Water Heater leaking from bottom

Discussion in 'Workshop and Home Improvement' started by edog's 80, Jan 5, 2010.

  1. edog's 80

    edog's 80

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    Just as the title states, my hot water heater has started to leak from the bottom. It only leaks when it's filling up, and it's a pretty slow leak from the bottom of the tank. Once it's full, it doesn't leak anymore.

    Time for a new one? If so, how hard is this to replace? I consider myself pretty handy, can one do this himself? I want to go as cheap as possible, it's for a 1600 sqft townhome, and of course we are trying to sell it in a couple months :bang: so I want to save money. Any suggestions on brands/places to buy these?

    Thanks-
     
  2. fj40charles

    fj40charles GOLD Star

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    Water heater is easy to replace if they're located on the first floor and not the attic. You can find them at homo depot, lowes, or any plumbing store. Check dimensions, capacity, type (gas, electric?) of your unit before you buy.

    Some cities require a permit the replace the water heater. Make sure you have a drain pan under tank.

    High level steps*:

    1. close cold water valve to tank
    2. Turn off gas or electric to water heater
    3. Wait 12 - 24 hours for water to cool off
    4. Drain tank with hose
    5. Remove old unit
    6. Install new unit
    7. Open cold water to fill tank
    8. Turn on gas or flip electric breaker
    9. Check for leaks and adjust water temp.

    *may need to sweat copper pipes if you don't want to use compression fittings. Personally, I don't like using compression fittings. Also, good idea to have a friend help lift/remove tank since it can be bulky.
     
  3. Doc

    Doc

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    I had the same problem a few years ago. Everything I read said that when it starts leaking from the bottom, it's DONE.

    Start shopping the specials.

    Yes, you can do it yourself. Not too hard to install. I used compression fittings on mine to make the job easier. No leaks.
     
  4. Toyo FJ40

    Toyo FJ40 SILVER Star

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    Yeah there's not much you can do if it's not leaking at one of the connections to the tank. Make sure it's not leaking at the top and running through the insulation to the bottom. Never saw one that only leaked when filling, Why did you empty it?

    New tank does look good for resale.
     
  5. -Spike-

    -Spike-

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    I don't see the point in this step, I empty them hot. No plumber is going to wait overnight for the thing to cool. Once the water drains, the tank has always been cool in my experience. Just don't dump the hot water on your kid's head, or into a cold toilet.
     
  6. fj40charles

    fj40charles GOLD Star

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    What happens if the drain valve is clogged and you can't get the tank to empty? I'd rather not handle a water heater with hot water in it. Also, water heater is being replaced by the homeowner so time is not an issue.
     
  7. edog's 80

    edog's 80

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    Keep the great ideas coming! Thanks for the advice so far-unfortunately it's in the basement, so lugging it out is going to take 4 of my best friends and plenty of beer. I don't know why it only leaks when filling - but it does - when it is sitting there full there is no leaking, maybe something to do with pressure while filling?
     
  8. RavenTai

    RavenTai

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    they are not too bad empty, mine was in the attic, hooked a garden hose to to the drain and ran it outside, hauled in the new one in and the old one out myself, in the basement you could drin it into a bucket and haul out the water, I had the same problem leaking tank.

    if its gas you will want to run copper at least for the first few feet near the exhaust,

    how are you with working with pipe? if you are not familiar you should get a friend who is knowledgeable with plumbing to help or hire it out.

    many codes now require an expansion tank near the heater, if not already there it would be required when the tank is replaced, since you are about to sell now would be the time to install one to pass inspection.
     
  9. Mace

    Mace rock scientist.. Staff Member s-Moderator

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    That depends on if he is married or not ;)
     
  10. -Spike-

    -Spike-

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    I won't argue the point, do whatever you are comfortable with. You bring up a good point with the clogged drain though- I keep a female-female garden hose thread fitting on hand so that if the drain doesn't flow I can backpressure it from a spigot.

    As far as moving the tank from the basement- once it's empty it doesn't weigh much, like maybe 40 pounds. I use a refrigerator dolly because I have one, but any two-wheel hand truck and a strap will make easy work of moving both the old and new tanks into place.

    I don't understand the leak only when filling either- the tank is under street pressure when it's full, no less than when it's filling. My usual criteria for replacement is age- if it's anywhere near 10 years old it gets replaced, no matter what its current issue is. At that point it's only a matter of time before a major failure.
     
