Running water in a faucet - hot water heaters

Water Heater Tales from the Mechanical Room

By | water heater fires, water heaters

We’ve been in the water heater tank maintenance and replacement business for a lot of years, and yet there are still some jobs that surprise us.

Like this one.

We went on what we thought was a typical call. A water heater wasn’t working properly, so we made a service call to determine the problem. In many instances, it’s because a water heater’s life expectancy is only 10-15 years, and when it’s on the older side of that range, it’s probably time to consider replacement.

The new homeowner said that the water heater had already been there when she moved in, but according to the paperwork from the sale, it wasn’t quite 10 years old and it was a pretty heavy-duty brand. We didn’t automatically assume that she’d need a new one, but just to be on the safe side, we loaded a replacement into our truck before we made the call.

When we got there and took a close look at what was happening – we drained the tank a little and noticed a great deal of brackish water coming from the spigot – we realized that she was probably in need of that brand-new water heater after all.

In most cases, a water heater replacement is a matter of draining the old one, pulling it out and then dropping in the new one. It’s simply a part of the job, and usually a very textbook installation.

Everything was going along as planned – we’d turned off the gas and disconnected all of the plumbing – until we realized the doorway width was smaller than the tank’s circumference. How were we going to get the old water heater out of the mechanical room? It must’ve been built around the tank!

Knocking down a wall wasn’t an option, so we had to get creative. And that creativity involved cutting the water heater into smaller pieces that would fit through the doorway.

What guy doesn’t like breaking out the heavy-duty power tools? As much as we wanted to use the SawzAll, a reciprocating saw that will slice through almost anything like butter, we had to be smart about where we cut the water heater to minimize mess and keep the destruction to a minimum.

Instead of the giant saw, we chose a smaller, handheld metal cutter and carefully cut around the bottom of the tank. It was a strategic location that housed both the anodes (heating elements that heat the water) and a lot of the valves that allow water in and out of the tank.

After cutting midway through the tank, our safety glasses firmly in place (thankfully with all of those sparks flying) and that shrill metal-on-metal sound piercing through our ear protection, we realized we may be able to shorten the time and see more of where we cut if we removed part of the outer shell first, and then cut through the anodes.

As the light hit the inside of the water heater, we could see the green lime-scale build-up from years of hard water running through the tank. The rust that poured out of the bottom also showed us that it had been a long time since the tank had been drained and then refilled. The anode rods themselves were

original to the tank. They’d never been swapped out. The more corrosion we revealed, the more amazed we were that this tank had lasted as long as it did.

 

It was a painstaking process, but one that had to be done. Eventually, we cut the tank into smaller pieces and moved them out to make room for the brand-new water heater.

With the old water heater out of the way, we installed the new one and left the homeowner with some tips on how she could prolong the life of her new, high-efficiency water heater:

  • If you have hard water, drain and clean your tank regularly. Check your owner’s manual for how often the tank manufacturer recommends, but a good routine is picking a consistent date at least once a year, and then following these guidelines:

a. Turn the tank’s electricity or gas off first. Then turn off the water supply to the tank.
b. Let the water in the tank cool for about an hour, and then drain the tank until it’s empty. It’s a good idea to use a screened drain for this, as rust particles and other sediment can collect and form larger particles that can clog smaller pipes.
c. Turn the water supply back on and refill the tank about half way. Drain it again to remove any lingering sediment.
d. Refill the tank.
e. Turn the gas or electricity to the tank back on.
f. You may want to consider investing in a water conditioner that will help soften hard water. You’ll get a number of benefits in addition to preserving your water heater.

  • Check your thermostat. If it’s set higher than 120 degrees, then you may want to nudge it down to 120.

a. A lower temperature helps preserve the life of your tank, saves on your energy costs and helps prevent scalding accidents.

b. Keep it at 120 or higher to prevent mold and bacterial growth.

c. Use the “Vacation Setting” when you leave for an extended visit. The pilot light stays lit but the water won’t heat. You’ll save money on energy.

  • Check the area around your water heater and keep the floor around it clean. That way, you can immediately detect excessive rust or other debris buildup that can indicate potential problems.

Although there wasn’t anything textbook about this water heater installation, we made sure the job was done right. Also, the new tank fits through the doorway. We made sure of that.

Water Heater Recall Notice – Find out if you are at risk?

By | water heater fires, water heaters

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is recalling more than 616,000 of its natural and propane gas-powered water heaters made by A. O. Smith.

The recall is due to a fire hazard risk when the units are installed on a wood or combustible surface.

Water Heaters Recalled:

Residential Ultra-Low NOx Water Heaters Manufactured Between April 2011 and August 2016  were sold under the brand names America, A. O. Smith, Kenmore, Reliance, State, U.S. Craftmaster, and Whirlpool.

Thirty-Gallon A. O. Smith brand Model G6-UT3030NV: If you purchased an A. O. Smith brand G6-UT3030NV thirty gallon water heater at a California Lowe’s Home improvement Store between the dates of February 1, 2018, and April 9, 2018.

To see if you are at risk, check to see if your water heater has the first four digit serial numbers between 1115 and 1631. (They represent the year and week of production.) The serial number can be found on a rating plate located near the bottom of the heater’s outer jacket.

