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  • Gas Hot Water Heater Leaking Water

    Four days ago I went to the basement & saw that water had been leaking from the hot water heater.
    It had run across the cement floor & settled in a low spot. I'd guess at least one gallon had leaked out.
    I could see water had flowed from underneath the tank, wetting most of the base area but the side were the pressure release valve & pipe going almost to the floor was dry. So apparently the water didn't come from the pressure release valve.
    I turned off the gas valve & turned the red knob to "Off".

    It is Ruud (Ruudglass Pacemaker), model P40S-8, approximately 15 years old.

    I left the cold water line feeding water into the tank "On" so I could still use warm water from the tank. I began researching on line as well as talking to others about the problem over the next two days & the floor dried.

    Most everybody told me that it was most likely rusted & leaking from the bottom & the tank being that old should be replaced. But I wondered why it was not leaking with the water pressure still on it & decided to light the pilot & heat her back up.
    After a full day of having the water heated again & using hot water for shower, etc, it has not leaked a drop.

    I know the water heater has had a long life & I have been fortunate to get that many years of service, but the only thing visible that could indicate a possible concern is that with the covers off at the pilot light, I can look at part of the bottom of the tank & see "some" rust. But what I see from the outside is very light rust.

    If there is a pin hole in the bottom, I'm wondering why it's not leaking now. And is there any other reason it could have leaked a gallon or so of water?

    Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    Re: Gas Hot Water Heater Leaking Water

    How old is it? Over 6 years on hard water and you're probably due. (edit: caught this after I posted)

    Does it pop or crackle when running?

    How cold is the water coming in?

    How long is the chimney/flue pipe? Is the cap properly installed on the chimney? Is the liner plugged? Does the flue have rust lines, white lines, or other indications of water?

    The problem could be a pinhole, but it's rare for them to self close unless they are under a boatload of mineral crap. It could be condensation or rain/snow coming down the flue pipe.
    ~~

    ... it was plumbed by Ray Charles and his helper Stevie Wonder

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Gas Hot Water Heater Leaking Water

      Originally posted by Plumber Punky View Post
      How old is it? Over 6 years on hard water and you're probably due. (edit: caught this after I posted)

      Does it pop or crackle when running?

      How cold is the water coming in?

      How long is the chimney/flue pipe? Is the cap properly installed on the chimney? Is the liner plugged? Does the flue have rust lines, white lines, or other indications of water?

      The problem could be a pinhole, but it's rare for them to self close unless they are under a boatload of mineral crap. It could be condensation or rain/snow coming down the flue pipe.
      It's about 15 years old, but money is tight so if it was just a temporary situation that caused the water on the floor I'd like to keep using the water heater as long as I can.

      No pop or crackle.
      I am in the Piedmont of NC. Air temps were probably around freezing when it happened but all pipes are buried deep or in a heated basement.

      We did have a lot of rain at the time of the leak but the water heater's vent pipe goes about 12' across the heated basement, into a chimney flue. The chimney does have a proper cap outside/top.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Gas Hot Water Heater Leaking Water

        It your house, your risk.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Gas Hot Water Heater Leaking Water

          Originally posted by slowhike View Post
          It's about 15 years old, but money is tight so if it was just a temporary situation that caused the water on the floor I'd like to keep using the water heater as long as I can.

          No pop or crackle.
          I am in the Piedmont of NC. Air temps were probably around freezing when it happened but all pipes are buried deep or in a heated basement.

          We did have a lot of rain at the time of the leak but the water heater's vent pipe goes about 12' across the heated basement, into a chimney flue. The chimney does have a proper cap outside/top.
          12 feet is a fairly huge distance. It may be too much on very cold days. Per Nat. Fuel Gas Code Book:

          ...for a masonry chimney 30 ft high, using 3" single wall pipe on a 41,000 btu natural draft appliance you are allowed a 2 (two) foot lateral distance. The table is a general guideline and actual results vary.

          Something else to check - water pressure. It may be too high, the expansion system (if any) may have failed. Stick your finger in the bottom of the relief pipe. Is it wet?

          Originally posted by JK949 View Post
          It your house, your risk.
          So is everything.
          Last edited by Plumber Punky; 01-20-2013, 05:19 PM. Reason: clarity
          ~~

          ... it was plumbed by Ray Charles and his helper Stevie Wonder

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Gas Hot Water Heater Leaking Water

            Originally posted by Plumber Punky View Post
            12 feet is a fairly huge distance. It may be too much on very cold days. Per Nat. Fuel Gas Code Book:

            ...for a masonry chimney 30 ft high, using 3" single wall pipe on a 41,000 btu natural draft appliance you are allowed a 2 (two) foot lateral distance. The table is a general guideline and actual results vary.

            Something else to check - water pressure. It may be too high, the expansion system (if any) may have failed. Stick your finger in the bottom of the relief pipe. Is it wet?
            The bottom of the relief pipe is dry & it was dry the day I found the water.
            I'm guessing that codes have changed since this water heater was put in. Someone working for Piedmont Natural Gas Co installed it with that long run of 3" exhaust pipe.
            Maybe I still need to have someone come take a look at the set up.

            If I had to I could convert back to an electric hot water heater, but I'm thinking natural gas is more economical.

            I don't think the water pressure is to much but I'll check into it.
            Thanks.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Gas Hot Water Heater Leaking Water

              To the best of my knowledge the codes haven't changed. Perhaps the tech was uninformed or performed it 'on the side'. I looked on the Rheem/Ruud site and they suggest power vent or direct vent for your application. Natural gas versus electric - gas is faster, has more energy per unit, and may be more economical depending upon your electricity price.
              ~~

              ... it was plumbed by Ray Charles and his helper Stevie Wonder

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Gas Hot Water Heater Leaking Water

                When the tank is hot and up to temperature, the tank expands and can leak if it's old and worn. As it cools it contracts and can stop leaking. Of course this is just temporary until it leaks continually and more intense.

                15 years in a basement is a flood waiting to happen.

                Outside, you can risk it. Inside is a disaster.

                Rick.
                phoebe it is

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Gas Hot Water Heater Leaking Water

                  Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK View Post
                  When the tank is hot and up to temperature, the tank expands and can leak if it's old and worn. As it cools it contracts and can stop leaking. Of course this is just temporary until it leaks continually and more intense.

                  15 years in a basement is a flood waiting to happen.

                  Outside, you can risk it. Inside is a disaster.

                  Rick.
                  I understand that it's a matter of time before I need a new one, but as far as waiting this one out, I have one thing in my favor. My basement (even though 1/2 under ground level, has an underground drain pipe 4" pvc) that drains to the lower end of the yard
                  What about other safety risks?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Gas Hot Water Heater Leaking Water

                    Hiker ,Here's a cheap water alarm Radioshack velleman water alarm Kit . Only $8.99 9 volt. This will buzz when water contacts it. If You're home to hear it ,great. Otherwise useless, unless your dog has supper skills. I only went here because
                    your $$$ is tight. In case the T.P. did blow off and dry in the area of the pipe ,do this. place an empty can with paper towels in it,under pipe end , as a sure tell. Good luck
                    I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .

                    Comment

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