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 Intermittent hot water output
Author: wildbill (OH)

I have a 11 year old Sears Survivor WH, 3800 W elements (449 310531 . Lately we (2 people at home) have run it out of hot water several times. no HW leaks anywhere.

Do I have a failing (intermittent) element(s)? Ideas?

Thanks in advance.

Bill

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 Re: Intermittent hot water output
Author: ironranger (MN)

I would say you have a failed element. I just changed an element on the same water heater and had to order it from Sears. Regular elements will not fit that heater.

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 Re: Intermittent hot water output
Author: redwood (CT)

You would have to take readings with a meter to determine the exact cause of the problem. It could be elements or, thermostats. Maybe even both. I change out both elements and both thermostats when repairing a water heater anyway, just for reliability purposes during the guarantee period. But I do check to see what the reason for not operating properly.

At its age of 11 years it has reached the time at which most water heaters are at the end of their service life. You may want to think about replacing rather than repairing the water heater.

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 Re: Intermittent hot water output
Author: hj (AZ)

Elements do not fail intermittently, but if the lower one is burned out, which is a good possibility, you will only have a third of a tank of hot water. The drawing does not show an anode rod so it may not have one. State Water Heaters used to produce Sears heaters and if it does not use the standard 1"IPS thread model, it may need the 1 3/8" one for Duron plastic lined tanks. This one has an attached anode element because the heater does not have a regular one, and is a specialty item which might only be available is select plumbing wholesalers.

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 Re: Intermittent hot water output
Author: ironranger (MN)

The Sears Survivor tank is made of plastic (missing anode rod), not needed. The tank has a lifetime warranty and is no where near the end of it's life. The elements have a larger thread than normal. Order a couple of new elements to have on hand, they will go bad. You will also need a larger socket than normal. By the way, these elements are expensive, just changed one.

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 Re: Intermittent hot water output
Author: ironranger (MN)

I'm not sure I'm following what you're saying. Elements are going to go bad no matter what kind of heater it is, they will need to be changed.
I thought hj gave good advice, the threads are of different size. Good to know before you start removing the old one.
I don't think mineral build up in an 80 gallon plastic tank will make it start leaking, the lifetime guarantee is for the tank leaking. I have yet to meet a customer that has ever tested his T&P valve and I'm not sure what the point is there.
These elements are 50 bucks each, still cheaper than a new 80 gallon water heater.

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 Re: Intermittent hot water output
Author: ironranger (MN)

Yup, the t&p testing is very important. It's one of the handouts I printed out to give away to customers explaining what could happen if one fails. It's pretty rare that they even know what I'm talking about though. I do a once a year ad in the local paper for early winter water heater maintenance as part of our service business. The t&p gets changed instead of just testing it.

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 Re: Intermittent hot water output
Author: redwood (CT)

I didn't realize it was a plastic tank model...
We have so many sears water heaters around here...
Can't remember ever seeing one in fact...

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 Re: Intermittent hot water output
Author: hj (AZ)

They are only expensive if you buy them from Sears. Any dealer who handles or handled State water heaters has them. In fact, a customer at the one I frequent bought one because it was less expensive that the regular one, but then found out it would not fit.

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 Re: Intermittent hot water output
Author: hj (AZ)

One thing with those tanks is that the element connection often rusted away so the elements could not be replaced once you removed the original one. That is the reason for the anode block on the element, and a second "O" ring seal so the only metal exposed to water did not rust out.

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 Re: Intermittent hot water output
Author: hj (AZ)

It may be plastic, or it could be a metal tank with a plastic lining, they made them both ways.

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 Re: Intermittent hot water output
Author: ironranger (MN)

I've only seen and worked on the solid plastic tanks, the Sears Survivor models. Parts are available for them from the Sears parts department online. Like I said, very expensive.
Rheem also makes something very much the same. Rheem has the "Marathon", it comes in 40, 50, 85 and 105 gallon sizes for residential use. Seamless polybutylene tank, lifetime warranty. If you price one of these models you will find they are also very expensive.

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