000-09-08
Cape Cod
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1 recommendation

reply to IowaCowboy

It's a vacuum breaker. It prevents scalding hot water from being sucked into the cold water lines if there is a break in the house water piping or the water supply becomes depressurized for any reason.
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robbin
Premium,MVM
join:2000-09-21
Leander, TX
kudos:1
reply to IowaCowboy

said by IowaCowboy:

it does not seem to be heating the water as good as it did when it was first installed.

Why not troubleshoot the problem and repair it? Can you give some better pics of the entire water heater. Wouldn't hurt to post the model number also.

wth
Premium
join:2002-02-20
Iowa City,IA
Reviews:
·Mediacom
reply to IowaCowboy

said by IowaCowboy:

The reason I would do it is the landlord would put in the cheapest (and most likely an energy hog) water heater and I want one that is energy efficiant (GE GeoSpring would be nice but I'll settle for the Whirlpool EnergySense at Lowe's).

I'd first offer the landlord to pay the difference between the cheap WH and the one you want. AND let the landlord/plumber do the install, as you don't need any extra liability, like your new WH flooding out the building your paying rent in.


nunya
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O Fallon, MO
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1 recommendation

reply to IowaCowboy

You always give the same story of an absentee landlord. I'm not buying it anymore. As much as you've spent on this place, it probably would cover moving to a place where the LL isn't an ass hole.
--
If someone refers to herself / himself as a "guru", they probably aren't.



tp0d
yabbazooie
Premium
join:2001-02-13
Carnegie, PA
kudos:5

yes this is a vacuum breaker..

As for the quality of the heater, from the control panel in the pic, sure looks like a lifetime-warranty American or Whirlpool water heater.. definitely not a cheapo heater.. Could be something wrong with it, if you arent getting the same hot water, but then again, it -is- winter, and cold water beats up heaters..

and I`m definitely gonna have to agree with nunya here as well..

-j
--
if it aint broke, tweak it!!
currently on FiOS (kick aZZ!)


Bob4
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New Jersey
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1 recommendation

reply to IowaCowboy

There's not a big difference with efficiency of electric water heaters. They're all 100% efficient, as all the energy goes into the water. The difference would be in the insulation (to reduce heat loss), and you can simply wrap your water heater to improve that.

If there's not enough hot water starting just recently, it's because it's winter and the supply water is colder!! The solution is to turn up the thermostats. The bottom one should be set to a HIGHER temperature than the top one. The markings normally are as follows:

"dot" 110 degrees
"Hot" 120 degrees
"A" 130 degrees
"B" 140 degrees
"C" 150 degrees
"Very Hot" 160 degrees

I would recommend "Hot" for the top one and "A" for the bottom one. If your heater is small and you use a lot of hot water, "A" and "B" could be used.

The other possibility is a burned out element. That's an easy fix.



LazMan
Premium
join:2003-03-26
canada
reply to nunya

said by nunya:

You always give the same story of an absentee landlord. I'm not buying it anymore. As much as you've spent on this place, it probably would cover moving to a place where the LL isn't an ass hole.

QFT


IowaCowboy
Iowa native
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Springfield, MA
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reply to nunya

Click for full size
said by nunya:

You always give the same story of an absentee landlord. I'm not buying it anymore. As much as you've spent on this place, it probably would cover moving to a place where the LL isn't an ass hole.

This unit is in better condition than most of the units in the city, many with higher rents and rodent infestations. Fortunately this unit lacks a rodent infestation but if I did have rodents, the handy tool is in the picture.

MaynardKrebs
Heave Steve, for the good of the country
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join:2009-06-17
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reply to IowaCowboy

Try shutting off the water supply and opening some hot water taps in the house, then opening the drain at the bottom side of the tank to flush out accumulated scale deposits which may be (technical term alert) 'gunking up' the heating element. Then refill the water tank and do the process a 2nd time. That might improve things for you for a while. You will probably have to remove the vacuum breaker to get the water to flow out with some velocity.

If you want to do a more invasive cleaning, see the instructions at this link
»www.doityourself.com/stry/how-to···r-heater


Mr Matt

join:2008-01-29
Eustis, FL
kudos:1

WARNING: MK you should have advised IowaCowboy to turn off the power to the water heater before draining it. If the water level drops below an element and the thermostat applies power the element will immediately burn out.