  11. john_eckels

    john_eckels

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    If it is a Gas heater you need to be careful with the venting flu. In the case of my house, the furnace and water heater both share the same flu. The water heater is at the end, and the furnace is downstream. The furnace vent has to be higher than the water heater otherwise you risk a CO leak.

     
  12. Toyo FJ40

    Toyo FJ40 SILVER Star

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    You say it leaks when filling? It leaks when hot water is used? Or have you emptied it and it leaks when you refilled it?
    It sounds like you haven't emptied it and the heater would always be full so when does it leak?

    You can move a non draining tank to one side and install the new one. A sump pump or floor drain is a great thing to have but you can use an inline hose pump to drain it out a window.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2010
  13. edog's 80

    edog's 80

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    These are all great ideas.

    It's electric, and it's right by a big floor drain so that will simplify things. To be honest, I am not quite sure when it leaks, but as of last night, I think it has developed a steady slow leak and it's definitely out of the bottom. As for age, I don't know how old it is, I know it's at least 6 years old, does it have a manufactured date on the tag?

    I have never done any copper sweating before but I looked it up in my Home Depot book, doesn't look that hard :eek:. I will probably get some copper tubing and practice a bit before I start. If I get lucky and get a water heater that is the exact same height, I think I could get away with not having to cut or sweat any pipe, but I am expecting to have to add or remove pipe somewhere. If I do, I am planning on using the flex tubing to make it easier for whoever gets to do this next time.
     
  14. Johnnymiz

    Johnnymiz SILVER Star

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    um, u should get to that sooner rather than later. if it really goes, u will have a swimming pool for a basement........ there is nothing to stop the flow unless ur there to turn off the water..and even then ur gonna have 40 gals in ur basement.
    id go with copper...... it looks nice and it's easy if u follow a few guidelines. go to lowes or home depot...buy a bernzomatic torch, a few new fittings, a tubing brush and/or emery cloth (i use both), some solder, and a small tin of flux. clean the pipe stub with the brush or emery til it's shiny bright(even if it's new and shiny, u MUST clean it)...brush on some flux to finish the cleaning process. do the same for the inside of the fittings. put it all together. put the flame on the underside of the fitting..when the flux begins to smoke, i put the solder against the top of the joint...the solder will flow towards the heat.. push the solder into the joint til it starts to drip out the bottom. if u cant put the flame on the bottom, put it on the backside...whichever u do, the solder goes against the fitting on the opposite side. then i run the tip of the solder around the joint..not necessary, but its how i was taught, so i do it. u can use some steel wool to wipe off the drip while it's still melted to make it look nice...not necessary at all. then use a rag to wipe off any flux..it's corrosive. that's it. no rocket science.
    oh!...mind where u put the flame....dont burn the house down ;)
     
  15. roalco

    roalco

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    There are some newish fittings on the market called "sharkbite", they are all the plumbers around here use on emergency calls. Fast and easy, and reusable. A bit more expensive but well worth the savings in labour and hasslt of soldering! Any big plumbing shop should handle them and even Home Depot carries a partial range. I used them on my hot water tank and it was dead easy!!!!
    The SharkBite® Connection System
     
  16. Toyo FJ40

    Toyo FJ40 SILVER Star

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    What it the make? AO smith, Bradford White,and Rheem all have web sites where you can check the warranty with the serial number.

    Most have 6 to 10 year warrantys and it would be a free heater if still in the warranty period.

    Don't solder near the top of the tank. There is a plastic dip tub that will melt. make up the pipe and fitting coming out of the tank and then thread them on. Try to stay at least 4 inches away from the tank and cool the fitting after you solder it
     
  17. edog's 80

    edog's 80

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    To answer the question above, it was AO Smith, made in 1992, so pretty good longevity. I ended up doing this yesterday, it was really easy.

    Thanks to everyone for all the helpful advice, this was much easier than most projects on my 80! I ended up using the quick fit kit from Lowes, and put on a new ball valve, and then had to do a bit of patchwork with one of the shark bites couplers-those things are awesome! Anyways, it works great, no leaks and I even threw the drain pan on the bottom regardless if it's required by code or not. I ended up using PVC for the pressure relief valve because I didn't want to mess with sweating copper just for that thing.

    Pics of my sweet work below-Thanks again! :beer:
    IMG_1386.jpg IMG_1387.jpg
     
  18. Johnnymiz

    Johnnymiz SILVER Star

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    well done! looks like u did nice work....AND saved urself a bunch of cash.
     
  19. Weedhopper

    Weedhopper

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    :cool:
     

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