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Water heater repair questions

Posted by raaj123 (My Page) on
Tue, Apr 22, 14 at 0:37

HI
I am trying to repair my gas water heater since after earthquake the amount of hot water it gives in the shower has come down. As part of it I am trying to replace the flexible copper connection, the stem from the water heater in the attached figure. Based on it I have the following questions

1)What type of part do i get for that stem that comes from the water heater and connects to the flexible copper connection? Does that contain the unions, nipples?
2)In the picture do you see any anode and if not, how is corrosion avoided inside the tank?
3)Since I see a lot of rust in the flexible copper connection, stem. By my me replacing them, do you think the amount of duration of hot water in the shower increases. Earlier before earthquake, I didn't have any issues, but now, the hot water in the shower only lasts for 5 mins and then the heat slowly comes down. If not, please give me other solutions to fix the hot water issue.

Please reply.

Thanks


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Water heater repair questions

Both of the nipples should be a dielectric, min. 6" red brass is common, given what appears to be the age of the heater.
If the hot water is not affected in the other faucets, remove the shower head and then overhaul the valve, if the problem persists.
The rust that appears in the copper flex lines is more then likely from the nipples.
Brass does not rust.
The HW installation kits contain a shorter dielectric nipple, but to replace those you have you'll need longer supply lines and I'd suggest the stainless steel fkwx lines.
Also, the TPR discharge using PVC is not legal in most places.


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RE: Water heater repair questions

Smartest move is to replace the flex and the nipple with Falcon Stainless connectors. They don't work harden, they flow better, and no dialectic union is needed.

http://www.falconstainless.com/price_list.html


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RE: Water heater repair questions

Thx for the replies.

Hi Snooyb
What do you mean by the below statement of you
1)"The HW installation kits contain a shorter dielectric nipple, but to replace those you have you'll need longer supply lines and I'd suggest the stainless steel fkwx lines. ".
Do you mean to say that replaces the whole stem that comes out from the water heater and connects to the copper flexible pipe with a small electric nipple connected to the water heater and then connect a long stainless steel flex lines. If that holds true I would need 2 small dielectric nipples+2 long stainless steel flex lines to put new ones on. Is that right?
2)What is the stem that comes out from the water heater and connects to the copper flexible connector in the picture?
3)In the picture do you see any anode and if not, how is corrosion avoided inside the tank?


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RE: Water heater repair questions

From the photos, it appears that the nipples attached between the supply copper and the HW htr. are 3/4" black iron and if so are the source of the rust.

The fitting refereed to by "justalurker" are similar to those enclosed in a "kit" and stainless is considered a dielectric. Yes it appears that the length of the existing flex lines would be too short to reach if new dielectric fittings were used

The anode is contained within the body of the heater and is not an external attachment.

There should not be any corrosion inside the tank that is not allowed to have the water level reduced and remains un-used for long periods of time.

Through normal use, mineral deposits will collect in the bottom of HW htr's. and boilers. The smaller residential models are generally assumed to have an average life expectancy of 15yrs., in part, unlike larger models, they cannot be cleaned.The anode acts as a collector and can be replaced.

However before you attempt that, there is a drain valve near the base of the tank. Open this to see if the deposits are above that level and if so I would seriously consider replacing the appliance.

Another test is to open a faucet and time when the heaters burners operate.

The control valve extends into the heater and affected by the introduction of cold water or the ambient temperature dropping below the set temperature.


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RE: Water heater repair questions

OP:

If I'm understanding you correctly, there was an earthquake and then suddenly your water heater provides you with hot water for a only a short period of time.

Here's a guess at what happened: I believe the dip tube has broken in the shaking. This is a tube inside the heater that goes from the top of the tank on the Cold water side down to near the bottom of the tank. It makes sure that the cold water enters the bottom of the tank and doesn't mix with the hot water at the top of the tank.

If the tube has broken, you are likely to get some hot water and then mostly "warm" - depending on how far down it broke. My guess is it broke near the top.

As has been mentioned, the lifespan of a gas water heater is about 12-15 years. My guess is you've gotten your money's worth out of that one.

Have a new one installed and hopefully, get a better installation than what you have with that. What you have looks pretty bogus... the way the water connections were made, the way the PRV valve was plumbed, what looks like a SS worm gear clamp on the hot water side near top right corner of photo, etc.

Be sure it's installed with earthquake straps to support it


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RE: Water heater repair questions

BTW: The rusted nipples coming out of the top of the heater look like black iron pipe (gas line) compared to the galvanized nipple on the relief valve.


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RE: Water heater repair questions

Thx everyone for replying.

Hi Snoonyb
1) Based on your below statement I have the followup questions

"However before you attempt that, there is a drain valve near the base of the tank. Open this to see if the deposits are above that level and if so I would seriously consider replacing the appliance.

Another test is to open a faucet and time when the heaters burners operate.

The control valve extends into the heater and affected by the introduction of cold water or the ambient temperature dropping below the set temperature. "

1a)How do I know there is sediment build up above the drain valve when I open the drain valve based on the 1st test?
1b)Assuming if there is more sediment build up above the drain level, in your 2nd test, when the hot water faucet is opened, should the water heater start heating up very soon? Also viceversa if the sediment bulid up is below the drain valve, this test would start heating up the water heater after a min or so. Is that right?

2)Please advice whether my current plumbing based on the above picture is nipple (from the water heater)->rigid copper pipe wrenched (and not soldered) to the nipple at one end and at the other end wrenched (not soldered) to flexible copper connector->flexible copper connector connected to the cold/hot water lines . Is that correct?
3)So your recommendation if water heater is in a fixable condition, then change both the nipples (hot/cold) from the water heater, then connect at 24" flexible stainless steel connector to the nipple at one end and to the hot/cold water line at the other end. Is that correct? If so, what tools would be needed for the project? I thought of getting the pipe wrench, teflon tapes alone.


