Multiple questions about water heater

Discussion in 'Water Heaters and Softeners' started by Zanne, Jul 9, 2015.

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  1. Jul 9, 2015 #1

    Zanne

    Zanne

    Zanne

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    I had this water heater installed many years ago to replace the old unit that was leaking. I think the install was done by Lowes. It was originally over just plain wooden boards with no extra support directly under the heater. After a leak, we put some vinyl sheet in to prevent water from ruining the wood and had reinforcements put under the wood to hold it up because it was sagging.

    Later when my air conditioner was replaced, the HVAC man told me that the heater wasn't installed correctly, but he didn't say what was wrong and when I asked him to elaborate, he got distracted by one of his workers and never told me.

    Anyway, after a recent problem with my water well system, the hot water pressure has been unstable. Not only is the water coming out very cloudy and full of sediment, but it spurts. It will stop flow for a split second and then spurt very hard. Sometimes the flow will be fine and then there is a hard spurt. I'll be washing dishes and suddenly the water will blast so hard it slams the dish out of my hands and splashes water all over me.

    It does not seem to be an issue with the cold water from the same faucet (the only cold water spot that seems to have an issue is the toilet water supply-- but I wonder if that could be the fill valve needing to be cleaned again).

    I was reading instructions on how to flush an electric hot water heater and it said to shut off the cold water supply at the top of the top of the heater-- but there is no shutoff. Is that normal or should there be one there?

    Also, the heater sits so low on the platform that they had to turn the drain faucet at an angle to be able to fit a hose on. Is this a problem?

    Does this look installed correctly?

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    There is no floor drain so I would have to either fill buckets or run the hose around a few corners to drain into the bathtub.

    Any tips/suggestions? (aside from dusting and cleaning it up?). I know I will have to turn the heater off a few hours prior to draining it (so the water can cool). I didn't see an off switch, so I can turn it off at the breaker.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2015
  2. Jul 9, 2015 #2

    Mr_David

    Mr_David

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    That T&P relief drains is VERY VERY wrong. That is criminal the way they connected it.
    You cannot reduce the pipe size. That has to be 3/4" or larger.
    You cannot use any type of soft or flexible tubing.
    It has to be ridged pipe. you can use galv steel pipe or ridged copper.
    It should dump to the exterior of the house or into an approved receptor
    The relief valve is rated and has to be higher than the output of heater.

    You open that drain. It may not close again.

    The spurts you are getting sounds like just air in the system.
    open a bathtub and some other faucets.
    let it run for a bit. should flush it out.
    Draining it only draws water out the bottom. That won' solve the spurting , it will only add to it
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2015
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  3. Jul 9, 2015 #3

    KULTULZ

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    IMO-

    If you are on a well and the water heater is full of sediment, you might consider a sediment filter installed ahead of the WH.

    As mentioned, the T&P valve is installed incorrectly. Research how to test the valve as if it gets restricted by either sediment or calcium, it may malfunction.

    In lieu of a shut-off valve on the WH inlet supply, you would have to shut off the well pump and relieve tank pressure to drain the tank and then restore pressure to flush it.

    LOWE's needs to be more careful of who they send out... :(

    http://www.waterheaterrescue.com/pages/WHRpages/English/Longevity/water-heater-basics.html
     
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  4. Jul 9, 2015 #4

    Matt30

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    Wow who ever piped that should have their arms cut off. Absolutely never reduce the pipe on the relief valve! And the flexible tubing is just plain ugly. There should be a shut off valve on the cold inlet to the tank, thats code.

    When i drain a hot water heater, this is what i do.
    -Power off

    - Water off, close valve on cold side of water heater, make sure all faucets are closed

    - I have a 3/4" x 1/4" bushing with a 1/4" schrader valve that i screw into the relief valve.

    - Garden hose to the outside, open drain valve

    - Get an air compressor and put air pressure on the tank, it will give you a good steady stream out of the hose. I keep it around 20PSI. Make sure to open the relief valve.

    - Once its drained, i replace the relief valve, fill with water. Burp the air out of the system and turn power back on.
     
