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Thread: another water tank done gone bad

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member jlp's Avatar
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    Default another water tank done gone bad

    I have 2 water heaters both installed in 2008 when we built our house. We had 1 tank start leaking bad, more like gushing, in May 2012. It was replaced and covered under the 12 year Kenmore warranty. (it is a 55 gallon power miser 12 yr warranty heater). Just this past weekend the 2nd one did the same thing (gushing out the bottom element hole). There had also obviously been water at the top under the blue metal cap, because there were rust streaks down the side of the unit. There was water in electrical junction box on top the insulation inside was soaked.

    The warranty tech. had to call in to get cleared to replace this unit. The guy on the phone told him they were replacing too many water heaters, that could have been fixed or were not covered. So he told him that he has come up with a series of test so they could cut back on free replacements. They tried to test if the house and water heater was grounded or not and indicated the tank welds are rusting due to electrolysis. We are on a well with a pump and expansion tank and the guy on the phone said that the water is electrified coming into the water heater, but can't get back out because there is a plastic fitting. They also drained the tank completely via a hose and then sprayed all the fittings and top and bottom elements with soapy water. They then refilled the tank to see where bubbles came out. The bubbles came out from under the blue metal cap that covers the entire top of the water heater,) and under the blue plastic piece where the cold water enters the tank. The guy on the phone said "well that shows you where the leak is, the top of the tank".

    The tech ran tests with a meter on the outlets and the expansion tank and said the outlets were not grounded and the expansion tank electrified with fluctuating power (-.6 to + 11 without the pump running) and went down when the pump kicked on.

    I came home and checked all the same outlets and the tank as he did and everything was grounded fine and we did not get a reading on the tank at all.

    He indicated the water is electrified from the well. we have no other issues with the water (except it is hard and we do have filters and a water softener) or other plumbing.

    Is it possible this could be causing the water heaters to fail? He indicated the water could be causing cancer by us touching it, dangerous to drink and an electrocution hazard to bath and shower. (the pipes are all grounded properly to the electrical panel).

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Mostly blowing smoke! It is very easy to get induced voltages or phantom readings with a high impedance DMM depending on your technique that are meaningless in the real world of things. It takes some fairly specific circumstances to affect the life of a WH because of electrical problems, but they are generally easy to circumvent. Proper connections are of course required, but bonding the pipes may be needed. This is easy to do, but not often needed. One of the pros with more specific experience will likely have some thoughts...
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member jlp's Avatar
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    Yea, he was getting his readings from a concrete wall tie, with one electrode and then one on the top of the reservoir tank. And the guy on the phone told him to switch the red and black wires, as in physically reverse them by taking them out of the machine and putting them in the wrong hole on the machine. So feel like we were certainly getting the run around. It was also funny they said the water was electrified and harmful to us, but also that the electricity couldn't get out of the tank because of the plastic. We also have plastic pipe from the well to the house and then copper and pex lines in the house. We checked the same thing with a multi meter and the only way we could get a reading was on a 1.5 dc setting. We checked multiple spots from the water line to the ground on the outlets and they all ohmed out. We were just looking for some second opinions and appreciate the thoughts. We have been very disappointed with SEARS, after these many years. Service this round (4 days before could get to check it and then another week before they could have a replacement available to pick up, but wanted us to accept a 6 year heater instead....no, we will wait for the same thing we have, thanks)

  4. #4
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    After carefully analyzing this post I have come to the conclusion that there is a major problem. I think that the service tech should have given a more appropriate analysis of the situation that could have been easier to understand.

    The simple explanation to this problem is that the thingamagiger has cause the whatyoumacallit to cause the domaflopgy to erupt into a failure

    My explanation makes far more sense than what that idiot they sent to circumvent your warranty had to say.

    If current gets into something it must be able to get out. First rule of current flow is that there must be a complete path for current to flow. Current just don’t flow to something and stop.

    If you are on a well he may be correct that you have dangerous water. The county extension will test the water and let you know just how dangerous the water is or is not.

    As a side note I once went to check a water heater that the elements would burn out in just a few weeks. When I got there I asked for a potato. Once they gave me the spud I stuck a copper nail in one side and a galvanized nail in the other side. Using my voltage tester I found a voltage on the potato and told them that their garden had a voltage and they must plow up their garden if they wanted to keep their elements from burning out.

    I did not say anything about the high iron content of their water might be causing the tank to rust.

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