If your hot water heater was purchased between 93 and 97, you could have a faulty dip pipe, which could cause the water to be cool and for the thing to cycle trying to heat water.
Look at your serial number, the first four numbers are normally the month and year of manufacture.
During this time period, faulty dip pipes were used. There is a lawsuit ongoing now toward the manufacturer and the dip pipe manufacturer.
anyway, the dip pipe sends fresh cold water to the bottom of the hwh for heating. then the hotter water keeps rising to the top for circulation to the spigots in the house. If the dip pipe is broken, the fresh water mixes with the hot water at the top and gets circulated around the house as tepid water. In other words the hwh never makes hot water and it keeps trying to all the time.
So, this is just something to check out.
Look in this months Family Handyman for instructions on filing the class action participation form.