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turn off gas
turn off cold water to heater
connect hose to spickot
place hose end outside
turn on spickot
open hot water faucets in house
when water stops, turn on cold water for 30-60 sec or so to try to stir up any sentiment in tank
turn off cold water and let drain.
turn on cold water
let fill till water start coming out hot water faucets then turn off hot water faucets.
turn on gas and relight pilot.
finish bleeding air from hot water faucets.
set water heater thermostat
Just cap the open hot connection. When the valve is set to any intermediate position between hot and cold water will flow from the hot side to the cold side if there is any pressure difference. In your case the difference is your water pressure. You did nothing wrong you just did not finish the install.
Get an appropriate sized plumbing plug for the unused line. This will mean you only get water from the cold side and no flow from the other, or...
Get an appropriate "T" fitting and connect both lines from the faucet together, then run your supply line to the "T". This will mean you get the same pressure regardless of the cold/hot orientation of the handle.
I have used the second solution for deep sinks where hot water is not readily available.
Water heaters by Rheem have not changed that much over the years. the link below will give you some good information about electric water heaters in general. As water heaters age, the heating element will lose efficiency due to deposits and general build-up of minerals in the tank. Turning up the temp may not be a good idea since the problem is actually caused by a coating on the element. Also make sure that cold water is not bleeding into shower valves thru other single lever faucets. While shower is running, listen to and feel the water lines connected to sink faucets in other rooms for water transferring thru valve. You can actually hear water running at faucet while shower is on if faulty. If other vaucet valves are leaking thru, repair those first before you do anything to the water heater as that is cause of loss of hot water. Good luck.
Very simple - call a Plumber. He will fix your plumbing problem, and any foreseen potential problems related to your water leak. He may also suggest replacing your 6 year old water heater. Of course ..... for a professional cost. However, depending on your time, skills, proper tools, patience and luck, it's easy enough to perform yourself: 1. Switch off the water heater Breakers (220v) in your service panel. 2. Turn off the water supply to the water heater. 3. Attach a water hose to the drain faucet. ( a good time to flush sediment -calcium deposits) 4. Open a hot water faucet to vent (above the level of the water heater drain - kitchen sink) 5. Remove the suspected leak components. (a union connection is a good place to start) 6. Install New pipes -3 wrap all male threaded ends with teflon Tap. Tighten securely - using 2 wrenches. NOTE: Before refilling - you can turn on the water heater supply valve for a few minutes, to flush out any lingering calcium debris. 7. Shut off drain valve - remove hose. Shut off venting hot water faucet. 8. Turn on water supply valve to fill water heater. 9. Open a hot water faucet to relieve air pressure while filling - preferably the bath tub faucet, it doesn't have a screen that might clog. 10. When water flows without air - shut off tub faucet. 11. Look for leaks. 12. Switch the water heater Breakers on. Note: 50 gallons should take an hour or more to heat up. Turn on a hot water valve momentarily within this heat up time to relieve thermal expansion. ( the PT valve on your water heater will perform this task if pressures/temperature exceed new water heater tolerances - it's just a precaution to introduce these fluctuating pressures on your fragile 6 year old unit)
These are just basic instructions - assuming you fill in the common sense and work safe steps. Good Luck - The Skill will only come after trying.
I guess it depends on what you are trying to do with the water off. Are you putting in a new faucet or leaving it off for an extended period? It's not uncommon for those shutoff valves to not shut off all the way as they get old. I would recommend just shutting off the water at the master valve or at the meter, doing your project, and leaving the valve. If you are more motivated or need it to store for a long time just replace the shutoff valve, usually they are a compression fitting unless your house is really old.
I had a customer a few weeks ago that had the same problem. When the water heater was installed they crossed the supply lines. They had the inlet as the outlet. Esentially, the water heater was plumbed in backwards. Also there could be a miss piping somewhere in the house but it would probably be near impossible to find it right now without tearing up foundations. Also check that the faucet is not plumbed backwards as well. Especially if this is a single handle faucet that you are referring to.
I found a way to get warm water in the shower, but I'm not sure it qualifies as a solution. After trying everything else I thought that maybe when I was feathering the faucet in the shower toward the cold side so I would get warm water that at a certain point it blocked the flow on the hot water side enough so that the sensor in the hot water heater sensed there was no demand in the line and it shut the water heater off. To test this, I went to the kitchen and turned the kitchen sink faucet all the way to the hot side and then turned it on so that I got a small flow of water. I waited for the water to get hot to be sure the hot water heater was working. Once it was hot, I left it running to keep demand in the line and then I went to the shower and turned the faucet on. When the water got hot I started feathering the control towards the cold side and soon I had warm water. So I think I'm right in that the sensor in the hot water heater was shutting the water heater off when the demand in the shower was lowered to a certain point when I was trying to adjust the water temp in the shower.
So now I can get warm water, but it means I have to leave the hot water running at another fixture in the house to create a false demand in the system so the hot water heater doesn't shut down. Is there a way to adjust the senor in the hot water heater so that it will stay on when I'm using the shower only, so I don't have to waste water by running another faucet when I want to take a shower?