If you are thinking that this post is about the Grateful Dead Band, I am sorry to disappoint. It is “loosely” about Jack & Jill in the shower—-but not about them being in the shower together—if they showered together this would not happen.
I have done many posts about conditions related to water heaters—this is but another.
This one may be a bit “technical” but it will hopefully help explain a condition that occurs all too often in homes.
Water Heater “DEADBAND”
The question varies, but it usually goes something like this. Jill asks, “How come some times there seems to be plenty of hot water for both me and Jack to take showers—-and other times there is not?”
Well Jill, it is probably due to “deadband.” While deadband can be an issue with gas water heaters it is very common with electric water heaters. You see, the thermostat on your water heater has a range at which it turns itself off and turns itself on (Jill could not help but think about how this might apply to her and Jack in other more interesting ways). It is this “range” that causes the problem (how true, how true, thinks Jill). Some water heaters are worse than others (DEFINITELY true, thinks Jill).
Let’s say that Jill starts out with a fully heated water heater at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. She takes a nice leisurely, relaxing shower and uses most of the hot water—-but not quite enough to get to the low point of the thermostat to make it kick back on to heat more water. Now Jack comes along an hour later (after the lazy butt sleeps in)—all set to take a nice long hot shower (Jill is thinking cold shower)—-only to run out of hot water as the thermostat finally kicks in to heat more water.
To simplify things, I have drawn a little graph to help visualize the basic concept.
So what is the solution? There really isn’t one that doesn’t involve keeping the heater at higher than safe, recommended temperatures (120 degrees Fahrenheit).
Keeping the heater at higher temperatures (so that there is more water to dilute) also means that the thermostat’s low range is always going to be higher than what is a satisfactory temperature for a nice long shower. Installing tanks with more storage capacity is another solution as well.
Perhaps the best solution would be to install what is called a “tempering valve.” This is a clever device that allows you to have the water heater set at say 130 degrees Fahrenheit and mixes a little cold water into the stream whenever you use hot water so that you don’t ever get more than 120 degree water out of your faucets. This also protects the heater from the growth of bacteria in the tank that is encouraged or maintained by 120 degree water.
Sounds like Jack will be in plenty of hot water now—no more cold shower treatment.
Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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