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  5. Jul 10, 2015 #5

    Zanne

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    Thanks, guys. Should a normal plumber be able to fix some of the problems with the heater?

    I think the guys that did the installation may have just used the materials that were there to hook up the original heater.

    I also read something about how the floor/surface beneath the heater should be rated to prevent heat loss, but its just plain wood boards and some remnant vinyl sheet.

    I'm not sure if I should mess with this myself in case something catastrophic happens, so I'm considering calling in the plumber to look at it and seeing what he recommends.

    I did purchase a whole-house water filter that uses salt to filter and there was an additional little thing to catch sediment, but I'm not sure where it disappeared to. I'll have to see if I can find it. I'll also have to see if my plumber is willing to hook it up for me.

    Some stuff I'm willing to do myself if I know what I'm doing, but if my gut tells me I shouldn't touch it, I leave it to the professionals.

    I really appreciate the feedback on this.

    I'll have to see where that tubing for the T&P thing goes so I can take note of it. If my plumber won't take a crack at it, maybe I can ask the HVAC guy if he's available.

    I have a big air compressor down at the workshop but am not sure how to use it and am not sure exactly where I would hook it up.

    I can shut off the power to the heater at the breaker, but, rather than turning off the power to the well, I can turn the shutoff for the main line (or just the one that goes in to the house so the outside areas can still get water).

    Btw, which one of the pipes do you think is the cold water supply to the tank? I can't tell for sure. I *think* it might be the one on the left, but am not certain.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2015
  6. Jul 10, 2015 #6

    KULTULZ

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    :confused: ...hmmph!

    Never thought of that...

    What a great idea... ;)
     
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  7. Jul 10, 2015 #7

    KULTULZ

    KULTULZ

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    Yes

    On most models of WH's, the bottom is not insulated.

    It it uses a salt reservoir, it is most likely a water softener, not a filter. You need the sediment filter before the softener and possibly additional filtering to insure clean safe water and prevent fouling of the salt reservoir (less back washing).


    The inlet/outlet should be marked C or H (raised stamped letters in WH top cover), or there may be a blue plastic washer on the cold inlet and a red plastic washer on the hot outlet. Barring these, just grab the line(s) to see which is hot (use care here).

    While my WH install is only temporary (not totally to code yet), it shows the stand I made elevating it from the basement concrete slab and it is insulated.

    Water Heater- Stand.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2015
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  8. Jul 11, 2015 #8

    Matt30

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    Same as all your other fixtures. Cold on the right, hot on the left. That's code.
     
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  9. Jul 11, 2015 #9

    Mr_David

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    That looks like pretty big wire you have going to the WH.
    Do you have aluminum wire?


    I had a building inspector tell me that the wires that came in the heater were to small because they had to be the same gauge or larger than the wire suppling the WH. Double :eek: :eek: The house was wired with aluminum wire so the wire is much bigger than copper wire for the same load requirement.

    So he sees this thick wire feeding the WH and tells me the water heater also has to have same gauge wire. I'm a plumber , not and electrician, and I had to school him on how he was wrong.

    Trying to flush sediments out of the WH through that plastic drain cock is going to be very difficult. Drain the heater. remove the drain cock. install a brass nipple and a threaded 3/4" ball valve. Now you can flush it. I would disconnect the hot supply and cap the outlet nipple. Turn on the water and fill tank about 1/4 full and open ball valve. You can screw a hose adapter into it and connect a hose to it. The air pressure from filling the tank will blow out the water. repeat this several time. each time you fill it ( part way ) the incoming water will pressurize the tank and stir up the sediments. keep doing it until the discharge is clear and you are satisfied that you cleared what you could.

    That will take care of the bottom of the tank but still doesn't explain the sporadic discharge at the faucet. I say it's just air in the system that hasn't been expelled.
     
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  10. Jul 11, 2015 #10

    Zanne

    Zanne

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    Do you have a picture of this setup? I'm trying to visualize it. I want to mention it when I have either the plumber or the heating/cooling guy come out. I mentioned calling the plumber to my mother and she said something unfavorable about the man and then I suggested "Cotton" (the nickname of the heating/cooling HVAC guy).


