Is this a water heater issue?

The Tank Is this a water heater issue?

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 17 total)
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  • #12038
    trw888
    Participant

    This is probably an indication of a problem with the water lines instead of the water heater, but I just want to make sure.

    My front-loading washer threw an error code indicating that it wasn’t getting sufficient water. This happened about a year and a half ago. When it did, I found lots of sediment in both water lines at the washer connection, but the hot water line was especially bad. I cleaned them out and the problem went away. Until today when the same thing happened. Once again there was all kinds of sediment/crap at the hot water connection.
    Since I don’t get the same kind of sediment at any other point in the house, I’m guessing this is probably means a problem with the water line???? But I just want to make sure. The water heater is 17-years-old.
    For whatever it’s worth, I recently installed a re-circulating pump on the heater and discovered that the galvanized pipe leading into the house was loaded with crude. I’m a little surprised that the water pressure is still fine. The pipes are galvanized steel.
    As you can probably tell, I’m a novice at plumbing. But I’m having a number of plumbing issues pop up lately with my 55-year-old house so I’m learning fast.
    So, is this a water heater issue or pipes?
    Thanks in advance for any feedback.

    #12042
    Randy Schuyler
    Keymaster

    If you didn’t install a check valve with the recirc pump, you could be getting sediment drawn backward off the bottom of the water heater and into other places. See http://www.waterheaterrescue.com/pages/WHRpages/English/Commercial/recirc-valving.html for our thinking about the installation of check valves.

    Randy Schuyler

    #12043
    trw888
    Participant

    Thanks for the quick response. I can see how the check valve would make sense. But I didn’t have a recirulating pump when the washer plugged up the first time. I installed the pump just two weeks ago. Is it possible that sediment could have plugged things up so quickly?

    #12046
    Larry Weingarten
    Participant

    Yes. Easily!

    Yours, Larry

    #12051
    trw888
    Participant

    Well, that would explain why the aerator in the kitchen faucet, which I looped the pump through, clogged up a day or two after I installed it. So, this leads to two more questions:

    1. I emptied the tank about a half ago and again when I installed the pump two weeks ago. Why didn’t this take care of the sediment?

    2. How big a deal is this? I have limited funds at the moment, but several looming plumbing issues: a nearly 18-year-old heater, a couple slow drains, toilets that don’t always flush particularly well, and 57-year-old galvanized pipes throughout the house, a couple of which have had leaks in recent years. So, I’m trying to get a handle on what I need to deal with sooner rather than later.

    Thanks for any and all insights.

    Tim

    #12057
    Randy Schuyler
    Keymaster

    Go to the homepage, click on The Basics, then on Sediment and learn why the shape of the bottom of the water heater makes draining a waste of time.

    Randy Schuyler

    #12062
    Larry Weingarten
    Participant

    Hello: You need to install a spring loaded check valve. Unfortunately, plumbing cares only about physics, not finance 😕 The other problem that a good check valve will fix is reduced hot water supply, caused by water short circuiting backwards through the recirc line.

    Yours, Larry

    #12063
    trw888
    Participant

    I sure appreciate the help. I’ll try and make this my last question.

    Would I damage anything if I simply unplugged the recirculating pump until I can replace the water heater in a month or three? It’s a Watts pump that’s connected at the water heater — if such details matter.

    Thanks.

    #12067
    Larry Weingarten
    Participant

    Hello: There are risks to simply unplugging the pump. First, the pump will, in time freeze up. You may not be able to un-stick it. The line will allow backflow, bringing sediment and cool water to hot taps. If you close a valve in the line to stop this sediment and cool water, you’ll have what’s called a dead leg and bacteria will have a perfect place to grow.

    And you thought plumbers had an easy, carefree life 😎

    Yours, Larry

    #12072
    trw888
    Participant

    😯 Oh man! Sigh! Sounds like installing the pump on a geezer of a water heater was a mistake.

    Ok, so it sounds like I have three options at this point:

    1. install a spring-loaded check valve
    2. completely remove the recirculating pump
    3. keep everything as it and replace the water heater asap

    Do I have this right? (Maybe this will be my last question :P).

    Tim

    #12074
    Larry Weingarten
    Participant

    Hello: I like “installing the spring check valve” option best. It needs to be there regardless of what heater it works with and shouldn’t really cost much to do. Finding one might take a little doing though. Nibco is one brand.

    Yours, Larry

    #12078
    trw888
    Participant

    So, none of the photos on this wonderful site look anything like the recirculating system I installed. The pump I installed went above the tank. So, I’m a little confused where exactly the valve would go.

    Also, remember back up in my first post when I talked about the sediment hitting my clothes washer? Well, since I cleaned out the lines, it seems to be washing everything in hot water even though we’re washing things in warm or cold. What’s up with that????? Could this some how be related to the pump??? It didn’t do this after I first installed the pump. And yes, I installed the hot and cold lines on the right connections. I double checked.

    I’m a bit of nob when it comes to these things. But I usually do ok when pointed in the right direction.

    Tim

    #12082
    Larry Weingarten
    Participant

    Hello: Pump placement doesn’t much matter, but where the recirc pipe hooks up does. Did you tie into the cold supply on top of the heater or at the drain port at the bottom?

    Have a look at both hot and cold connections to the washer. One of the screens might be clogged. When you have them apart, run water full stream into a big bucket to check flow and temperature and to flush the lines. It may be a machine problem, but the only way to figure it out is to assume nothing and put your troubleshooter’s hat on 😉 (It’s the same type Sherlock Holmes wore.)

    Yours, Larry

    ps. One other thing… the pump you put in is pushing water back towards the tank, right?

    #12084
    trw888
    Participant

    First, I did as you suggested and ran the hot and cold washer lines into a bucket full stream. Neither was clogged and the pressure was just fine…but the cold water was this nasty orangish-brown yuck.???????? I shudder to think we’ve been washing clothes in that. If it matters at all, there’s no odor to it, and as far as I can tell there doesn’t seem to be a little bits of grit or such.

    The hot water looked fine.

    The former owner of the house had a leak in the galvanized water line heading into the laundry room patched shortly before we moved in 3.5 years ago. Could this be a sign that it’s leaking again? I checked the water meter with all the faucets off and it wasn’t turning.

    As for the pump, I installed it (per instructions) just above the heater into the hot water out line. I looped it through the kitchen faucet by attaching the water line to the hot water connection. I also installed an adapter that connected the hot and cold water lines.

    That’s about as clear as the cold water heading into my washer isn’t? Here’s link to the instructions that might clear things up. http://www.watts.com/pdf/IS-IHWRS.pdf

    Geez, you guys have been a lot of help.

    Tim

    #12087
    trw888
    Participant

    Update…I flushed out the cold water line. It started to clear up after about five minutes and was back to normal after about 15.

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