Maximize Water Heater?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum' started by eschatz, Jul 8, 2009.

  1. Jul 8, 2009 #1

    eschatz

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    I've been told by sources (possibly unreliable) that there is a way that I can maximize the amount of hot water my water heater puts out. It only gives me about 20 minutes of hot water at a time. Is there a way I can fix this. I'm renting so I'm not about to replace the damn thing. Thanks for the help.

    If you have no idea what I'm talking about then tell me so. I'm looking for a quick fix. Both of my thermostats (upper and lower) are set at 125F.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2009
  2. Jul 9, 2009 #2

    Redwood

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    20 minutes at what flow?
    What size is the water heater?

    Can you list the manufacturer and the first 4 digits of the serial number of the water heater?
     
  3. Jul 9, 2009 #3

    majakdragon

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    If you are referring to supplying a shower, thats a long time. Newer water saver showerheads allow 2-1/2 GPM. Even if you use a 50/50 mix of hot and cold water, thats 25 gallons of hot water. If you have a 50 gallon water heater, thats half of the capacity of the tank and then you need to figure that each gallon you use is replaced by cold water and is cooling the water in the tank. I am not aware of any way to "maximize" the unit since all the hot water is coming out of the tank.
     
  4. Jul 9, 2009 #4

    Redwood

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    Actually water heaters only give about 70% of their capacity before the cold starts mixing in with the hot enough to notice.
     
  5. Jul 9, 2009 #5

    kok328

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    You can try draining it and removing any sediment from the tank but, this won't equate to gallons of water, just the efficiency of it's performance. Insulate your hot water pipes to maintain the feed temp to it's destination.
     
  6. Jul 10, 2009 #6

    Nestor_Kelebay

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    I'm thinking the quickest fix would be to crank up the water temperature, but I wouldn't take it any higher than 140 degrees. That's prolly gonna annoy your landlord cuz the higher the temperature of the water in the tank, the higher the rate of heat loss through the insulation of the tank.

    I'm not very familiar with electric hot water heaters. Does the fact that this heater has TWO thermostats mean that it's electric. If electric, where in the tank would the two thermostats be sensing the water temperature? Also, do both electric heaters come on simultaneously when either themostat calls for heat or do they each respond to their respective thermostat?
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2009
  7. Jul 10, 2009 #7

    Redwood

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    I would not go to 140 degrees without a tempering valve!
    I doubt you would find any pro that would!
    Lets make sure that the water heater is functioning properly before we get into that area. It would be the landlords responsiblity to do any thing anyway...

    Nestor, only one element comes on at a time with the upper thermostat controlling the switching between the two. If the upper T-stat is not calling for heat power is available to the lower T-stat and element.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2009
  8. Jul 10, 2009 #8

    Nestor_Kelebay

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    Redwood: I don't think you read that clip the way I did. It says that this woman suffers from a condition that causes her to have seizures frequently, and when she stepped into the scalding hot shower she had a seisure, collapsed and lay helpless in the tub while 136 degree water sprayed on her unprotected body.

    That is hardly "typical". If that woman had checked the water with her hand first and collapsed on the floor, she wouldn't have been scalded.

    It takes from 5 to 15 seconds to be scalded by water of 140 and 133 degrees C., respectively. In fact, it takes at least two seconds of exposure to 140 degree water to get a first degree burn, which is the lowest category of burn and which is typically characterized by only redness of the skin and some pain being experienced as a result.

    Safety Facts on Scalding Injuries

    Tip - Temperature/Time Scald Chart

    And, my point is that a normal adult can respond to sticking his hand into a 140 degree shower to check the water temperature well within the time it takes him to say one-mississippi two-mississippi to avoid getting even a first degree burn. If that person walks right into a shower without checking the water temperature, then it's going to take longer for him to get out, but that would only happen once. Thereafter they would check. Personal experience is a wonderful teacher.

    The elderly and young children are much more susceptible to scalding from hot water. As a person gets older, not only do they respond more slowly to potential dangers, but their ability to respond quickly and appropriately to the peril is often impaired. Often they become so overwhelmed that their minds are simply not able to think of an appropriate response, however simple it might be. This is why water temperatures in nursing homes will normally be set a lot lower than you would set it at in a typical house. Also, young children and babies are more easily scalded because their skin is thinner than adults, so it's a good idea to turn the water heater temperature down in a house where there's children, especially a newborn who can't explain that the hot water is hurting him/her.

    I, too, have inadvertantly filled a bathtub up with hot water instead of a mix to get a comfortable temperature, only to have to drain 10 to 15 gallons of heat. But, people don't get into bathtubs like that because even without testing the temperature of the water first, by the time one foot is half way into the water your brain knows the water is too hot and tells the foot to get the he11 out.

