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Rick, Construction Supervisor
Category: Plumbing
Satisfied Customers: 21792
Experience:  Licensed Master plumber with 40+ yrs. experience.
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We have a 60 gal. Water heater installed in 2008 that now

Customer Question

Hi, we have a 60 gal. Water heater installed in 2008 that now gives us less hot water than it used to: ***** ***** shower instead of 3 (at least), for example. From the outside, everything on the water heater looks normal.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Plumbing
Expert:  Rick replied 2 years ago.

When this sort of things happen the most likely culprit is a bad lower thermostat or element. Residential electric water heaters have 2 elements (and corresponding thermostats) than are powered alternately. The upper is energized first then when that thermostat is satisfied power is sent to the lower. If the lower doesn't work then you essentially have reduced the capacity of the tank by about 1/2.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Ok thanks, ***** ***** as a matter of fact an elecric heater (forgot to mention that); brand is giant, model 172ETE-3F7M. Is there something I can repair myself or shall I call a plumber?
Expert:  Rick replied 2 years ago.

You first need to diagnose the problem. That requires doing some voltage testing. But if you don't have a multi-meter you could try replacing the lower thermostat IF you are comfortable working with electrical connections. If you are it's a pretty simple replacement and the thermostat is pretty inexpensive. Turn the power off to the heater then remove the lower access panel and the insulation behind it. Then you'll see the thermostat with a dial to adjust the temp. It is held in place by a metal clip and just slides up & out. Bring the thermostat with you to a big box store or a plumbing supply house to be sure you get the right one. They are pretty universal when it comes to replacements but the lower is different than the upper.

Expert:  Rick replied 2 years ago.

If replacing the lower doesn't solve the problem then you'll probably need a plumber

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Ok Rick I will do that as soon as I get home; somebody has borrowed tools from me but I should still have the meter, or at least in the worse case a screw driver to follow your suggestion. I will get back to you with that ASAP. Thanks
Expert:  Rick replied 2 years ago.

You're welcome. If you have a meter turn the power off, then remove the 2 leads from the element and test for continuity across the 2 terminals. If you have continuity then the element should be OK. Also check from each terminal (on the element) to the bare tank. You should read an open circuit.