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  • Smoke Smell when Running Hot Water

    I have strange and potentially disturbing plumbing related issue on which I could use some advice. My home has an upstairs bathroom that has, for about the past year, experienced a problem with hot water. It would simply take forever to get hot water from the single sink in the bathroom. Accordingly, most people in the household would simply let the hot water run. On average, it would take about 3-5 minutes for hot water.

    Today, when I did this, I walked out of the bathroom for about five minutes. During that time, the smell of smoke began to permeate the top floor of the house. I had the fire department come out, they checked the furnace and hot water heaters, and claimed nothing was wrong (I did not run the hot water in their presence, thinking it was surely the furnace). Since that time, I was able to replicate the problem twice. I let the water run in this sink until it gets hot and, when it does, a smoke smell is produced shortly thereafter. I also noticed a pronounced clicking from the wall behind the sink.

    I can only assume that a hot water pipe is resting against and singeing a wooden beam. Has anyone ever experienced this issue? How extensive might the repairs be for something like this? I am thinking a few walls will have to be knocked down…


    Thanks,


    wcladley

  • #2
    Re: Smoke Smell when Running Hot Water

    That sounds real strange.. Have you tried it with out turning the lights on in the bathroom ? I don't believe your pipe gets hot enough to make wood smoke

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Smoke Smell when Running Hot Water

      type of pipe in the house? metal or pex,

      have you had any lighting strikes? near your home? mice in the walls?

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      the thought that comes to my mind is this.

      could the clicking be arcing electricty?
      could the hot water expand a pipe to where it is making contact with a wire that is damaged?
      Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
      attributed to Samuel Johnson
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Smoke Smell when Running Hot Water

        Hot water leads are metal, drainage appears to be pvc...but I couldn't tell you what's behind the wall. No lighting strikes of late and no pest issues. If I had to guess, I would say that the pipes behind the wall must be metal, because I would assume that plastic pipes would not get hot enough to burn wood/wiring.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Smoke Smell when Running Hot Water

          (had this typed out once but lost it),


          it can't be the hot water in the pipe,
          as the water with out turning to steam can only be about 200F, yes under pressure you could possibly push that up to 300F, but as soon as you opened up the faucet a explosion (as the water converts to steam) would most likely take place, and your hot water heater safety's would most likely have to be totally bypassed, and even if your water could be 300F, it is still taking a few min to get there thus cooler,

          most likely your hot water temperature is not over 130F,

          but to make smoke your pipe would have to be over 500F to most likely up to 900F, (and in the 450F to 600F) range your solder would start to melt and the pipes would seperate),

          http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasc...9/env99397.htm
          A commonly accepted temperature when the wood starts to pyrolyze to form
          burnable gases is 250C. (482F) If you light those gases with a flame they will
          burn. But if you heat the wood up in a closed box with no flame to
          start it, it may require a temperature of 450C (842F) before it spontaneously
          bursts into flame. Between 100C (212F) and 200C (392F) carbon dioxide may be
          produced. Carbon dioxide will not burn.
          note: added the Fahrenheit temperatures,


          (just for an experiment take a Kleenex and put in your oven and heat it and see if it will burn or burst in to flames and if it will what temperature did it need to get to), Kleenex would burn before wood would most likely but would most likely be fairly close in actual temperatures,
          put a cup of water in the oven as well and see if it will smoke before the water boils,
          Last edited by BHD; 01-25-2011, 10:57 PM.
          Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
          "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
          attributed to Samuel Johnson
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
          PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Smoke Smell when Running Hot Water

            Are you sure that it's a "burning" smell and not a "sulphur" smell. The anode rod in your water heater could be bad and you're naturally getting the smell once the hot water actually reaches the upstairs.
            Last edited by vette850; 01-25-2011, 10:58 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Smoke Smell when Running Hot Water

              You're putting Your family at risk ,not getting some pros in right away. start with an electrician!
              I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Smoke Smell when Running Hot Water

                Ridiculous...no way water travelling in a pipe could ever be hot enough to burn wood that is making contact with the pipe....that's funny!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Smoke Smell when Running Hot Water

                  Sounds to me like your water heater is making steam. Which means your temperature is too high.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Smoke Smell when Running Hot Water

                    What part of N.C.?


                    J.C.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Smoke Smell when Running Hot Water

                      Originally posted by wcladley View Post
                      ...I can only assume that a hot water pipe is resting against and singeing a wooden beam. Has anyone ever experienced this issue? How extensive might the repairs be for something like this? I am thinking a few walls will have to be knocked down…Thanks,
                      wcladley
                      Interesting!
                      Even at 212 F. water cannot get hot enough to cause any burning to combustibles.

                      Is the pipe expanding and pushing something electrical against something partially grounded?
                      Not enough current to trip a circuit breaker but enough to cause a wire to get hot or condictive material touching the wire to get hot?

                      Could it be something in the water the odor of which is brought out by the water being heated?
                      Last edited by Robert Gift; 01-25-2011, 11:28 PM.
                      I'd take an educated guess - but I'm unqualified.
                      It ain't just soot, it's paydirt.
                      "I swear, wherever Gift goes, argument follows." -Youtube comment

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Smoke Smell when Running Hot Water

                        Get an electrician in! From the S.F. fire Dept. 80 % of the fires in the city are ELECTRICAL !
                        Last edited by toolaholic; 01-26-2011, 12:18 AM.
                        I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Smoke Smell when Running Hot Water

                          I would call an electrician ASAP. The clicking sound could very well be something arcing. Enough arcing will cause heat to build up and cause the smoke odor and eventually a fire.

                          There's no way to tell exactly what is going on without looking into the wall and taking a peak.
                          Ideal Plumbing

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Smoke Smell when Running Hot Water

                            Originally posted by toolaholic View Post
                            You're putting Your family at risk ,not getting some pros in right away. start with an electrician!

                            Instead of trying to second guess act now and get professional help. You can replace material items but you cant replace your family.
                            You have some of the bestprofessionals in the business sitting here screaming the message, just do it. Call a professional

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Smoke Smell when Running Hot Water

                              That is indeed the course of action. I will be contacting both a plumber and an electrician ASAP.

                              Comment

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