I finally got the problem with the water heater resolved. Saturday morning, I drove into town to Farmers Supply and bought a 50 ft. garden hose to drain the tank and two new heating elements. I can only surmise that the element(s) were indeed the problem because after installing the new ones, we have hot water again.
The water around here is full of minerals. Look in the bowl of any toilet in this area and if the bowl hasn’t been cleaned in a week, you’ll see a brown coloring in it. Toilet bowls aren’t the only place the minerals deposit, though. It builds up in the water piping. If that deposit is left to accumulate, it can clog piping to the point that water flow drops to almost nothing.
After shutting the valve that supplies cold water to the heater tank, I disconnected the piping from the top of the tank. The mineral deposit inside the tank inlet had built up so much, the pipe was almost completed blocked. I made a make shift auger to open the inlet by twisting a large flat head screwdriver into the inlet with a pair of Vise Grips. That got most of the deposit out of the inlet, but all that nasty gunk fell down inside the tank.
Another problem that I ran into because of the mineral deposit was it had built up around the drain valve at the bottom of the tank. The design of the valve did not allow me to clean the deposit out, so I had to wait quite some time for the tank to completely drain.
I spent 30 years in industrial construction as a pipefitter and plumber, so all that knowledge and experience came in handy. “Get ‘er done” resulted in “Got ‘er did” and after nine innings of play the final score was Jim- 1, Murphy- 0.