MaynardKrebs
Heave Steve, for the good of the country
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said by Mr Matt:

WARNING: MK you should have advised IowaCowboy to turn off the power to the water heater before draining it. If the water level drops below an element and the thermostat applies power the element will immediately burn out.

My bad.
You are correct...... turn the power/gas off to the water heater BEFORE doing anything else.

Bob4
Account deleted

join:2012-07-22
New Jersey

I don't know that it's a good idea to open the drain valve on a 10 year-old water heater. He might never get it closed.


MaynardKrebs
Heave Steve, for the good of the country
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If it closes, flushing it might help his situation.
If it doesn't, the landlord replaces the faulty water heater.

Expand your moderator at work


tschmidt
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1 edit
reply to Bob4

Re: Water heater question

said by Bob4:

He might never get it closed.

Guarantee it will leak after he flushes the tank. Have a supply of hose caps to seal it.

/tom

Tig

join:2006-06-29
Carrying Place, ON
Reviews:
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reply to IowaCowboy

said by IowaCowboy:

it does not seem to be heating the water as good as it did when it was first installed.

If you could elaborate on what this means, you will get more pointed advice.
ie: -Water is hot, but quantity seems less.
-Water is not as hot as it used to be
-Makes funny noises


tmh

@comcastbusiness.net
reply to IowaCowboy

said by IowaCowboy:

Fortunately this unit lacks a rodent infestation but if I did have rodents, the handy tool is in the picture.

Said handy tool seems to be off the clock.


IowaCowboy
Iowa native
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Springfield, MA
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reply to MaynardKrebs

said by MaynardKrebs:

If it closes, flushing it might help his situation.
If it doesn't, the landlord replaces the faulty water heater.

The current water heater was installed by the previous landlord before the building was sold to the current owner. One good thing about the current owner is she is okay with cats. The previous owner was slightly better with repairs (installed the energy saver water heater) but had a no pets policy (hide the cat in the closet when the landlord comes). If the current landlord were to replace the water heater, we'd get some cheap energy hog. I was looking at water heaters at Sears and the operating costs on the energy guides varied. Some cost over $500 a year to operate (based on average utility rates and our area has higher than average utility rates) and some (like the GE GeoSpring) were cheap to operate. No matter who pays the cost of installing a new tank, it will ultimately be myself paying the costs of operate it (and trust me, my electric bills are NOT cheap).

As for pets, we are responsible pet owners (current cat is a neutered tomcat) but there are a lot of tenants that are irresponsible such as filthy litter boxes (and the cat does it's business elsewhere), keeping intact animals (male cats spraying/female cats multiplying), vicious dogs posing liability issues, etc.


IowaCowboy
Iowa native
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Springfield, MA
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reply to Tig

said by Tig:

said by IowaCowboy:

it does not seem to be heating the water as good as it did when it was first installed.

If you could elaborate on what this means, you will get more pointed advice.
ie: -Water is hot, but quantity seems less.
-Water is not as hot as it used to be
-Makes funny noises

It seems to be less hot water, and it is not as hot. It is also cloudy when it fills the sink.

Mr Matt

join:2008-01-29
Eustis, FL
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My parents lived in the same home for over 40 years. They went through several water heaters. They suffered the same symptoms you describe when an element was failing. Low hot water output usually occurs when the heating elements lime up becoming coated with minerals. The unusual noises are caused by water boiling between the mineral coating and element rod. Eventually a hotspot develops and the element outer rod burns through. The heating element consists of a nickle chrome heating element, a sand like material coating the element and the outer tube. When the element burns out the coating around the nickle chrome wire will begin to dissolve in the water causing cloudiness. Usually the lower element will fail first and will leave only the upper element heating water in the upper quarter of the tank. That will leave you with almost no reserve of hot water. If the upper element fails first you will find lower hot water output because the upper element will not provide quick heating of the upper quarter of the tank when you draw off most of the reserve hot water in the tank.


