Not a lot of hot water

Old 01-08-18, 09:18 AM
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Not a lot of hot water

Hey everyone,

This is my first post here, so HI! I am having a couple problems with my water heater. And I must admit, I don't know the size of it because I haven't looked at it. I apologize in advance for the lack of information. It is a short electric water heater because it is in my crawl space (which is not insulated, and I live in Michigan). Also, I moved into the house Oct 2015, and the following spring converted from well water to city water. The water is hot for one shower. Whoever gets the first shower, gets the hot shower. And if the dish washer or clothes washer runs before the shower, forget about having a comfortable shower. Could this be a water heater problem?

Additionally, my wife lives at the house part time while she is not going to school. Whenever she showers at the house, she has greasy feeling hair. Is it at all possible that there is a build up in the water heater, or pipes, that is causing this? within two washes anywhere else it is back to normal.

At this point I am blaming everything on the water heater, but I understand I could simply have hard water and a small water heater. Please help me! Thank you!
Old 01-08-18, 10:15 AM
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Welcome to the forums.

A short electric water heater in an un-insulated crawlspace.

A very thoughtful place to install a water heater and plumbing in a cold area. Make sure all the pipes are good and insulated or there could be freeze up problems.

Just having the plumbing in a cold area defeats the hot water. You need to check and see how many gallons the hot water heater is. A small electric water heater won't have much extra capacity and with the temperature of the cold incoming water the recovery rate is going to be low.
Old 01-08-18, 11:03 AM
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I'm generally on the fence on water heater blankets, sort of a matter in my mind of location of the unit primarily, but have installed some, and under the circumstances you have there is no doubt that I would want one, along with the pipe insulation that PJ mentioned. You can get both at your local hardware or big box, and it's a pretty easy job most of the time.
Old 01-08-18, 11:09 AM
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How old is the water heater? Do you or did the previous owner flush it on a regular basis?
Old 01-11-18, 12:51 AM
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@car dude

I replaced our water heater about 2 weeks ago. It was the original water heater put in by the builder (5/2007) It's Bradford White 50gal gas heater. I thought the previous owner replaced the anode rod and flushed the tank regularly but they didn't (probably because it's the nipple type anode rod).. by the time i put in a new anode rod on 5/2016 it was already too late for the water heater. It died Christmas Day 2017.

We will need more information so you have to do some labor work...

a picture is a thousand words.. so just take a bunch of pictures of your water heater (especially the tag right in front with the gal size? model/serial/date of manufacturer, etc..)

It might be time for a new water heater for you that is all.

I noticed for some reason Home Depot will not carry any Energy Star Certified water heater in any of the local store, I would have to order it online and wait 2-3 weeks for shipping to the store or for $55 more to ship to my house. I asked them right out why they don't have any Energy Star Certified models in stock comparing to non-certified models, i didn't get a single reply from both representatives.

I would suggest getting an energy efficient one while your current one still works. Current water heaters should meet 2015 regulations so no water heater blanket is needed. Do insulate the water lines as much as you can, i know it's hard to reach stuff in crawlspace area.

Also, adding insulation to the crawl space should be added to your "to do you list". I think it's fairly easy to do with blown-in insulation. I added about 10 bags of Atticat insulation to my crawlspace 2 weeks after i got the keys to the house. I got that Home Depot wanted $1100 for. I rented a Uhaul and completed the work in about 2-3 hours.. I live about 3-4 miles from the local Home Depot.
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Old 01-11-18, 01:43 AM
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Whenever she showers at the house, she has greasy feeling hair. Is it at all possible that there is a build up in the water heater, or pipes, that is causing this?

Might be just the softer water from city vs well, anybody that first used a water softner will quickly note the difference the water feels.
Old 01-11-18, 01:46 AM
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Your heater may be working just fine. A residential WH can only supply about 2/3 of it's total capacity before the temp will drop noticeably. Also, recovery on an electric model is slower than gas. Assuming due to location it's electric, assuming it's about 30" tall, you probably only have a 30 gal unit. So the most you'll have is about 20 gal of HOT water available. Unless you have a very efficient low flow showerhead, a typical hot shower could deplete your tank in about 8 min. And that's with a pretty common 2.5 gal/min flow showerhead. It can get much worse if someone has removed the flow restricter or modified it somehow.

Get the model info, measure the hot water temp, fill and dump buckets til the temp drops 10-15 degrees to get an idea of capacity. That will tell you if there's an actual problem or it's just small and you have some losses in the pipes. Then insulate as suggested and try it again.

They used to make (and likely still do) very short, fat WHs and by that I mean probably around 24" x 24" or so. That would get you up to about 40 gal which gives about 27 gal of useful water. Doesn't see like much, but that's about 13 min of full HOT only shower. More if you mix in some cold of course. The "over-sized" short units are not cheap, if still available.

You can also effectively increase the amount of hot water by turning the WH stat temp up and then using a tempering valve that automatically mixes in a little cold to keep the hot water at a safe temperature at the shower or faucet.
Old 01-11-18, 09:54 PM
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@ clueless...... I'm not sure how they can improve efficiency of an electric hot water heater. Those figures are for the production of the hot water.... not the storage. Every dollar you spend on electric goes into the water. Nothing goes up the chimney. I'm not sure how you can get over 100% like that chart is showing unless they are talking about heat pump hot water heaters which are very expensive.
Old 01-12-18, 12:12 AM
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I think they talked about it on This Old House youtube channel

Understanding New Water-Heater Regulations - This Old House (10/4/2015)

I think they call it HYBRID water heater. They have 2 models online but no in store

The energy star certified gas water heater i was looking at is available at $700 and seeing how electric water heaters are often cheaper than gas models so i thought ....but you are right it's cheaper to just get the non-energy star certified electric models from the look of it... at long they meet 2015 standard i'm sure it's more energy efficient then the current one.
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