I'm noticing reduced hot water pressure (on all faucets/shower) after significant hot water use (2 long showers, 2 loads of HE (High Efficiency) laundry, and using a sink for about 5 minutes). Cold water pressure is normal.
Is this hot water reduced pressure normal, or indicative of a problem?
Note that this reduced hot water pressure is a new thing. It was not an issue in the past.
The water heater is a Rheem natural gas tank-type storage water heater, with a capacity of 40 gallons.
UPDATE #1: I visually inspected the exterior of the water heater, and there are no visual defects. There is no water around it, either.
UPDATE #2: When I looked at the water heater, it has not two, but three pipes attached to the top. I found this QA, but I'm not sure if the answer applies. One of the three pipes is not insulated, so I'll assume that's the cold water intake. Both of the other pipes have insulation on them, so I'm guessing hot water is coming out of them. But I don't know why there are two of those pipes. There is no solar (I wish), reservoir, or instant-on hot water. If it helps, the hot water heater is a Rheem PowerVent 2.
UPDATE #3: I'm hoping (and thinking) this is irrelevant, but I figure the more information I include, the better you can help me. When I visually inspected the exterior of the water heater, I heard what I thought was a dripping sound that began about 10 seconds after the unit turned on. I diligently searched for water, but I found none. If my ears were working correctly, it seemed that the sound was coming from the horizontal CO vent pipe that leads outside. I don't recall it ever making such a sound, but I never stood around and listened so intently. I don't know if this means anything, and I don't want to divert attention to a red herring, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
UPDATE #4: The hot water pressure has been different since this event took place.
Sometimes, it is normal: I can put any faucet on full-hot and the water comes out with normal strong force.
Other times it starts off with a strong force and then, after running for 5-10 seconds, the pressure decreases to about 30%. It then stays at that pressure while I let it run. If I turn off the sink, and then turn it back on, the same thing happens (full pressure followed by a reduction in pressure).
Note that these things happen regardless of which faucet I use, and do not seem to be dependent on water use before the test.