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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    1

    Default Hot Water Heater Recirculating?

    My 6.5 year-old gas hot water heater (50 gallon A.O. Smith) has started running out of hot water after 15 minutes or so. My plumber (from a large company in NY) came out and just turned the temp up. When that didn't work, I spoke to the owner of the company, who told me it was probably recirculating warm water at the top and not heating the whole tank. He said it would probably just be better to replace it than repair it. And, of course my parts warranty expired 4 months ago (tank warranty is still ative)

    Does this sound like an accurate diagnosis? What can I do to confirm the problem?

    Thanks for any help,
    Steve

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    South*East
    Posts
    1,213

    Default Re: Hot Water Heater Recirculating?

    It sounds like you have a bad dip tube. This would cause the cold water entering the tank to go out he hot side rather then going to the bottom of the tank.

    John

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,803

    Default Re: Hot Water Heater Recirculating?

    The most likely cause is that the bottom element has blown out. Turn off the electricity and water to the WH, drain the tank. remove the old element, take it to a hardware or big box store and get a new one identical to the old. Re install, turn the water on , do not turn the electricity on until the tank is full and water comes out of a hot water faucet.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    South*East
    Posts
    1,213

    Default Re: Hot Water Heater Recirculating?

    Quote Originally Posted by JLMCDANIEL View Post
    The most likely cause is that the bottom element has blown out. Turn off the electricity and water to the WH, drain the tank. remove the old element, take it to a hardware or big box store and get a new one identical to the old. Re install, turn the water on , do not turn the electricity on until the tank is full and water comes out of a hot water faucet.

    Jack
    Jack it's a gas water heater.

    John

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,803

    Default Re: Hot Water Heater Recirculating?

    Ooops, my bad!

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Pacific Northwet
    Posts
    1,629

    Default Re: Hot Water Heater Recirculating?

    Do you have a lot of sediment in your water? If so, it could be that the tank is full of dirt, and the capacity has been severely reduced.

    Open the drain valve at the bottom. If nothing comes out, suspect the above... but poke a wire into the valve just to see if maybe there's just a chunk of something blocking it.

    Water heaters should be flushed annually to remove sediment by opening the drain valve at the bottom.

    The dip tube is easy to replace, sounds like you've got a lazy plumber. Remove the nipple on the cold side. If the dip tube's not attached, look inside the water heater, you may be able to pull it out of the inlet. If you still can't find it, it probably fell inside and you just need to get a new one from the hardware store.
    The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    93

    Default Dip Tube

    I like the dop tube idea. 15 min x 2gpm draw - 30 gallons which means the tank is likely trying to recover. Depending on the water conditions, ie hardness, it may not be worth investing the money. The tank is 6.5 yrs old. The avg lifespan of a water heater is 6-10 years. Best investment may be to replace it.

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