MaynardKrebs
Heave Steve, for the good of the country
Premium
join:2009-06-17
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And with the age of the tank (10 years) even replacing the heating elements may not be a long term solution. If the water has any brownish discoloration then the tank is going to rust through RSN (real soon now), necessitating a new tank anyway.



no hot

@myvzw.com
reply to Mr Matt

In the typical residential water heater, if the upper element fails, you'll loose all hot water. This is due to the fact the upper thermostat (SPDT) is never satisfied and thus won't energize the lower thermostat.


itguy05

join:2005-06-17
Carlisle, PA
reply to IowaCowboy

said by IowaCowboy:

If the current landlord were to replace the water heater, we'd get some cheap energy hog. I was looking at water heaters at Sears and the operating costs on the energy guides varied. Some cost over $500 a year to operate (based on average utility rates and our area has higher than average utility rates) and some (like the GE GeoSpring) were cheap to operate. No matter who pays the cost of installing a new tank, it will ultimately be myself paying the costs of operate it (and trust me, my electric bills are NOT cheap).

If you read the fine print on the GE heat pump water heter, their claimed energy savings are at a temp of 68 degrees. If its located in a basement that is unheated, it may be under that in the winter. I that's the case you would be running the heat pump part longer and using the elements more so your savings will be much less. They also pump cool air into the room they are in so you may need to add additional heating if the area is a living space. I think they would work great in a warmer climate where there is plenty of latent heat to transfer to the hot water but in the Northeast it may be a wash.

Your best bet would be to get a relatively efficient unit (all electrics are about the same) and wrap it with a hot water heater blanket. That would make it more efficient and be relatively low cost.

TheMG
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Canada
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reply to IowaCowboy

said by IowaCowboy:

The reason I would do it is the landlord would put in the cheapest (and most likely an energy hog) water heater

All resistance-heating electric water heaters are near 100% efficient at heating water.

What varies between different heaters is the standby losses, which is determined by the amount and quality of insulation around the tank. This may be supplemented by adding a water heater blanket.

Even so, the differences in standby losses between cheap and expensive heaters is not that big. You're not likely to notice much difference on your power bill. Besides, during the heating season, the heat losses of the tank aren't wasted.

As for heat-pump water heaters, they are best in hot climates and won't do you much good at all during the heating season.

Bob4
Account deleted

join:2012-07-22
New Jersey
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said by TheMG:

All resistance-heating electric water heaters are near 100% efficient at heating water.

What varies between different heaters is the standby losses, which is determined by the amount and quality of insulation around the tank. This may be supplemented by adding a water heater blanket.

That's what I told him yesterday, but he's not listening.

Zach1
Premium
join:2006-11-26
NW Minnesota

said by Bob4:

said by TheMG:

All resistance-heating electric water heaters are near 100% efficient at heating water.

What varies between different heaters is the standby losses, which is determined by the amount and quality of insulation around the tank. This may be supplemented by adding a water heater blanket.

That's what I told him yesterday, but he's not listening.

I'm nearly certain I read somewhere that he heats with electric baseboards. If so, this entire topic as it pertains to heat-pump water heaters becomes academic over much of the year. 7+ moths of the year, he's gonna heat with resistance regardless.
--
Zach


IowaCowboy
Iowa native
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Springfield, MA
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said by Zach1:

said by Bob4:

said by TheMG:

All resistance-heating electric water heaters are near 100% efficient at heating water.

What varies between different heaters is the standby losses, which is determined by the amount and quality of insulation around the tank. This may be supplemented by adding a water heater blanket.

That's what I told him yesterday, but he's not listening.

I'm nearly certain I read somewhere that he heats with electric baseboards. If so, this entire topic as it pertains to heat-pump water heaters becomes academic over much of the year. 7+ moths of the year, he's gonna heat with resistance regardless.

I do heat with electric baseboards and trust me, it ain't cheap. I've taken measures around the house to save electricity such as installing CFLs and I am transitioning to LED (which is not cheap due to the costs of the bulbs). My refrigerator (that I own) was new in 1999 or I'd be replacing that as well with an Energy Star unit.


jack b
Gone Fishing
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join:2000-09-08
Cape Cod
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So, did ya buy a new tank yet?
Rather than putzing around with rebate forms and hiring a plumber to install a $1500 unit, run over to Sears and get a 50 gallon tank for $329.
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