questionswhy is my water heater making cooler water in the…

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When you have a moment, check out pages similar to this one on water heaters. This particular page is for electric but you can google and come up with gas versions as well: http://waterheatertimer.org/How-to-troubleshoot-electric-problems-with-water-heater.html

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That sounds like the water in my house. I've always assumed it's because the heater is failing to rewarm the tank as necessary, to keep it within the desired temperature range.

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What I found out was wrong with mine was that the dip tube had eroded away. This is a long tube that takes the cold water to the bottom of the tank for heating and then the hot water rises to the top for distribution. When the tube is eroded/gone, the cold water is added to the top and cools down your nice hot water.

An easy check is to remove the faucet screens from a couple faucets that are in direct line from the water heater. You may see small white rock-like things. If so, that was your dip tube. In my case, those plastic bits actually completely clogged my kitchen faucet.

A plumber can replace the tube. When he pulled mine out to show me, it was about 3" long. It should be as tall as your water heater!

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Our water heater is basically outside with only a plywood door protecting it from the elements. When the outside temperature drops I also notice it takes longer for my water to get warm in the morning. My solution is to run the water in the kitchen sink until it gets hot, have my coffee and then take a shower. By then my shower water is hot.

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Some places use the homes heating unit to make hot water as well. You may be losing water temperature in the storage tank overnight if you have this sort of set up.

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@thunderthighs: Thanks. I'm having the screen on the kitchen faucet clogging with little white pieces and a cold shower in the morning. i'll try fixing this and hopefully it solves the problem.

How much did the plumber charge you?

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In some areas the electric utilities used to put hot water heaters on a separate meter that had a built in timer, only allowing them to draw current during off-peak usage hours. You may want to check and see if this is the case in your new home.

This would only be an issue if you have an electric water heater, of course.

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I have the problem that it takes the water in the master bath shower a long time to heat compared with other baths/sinks in the rest of the house. It is, however, the furthest outlet away from the heater. I run the water awhile and use a container to catch the unused water for use outside or in my pool. In the summertime, trying to get COLD water is a problem because of the subtropical climate and the water pipes being under the slab. You could run cold water all day long, and it would never really be cold enough.

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@nafsllib: I'm gonna call BINGO on this one. I don't remember how much it cost - it was a few years ago. Actually have had it happen twice.

Be prepared to keep cleaning the faucet screens for a bit longer as the new tube stirs up those particles in the tank.

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@ohcheri: Try a water heater blanket? Mine is in the garage so it's not quite so exposed.

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If it is an electric water heater the problem could be the lower element(assuming that it is a double-element water heater). The tube sends cold water down to the lower element, which heats the cold water making the hot water rise to the top where it is dispensed. The upper element keeps the unused water warm. It could also be a thermostat problem...it just depends. I can provide more info if needed/wanted. @thunderthighs: just adding a little more info to your excellent answer.

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@thunderthighs: Also, flush the tank once in a while.
There's a hose outlet and valve on the bottom of your water tank. Hook up a hose to this, put the other end in the stopped sick, and see what comes out.
A lot of water tanks are just worn away- rust and debris come in and swirl around the bottom, sanding away the bottom of the tank. Or at least the liner; once the liner goes the tank just deteriorates away.
Instead of waiting for the diptube debris to clog up your strainers so you can clean them out, flush the debris and everything else all at once. And I suggest doing it into the sink so you can see what's coming out of there. Some places you'd be amazed.
We have crappy water here, and "they say" that one way to double the lifespan of your water heater is to flush it out once a year.