Gas water heater burner flame condition

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skywriter

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We've had a rental 40 gallon natural gas Rheem water heater for 16 years. It ran beautifully and unless you were in the laundry room with it, you would never know it was heating. Even standing in the same room you would only hear a very subtle burner noise. We thought we'd be proactive and not wait for a leak (or worse)... especially over the holidays. So we contacted Reliance who replaced it with a 40 gallon Giant GreenFoam unit last weekend.

When the installer was finished he informed me that the default temp for these heaters is set to 120 degrees, but he set it to 130 because that is a safer temp ("kills bacteria that causes Legionnaires disease") and helps with heating costs because you use less hot water. While I was listening to him explain that, I noticed a loud roar coming from the heater. I don't know anything about these units, so I asked "is that something burning off the new unit". He thought I was referring to a smell and said it would go away. I said I didn't smell anything, I was asking about the noise. He said that was normal for a new unit.

Over the next couple of days we were surprised at how loud the heater burner was, as we could now easily hear it roaring on the floor above. Not only that but we were having a hard time adjusting to the higher water temp, especially with two young children in the house. I decided to take a temp reading (meat thermometer) at the kitchen faucet - it read 150 degrees! That seemed excessive, so I did a little reading and then looked in the manual, and what he had told me was the default 120 mark was actually the 130 mark, and he had set it to between 140-150. I adjusted the temp dial down until the reading at the faucet was between 125-130.

The flame is a few inches high, blue with yellow flames licking around and it roars.

I booked a follow up service call because I am worried there is an issue causing what seems like an excessive flame and noise.

My questions are:
  1. What temp do you suggest a water heater be set to (keep in mind we have young kids in the house, and no one is immune compromised)?
  2. What should the flame on the burner look and sound like?
I have included a video of how the burner looks and sounds.

Thanks for any advise you can offer.
 

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Twowaxhack

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Gas pressure may be too high. The video doesn’t work for iPhones, so I can’t see it.

120-125 degrees is fine.
 

Twowaxhack

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The pressure requirements may be lower for the new unit.

The Rheem may have had an undersized gas line from the stop valve to the gas inlet. The installer may have corrected this when installing the new unit.

They’re different appliances so there may be noise differences.

In the video it kinda looks like one half of the burner isn’t flaming up........maybe Im wrong. It might be that the flame just is not showing up on the video.
 

skywriter

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Does the flame height and colour and erratic movement look acceptable to you? From all the samples I can find, and how our Rheem looked, I thought it was supposed to be a more consistent, tighter blue flame.

I assumed that if there was an issue with gas pressure, the installer would have addressed it or at least mentioned it to me post installation.

Sat around waiting as we had a four hour window set for the service call tonight, and three hours in we get a call from Reliance that they wouldn't be coming. One tech was tired and wanted to go home and the other was three hours out of town. Very frustrating.
 

Twowaxhack

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Does the flame height and colour and erratic movement look acceptable to you? From all the samples I can find, and how our Rheem looked, I thought it was supposed to be a more consistent, tighter blue flame.

I assumed that if there was an issue with gas pressure, the installer would have addressed it or at least mentioned it to me post installation.

Sat around waiting as we had a four hour window set for the service call tonight, and three hours in we get a call from Reliance that they wouldn't be coming. One tech was tired and wanted to go home and the other was three hours out of town. Very frustrating.
Kinda looks like 1/2 the burner isn’t lighting. The front half. Could be just the video though.

Good luck with it.
 

skywriter

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The whole burner is lighting. That said, do you seen anything suspicious about the flame colour, height or behaviour?

Thanks!
 

skywriter

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I understand.

Anyone else have an opinion on the appearance of our burner flame.

Here is s screen capture of a water heater burner flame, which is what our Rheen used to look like when heating. Short, consistent blue flames. It is almost silent, as was our Rheem.

1638937118101.png

This is the video that screen captre was taken from:
 

skywriter

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I can’t tell from a video, you just proved that to me.
I think maybe the video is creating a bit of an illusion. It looks like you are looking down at the burner, but in fact, the camera is actually shooting upwards through the sight glass toward the bottom of the burner. The top flame you see (top of burner circle) is actually the front half of the burner flame, not the back half. Hope that makes sense.
 

Twowaxhack

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I believe your water heater now has a lo nox burner. I’m not sure if your Rheem had that. It makes a difference in the look of the burner
 

skywriter

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I looked up my previous tank - Rheem Fury Guardian System gas standard vent 22V40F 40 Gallon
It says Low nox

I looked in the manual and it has this reference graphic for proper burner pattern. That is what our Rheem looked like - and it was almost silent.


1639017526327.png

The way our new Giant burner pattern looks is really worrying me...
 

