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gas water heater troubleshooting / replacement #4659128
02/07/18 01:57 PM
02/07/18 01:57 PM
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 1,320
Germantown, MD
greenjp Offline OP
greenjp  Offline OP
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 1,320
Germantown, MD
Howdy folks,
Our hot water heater lately hasn't been making the volume of water it did in the past. It's a 75 gallon Rheem. ~75k BTUs and if I recall correctly a recovery volume of ~68 gallons. Anyhow we have 3 adults, 3 kids, and a jacuzzi tub, and in the past there wasn't anything we could do that would exhaust the hot water supply. Showers, dishwasher, baths, washing machine, etc, it never ran out.
Now it does run out, especially when filling the jacuzzi. When it's hot it's as hot as usual. It seems to kick back on as you'd expect. There is a little bit of leaking from time to time from the drain spout.
The trick is this thing is 20 years old or so. I suspect that whatever the problem is, the real answer is probably "get a new one".
I've never done any maintenance or repairs on this thing and have never purchased a water heater before, so any thoughts would be appreciated. It's an "atmospheric" vent type and I do plan to stick with that, so don't need info on forced exhaust, tankless, etc.

jeff

Re: gas water heater troubleshooting / replacement [Re: greenjp] #4659138
02/07/18 02:03 PM
02/07/18 02:03 PM
Joined: Apr 2012
Posts: 5,601
MA
Wolf359 Offline
Wolf359  Offline
Joined: Apr 2012
Posts: 5,601
MA
They're pretty simple. The usual suspects would be to drain the tank, could be sediment on the bottom. Then it's possible it's the inlet water tube. Depending on where that breaks off, you'll start getting cold water instead of hot water. Cold water fills from top and hot water is at the bottom. If it breaks off near the top, you won't get that much hot water before you end up with cold water. You can replace the tube, but most people usually give up at that stage and just get a new one.

Re: gas water heater troubleshooting / replacement [Re: greenjp] #4659142
02/07/18 02:05 PM
02/07/18 02:05 PM
Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 2,422
MN
tmorris1 Offline
tmorris1  Offline
Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 2,422
MN
Probably a buildup of minerals and calcium inside which is making it less efficient. You are on borrowed time. Replace it before it bursts and floods your basement.

Re: gas water heater troubleshooting / replacement [Re: tmorris1] #4659156
02/07/18 02:17 PM
02/07/18 02:17 PM
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 466
Utah, USA
28oz Offline
28oz  Offline
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 466
Utah, USA
Originally Posted By: tmorris1
Probably a buildup of minerals and calcium inside which is making it less efficient. You are on borrowed time. Replace it before it bursts and floods your basement.


+1 Replace it. My Rheem (less than 10 years old) started splitting and leaked. Didn't flood, fortunately, but the new one my plumber neighbor put in has slightly less BTU, but performs 100% better. New ones are much more efficient anyways and at 20 years old? Don't chance it. Replace it!


-----------------
1990 Nissan 300zx - Castrol Edge Euro 0W-40
2004 Nissan Quest - Pennzoil Platinum Euro 0W-40
2003 Ford Excursion 7.3 PSD - Mobil 1 TDT 5w-40
Re: gas water heater troubleshooting / replacement [Re: greenjp] #4659180
02/07/18 02:47 PM
02/07/18 02:47 PM
Joined: Oct 2014
Posts: 12,591
Idaho
CT8 Offline
CT8  Offline
Joined: Oct 2014
Posts: 12,591
Idaho
Time to replace.


2015 Ford F150 2.7
2018 Ford F350 6.2
Re: gas water heater troubleshooting / replacement [Re: Wolf359] #4659196
02/07/18 03:13 PM
02/07/18 03:13 PM
Joined: Sep 2015
Posts: 6,086
Kalifornia Kollective
BrocLuno Offline
BrocLuno  Offline
Joined: Sep 2015
Posts: 6,086
Kalifornia Kollective
Originally Posted By: Wolf359
They're pretty simple. The usual suspects would be to drain the tank, could be sediment on the bottom. Then it's possible it's the inlet water tube. Depending on where that breaks off, you'll start getting cold water instead of hot water. Cold water fills from top and hot water is at the bottom. If it breaks off near the top, you won't get that much hot water before you end up with cold water. You can replace the tube, but most people usually give up at that stage and just get a new one.


Wrong way round. They both fill and exit from the top, but the cold goes to the bottom though a high temp plastic inner tube called a "dip tube". It carries the cold to the near-flame area. If that tube has cracked or broken it will let cold water in at a different height and you will have less hot water ...

