I spend my days talking about houses and explaining about maintenance. I teach homeowners how to take care of their home, but I don’t always practice what I preach. I’m like my mechanic who fixes everyone’s car but his own.
“Do what I say, not what I do!” 🙂
During “Spring Break 2013,” I’m staying busy with house showings and listing appointments. BUT, I did take a few hours off to take care of some plumbing issues I’ve ignored. I thought I’d share my recent hot water heater experience with you. Hopefully, it’ll help prevent you from making the same mistakes I made.
MY WATER HEATER STORY – The hot water wasn’t traveling to the back of the house (don’t laugh at me when you find out why): I bought my house in 2004. It was built in 1994. My water heater was the original. Over the years, I noticed the hot water wasn’t traveling all the way to my kitchen or utility room (the furthest rooms from my water heater). I adjusted the temperature on the Water Heater, and raised it to about 120 degrees. It really didn’t make a big difference. My thought: “Maybe there’s something blocking the hot water from traveling the pipes.” *think*think*think* (I never called a plumber).
SPLISH-SPLASH! My water heater leaked. I caught it pretty quickly and had it replaced. The water to the kitchen and utility room was about the same temperature with the NEW water heater, so I continued to assume the lack of hot water was due to a water-line problem (not the temperature setting).
I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE! Washing dishes and doing laundry in luke-warm water was just not cutting it anymore. I resorted to washing dishes with bleach water just to make sure I was “disinfecting.” As for my laundry, thank goodness for, “Cold Water Tide.” But that still doesn’t beat bubbling hot water for my loads of whites.
I called him up and he came to the rescue. Now, I have to interject here with a side note: I like taking care of things on my own. Especially when it’s something small. I’m like most people; I’d rather NOT spend BIG BUCKS on labor when I know it’s a $5 fix! Okay, back to my story: I was expecting the Plumber to dig holes and jack-hammer his way to the “problem.” Why wasn’t the hot water traveling to the kitchen or utility room?
The first thing the plumber asked was, “how old is your water heater?” I proudly responded with, “no more than two years.” “Uh-huh,” I thought. “Puzzling isn’t it?” He went to the kitchen and ran the water at the sink. He stated that the water pressure was pretty strong. He said, “let me check the temperature setting on your water heater.” I told him, “go right ahead.” In my mind I was thinking, “that’s not the problem. The temperature setting on the OLD water heater was up to 120 degrees and that didn’t make a difference. There’s NO WAY the temperature setting on the NEW water heater is going to help solve the mystery!”
While he went to his truck to grab his tools, I went into my kitchen to work on breakfast. I was planning on this guy being at my house for most of the morning. He was going to have to investigate and settle the case once and for all.
After about five minutes in front of the water heater, the Plumber called for me. “I want to show you something.” Okay, here goes. I braced myself for the news that would break the bank.
Plumber: See the temperature setting? It’s below 120 degrees. I’m going to raise it to 150 degrees.
Me: What? No way. No. Seriously? There’s no way that could be it!
Plumber: Yes, ma’am. I think it is. (He turns up the heat, and we could hear the water heater kick into gear).
Me: Are you kidding me? (I hit him in the arm) That’s what it was THIS WHOLE TIME? (couldn’t believe I hit him)
Plumber: (Laughs) I believe so. Let’s go check the water in the kitchen. (Turns the water on. Freakin’ water is hot and getting hotter).
I was so embarrassed. I even had a couple of friends over because I just knew I was going to be stuck at home ALL DAY LONG! Well, I’ll be doggone. All the plumber had to do was turn a small screw/knob on the water heater to adjust the temperature.
[Here’s a helpful YouTube video showing how to do it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMETZ9y6wuI]
I asked the Plumber: “If it was as simple as setting the temperature, why didn’t it work with the old water heater?”
Here’s the million dollar answer: The main heating element is at the BOTTOM of an electric water heater. On the old water heater, there was probably a layer of sediment (calcium build-up and other debris) at the bottom of the heater. The layer was probably so thick, that the heating element couldn’t heat the water properly.
*Palm to the forehead* DUH! That makes perfect sense, now.
How much did he charge me? $0.00! I’m pretty sure he saw the look on my face and felt sorry for me!
SO… IF YOU’RE HAVING HOT WATER ISSUES, check the temperature setting on your Hot Water Heater! I’ve heard some plumbers say to keep the water around 120-125 degrees. My plumber raised it to 150 degrees. I might reduce it eventually, but for now, I’m enjoying washing my dishes! Never thought I’d say that! 🙂