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Thread: Bradford white leak

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member Mikelieske's Avatar
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    Default Bradford white leak

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    I have an 8 year old Bradford white natural gas power vent 75 gallon water heater. Recently I noticed a drip coming out of the bottom. I took the burner covers off and inspected the bottom of the tank. It doesn't look rusty. I then took the thermostat cover off and noticed that the insulation in that area is wet. This area is probably 6" or so above the bottom of the tank.

    Then I pulled the wire protector grommet out of the hole on a black wire going through the jacket (the hole right above the gas line in the pic). Once I did that a fast drip developed from that area. The wire comes out of the jacket and is connected to the burner controller box that the gas line ties into.

    I think this is the thermostat sensor that has a penetration through the tank wall or something to that effect. I believe that it's seal may ave gone bad causing the drip. Is that possible and if so how do I fix it?
    Last edited by Terry; 11-04-2011 at 11:38 AM.

  2. #2
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    The sensor should be "surface mounted" and NOT go into the tank. You probably need a new water heater.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  3. #3
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Water dripping from the insulation could come from anywhere.
    Without removing the wrapper, it's only a guess, but from experience, that normally means the tank is now bad and needs replacement.

    Unless you can find something easy on top, like the connectors at the top dripping, the other causes tend to be bad.

  4. #4
    DIY Junior Member Mikelieske's Avatar
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    I haven't removed the outside casing. Just a guess about the sensor penetrating the tank. Is it possible to remove the outside casing fairly easily without having to disconnect all the plumbing?

    I'm really hoping to not have to replace the whole thing......

  5. #5
    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    The outside casing was never intended to be removed, so if you do you will probably just make a bigger mess of it.

    It would be quite uncommon for there to be a leak in the side of the tank. I would be looking really hard at the fittings at the top.

  6. #6
    DIY Junior Member Mikelieske's Avatar
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    Ok. So I thought I would take the top of the tank off to see inside and determine if the water was originating at the fittings somehow. Even though there is no visible water on top of the tank.

    I got the cold-in line and the hot-out lines off, removed the power vent and removed the screws that hold the top in place. Once I got all that off, I teased there is a female/male union fitting that the water lines actually thread onto with their female end. I tried to get these off with a pair of channel locks but they seem to be corroded in place.

    So I didn't get as far as I would have liked, but I noticed 2 things.
    1. That the union fittings have a pretty good amount of corrosion build up. Is this normal or do I hame some sort of dielectric corrosion taking place between steel and copper?
    2. The screws holding the tank lid on are clean on the heads but rusty on the threads, which tells e there may be moisture present in that area at the TOP of the tank.

    Any thoughts or am I grasping at draws?

  7. #7
    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    Since you have that water heater out, you might as well go buy a new one. If it's not leaking from the top fittings or the bottom drain, the tank is shot.

    Steel (galvanized) pipe and copper pipe should not be connected directly together without using a dielectric union or a brass nipple between the two materials.

    The FIRST thing you should have done was contacted the original installer. The serial number on the unit can be checked to see if it might be covered by a recall or warranty. Once you've damaged the sheet metal, it's yours.

  8. #8
    Senior Robin Hood Guy Ian Gills's Avatar
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    All that effort?

    Buy a new one!

  9. #9
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    Get some bigger wrenches before you give up.

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