Archive for the ‘water heater’ category

Quick Tip #32 – Water Heater Drip Needs Attention

September 28th, 2014

One fine day, you walk past the water heater, and your foot gets wet. Hmm, that’s strange. You take a look and notice a very slow drip – drip – drip from the tube on the side of the water heater. That can’t be too bad, right? Just put a bucket under the tube to catch the water? Sorry, not a good idea.

That tube on the side of the water heater is the temperature and pressure relief (T and P) valve (also called TP and R valve). This valve monitors temperature and pressure inside the tank. If the temperature or pressure becomes too high, the valve will open to dump steam and water. This prevent excessive pressure from building and possibly rupturing the tank.

If you find a leak, this often means the valve is not seating properly, and perhaps debris has built up in the valve. It may also mean the temperature or pressure is too high.

When the T and P valve is leaking, have a plumber check for problems and replace the valve as needed. Don’t ignore this problem, as it could create a safety hazard.

W024C - Water Heater T & P - Drip_300dpi

Quick Tip #14 – Thump, Thump…It’s the Water Heater

May 19th, 2014

Gas Water Heater with Thumps, Gurgles, and PopsIt’s annoying when your water heater thumps, pops and whomps whenever you use hot water. What can you do?

The water heater’s thumping is caused by sediment that has built up in the bottom of the metal tank or around the electrical heating elements. The illustration shows a gas water heater with this problem. The sediment interferes with even heat transfer and allows steam bubbles to form. The bubbles float upward and then implode with a muffled thump.

You could try to drain sediment from the bottom of the tank. Attach a hose to the drain valve and route it to a safe plumbing fixture, such as a floor drain. Be careful; the water will be hot. Drain a few gallons; repeat this several times. Often, though, sediment is difficult to remove from the tank.

The thumping does not cause any damage to the water heater, but it certainly is annoying. Consider installing a water softener to eliminate the hard water sediment.

By Tom Feiza, Mr. Fix-It

Water Heater Turning Off Each Morning

September 22nd, 2010

QUESTION

Recently my hot water heater started turning off each morning. I’ve been hitting the “reset” button, and it goes back on and works just fine. However, this has occurred about three times over the past week. It’s not a particularly old water heater, and we don’t use enough electricity to trip the box. What might be causing this problem?

ANSWER

I assume you are resetting the overload button on an electric water heater. You either have a heating element problem, thermostat problem, overheating, or an overload problem. I suggest you contact a plumber or electrician before you are out of luck and have no hot water. In general, you should not reset an overload more than two times if you don’t know the actual problem causing the trip.

Brown Water – Flushing the Water Heater

September 1st, 2010

QUESTION

Sometimes brown water comes out of the hot-water faucet. There must be sediment in the water heater. How do I drain the water heater and get rid of the brown water?

ANSWER

There could be sediment in the water heater, or maybe your home has older galvanized steel piping that is corroding on the inside. Flushing the water heater may help.

Attach a garden hose to the drain-valve on the lower edge of the water heater. Route the other end to a drain or laundry tub. Open the valve carefully, because the water will be hot. Drain about five gallons, wait a few hours, and then drain again. This procedure will remove any loose particles from the tank.

Since most drain valves are inexpensive and rarely used, you can expect a leak at the valve once you open it. A drip from the valve-stem (a round metal shaft connecting the handle to the valve) can be corrected by tightening the packing nut around the stem. A drip from the threaded spout can be handled with a hose-cap and a rubber washer.

Energy Efficiency Improvements – Where to Start?

August 21st, 2010

QUESTION

I have some funds to do energy efficiency improvements to my old (1950’s) home, but I don’t know where to start. The home is well maintained, but has had no energy improvements. It seems that every contractor has the best product, and there are many claims about huge energy savings. The government rebates and tax credits just seem to complicate the issue. Where do I start?

ANSWER

There is no simple answer. I can outline where to logically start, but I think your home deserves an evaluation and some scientific testing before you start spending.

I suggest you contact Focus on Energy. Their goal is to provide information, resources and financial incentives to help improve energy efficiency in Wisconsin. The state program is well known throughout the country.

I used the Focus on Energy program called “Wisconsin Energy Star Home Program” when I built a new home. They gave advice on construction details, and worked with the builder on energy efficiency. The results were fantastic.