You have replaced your anode rod every 3~5 years right? So you know what the top fittings look like. Take off the cold feed side and see if you can fish out the dip tube? Check it for length against the side of the tank. It should reach from near the top to the thermostat'ish. If it's short, that's your answer. Go to big commercial plumbing supply and get new dip tube. While you are at it, get new anode and change both smile


Formerly in marine engineering. In an earlier life I owned my own petroleum tank truck, and hauled for the majors and independent's.
Re: gas water heater troubleshooting / replacement [Re: greenjp] #4659198
02/07/18 03:13 PM
02/07/18 03:13 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,689
Charlotte, NC
Oldmoparguy1 Offline
Oldmoparguy1  Offline
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,689
Charlotte, NC
If you are on well water or any supply with high mineral content, then your cold water in pipe, (downtube), has corroded and fell off. Time for a new one.


A Randomly Selected Thought For The Day:
If Noah had used Zip, he could have used a smaller boat.
Re: gas water heater troubleshooting / replacement [Re: greenjp] #4659201
02/07/18 03:17 PM
02/07/18 03:17 PM
Joined: Jan 2015
Posts: 265
Cleveland, OH
silveravant Offline
silveravant  Offline
Joined: Jan 2015
Posts: 265
Cleveland, OH
Actually the dip tube takes cold water to the bottom where it's heated and rises to the top.

Do you ever hear a rumbling noise? That's water boiling under a layer of sediment. The sediment insulates the heat from the water in the tank making the unit less efficient. Sometimes it's possible to take the drain valve out and break up the sediment with a piece of wire, etc. and flush it out the drain.

If it's really 20 years old it's probably time to replace.

Unfortunately water heaters have become much more expensive.

Re: gas water heater troubleshooting / replacement [Re: greenjp] #4659202
02/07/18 03:17 PM
02/07/18 03:17 PM
Joined: Mar 2016
Posts: 1,580
Toronto
PeterPolyol Offline
PeterPolyol  Offline
Joined: Mar 2016
Posts: 1,580
Toronto
Blow it down at least and get the loose deposits out, as mentioned buildup can easily drop your efficiency. I'd personally pull the plastic drain valve out and replace it with a ball valve for one, in the process conducting the blow down. How is your water hardness? How is your anode rod? Our tank, natural drafted like yours installed in 2003 with the Unitrol set to HIGH.

Hopefully your dip tube is not broken (seems unlikely, they usually break during transportation laying on it's side) that would indeed cause a sudden drop off in heating.


Scambling for solutions is a hopelessly futile endeavour and potentially dangerous, without first coming to a solid, personal understanding of the problem. Beware riding the ideological hobby horse.
Re: gas water heater troubleshooting / replacement [Re: greenjp] #4659255
02/07/18 04:14 PM
02/07/18 04:14 PM
Joined: Jan 2017
Posts: 367
NJ
JLawrence08648 Offline
JLawrence08648  Offline
Joined: Jan 2017
Posts: 367
NJ
The sediment on the bottom acts as insulation preventing the flame below it from heating the water as much as it should. Turn the burner off, drain the tank, and turn the water on with bursts trying to knock the sediment loose, flushing out again by draining, repeat several times, then refill. You may need to invest in a new heater.

Re: gas water heater troubleshooting / replacement [Re: greenjp] #4659328
02/07/18 05:41 PM
02/07/18 05:41 PM
Joined: Mar 2004
Posts: 21,129
Upstate NY
Donald Offline
Donald  Offline
Joined: Mar 2004
Posts: 21,129
Upstate NY
Drain sediment and see if it helps.

Snap the drain valve and see if it shuts all the way, or replace. They crud up and leak. Never open it to test unless your about to replace it. Once open, if there is crud it may never go back fully shut.


2015 Subaru Forester 2.5 engine/CVT
2015 Ford F250 w/Powerstroke
2016 Subaru Crosstrek CVT (wife's)
Re: gas water heater troubleshooting / replacement [Re: greenjp] #4659336
02/07/18 05:51 PM
02/07/18 05:51 PM
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 1,918
Ontario Canada
cjcride Offline
cjcride  Offline
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 1,918
Ontario Canada
20 years old. It owes you nothing.
You deserve a new one.

Re: gas water heater troubleshooting / replacement [Re: greenjp] #4660091
02/08/18 03:25 PM
02/08/18 03:25 PM
Joined: Nov 2011
Posts: 1,253
Lyndhurst NJ
Audios Offline
Audios  Offline
Joined: Nov 2011
Posts: 1,253
Lyndhurst NJ
Just replace it, like someone said you dont want it to burst, take it from me. Came home to my sump pump blasting waster out on my street. Found shin deep water in my basement, tank burst and kept trying to fill for who knows how long. Insurance covered it, but they opened every wall in the basement up, ran huge dehumidifiers and had to spray the [censored] out of everything with mold killer. Was a huge nightmare, especially for the 800-1000 or so the new one cost, ours was a 40 gal so much smaller than yours.


2002 VW Golf TDI-Mobil 1 5/40 TDT
2007 Mercedes GL320 CDI Fuchs 5/40 GT Pro XTL
2005 BMW M3 BMW Twin Power 10/60
2003 BMW M5-Fuchs 5/40
1998 BMW M3/4/5 Fuchs 5/40

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