If you believe you have a water heater included in the recall:

  • Check the serial number on the website WaterHeaterRecall.com.
  • If yours is included and it’s in use, you will need to turn it off immediately.
  • Contact A. O. Smith at 866-880-4661 to see if your unit qualifies for a free repair.

If you are not sure or need help, Give us a call! We’re here to help!

Toilet Parts Explode – Flushmate II 501-B pressure-assisted flushing system

By | toilets

Now that’s a headline to grab your attention! We’re sorry it’s also a true headline.
There were 23 injuries reported and everyone’s safety is serious business. Please take notice of the recall.

Summary of Recall

Name of Product:  Flushmate II 501-B pressure-assisted flushing systems

Hazard:  The system can burst at or near the vessel weld seam releasing stored pressure. This pressure can lift the tank lid and shatter the tank, posing impact and laceration hazards to consumers and property damage.

Remedy: Replace  

Recall date: October 18, 2018

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled Flushmate II 501-B systems, turn off the water supply to the unit and flush the toilet to release the internal pressure. Consumers should contact Flushmate to request a free Flushmate replacement unit and installation by a technician.

Read the full articles below for more information:

https://www.azfamily.com/exploding-toilet-parts-sold-at-home-depot-lowe-s-recalled/article_e668f4a9-3a72-5609-9467-8421fad68155.html

https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2019/Flushmate-Recalls-Flushmate-II-501B-PressureAssisted-Flushing-Systems-Due-to-Impact-and-Laceration-Hazards

Consumers should contact Flushmate to request a free Flushmate replacement unit and installation by a technician.

You can reach Flushmate toll-free at 844-621-7538 between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET Monday through Friday and between 8 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. ET Saturday, or online at www.flushmate.com and click on “501-B Recall” in the blue box on the top of the page for more information.

Flushmate II 501-B pressure-assisted flushing systems

Flushmate II 501B-Pressure Assisted Flushing Systems

Slow Slab Leak Results in Big Damage

By | Slab Leaks

sink in home bathroom

When you ask a jack-of-all-trades to fix your plumbing, you expect that the job will be done right, and the work will stand the test of time, but sometimes, that’s not always the case.

The hot water tank is always a likely suspect.

A customer noticed water near his hot water heater. The tank was older and hot water heaters have an approximate 15-year life cycle, so he assumed it was probably time to replace it. That’s when he called City Wide Plumbing to install a new one.

When City Wide Plumbing came out to take a look, the technician examined the hot water tank, but found that it was still working without a leak. Even so, the water was coming from somewhere, and it was cold – definitely not from the water heater, then.

So what else could be leaking?

The tech traced the water lines all the way back to under the toilet, where he found the hot and cold exchange pipes crisscrossed on top of each other. That’s when he knew what happened: Every time the hot water pipe heated up and expanded, it rubbed against the cold water pipe. When it cooled, it contracted back its normal position. After so many years, the friction from the pipe expanding and contracting caused a small hole in one of them.

Just because it fits, doesn’t mean it sits well.

That slow leak over a great length of time wasn’t visible right away. Instead, it had continued to leak into the concrete slab, rotting the surrounding areas and creating a potentially unstable foundation that could cost thousands to repair. What damage can a little water do? If left unchecked, it can wear away mountains. Imagine what it can to your home.

Call City Wide Plumbing for your free estimate, and keep slow leaks from damaging your biggest investment.
480-966-8795

Backflow Prevention Devices Targeted by Thieves

By | backflow prevention, backflow prevention theft | No Comments

Local City Wide Plumber handles backflow prevention cages and backflow testing.

Scrappers, thieves who steal metal objects and turn them in for scrap metal, are now targeting backflow prevention devices in area.

Backflow preventers are placed above the ground, usually along the street fronts, and tie into water supply lines to keep clean water flowing into homes and businesses around town. When backflow preventers are removed from water lines without warning, contaminated water can flow into your home or business, making water unsafe to use in any way, even watering your garden.

According to police reports, these scrappers cut open the metal cages around the valves to remove the backflow prevention device, a process that takes approximately 5-6 minutes. Thefts happen mostly at night and in areas like business and apartment complexes, and motels. They have most recently been targeting Tempe, Mesa, Ahwatukee, and Phoenix, Arizona.

Because a new backflow prevention device costs between $2,000-$4,000 and replacement is absolutely necessary to maintain water safety for your business, here are some ways to protect your building:

  1. Enclose your backflow prevention device with a cut-proof cage and secure it with a tamper-proof lock. Make sure your maintenance crew has the key.
  2. Mount the cage to a cement pad.
  3. Stamp, label or identify the backflow preventer with a recognizable code or name.
  4. Paint the cage and the preventer to match the area around it so it blends in.
  5. Plant a screen of greenery and/or a fence to camouflage the devices, making them more difficult to see from the road and passers-by.
  6. Set up cameras in the area to keep tabs on each device.
  7. Post a visible warning to would-be thieves, telling them that there is video surveillance on the devices.

Do you still have questions? Contact your local City Wide Plumber and let the pros do it for you. 480-966-8795