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My Water Gets Cold After Only 10 Minutes In The Shower. Something Wrong With Water Heater?

I don’t use my hot water for anything but the shower, but using only hot water, it turns cold after 10-12 minutes. My landlord says there’s nothing wrong with it, but I’m pretty sure there is. Any ideas?

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  1. Comment by gizmoe
    January 14, 2010 @ 4:19 pm

    Is it electric?
    If so the bottom heating element is not working and only heating the top portion of the tank and that is why you run out quickly.

  2. Comment by Paul in San Diego
    January 14, 2010 @ 8:51 pm

    It might be that the temperature is turned down a bit. If you’re running a shower at 100 degrees and the hot water is heated to 105 degrees, you’re using a certain amount of hot and cold water to get the 100 degree shower. But, if the hot water is at 120 degrees, you’ll use a lot less hot water to get that 100 degrees. So, it lasts longer.
    Also, consider that it’s been getting colder lately. So, the cold water is colder than it was during summer and you’ll need to use more hot water to get the same temperature you did before.
    You should ask that the landlord turn up the water heater temperature. Or do it yourself if you have access to it.

  3. Comment by justinbl
    January 14, 2010 @ 9:59 pm

    This is only for a 40 gal+ Gas heater.
    Both Bill F and Gizmoe are right in both scenarios.
    If the water heater is a gas water heater it could be a dip tube.
    If you call a plumber he would sell you a new heater and install for around $1000 dollars. Only replace a water heater if the water heater is leaking internaly.
    the Dip tube is located in the cold side of the water heater, The side with the shut off valve. where the cold water supply meets the heater
    you will see a threaded nipple. when you extract that nipple there will be a long plastic tube that can be removed and replaced.
    What the dip tube does is sends the cold water to the bottom of the heater where the burners are located.
    When the dip tube gets aged it will break and now it will get shorter and shorter. Now the cold water does not reach the bottom of the tank but mixes with the hot water. while using your shower the cold water goes in and right back out of the heater instead of to the bottom of the heater forcing all the hot water out.
    In easier terms. If you had a glass of hot water and you had cold water in your mouth, with a straw you use as the diptube sending the cold water to the bottom of the glass”the water heater”, you would have more hot water above the cold water. if you did the same but with only a 1/4 in. of the straw in the water you would have less hot water above the cold water.
    Also this is a poor example because the water heater is a sealed incloser.
    but i hope this helps you to understand.
    more than 90% of non leaking water heater problems are cheap and easy to fix, but the customers never know about this because plumbers never bring this up. they just replace the heater. a quick and easy grand in there pocket.
    By the way a dip tube is about $15.00

  4. Comment by Steve B
    January 15, 2010 @ 12:34 am

    depends on the size of the tank. If its a 30 gallon water heater and your shower head dispenses 2.5 gallons per minute, this would allow you 12 minutes of hot water. If its a 40 gallon water heater , you would be allowed 16 minutes. Mixed with cold water your shower time would increase. Or turning the temperature of the water heater up can increase your showering time.

  5. Comment by crewchie
    January 15, 2010 @ 1:50 am

    It depends on how big your hot water heater is. If its small for a one bedroom apartment, then its probably not broken. Chances are though that you should have atleast a 20 gal which should last longer than that unless you use steaming hot showers at full throttle water pressure. See if the thermostat is set to low, if its low you will use more hotwater than cold to make your shower warmer. Set it high so you are not using as much hot water to shower with.

  6. Comment by Bill F
    January 15, 2010 @ 3:22 am

    The other answers are good, but it is also possible that your heater has not ever been drained to get rid of the silt and sludge that can build up in the bottom of the tank. The sludge can displace gallons of water giving you much less hot water. The tank should be drained once a year to remove the sludge.

  7. Comment by trekkie7
    January 15, 2010 @ 8:55 am

    gizmo and steve b answers are best, thats what I would check if I went to your house. Turn temp of WH up or get landlord to.

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