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IowaCowboy
Iowa native
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join:2010-10-16
Springfield, MA
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reply to Tig

Re: Water heater question

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
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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
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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.
--
~Help Find a Cure for Cancer~
~Proud Member of Team Discovery ~


cdru
Go Colts
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join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
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1 recommendation

reply to IowaCowboy
said by IowaCowboy:

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.

Ironically, since you heat with resistance heat, all those energy saving measures you're making have a net zero effect on your energy costs during your heating-dominated months. Any excess heat given off by incandescent lights, fridge, etc as part of their normal operation is offsetting your resistance heating. Even if you had a light source that was nearly 100% efficient, you'd still need to make up the heat the light was making with running your heater longer.

If you had a heat pump or heated with a fuel source that was cheaper-per-BTU than electricity, then switching to energy saving appliances would make more sense during heating-dominated months.

bemis

join:2008-07-18
Reading, MA
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I bought the $189, lowest price, electric from Lowes last year. It's 40G.

The cost to run it has been relatively low, and the losses can't be much because the outside of the unit is hardly warm to the touch. I have PEX flexible lines running to it, so they act as a thermal break to the copper threaded plumbing nipples for cold in and hot out. I did also add the dielectric adapters which included a sort of flapper device which is supposed to reduce convective loses through hot water rising.

When I say the cost is low, I mean it... Last year I was using my boiler with domestic hot water (DHW) coil for all hot water... this year I still use the DHW coil as a pre-heater when the boiler is turned on, but the water heater provides the bulk of the heat since I have dramatically adjusted the boiler aquastat and DHW coil output mixing valve--and of course in the summer/fall 100% of the hot water was from electric tank...

My electric bills show very similar kW usage between the two years... I was expecting to see a $25-50/mo increase in my bill, but in reality it has been more like $5-10/mo at most--and that is going from no electric water, to having a 40G. I also keep it set at 135*, so it's not like I've got the temp low...

My point being, I believe w/ electric tank heaters most of your cost comes from usage. My usage is relatively low, I live alone, I take one ~15 min shower per day, I do a 4-6 loads of warm wash per month (with an 40G/load style washer), and I run a dishwasher about 1X/wk.

The larger amount you spend on a higher end water heater may take a very long time to pay off if the savings are only a few dollars per month on average.

bemis

join:2008-07-18
Reading, MA
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reply to IowaCowboy
said by IowaCowboy:

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).

Lighting is a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of electric heating... unless you've got a few dozen recessed lights all burning 75W bulbs... In my house if I have the kitchen light and living room lights on that's 4 bulbs... so if I transitioned from 60W bulbs to 23W CFLs we're talking 150W or so... compare to a SMALL electric heater which would be 1500W... you can see why lighting is not a big deal.

Your best bet to save on electric in winter would be to reduce the usage of that electric heat by air sealing wherever possible. When I lived in an old (1885) Victorian rental I made judicious use of DAP's "Peel n' Seal" tubes as well as the full "Frost King" line of weatherstrips and heat-shrink window films.

Kill standby losses too... lots of people like to leave a desktop running 24/7 but that thing is pulling 100-200W idling... You might also consider watching less TV, getting rid of the cable all together, or at least putting both TV and cable box on a power strip that can be turned off (yea you lose the guide data, but eh...)--those Motorola boxes use 45-50W 24/7 (regardless of being on or off) and my 37" LCD TV uses 275W when powered on... so watching TV is a 325W/hr event...

Bob4
Account deleted

join:2012-07-22
New Jersey
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My PC uses ~60 Watts, as does my monitor. Monitor turns off after 15 minutes of idle. PC shuts off after 60 minutes.

But since the OP uses electric heat, any savings by reducing electric use (CFLs, PCs, cable boxes, etc) will be made up by the electric heat in the winter. Reducing electric use only saves money in the summer.

Tig

join:2006-06-29
Carrying Place, ON
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1 edit
reply to IowaCowboy
said by IowaCowboy:

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

Less hot water usually indicates the lower part of the tank is not heating, so upper thermostat, lower thermostat or lower element. But I think those things have already been mentioned. Cloudy water would be consistent with under temp hot water in the bottom of the tank breeding bacteria.
FWIW, I just bought a water heater. Big renovation underway and I chose to leave the old one behind in favor of a new energy efficient one. I figured more insulation. As I was installing it I noticed that both the inlet and outlet had plastic inserts the restricted the pipe from 3/4" down to about 3/8". Furthermore, each restrictor had double rubber flaps to reduce convection loss from the tank when idle. Since I had gone to great pains to ensure my new plumbing was very free flowing, I pulled the restrictions and plumbed insulated convection traps on the inlet and outlet.
Now I'm left wondering if those two inserts were the difference between my energy saver tank and the cheaper one.

On the subject of energy saving. I paid $50 more for the " better" water heater. The manufacturer's specs on standby loss worked out to about $9 per year around here.
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