    140 degrees is the highest I'd set a water heater. As long as that temperature of water is being used by responsible adults, then I don't consider that to be careless or unreasonable. If there were elderly, mentally impaired or young children using that water, I'd turn the heater down to 120.
    Everywhere in between is really a matter of personal choice in my view.

    For over 20 years I've had my water heaters set at 135 degrees, and so far no one has complained that the water is too hot. If anything, people complain that their showers aren't hot enough. So, what's a guy to do? The higher water temperature makes for more warm showers every morning so that no one has to make do with a cold one.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2009
  9. Jul 10, 2009 #9

    ccarlisle

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    Could be that one of the elements is burnt out, the anode rod defective or the thermostat not functioning properly. I'd look into those two easy possibilities before tinkering with the controls.
     
  10. Jul 10, 2009 #10

    majakdragon

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    Still trying to figure out how water in a tank can go to 70% before you would notice a temperature difference. If I have a 40 gallon tank, and add 20 gallons of cold water to it, the temp is going to be noticable. I realize that the cold water goes to the bottom of the tank, but 20 gallons is 20 gallons not matter how you look at it. Getting a 20 minute shower is a good rate.
     
  11. Jul 10, 2009 #11

    Redwood

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    The way I read it is the owner of the apartment set the water temp above 120 without an anti-scald device such as a tempering valve installed and exposed themselves to a liability that cost them $750,000. The end of which was a judgement against them!:eek:

    Code here limits the setting to 120 degrees F unless a tempering valve is installed.

    In any case it is not something that a tenant is supposed to mess with it is the landlords duty.

     
  12. Jul 10, 2009 #12

    Nestor_Kelebay

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    Redwood:

    That judgement would almost certainly be appealed.

    Both Canadian and American law is based on the British "Common Law" that uses the test of the "reasonable man". The test is not whether we did or didn't know something or whether we did or didn't know that doing something would have prevented a loss or tragedy or a death. If that were the case, we would all claim ignorance, such as "I didn't know the gun was loaded." or "I thought he was a moose, so I shot." or "I was convinced he was going to attack me, so I hit him first." The test is whether or not a reasonable man in the same circumstances could have anticipated the result of his actions.

    In this case, the question that is to be asked is whether or not a reasonable man could have anticipated that by setting the heater thermostat to 136 deg. F. could have anticipated that this could have had the consequences that it did.

    That is, could he have reasonably anticipated that this temperature of water would have represented anything more than a "possibility of a scald to someone not careful enough to test the bath or shower temperature before getting in".

    I'd say that most people would agree that a reasonable person would anticipate that a water temperature of 136 degrees could potentially scald someone who wasn't careful using that temperature of water, but that generally these burns would just be superficial if they inadvertantly fill the tub with hot water instead of a mix or stuck their hand under running water without knowing how hot it was. But, for the most part, those are the normal consequences of people not paying careful attention when turning on taps and waiting for the water to warm up, and nothing more than a superficial (first degree) scald ever comes of it.

    But, I'd say that most people would agree that a reasonable person could not anticipate that the hot water would cause someone to have a seizure and lose consiousness so that they fall into their shower and remain unable to get away from that hot water until their entire body is scalded. That is not something that anyone would consider to have been reasonably "predictable" as a result of setting the water heater to a higher temperature setting.

    Even if the building owner, manager or caretaker knew of this woman's propensity to have seizures, it's still not reasonable to say that he could have reasonably anticipated the chain of events that result in her being scalded as a result of falling into the bathtub instead of falling on the floor like she normally would be expected to in the course of a seizure.

    Besides, depending on how long these seizures lasted, exactly the same thing would have happened if the water temperature was set lower, to say 120 deg. F. It just would have taken a little longer seizure for the woman to have been equally scalded.

    I think we're not hearing the whole story. This could have been a residence for people with disabilities and there may have been a history of negligence by the management. If not, then that judge's decision is bound for an appeal court. No reasonable person could have anticipated that exposure to hot water would result in someone having a seizure and losing consiousness and being scalded over their entire body because they fell into the shower rather than onto the floor.

    Most of the consequences of our actions are somewhat predictable. Some first degree scalds would have been reasonably predictable, but third degree burns to a person's entire body would not be expected.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2009
  13. Jul 11, 2009 #13

    Redwood

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    Nestor,
    The thing you fail to realize is the the water heaters come preset at 120 degrees F, the plumbing code states that they not be set higher than 120 without a tempering device. Now if I come along and turn it up yes I will be creating a liability for myself.

    The days of the "reasonable man" are long gone and "deep pockets" have taken over. The courts and jury's have decided that it is their duty to protect people that the research of Charles Darwin determined should be destined for extinction. The fact that a person could buy a cup of coffee at a McDonalds drive trough window place the cup of coffee in their crotch and drive away spilling the cup and being scalded winning a lawsuit says this is the case...

