LESLIE: Lou in New Jersey has got a tricky water heater. Tell us about the problem.
LOU: Yes, my hot water heater – it seems like as the cold weather comes in, the winter, my hot water heater gives me lukewarm water as opposed to hot water.
LOU: Now I don’t know if it’s coincidence. (Tom chuckles) I can’t figure out the problem.
TOM: Well, where is the water heater located? Is it in your basement or what?
LOU: Yeah, it’s in the basement and it’s a single-family home and there’s a garage.
TOM: And is it gas-fired or electric?
TOM: Gas? Well – and I assume that you have it set to the normal temperature setting.
LOU: Yes. I even increased it a little bit.
TOM: OK. Then the only thing that we’re left to consider here is the control circuit. I suspect you have a bad thermostat. You may have a bad thermal couple or just the thermostat itself and it’s not, obviously, measuring the temperature of the water and responding. What’s supposed to happen is there’s a thermostat that goes into the tank, measures the temperature of the water and if it falls below whatever you set it at, the flame should come on and reheat the water. That’s obviously not communicating with the gas valve properly and, as a result, the water is coming out colder.
So how old is this water heater?
LOU: It’s only eight years old.
TOM: You know, it’s probably – I hate to tell you this. It’s not worth fixing. Because to replace the thermostat is going to cost you half of the cost of a new water heater. I’d rather see you with an eight-year-old unit, just buy a new one.
LOU: Right, right. OK.
TOM: You know, one thing you can check – one thing, though, before you do this: check to see if it’s still under warranty because some of those water heaters have ten-year warranties on them.
LESLIE: That’s the life span.
TOM: Well, no. Actually, some last longer. But some of them do, so just double-check the warranty. But if it’s not under warranty, I’d probably go ahead and replace it. It’s time.