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RE: Water heater repair questions

"1a)How do I know there is sediment build up above the drain valve"

There will be no water flow from the valve.

"1b)Assuming if there is more sediment build up above the drain level, in your 2nd test, when the hot water faucet is opened, should the water heater start heating up very soon?"

The heater temperature control will have a factory preset range, which if you understand the valve, can be adjusted, and determines at what temperature the valve opens and ignites the burner.

How quickly the heater responds is determined by the volume of flow and the condition of the tank.

"2)Please advice"

From the photos, it appears that the nipples attached between the flexible copper supply lines and the HW htr. are 3/4" black iron and if so are the source of the rust.

Both the nipples and the dielectric fittings, as well as the copper flex lines, can be installed with a pipe wrench because they are threaded fittings, with no soldering required.

There are no fittings on the nipples indicating that they are other than a pre-threaded nipple.
"3)So your recommendation"

Correct, however 24" may not be long enough and you may need some brass fitting to make up the distance.

I use a pipe wrench, channel locks, a crescent wrench
and pipe joint compound, but a pipe wrench will suffice.


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RE: Water heater repair questions

Hi Snoonyb

Thx for the response. Do you have a video/detailed step by step pictured instruction showing the installation of the dielectric nipple, stainless steel flex connector and some brass fitting connecting to the cold/hot water lines that you recommend. Sorry, being a new learner I want more information before I decide to go with the project.

Thanks


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RE: Water heater repair questions

raaj123,

You should understand that replacing the pipes to the water heater won't fix your hot water situation.

It is possible that the heater is limed-up (has a significant amount of sediment in the bottom of it) but that doesn't explain the sudden change in the way it's performing.

Before you go to any expense repairing the installation job, you need to step back and assess the entire situation including the source of your original complaint, the remaining lifespan of the heater, your ability to repair it yourself, etc.

Judging from the apparent age of the heater, the damage that I believe happened, and the poor quality of the previous installation, I believe you should consider a replacement by a knowledgeable installer.


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RE: Water heater repair questions

Thx for the responses.

For now, this week, I would be flushing my water heater to start off with and see what to do going forward.

Very very minor leak:
After the earthquake there was a leak in the incoming cold water line between the bielectric fixture and the copper flex connection and when I wrenched hard the copper flex socket it stopped. However, it still leaks very very little.
1) I was thinking, that probably the sealant on the thread in that socket is gone and that might be causing it? Do you recommend pipe join compound or teflon tape as sealant there?
2) Is there any other reason the very very slight leak up there might be happening.


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RE: Water heater repair questions

Cause the copper flex lines don't seal on the threads? There's a rubber washer in the nut that seals against the nipple.

Cause copper flex "work hardens" from being heated and cooled repeatedly and there's a pinhole or crack caused by the earthquake jitterbug?

You are making this far more complicated than it needs to be.

Remove the nipples and get a couple 2" ones. Get the correct length Falcon Stainless flex connectors. Screw it all together and then find something else to do.


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RE: Water heater repair questions

raaj123,

Looking at the photo, I'm pretty certain that the seal on the flex line connections is a gasket that sits between the male pipe end and the copper flange of the flex fitting (similar to the gasket on a garden hose connection). It's not sealed by the pipe threads. Often this is a nylon bushing but it may be a rubber gasket.

To make this connection watertight, you need a clean, flat end on the nipple coming out of the water heater, a good gasket, and the copper flex pipe to be in good condition.

As you already should understand, the materials used for connecting the heater are wrong and it was poorly done. You can't reliably make this tight by putting some pipe sealant on it.
What you have will never be right.

If this were my job or my home, there's no question that I would replace the supply lines to the heater.

But the heater itself is damaged and is already probably beyond its expected lifespan.

What's more, you have shown us a photo of just the top of the heater - the installation was not done by someone who is qualified to do the installation. What we haven't seen is the gas line connection, the flue and the complete T&P valve and piping.

Water heaters can be quite dangerous when not installed properly. They can explode and level your home, they can leak gas or they can leak carbon monoxide through improper venting.
I'm not trying to be alarmist -- but the part of the installation that we can see is pretty bogus.

You have said that your water heater went through an earthquake and as a result is no longer heating water properly. I've made an educated guess as to the reason, but whatever the reason it's clear that it was damaged and will not be fixed by flushing it.

The right answer is to replace it and have it installed by a qualified person who can look over the entire installation.


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RE: Water heater repair questions

thx for all the assistance. i did flush and change the flexible stainless steel connector. it helps a bit but not the complete normal. the nipples as said are worn out and i tried removing it, but they are rusted and i didn't want to break any thread. hence left it alone.i will have the WH replaced.


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RE: Water heater repair questions

If you get a replacement, go with Rheem or Bradford-White and have it professionally installed by a licensed plumber. Lots of people have trouble with the Whirlpool brand that is common in the big box stores.

Additionally, I would be very concerned about the corrosion on the top of the tank. That can possibly indicate that your exhaust is backdrafting (the gases contain a high level of moisture) and that can be potentially deadly by introducing carbon monoxide into the living space. Also, the venting does not look completely sealed at the connector. Since you mentioned the tank went through an earthquake, this should be checked to make sure any of the venting has not shifted.

I would definitely have a licensed professional come out and replace the water heater with a new one and check the exhaust venting.


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RE: Water heater repair questions

thx I am going with Bradford White installed by a licensed plujmber and thx for your feedback, I will make sure he does the venting right and the model I picked was a low Nox.


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