WHy do I keep running out of hot water?

I know this is the type of thing I should be hiring a plumber for, but I have less than $20 in the bank account, and I won’t have spare money for awhile, and it can’t hurt to ask cause you all are so smart and helpful.

Anyway, a month or so ago I had no water at all, the pump from the well wasn’t turning on. Turned out the pressure switch was busted. So I bought a new one, and bribed a friend to install that. I am not sure if the two events are related, but it seems that the since I have had running water again I haven’t had more than 2 minutes of hot water at a time (shower wise) and it is taking a long time (several hours) before I get hot water again. It used to be that I could have a half an hour shower with hot water, and if it did run out, it was back again in 7 or so minutes.

Again, I think the two events are linked, but it could be possibly that I am just noticing the lack of hot water now that it is getting cold again.

Anyway, anyone have any hints as to what I should look for? The hot water tank is one of those big white things (does that help at all?) is it possible there is a switch or adjuster on there that has gotten turned down?

(Sorry for making a vague and obviously clueless post…but I’m cold and desperate)

Maybe your HWHeater is fuul of sediment?
There should be a spigot at the bottom of the heater…get a garden hose and start draining the heater. Use a bucket, drain, out the window…whatever applies and works for you.

Thanks ** Enola Straight ** I never would have thought of that, I’m off to try.

Well, it drained out less than a gallon of cold water, and that was it. It was nice and clear though. So I guess that wasn’t it, but many thanks.

Is it an electric water heater? When you have some hot water that quickly runs out, it usually indicates that one of your heating elements is burned out. They are only $15 or so at a hardware store, but you’ll have to remove them to see which one is burned out, and it’s best to take the bad one to the store so the folks there can help you find a proper replacement.

It is an electric water heater, that I do know (sad, ain’t I?). So some where in the tank itself there a heating element, like on the top of a stove type thing?

(thank you Ptahlis)

If you only drained a gallon of water, then your tank is not filling up. The new installation may be faulty, or you bought an inadequate pressure device.

Sounds like water is only able to enter the tank when it’s almost empty and as soon as the fill pipe opening is covered, it cuts off.

You probably should invest in a plumber.

With twenty bucks? I’ve been there, man. First off, if you rent the place, call your landlord. In most places in the U.S., he or she has to fix it - and fast, or you can maybe withhold your rent (get competent legal advice before doing this).

If it’s any help, go here to read up on hot water heaters at howstuffworks.com.

I know Cillasi, I want to hire a plumber, I need to hire a plumber. It just isn’t going to happen for a couple of months (if then).

Pressure device was the same model that was already installed, so I hope it’s not a problem with it. I wonder if there is some sort of adjuster on it.

Thanks muchly for the link quothz. I’m off to read it now.

I wish I rented the place, but no. I bought it cheap last year, and I guess now I am paying for that.

My last post got eaten by rampant hampsters…

It sounds like you have a bad heating element. Maybe Cesium. Small joke.

If you have an ammeter or multimeter hook it up and see if you’re pulling around 15 amps. Heating elements are simple things and if they don’t draw the amps they ain’t making the heat.

Replacing an element is straightforwrd. Drain the heater; pull the guts out through the bottom door; rewire and jam it all back in there.

My guess is that you burned out a heating element; as others have said. Replacing the heating element is easy, but there are a couple of things to be aware of.

It is possible you have two elements, not just one. Checking to see which is working isn’t always straightforward when using a voltmeter. When I had to fix mine, I checked online for instructions for my specific water heater on the manufacturer’s website and there they were. Probably the best thing to do is just empty the tank and pull out the elements. If they are bad it will be very apparent.

The most important part of replacing the elements will be making sure you have water in your tank before flipping the power back on for the tank. Elements not submersed in water tend to burn out before you can say, “oh sh…”.

I’ve never met an electric water heater that didn’t have 2 elements (one at the bottom, one about halfway up).

I’ve replaced bad elements before and it was not visually apparent that it was bad.

Checking with an ohmmeter is simple. Disconnect the wires from the heating element (SHUT OFF THE BREAKER FIRST).
Check the resistance ofthe element. If it’s bad it should be open/infinite resistance.

Thanks so much everyone. I shall do as you all suggested and check the heating elements.

It could also be a thermostat gone bad, happens. Also check that you are getting the correct voltage to your tank. But my guess is a heating element, maybe when your pump went down you drained water from the heater to flush a toilet or do dishes and exposed the top element. Next time your pump goes down, flip the breaker to your water heater.