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Water heater hot then cold

Hello,
I have an 85 gallon Marathon high-efficiency electric water heater--domestic water only. Lately we are getting very hot water for a few minutes but then the water goes cold. No matter how long we run it at this time it won't get hot again. If we come back later, same thing happens-- very hot water for 5 minutes or so , then starts to cool down and then cold.
No other appliances are running-- no dishwasher, washing machine ( we wash cold anyway ) , nothing else drawing domestic hot water.
Any ideas?

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Dishwashers , Building Supplies
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8 Answers from these members:
scott d
From the description of how the drain hose will have to run, it probably won't drain and if it did, it would be very slow. If the hose has to go up 8 feet, it would probably need to have a pump. I recommend draining it into a bucket and then empty the bucket, when it gets full.
by scott d Earned 3,139 community points in Dishwashers
September 24th, 2011
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Manage My Life
Thanks Scott. Just to be clear, the bottom of the hose has to be lower than the bottom of the heater, just like syphoning ? IThe drain hose will need to go up 8 feet to get out of the basement window (and to ground level outside), but then with a long run of hose I should be able to get the outlet below the bottom level of the tank. Maybe I should fill the hose first, cap both ends, hook it up to the tank, open the hot water faucets and the tank drain, then go outside and uncap the end of the hose? Just want to be clear that I don't need a pump or something...
--Peter
by Manage My Life
September 22nd, 2011
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scott d
When draining a water heater, the hose will have to have a downward slope. There is not much pressure and it will take a long time to drain, especially if there is sediment in the bottom of the tank. I hope this will help you.
by scott d Earned 3,139 community points in Dishwashers
September 22nd, 2011
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Manage My Life
The heater is in the basement. Is there enough of a pressure head from the open 2nd floor fixtures to get things flowing, and then it's like a siphon? If I put together a long enough hose, the property slopes down ans I might be able to get the outside hose lower than the heater. What do yo uthink?
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--Peter
by Manage My Life
September 21st, 2011
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scott d
You will need to connect a water hose to the drain valve and run the water hose outside. Be sure to turn the supply valve off and open the hot water valve at the faucets. It's also a good idea to open the pressure relief valve. This will help the tank drain faster. Thanks for using Manage My Life.
by scott d Earned 3,139 community points in Dishwashers
September 20th, 2011
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Manage My Life
Hi Scott, Thanks for your reply. You confirmed what I was thinking! I did go through check resistance on the upper and lower elements (after disconnecting them from their wiring). They are both 5,500 Watt elements, and the upper one was at about 14 ohms, while the bottom one was in the K ohm range, and slowly crept up while I had the meter on it, and never settled , so I think the bottom element is shot. I should be OK with the install-- just need to figure out where to put the 85 gallons of water when I drain the tank!
--Peter
by Manage My Life
September 20th, 2011
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scott d
Thank you for your question. I know it's frustrating to not be getting much hot water. If this water heater has an upper and lower element, it's possible the lower element or thermostat may have failed. This would produce hot water at the top of the tank but the water at the bottom would not be heated. If you would like more assistance, reply to this thread and please include the complete model and serial number and I will be glad to assist you further.

If you do not feel confident repairing this problem yourself, then you can have it repaired at your home by a Sears technician. Here is a link for the website:

Sears Home Services

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by scott d Earned 3,139 community points in Dishwashers
September 20th, 2011
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Manage My Life
Not having hot water when it is needed can be upsetting. While you wait for the expert to review your unit if you would like to check some general troubleshooting information I attached to the links below.
by Manage My Life
September 17th, 2011
Answered in 16 minutes
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