For existing homes like yours, they offer a service to scientifically evaluate your home and the systems in your home at a very reasonable price. Their consultants can test for leaks, review your equipment, and use a computer model to identify the best areas to invest.

Overall, you should look at the easy energy improvements and your old equipment. If you have a furnace that is over 25 years old, put that at the top of the list. If the attic insulation has never been improved over the original three to six inches, that should be high on the list as well. Insulating the top of the basement wall, using low-flow plumbing fixtures, fluorescent lamps, and a set-back thermostat are simple changes with a great payback.

An evaluation by the Focus on Energy is the best first step. They also offer a new interactive website at Ask Focus on Energy. They will answer your questions and refer you to a large database of answers. If you have a unique question, one of the experts can respond.

Brown Water – Flushing the Water Heater

July 8th, 2010

QUESTION

Sometimes brown water comes out of the hot water faucet. There must be sediment in the water heater. How do I drain the water heater and get rid of the brown water?

ANSWER

There could be sediment in the water heater, or maybe your home has older galvanized steel piping that is corroding on the inside. Flushing the water heater may help.

Attach a garden hose to the drain valve on the lower edge of the water heater. Route the other end to a drain or laundry tub. Open the valve carefully, because the water is hot. Drain about five gallons, wait a few hours, then drain again. This procedure will remove any loose particles from the tank.

Since most drain valves are inexpensive and rarely used, you can expect a leak at the valve once you open it. A drip from the valve stem (a round metal shaft connecting the handle to the valve) can be corrected by tightening the packing nut around the stem. A drip from the threaded spout can be handled with a hose cap and a rubber washer.

Drain the Water Heater for Winter

January 6th, 2010

Question:

When I drain my electric water heater for the winter, does all the water come out, or is there still some at the bottom? If so, is it ok if it freezes?

Tim

Answer:

A little water will remain in the water heater, which is fine. It may freeze, but will not cause a problem.

Freezing water is a problem because of the pressure it creates when the water expands as it freezes. If the freezing water is in a sealed system or pipe, it will burst the pipe or push open the joints.

The water heater is not sealed so there should be no problem. I would leave the drain valve open over the winter.

Tom

Is there an optimum temperature setting for a tank type, gas or electric water heater?

April 14th, 2009

Question:

Is there an optimum temperature setting for a tank type, gas or electric water heater? I have a large tank type heater connected to my boiler set at 110 degrees. I think this works very well but I have friends who think this is too low and have theirs set at 120 to 125 degrees. I think they are wrong, especially maintaining this temperature 24 hours per day, all year. What about people with cottages – how should they set the water heater? I think the water heaters come from the factory set at 120 degrees but I believe this is for planned obsolescence!

-Clifford

Answer:

Simple answer – no – there is no optimum setting. I believe a setting of around 110 – 120 degrees is appropriate for safety and for energy conservation. You can’t be easily scalded by water at 110 degrees and the tank loses less heat to the environment. The down side to a lower temperature is you may not have that really hot shower depending on the piping in your home. Some dishwashers suggest a hotter water supply temperature for sanitation. Lower temperatures may also allow a buildup of powered detergent in dishwashers and clothes washers.

W008Scalding is a big safety issue. What does it take to produce a burn or scalding with hot water: at 120 degrees it takes more than 5 minutes; at 130 about 30 seconds; at 140 less than 5 seconds; at 150 about 1 ½ seconds; at 160 about ½ second. I think we need to keep the temperature down for kids and visitors.

In your case, you must have a coil heat exchanger inside a hot water home heating boiler that heats domestic hot water and stores it in a tank. With this type of system, you can set an actual temperature and there is some type of control to lower the boiler water temperature or blend in cold water to control the temperature. We don’t see a lot of these systems in Wisconsin but they work well.

For cottage owners, I suggest the 110-120 degree setting when the cottage is occupied. When the cottage is not used for few days or more, I would turn the water heater temperature setting to “vacation” or turn the power to an electric water heater off. I would also turn the water main off if leaving a home alone for a week or more.

I don’t think that water heater manufacturers plan for obsolesce with the 120 degree temperature setting. I think they use a setting that is safe and acceptable to most homeowners. If you want to make your water heater last a long time, drain sediment from the tank and change the anode rod periodically. The frequency depends on the quality of the water in your area. (The anode rod is a sacrificial, reactive metal that corrodes before the metal tank and saves the tank from corrosion.)