    Hmm.. no different colors on the pipes going in to the tank-- but I trust that Matt is right about the left and right (unless the monkeys really screwed up).

    I had to hold the camera up above my head and hope I got a clear shot when I snapped the picture. Couldn't really see the top of the tank.

    I think I want to have something put under the tank to raise it up so that the outlet doesn't have to be at an angle. The HVAC guy built a platform for the new air conditioner.

    How difficult is it to take that plastic out and put in metal?

    I believe the HVAC guy said he could hook up my water softener as well. I know I have some sort of sediment filter thing somewhere. Its either in with the plumbing supplies in the closet or its under the bed in the front room. Unless I moved it somewhere that I thought I'd remember later....

    From what I understand, my regular plumber doesn't sweat pipes but I know the HVAC guy does.

    What material do you put underneath the tank to insulate the bottom?

    And I'll have to look for drip pans at the store or find something. If the area directly underneath wasn't the air circulation compartment for the air conditioner, I could have closed it off and just had a floor drain or something.

    Before I discovered that wires and pipes routed through there, I was going to close it off and use that area for storage.

    I'm seriously considering just paying the HVAC guy to move all that ugly stuff out of the way so I *can* close it off.

    No idea what type of wire that is going to the heater. I just know that its fairly old. And behind it you can see the only drywall in the entire house.

    My brain is frazzled so I need to figure out what the brass nipple and 3/4 ball valve looks like. I do have an idea-- at least on the ball valve since I have some of those.

    Thank you so much for the replies!
     
  11. Jul 11, 2015 #11

    KULTULZ

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    Matt is correct. He is the professional here. I wish I had thought of that factoid.

    Not that difficult. You would need to drain the WH first (shut-off power to the WH)).

    You can either fashion a stand or buy a stand. Either way it makes draining/flushing much easier.

    As for the drain as described, there is a photo(s) included. It is shown as the center assembly in the photo (visualize w/o extra tee as shown). There is a special brass fitting to use @ the ball valve outlet to enable a garden hose hookup (drain hose). There are also commercial kits available. Always use dialectic connections.

    Do you need the softener? Do you have hard water?

    If the plumber cannot sweat joints, you need a new plumber.

    I used insulation board within my fabricated stand.

    Water Heater_5 - Boiler Drain - Peroxide Fill - Flush Att .jpg

    Water Heater-  Water Pressure Check 60-80psi.jpg

    Water Heater Drain Valve Kit (A Y McDonald.jpg

    Water Heater- Drain Pan- Oatey 34061.jpg

    Water Heater- Stand_1 Galv Oatey 34057 .jpg

    Water Heater- Plastic Lined Steel Nipple.jpg
     
  12. Jul 11, 2015 #12

    Matt30

    Matt30

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    If you cannot solder, you are NOT a plumber of any standards. I know carpenters and electricians who can solder....no plumber is going to be shown up by one of them!
     
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  13. Jul 13, 2015 #13

    Zanne

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    Thanks, KULTULZ.
    I might be able to fabricate a little box or have my hvac guy do it. I have some lumber down in the barn and workshop if need be. Will have to see about the insulation. I'm hoping that I can get in touch with Cotton. He's not easy to contact because he is the ONLY hvac guy in the area.

    Did the spout for my water heater look lower than it should be or something? I wonder if it would still have room for a hose if it was sitting in a drip pan.

    I honestly don't know how my plumber managed to qualify as a plumber, but I know his father was a good plumber (and a very nice man). He was the plumber for this house for 60+ years. Although, I suppose I should thank the son because his ineptitude led to me having to learn more about plumbing and getting to "meet" you folks on this forum. He never personally said he doesn't sweat pipes, but the owner of one of the local hardware stores told me that. There are two plumbers in the area. The hardware store owner told me that one doesn't sweat pipes and the other one doesn't mess with sewer lines and won't go under houses. The former has an assistant (his brother-in-law) who will go under houses and do the dirty work.

