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Thread: rusty hot water

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member ironshaikh's Avatar
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    Default rusty hot water

    Hi all,

    Recently, I flushed my hot water heater and I've been getting a lot of rusty hot water coming from the tap. It only comes from the hot side and not the cold and this is true of all the faucets in the house. (Last time I flushed it was back in may.) Now when I'm talking about rusty water, i see particles of rust shoot out of the faucet as well. I was curious and decided to drain the tank again, red-brown water came out of the garden hose drain. The odd part is, if I wait a week, I suppose the sediments settle at the bottom and I no longer get rusty hot water.

    Now this is a bradford white powervent 50 gallon that was installed 1.5 years ago. I contacted bradford white and they said I should contact a plumber to check the anode rod. I contacted the plumber who installed the water heater and he said he never heard of rusty hot water coming from the taps before. I didn't bother making an appointment because he said he was booked. Keep in mind I do get city water (which is half river water half well water) and I'm on a water softener.

    From what this sounds, is the lining cracked? If so, this is the 2nd bradford white in 7 years (water softener was installed 4 years ago.)

    EDIT: My house was built 7 years ago and has all copper lines. No galvanized anywhere.

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Could there be a steel nipple on the inlet to the WH?

    Have you checked the water pressure in the house? Do you have a checkvalve in the water meter or a prv? If so, do you have an expansion tank? Double-check the T&P valve to ensure it can open. Note, if there's rust particles, it might prevent the thing from resealing again and it'd leak...best to flush until it is clear first before trying that. Excessive pressure cycling might affect the life, but the things are designed for more than should be there if the T&P is working properly.

    It would be unusual if the anode rod got used up in that time. Even with a crack, the anode rod should limit corrosion, at least until it is consumed. If interested, google sacrificial anode as to the theory behind their use.
    Jim DeBruycker
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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member ironshaikh's Avatar
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    The water pressure is about 70 psi. I do not have any check valve or prv. I did install an expansion tank a week ago (after I noticed the rust.) The T&P valve does open but it does reseal.


    here's the hot water inlet
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    and here's the cold water inlet

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    they don't look like steel. they look like copper?

  4. #4
    In the trades Dana's Avatar
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    It looks like it transitions from galvanized steel at the tank to brass/bronze to copper, but the steel nipples on tanks are usually dielectric junctions (plastic lined) to prevent galvanic corrosion. On the cold connection appears to be a bit of blue/green copper oxides weeping out through the off-white pipe-dope on the exposed threads of the steel, which may indicates that the dielectric junction may be flawed, but it not necessarily. If you wanted to be sure you could break the connections there and install dielectric-junction unions on both the cold and hot sides, even though the corrosion seems more obvious on the cold side:

    [IMG]http://www.*******************/images/di-electric-fitting-fipsxswt.jpg[/IMG]

    Sacrificial anodes should be swapped every 6-7 years whether they need it or not, but water softeners shorten the life of the anodes and you may need a more aggressive schedule. If over-soften the water the anode could easily be toast in under a year. Softening the water reduces mineral deposits & grunge on the bottom of the tank, but it can also become a "solution-problem". I'm betting your anode is shot, despite being only 1.5 years old. If it is, drop in a new one (it's a sub-$50 part), back off on the softening agents and cross your fingers.

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    DIY Junior Member ironshaikh's Avatar
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    The blue green stuff has always been there. I assumed it was some sort of threading to ensure a good seal.

    If the anode has already withered away, doesnt that mean the lining on of the tank is cracked then?

    I would service it myself but the problem is it's a bradford white and my copper lines are soldered in making it a PITA to replace the anode rod.

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    In the trades Dana's Avatar
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    It doesn't necessarily indicate a failed liner, but it might. Failed liners usually leak and rust out the side of the tank rather than make the water all rusty.

    Anode are usually screwout items from the top with a 1-1/16" bolt head. If it's rusted on pretty good you may need to use some sort of thread-penetrating solvent/oil and a half-inch breaker bar or impact wrench to get it started. It may or may not be covered with a plastic or metal cap on top of the HW heater. (I can't see it in either of your pictures, but it's there somewhere.) You can probably search out multiple you-tube vidis on how to swap out HW heater anodes with a variety of useful tips if you can't figure it out by poking around.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Your best friend on replacing an anode rod is an impact wrench.

    In some places, they require hard-piping the WH while in others, they require the connection to be a flex connection. If your locale allows flex connections, then those would be easier. Once installed, if you move a flex around to remove, it's always best to replace it.

    On some WH, the anode rod is concentric with the water supply; on others, it is a separate tapped hole. If you don't have enough height, they do make segmented rods that can be bent to get them in when there's not enough room for a solid one.

    The glass lining on a WH is rarely perfect...the anode prevents any defects from becoming a hole, at least while the anode is still intact. Now, if you had a WH with a copper, plastic, or SS tank, it might last a very long time.
    Last edited by jadnashua; 01-06-2012 at 03:22 PM.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    Consultant cwhyu2's Avatar
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    As to the fittings the silver looking ones are heat traps and come installed from the factory,the copper fittings are propress and are NOT soldered. The rust issue may be a faulty tank, check your warrenty.

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    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    DIY Senior Member dlarrivee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ironshaikh View Post
    I would service it myself but the problem is it's a bradford white and my copper lines are soldered in making it a PITA to replace the anode rod.
    I don't see any solder, I see pro-press.

  11. #11
    DIY Junior Member ironshaikh's Avatar
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    I have a breaker bar so I guess I won't have trouble with taking out the old one.

    My question now is what exactly is pro-press and how tough would it be to remove the anode rod from the hot water inlet? All the youtube videos show a seperate anode rod hex nut, but none combined.

  12. #12
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    A pro-press connection is a special crimped connection...it is not soldered. There's an o-ring inside and a special tool compresses/crimps the fitting in place. Properly installed, I think the only way to remove one is to cut it off, then, your pipe ends up being too short. It might be possible to cut along the fitting and pry it off, but then it might mess up the pipe enough a soldered one or a new pro-press one may not seal easily.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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