    I'm done arguing this point with you...
    It is what it is I set water heaters at 120 degrees F!:cool:
     
  14. Jul 11, 2009 #14

    Nestor_Kelebay

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    I agree. Let's just agree to disagree since further argument is not going to change either mind.
     
  15. Jul 13, 2009 #15

    Speedbump

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    Did I miss something? I didn't read anything about someone getting scalded. The first post I saw was this one.
     
  16. Jul 13, 2009 #16

    Redwood

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    Not really Speedbump...
    Just this is all so I cautioned against it...

    I think the OP needs to access whether the water heater is functioning properly an whether it is sized properly...

    But at this point he seems to be in stealth mode....
     
  17. Jul 13, 2009 #17

    majakdragon

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    Redwood, go back and read your own quote. 30 degrees is a lot if the water is 120 to start with. I think I would notice 30 degree decrease in temperature.
     
  18. Jul 14, 2009 #18

    Nestor_Kelebay

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    Speedbump:
    The OP wanted to find a quick and easy way to get more hot water out of his water heater.
    I suggested turning the thermostat up from 125 to 140 degrees C.
    Redwood linked to a court case where the owner of an apartment block was fined 3/4 of a million dollars for having his water heater thermostat set too high, at 136 degrees C. Apparantly, one of his tenants turned the shower on and waited for it to warm up. When she stepped into the shower, there was virtually no cold water in the mix, and she got sprayed with scalding hot water. This woman (an otherwise healthy and normal 25 year old woman) suffered from a medical condition that caused her to be pre-disposed to having seizures. Upon touching the 136 degree water, she had a seizure, collapsed into the bathtub and lay unconsious while scalding hot water from the shower sprayed onto her unprotected body until she regained consiousness and got out of that shower. She suffered 3rd degree burns over much of her body as a result.
    I responded that such a court decision was destined to be appealed and overturned as the law in both the US and Canada assigns blame based on the notion of "the reasonable man". The culpability in the case would pivot on the question of whether or not a reasonable man could have predicted the sequence of events that resulted in this woman getting scaled by the shower water.
    My point was that a reasonable person could not have anticipated that the 136 degree C water could have resulted in the sequence of events that caused the tenant to be scalded. Redwood's point was that anything over 120 deg. C must be considered "a potentially dangerous" water temperature, and we agreed to disagree on whether the landlord was responsible for the injuries sustained by his scalded tenant.

    There's a lot that we don't know. If the management of the apartment block where the woman lived were aware of her condition and had some inkling that a hot shower could bring on a seizure, then there might be room to say that they could have predicted that having the water heater set higher than "super safe" endangered this particular tenant. However, if the apartment block management was unaware of her propensity for seizures, then I believe they're not responsible.

    Imagine you're stopped at a red light behind another car. The light turns green and the car ahead of you doesn't move. You're in a hurry and beep your horn loud and hard to draw the other driver's attention to the fact that the light has changed, and the driver of the car in front of you suffers a seizure as a result. Without any muscular control, his foot slips off the brake pedal and onto the gas pedal, whereupon his car speeds up and ends up piling into cars stopped at the next intersection, killing the driver of the car you beeped at and severely injuring the person in the car he hit. The real question is: Are you responsible for the death of one driver and the severe injury of another?

    My point is that the Common Law we Canadians and Americans inheritied from Britain would say "no". That's cuz a reasonable man could not have foreseen that the result of honking your horn (however long and hard) at a driver ahead of you would cause him to have a seizure and to speed headlong down the road into any traffice ahead of him. Since the resulting carniage couldn't have reasonably been predicted by the reasonable man driving the car behind, he's not responsible for the death of the driver of the car ahead, nor the injuries to the driver at the next light.

    Why the landlord of the apartment block this woman lived in got a 3/4 million dollar fine because one of his tenants got scalded because she had a seizure upon touching very hot shower water is something an Appeal Court is probably going to consider now. Unless the landlord was fully aware of her propensity for seizures, INCLUDING seizures caused by touching hot water, then this case belongs in an appeal court.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2009
  19. Jul 14, 2009 #19

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    OK, after breezing through the quotes looking for links to that, I saw that one of the quotes Redwood inserted was that piece. I missed it thinking it was something that had already been posted above. That's what I get for assumming.

    I think we might be a lot better off without the court system the way it's being run these days. As oppossed to the way the it was intended many years ago.
     
  20. Jul 15, 2009 #20

    Nestor_Kelebay

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    I think the days of the "frivolous law suit" is over. I think judges are realizing that awarding large amounts for "emotional distress" or "pain and suffering" had the effect of promoting frivolous law suits and encouraging people to "frame" a company in order to launch a law suit. It got to the point where people were planting human fingers in their own food in order to sue a company and get a huge out of court settlement for the "emotional distress" they suffered knowing they almost engaged in canibalism or whatever. You no longer have a court system, you have a lottery system; the more emotional distress you can pretend to have endured, the higher the cash payout.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2009

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