    Anyhoo, did a google search and found a company called vizco that has a drip pan that lifts the water heater up. Its called Pro Lift.. I'm guessing it would be cheaper to just build a platform and put in a drip pan.

    As to the hard water question, sometimes my water comes out looking like this:
    [​IMG]

    The water pressure/spurting issue is getting worse. I hope that they didn't do fracking in the area and mess up my well. I'd be totally screwed if that's the case because the governor made it illegal to sue the oil companies in this state. Its more likely that there is something wrong with a line or maybe the pressure tank. I'm not really sure.
     
  14. Jul 13, 2015 #14

    KULTULZ

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    The factory installed drain is too small to drain a WH effectively. It plugs easily (sediment) and drains too slowly. That is why you go with a 3/4" ball valve. Regular draining is important, especially if you have a sediment/calcium problem(s).

    Your drain style will be inaccessible if the WH is put into a spill pan (required by code in many areas0.

    [​IMG]

    :eek:

    BUTTER MY BUTT AND CALL ME A BISCUIT!

    Do you know how long I have searched for a product like this?

    The bottom of most WH's is metal and subject to rust if sitting in a drain pan (metal or plastic) or on a concrete slab, plus the loss of heat via the non-insulated bottom. You may see the WH siting on three bricks which IMO is unsightly (I am not a stone mason by any means) and also the resultant heat loss.

    You really need to get your well water properly analyzed and go from there regarding filtration(s) and treatment(s). I hope you are not drinking that water.

    THANK YOU! for supplying me that information... :cool:

    I am not a professional by any means but am overly anal. Listen to the pros before doing much of anything.
     
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  15. Jul 13, 2015 #15

    journeyman

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    Oh my god and then people wonder why plumbing work is so expensive. Any hack can do cap work like that. It takes a professional to do it right. And it is not a hot water heater if it was hot there would be no need to heat it
     
  16. Jul 13, 2015 #16

    Mr_David

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    you could just set it on some bricks or even some 2 x 4's, 6's, or 8's
    you only need to raise it a couple inches.
     
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  17. Jul 13, 2015 #17

    Mr_David

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    LOL. I had to read it a couple of times before I figured out what you meant.
    Not meant to criticize your punctuation, because I'm often guilty of the same.:D
     
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  18. Jul 13, 2015 #18

    Zanne

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    Edit: Oh, I see the title.. I meant hot water AND water heater. Brain fart. Wish I could change the title now.

    KULTULZ, you're welcome. Thank you for the advice. It looks like that company has the patent for that drip pan (PATENT 8,100,140 B1), although I can't seem to find a price for it. We do not drink the water. We get bottled water. We also filter the water that we give to the cats. The outside dogs won't drink the tap water and prefer rainwater that runs off of the roof into a bucket. The one inside dog gets the filtered water.

    I wish I knew who had done the original piping for the old water heater-- but I also wish the installers of the new one had mentioned that the pipes weren't right-- assuming they even knew.

    I know my water has a lot of iron in it and sometimes there is black stuff at the bottom of containers. I know we need to have the holding tank cleaned. I wonder how much the well guy would charge for that.... I also wonder where the best place for sediment filters and water softeners is...
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2015
  19. Jul 13, 2015 #19

    havasu

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    I changed the title for ya kiddo.

    Reminds me as a police training officer, I would see new probationary cops write out accident reports saying "I made a left hand turn, a right hand turn, etc." Dumb kids don't understand "hands" do not turn!
     
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  20. Jul 13, 2015 #20

    KULTULZ

    KULTULZ

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    GOOGLE it and you will come up with supply houses.

    You need to start with a complete water analysis and then begin researching treatment systems. You are going to get a lot of conflicting information and advice

    You know, have you noticed that tradesmen are much like doctors, i.e. they all have differing methods (somewhat). No two doctors will give the same diagnosis/advice. I believe it mostly due to training (medical school) and residency along with keeping current. And then you have good ones and bad ones also. It's human nature.

    At this point, the original installation doesn't matter, just having it corrected.
     

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