Mitchell-DIY-Guy

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Sounds kind of silly, but the new water heater must be installed according to the directions! As others have pointed out the gas pressure must be checked. Also the drafting must be checked and the fresh air supply. All of these things will be noted in the instruction manual and your installer should be following them. No doubt that this is either an installation issue or perhaps something wrong with that particular unit. if you get a skilled technician with your service call the problem will be solved or the unit will be replaced…
What’s more concerning to me is the temperature that the installer left this at. Not only was it stupid to go above 120° but downright dangerous with children in the house. If you need more hot water get a larger water heater. Once all is installed properly the water temperature should be checked not rely on some mechanical dial to tell you how hot it is. All it takes is two seconds at 150° for a child to get third-degree burns… what the heck was he thinking?
If you or he is concerned about legionnaires disease and your water temperature than install tempering valves at the point of use… but you can’t have 150° water coming out of a faucet anywhere in the home. It’s just too dangerous.
 

arctic bill

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In my area the code says 140 degrees . anything less and you get bacteria. that being said when my son was borne i lower it to 120. later i turned it back up to 140
 

Mitchell-DIY-Guy

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In my area the code says 140 degrees . anything less and you get bacteria. that being said when my son was borne i lower it to 120. later i turned it back up to 140
...anything less and you MAY get bacteria, not will...

But the solution is simple: tempering valves AT THE POINT of use. (many shower valves have this built in) You don't, regardless of any stupid code, set the water temperature to exit a faucet at above 120 degrees. That's sheer lunacy. More than 500,000 people are scalded each year by hot water. Don't be one of them.
 

arctic bill

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...anything less and you MAY get bacteria, not will...

But the solution is simple: tempering valves AT THE POINT of use. (many shower valves have this built in) You don't, regardless of any stupid code, set the water temperature to exit a faucet at above 120 degrees. That's sheer lunacy. More than 500,000 people are scalded each year by hot water. Don't be one of them.
Yes if it is a new house , but if you have an older house it is difficult to do. I for example have
the old fashion hot and cold faucet on showers and bath .
 

skywriter

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Sounds kind of silly, but the new water heater must be installed according to the directions! As others have pointed out the gas pressure must be checked. Also the drafting must be checked and the fresh air supply. All of these things will be noted in the instruction manual and your installer should be following them. No doubt that this is either an installation issue or perhaps something wrong with that particular unit. if you get a skilled technician with your service call the problem will be solved or the unit will be replaced…
What’s more concerning to me is the temperature that the installer left this at. Not only was it stupid to go above 120° but downright dangerous with children in the house. If you need more hot water get a larger water heater. Once all is installed properly the water temperature should be checked not rely on some mechanical dial to tell you how hot it is. All it takes is two seconds at 150° for a child to get third-degree burns… what the heck was he thinking?
If you or he is concerned about legionnaires disease and your water temperature than install tempering valves at the point of use… but you can’t have 150° water coming out of a faucet anywhere in the home. It’s just too dangerous.
Thanks for your input.

I have read the installation manual. Read the one for my old Rheem unit too. But I am not an installer, so I have to put my faith, and the safety of my family, in the installer's hands. Like you said, the first moment of discomfort with my faith was when I realized he set the tank to output 150 degree water at our faucets. He could see where I had out old tank set, I did not ask him to increase our water temperature. We are not worried bacteria, and we do not need more hot water, our old 40 gallon tank (set to 120) has served us well for 16 years. He knows we don't have any tempering valves, and that whatever he sets at the tank will be what is coming out the faucets. So, even if he had CORRECTLY set the tank to 130 (which he thought he did) THAT would be TOO hot to be coming out of our faucets.

The second thing that has us concerned is the roaring sound emitted from the tank which is audible, even on the floor above. It honestly sounds like our furnace blower is on, but it seems to be the burner flame resonating in the tank.

I'm not an ageist, but the installer was very young. Doesn't mean he isn't good, or didn't do a good job, but I would be more comfortable with a second opinion from a more seasoned professional.

What I am still looking for is - does anyone look at the video of our burner flame and say "holy crap - that doesn't look right!"? Like I said, I am only familiar with how our Rheem burner flame looked and sounded. It was closer to a Coleman camp stove, where this unit's burner flame looks like a bonfire!

Ultimately, I am asking - for those who have experience installing gas water heaters (standard vent through chimney), have you seen burner flames that look like ours? Is this normal, and is it normal for it to have a loud roar?
 

skywriter

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Yes if it is a new house , but if you have an older house it is difficult to do. I for example have
the old fashion hot and cold faucet on showers and bath .
Our house is over 60 years old. I understand the concern about bacteria, but the immediate danger of burns to our children, their friends, or guests, is paramount. Maybe I am being foolish, but we've had our tank set to 120 degrees for 16 years and we all seem healthy. From what I have read, the danger is higher with immune compromised. Would you suggest we change our tank setting to 140, and that be the temp coming our of the faucets? I am legitimately asking, because our installer, nor our rental company have EVER mentioned anything about options for addressing bacteria AND keeping the water temp safe at the faucets.
 
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