How long does it take a new water heater to heat up?

alisandeNovember 14, 2010

My cousin, who lives a couple of hours away, installed a new 50-gal. electric water heater for me today. He finished the job around 2:00 p.m., and I don't have hot water yet (at almost 8:00 p.m.). Should I start worrying yet? :-)

Thanks!

Susan

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asolo

Yes. Something's not right.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 7:56PM
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alisande

Uh-oh--that's what I was afraid of. The plot thickens, too........I have almost no water pressure in the downstairs bathroom. It was fine this afternoon; when my cousin finished the job he washed his hands in that sink. The water pressure in the kitchen and upstairs bathroom is normal. The other strange thing is that the handle of my kitchen faucet has sprung a huge, spraying leak that comes and goes. Sometimes it reacts violently when turning on the cold water. Other times it doesn't. I wonder if it has anything to do with air in the water line. I'll try to find a plumber tomorrow.

Thanks for your input!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 9:02PM
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asolo

There is almost certainly air in the lines after a job like this which may explain the sputtering -- if that's what it is. Generally lines need purging after a job like this but it doesn't take very long. Assuming this is new/uncomfortable territory for you, I agree with plumber idea...ASAP. Have no doubt the problem is simple for experienced person and your own peace of mind will be worth the expense. Household water lines need to be right or costly grief awaits.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 10:13PM
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john_31_fl

Also check to see if he turned the circuit breaker back on. Also it is very important to fill the water heater up completely and purge all the air out before turning the power on or else the elements in the tank will burn out.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2010 at 12:27AM
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joed

Pull the aerator off the faucet that is slow. It is likely clogged with debris from the install.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2010 at 8:26AM
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alisande

Joed, you were right--it worked like a charm. Thank you!!

And I have hot water this morning. It's not as hot as it used to be (I can hold my hand under it), but I'm guessing that's a function of the thermostat. It's definitely hot.

Thanks for the help!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2010 at 8:51AM
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joed

Sounds like you may have a 240 volt heater hooked up to 120 volts. It would take a long time to heat up.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 9:01AM
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alisande

I'll look into that when I get home, thanks. (I'm at work.) I still don't know if I have a problem. As I mentioned above, I had hot water yesterday morning, but not hot enough. So I raised the thermostats slightly. Monday afternoon the water cooled off dramatically. I read up on this, and it sounded as though only one element (the top?) might be working. I bought a new element just in case.

When I got home from work last night at 10:30, I had more than enough hot water for a shower, and it was very hot. I still had very hot water this morning. So now I'm waiting to see how the week plays out.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 6:44PM
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asolo

You do have a problem. Your week will play out exactly like the rest of your life with this installation. You've described considerable weirdness already. Suggest obtaining diagnosis and repair. Whatever it is will be simple and cheap....but needs to be done. Probably by someone other than your cousin.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 7:07PM
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alisande

Your week will play out exactly like the rest of your life with this installation.

Are you saying my life is weird? LOL

You're probably right about the need for diagnosis and repair. I don't know if you're right about "cheap," though. In my experience, diagnosis and repair are seldom cheap. Well, we'll find out.

I'm going to avoid having my cousin make another trip here to fix the problem, but he should not be underestimated. He's had considerable training in plumbing and electricity, and has built more than one house for his family. Before retirement, he had a very successful custom kitchen business. The water heater was his gift to me, and I know he feels bad that it's not working perfectly.

Meanwhile, I'm on the case. I'll report back as things progress improve. :-)

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 8:16PM
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maryland_irisman

My take is it is nothing your cousin did. It may be something he didn't do, like check everything out to make sure it was ok before leaving. Your problem does sound as if only one element (usually the top) is working. You'll get extremely hot water but then as you shower, you will notice it starts getting not so hot but enough to finish. Then you'll run into a situation where the water is not that hot the next time you go to use it and then an hour or so later when you use the water it will be very hot. If that's the case, you'll need to replace the lower element soon or the top one will go also. It may not be an element though, it could be the thermostat. It could be as simple as the thermostat is not seated flatly against the tank. If you get a notion to check that yourself, turn off the power to the tank first. To properly diagnose the problem, you'll need someone who can read the voltages on each side of the thermostats and amps on each of the elements.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 8:20PM
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alisande

To properly diagnose the problem, you'll need someone who can read the voltages on each side of the thermostats and amps on each of the elements.

Would an electrician do this? And install the new element if necessary? I live in a rural area and don't know any plumbers. But I know an electrician I could call.

Thanks!

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 12:13AM
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maryland_irisman

If you are experiencing the symptoms I explained, your electrician friend could certainly do the testing for you in just a few seconds. If indeed the element is at fault, changing it is quite simple and anyone familiar with tools could do it. The same with either of the thermostats, quite simple. Keep an eye on it for a few more days. If your problems went away, then the problems were most likely what the other folks above outlined and you probably don't have to do anything.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 6:19AM
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brickeyee

New heaters are rarely bad.

An installation error that is running the unit on 120 V instead of 240 V is more likely.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 9:57AM
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maryland_irisman

I agree new heaters are rarely bad. I was wondering why no one contacted the supplier instead of just buying a new element. I figured living in a rural area, it wasn't worth the hassle. Maybe when alisande told her cousin she needed a new hot water heater, he assumed she was using a 240v and that's what he picked up and brought while the old one was 120? I'm hoping that's the case and not a faulty wiring job.

alisande....on the name plate of the new heater, how many volts is stamped on it? (If the old one is still around, what is stamped on it?) Also, how many amps is the breaker for the heater and what does the breaker look like? i.e. big block with a switch at the top, two switches hooked together or same size as all the other breakers? Your electrician friend should be able to determine all these scenarios also.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 10:47AM
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alisande

The heater isn't exactly new. My cousin used it for six months before deciding to put a different system in his house. He held onto the Rheem because it was (he thought) in perfect shape. I don't know how long ago that was. When I told him recently that I needed a new water heater, he said he'd be happy to give me that one, and install it for me.

