I have a question maybe someone could help me with. We recently moved into a different rental home.

Upon taking showers the first night here we had mildly lukewarm water to cold for taking showers/baths in. YUK!! Try that at 3:30 am before bed!!

Anyway . . . we turned the heater temp up. Didn't help. Turned it up even higher. Then ended up turning it up to the maximum setting. FINALLY we got hot water. Then the next day . . . no hot water . . . lukewarm again. Checked the setting. When you attempt to make sure (by pushing the dial) that it is set at hottest . . . it comes on. It's okay for awhile and then again . . . no hot water.

When it does come on it runs and runs for hours and hours (and of course our utility bills will no doubt reflect this!!!)

Would replacing the heater coil take care of this or is it maybe a thermostat problem or what?? HELP !!!!


-- quinn wolfe (, January 29, 2002


Sounds more like a thermostat "aquastat" on your hot water heater to me. The hot water coil heats . The on/off of the coil is dependant on the thermostat. Hope it helps

-- Herb (, January 29, 2002.

sounds more like sediment to me. Drain the tank, flush well, refill, restart the heater. Won't cost much and i think it will at least help!

-- william Henry Szall (, January 29, 2002.

Check out the thermostat/coil thing first. How hard is the water? If it's REALLY hard, and there's a thick coating of lime on the coil, that can interfere with the heater's ability to make the water hot. You can use vinegar to dissolve the lime off the coil, pain in the butt fiddly job.

-- Chelsea (, January 29, 2002.

You're renting? That is a LANDLORD problem, not yours. Call him/her up and let them know (depending on your state you may be able to withold rent if they don't fix it, as hot water is not a cosmetic issue, it is a health issue--you do dishes, etc.). They should be able to have it fixed within 2-3 days.

Write down all the times you called, and if they don't fix it, have it done yourself and keep the receipt--take it out of the next month's rent. If they give you any trouble, take them to small claims court and/or contact your local tenant resource board. You might be able to get some rebate on your electric bill, but that would depend on how well you could convince the judge that the spike was due only to the hot water heater and not something else. Again, look into your local rental laws first, but still call the landlord--this is not replacing a light bulb.

-- GT (, January 29, 2002.

We had a house once that had a timer on the meter for the hot water tank. Suppose to be cheaper somehow gving you hot water during off times of day. I would talk with the landlord and let him figure it out for you. Good Luck !!!

-- Helena (, January 29, 2002.

If it is electric as it sounds: Do you start out with some hot water at first and then it goes to nothing? If so, sounds as if the bottom element of the heater is out. Caused by the crud mentioned above by several people. How old is the water heater will determine if you want to replace the element, or replace the whole thing. Since you are renting, I would do as someone suggested contacting the owner and seeing he provide a solution. Good Luck.

-- milam gerick (, January 29, 2002.

It does sound like your bottom heating element is gone, If you have a electric water heater. Your landlord should repair it, unless you have a rental agreement where you pay for repairs up to a certain dollar amount.

-- TomK(mich) (, January 29, 2002.

TomK, that would be a pretty strange rental agreement. You're not talking about paying for a stopped toilet because a 2-year-old flushed a toy down it (obviously tenant fault), or replacing burnt out light bulbs (regular maintenance). The hot water heater is a major appliance in the house, and is something a landlord would always be responsible for fixing because it is a health and safety issue.

-- GT (, January 29, 2002.

Thanks all!! The water heater is gas, btw.

Thanks for the ideas though, and I will most likely have hubby drain the tank (for sediment) as suggested as well as checking for a lime coating on the thermostat coil (as suggested) as our water does have that type of problem. I don't know if you would call it hard water, but it does have lime problems, etc.

GT . . . just to let you know, I REALIZE that any problems here are basically the landlord's to deal with. HOWEVER, he is an 80 year old man and hubby is more than willing (and able) to change the coil or whatever if the landlord buys the part. (Besides. . . call me strange or whatever but I do NOT like people in my house!!!! Be they the landlord or repairmen, or whomever. Just a quirk I have I guess!!) Luckily hubby can do most repairs around here except major electric work . . . !!!!

We are in the middle of a large snow/ice storm at present though and I do not believe anyone will be travelling anywhere to purchase a new part for this water heater anytime soon. . . lol!!!

I thank you all for the ideas, and will certainly give hubby the input and get him started on his day off tomorrow!!!!

Thanks again!!!!

-- quinn wolfe (, January 30, 2002.

Depending upon the relationship you have with the landlord (you might be paying 'way under market rent for example) a situation like this could work. Most tenants and landlords are very reasonable.

I have friends who are landlords, and no way would they let tenants do any kind of repair work (other than change a lightbulb) for liability reasons. What if someone forgets to turn the circuit breaker off, for example and becomes a crispy critter? Instant lawsuit. Maybe not you, but another spouse would say, "the landlord told us it was our responsibility to fix it...." and that would be that, instant millionaire.

The other thing is if you don't like repair people, landlords etc. in the home (I know exactly what you're saying, but landlords do have the right to come in with proper notice, as do repair people), then try to get your own place as soon as possible. Depending on where you live, you might be able to buy a place for what you're renting for now. Me, I'd go back and live with my parents before renting....

-- GT (, January 30, 2002.

I'm a service guy and got a few good grins from the answears you got (although most were well founded for electric units). Your thermostat has degraded to the point that the contacts are working intermittently -- or -- the thermostat-sensor probe is going out (either way, its a thermostat issue). A logical process of elimination leaves no other possible diagnosis. Although you may be able to find a thermostat for it, water heaters are so cheap these days that it may be a better consumer decision to just replace the entire unit. With age, pressure-relief valves seize up and become disfunctional, the holding tank suffers various degradations and etc. Beware spending a dollar to save a dime! Replace the water heater.

-- don (, February 02, 2002.

Yes do make sure that you don't have a timer on it. Ours does and my brother in law worked for hours on ours one day after my sister came in very late and had no hotwater for her shower. Of course ours goes off at 11:30 pm and her son had used the shower about 15 mintues before her :) We did thank him for flushing out our tank though! Vicki

-- Vicki McGaugh TX (, February 02, 2002.

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