The plate reads 240 volts. My old heater was gas (I don't have it here to read the plate). He put in new wiring for the new one. The circuit breaker is two switches hooked together by a bar. Not sure about the amps. It reads Type HOM TIPO (or T1PO) 10 kA 120/240 V. It's by Square D.

Now I'm off to the Toyota dealer to get my vehicle fixed. If it ain't one thing, it's another. :-)

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 11:28AM
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asolo

"My old heater was gas (I don't have it here to read the plate). He put in new wiring for the new one."

I don't know about the rest of you folks but, from what I've read here to date, I'd have this thing gone over from beginning to end -- plumbing, electrical, physical -- by somebody who knows what they're about. I get no confidence at all from these descriptions and the OP is clearly over their head.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 3:55PM
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alisande

I appreciate your concern, Asolo, but I want to be sure your concern is warranted before I invest in hiring a professional. Here's the situation as it exists now:

I seem to have hot water all the time. I say "seem" because I don't use a lot of hot water. My supply doesn't have a lot of opportunities to run out. As an experiment, I took a longer than usual shower this morning, and it was fine. I check the water mornings, afternoons, and it always becomes too hot to hold my hand under. When I open the dishwasher door after running it, steam billows out.

Maryland_Irisman (I love iris, too) did the information I gave you about the circuit breaker help? Does it sound as though the unit is hooked up okay?

Since I don't have a complaint about my hot water supply, I'm thinking, "If it ain't broke....." But am I missing something? You're right, Asolo--I admit the OP is over her head. But I'm trainable if properly enlightened. :-) Thanks!

    Bookmark   November 18, 2010 at 9:52AM
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asolo

"When I open the dishwasher door after running it, steam billows out."

This would be another example of why I said "...OP is clearly over their head." The steam coming out of your dishwasher has zero to do with this water heater install. (Your DW has its own heater.) Such a statement on top of all that have come before causes me to believe you don't know what you're dealing with. You have insufficient knowledge to evaluate this installation.

Maybe you're fine. Maybe you're not. All I'm sure of from here is that you don't know. From here, I don't know if the wire-size is right; the breaker's right; the element's performing; the connections were done properly....or anything else. You've described quite a bit of weirdness along the way that concerns me. You seem satisfied right now but you seem to have no care about what happened and what it may indicate.

I continue to recommend competent, experienced examination before you walk away.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2010 at 10:18AM
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maryland_irisman

alisande,

I'll have to admit, as the new information comes to light, it does raise some questions in my thinking. However, from what you describe so far, I suspect you are ok for the moment. Your original problem seems to have been air in the system as the others described. However, and only going by your description and no technical data, it did appear to take more time to bring the water to a temperature you were satisfied with. After you readjusted the thermostat it appeared to be more to your liking. My conclusion is, your cousin didn't run the water temperature as high as you do. Maybe he has kids he doesn't want to scald themselves, maybe it was to save energy, whatever his reasons. A 50 gallon tank is a pretty good sized tank for 1 person and I think if you kept the temp around 115-120 degrees, you wouldn't run out of hot water if everything is working fine. But again, there are good reasons to run the temp. higher.

My advice at this point pretty much follows your line of thinking. If everything is to your satisfaction, there's nothing to fix. Let us know if anything new develops, the more information you can give up front, the better answers you will get. I think most of the folks here gave you enough info. that you know several areas to look or have someone to look at to do some trouble shooting before blowing the whistle. You'll eventually be the hot water expert in your area.

As for Iris, there are 3 reasons for the tag. Making a living these days requires a job and as many hustles as one can handle. 1-I grow approx. 3 acres of rare types of Bearded Iris. Many get sold, many get processed for the perfume industry and many get processed as medicinal Oris Root. Motion photography and filming is another area of endeavor. Someone touched on another area in one of the forums so I figured they must have known me. Now of course there is no way for me to spend full time in all these areas and my profession also so others now actually work them. I just usually pi$$ them off from time to time when I come around and start playing with stuff since to me, these are hobbies.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2010 at 10:39AM
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alisande

Okay, Asolo's pronouncements, blunt as they were, made me reluctant to let my water heater situation ride indefinitely. So I called the electrician, and he arrived this morning. Turns out the upper element was shot (a hole in it, to be precise), and the reset button on the upper thermostat had also failed. Electrician replaced both. He's returning within the next month to replace the 12-gauge wire with 10-gauge, and to up the amps on the circuit breaker.

Thank you for prodding me to do this. I feel better now.

Irisman, I haven't heard of Orris Root since I read "Rosemary's Baby" many years ago. I'm glad to hear iris are used in the perfume industry; scented iris are wonderful, and I have many. If you like, you can see some of my beauties here. I know nothing about motion photography, but I love my still cameras. :-)

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   November 20, 2010 at 12:43PM
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asolo

Feel better reading that you've done this. Those things you mentioned were important. The wire-size and breaker, especially, were VERY important. Good on ya.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 1:19PM
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