Discolored hot water after new HWH install

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Chris-A

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We hired a licensed plumber to replace a 10 year old gas HWH with a Rheem Performance Platinum ProTerra Hybrid Electric Water Heater. I should backup and say that a licensed electrician first installed a new electrical subpanel (we had no room for new circuits) and a new 240v 30 amp line for the electric HWH.

Our condo is 25 years old. To the best of my knowledge, the builder used copper pipes throughout. We did not have a problem with discolored hot water before this project and we do not have any discoloration on the cold water side. There has been no city work on the water supply. We have the same cold water supply leading to the HWH (meter, pressure reducing/backflow valve, house shutoff valve, piping, and shutoff at the wall above the HWH) and the same hot water lines running throughout the condo.

The old HWH had two simple connections: a flexible copper connector running from the cold water supply to a T-fitting above the tank where a thermal expansion tank was installed, and a flexible stainless steel connector running from the hot water outlet to the condo hot water system.

It took two flexible copper connectors and perhaps 22' of new copper piping to connect this Rheem HWH. The cold water inlet is located 5" above the floor on the front-left side of the tank, the hot water outlet is 3'-6" above the floor and further to the left from the cold water inlet. We still have a thermal expansion tank (new) but the addition of a thermostatic mixing valve so the unit can run very hot but deliver safe water to the condo. (At this time, we are only running the HWH at 120*F.)

Here's the problem. Shortly after installation, we begin to notice dark orange water coming out of any hot water faucet in the condo. Turn on the hot water valve to the bathtub, a slug of clear, cold water comes out first, and as warm water arrives it turns dark orange for a few seconds. This is especially pronounced in the morning when we've not used any hot water overnight, but also happens to a lesser extent during the day when we've not used hot water for 4-6 hours.

I tried draining the tank, refilling it, draining it a second time, and refilling it. Same result the next morning.

I have sampled water from the T&P valve and it runs clear.

When asking the plumber, his response was "bad pipes in your house." That does not make sense to me because the only changes made were between the cold water inlet and the hot water outlet above the HWH, and we had no problem with discoloration before the installation.

Here are video links showing my description of the installation and the discolored water discharge.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1zBq4GS0dfUNOcPr9R4t8MwgOrVQ9owEw/view?usp=sharing
https://drive.google.com/file/d/19Ubz0COc8fOfZs2yb6_Az884AM649ArL/view?usp=sharing

I've shared these videos and more with Rheem technical support...no response from them yet.

Does anyone out there have an idea about the cause of this?
 

Phog

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How long has this been occurring for? After plumbing work you can get solder flux dissolving into the water which will make it look that color. However this should go away after a few days at most.

It could also be rust, which could be coming from the connection nipple. It's really soon to be getting that, but if you have corrosive city water then not impossible. Installing a dielectric union between the copper flex and the water heater top connections would slow that down. Did you perhaps have dielectric unions in the old unit and the plumber neglected to install them in the new one?
 

Chris-A

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HWH was installed on August 27. Started noticing discolored water around September 3. So we've been experiencing it consistently for almost 3 weeks now.

I don't know if dielectric unions were installed on the old HWH, but I have these photos taken before and after removal.

XAYRpyg.jpg


Wjq06ih.jpg


bJaDRKj.jpg


Here are photos of the new HWH connections at the cold water inlet and hot water outlet. The flexible copper connector came from Home Depot, reading the specs it says, "Eliminates the need to install an additional dielectric union" and you can see in the photo a plastic washer that separates the brass connector from the copper flex pipe.

G9BPloG.jpg


On the hot water outlet, it's a brass elbow screwed onto a threaded copper connection (using what appears to be blue tape on each end). The flex copper connector is at the top of the pipe that connects into the thermostatic mixing valve.

UefwDyY.jpg


Reading the specs on some of these Rheem nipples, they say, "Dielectric lining helps prevent galvanic corrosion."
 
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Phog

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Sounds like everything is correct. I don't have any other ideas. Except to check that hot and cold are not hooked up backwards -- which I'm sure you've already done. Sorry i can't be more help.
 

Dj2

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Questions:
Did the plumber bring the WH into the house in a factory sealed box OR, out of the box?
If out of the box, did you see the WH when he took it out of his van? Box or no box.
Answer these first.
BTW, the WH in the picture is not a Rheem, It's a Bradford White.
 

Chris-A

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the WH in the picture is not a Rheem, It's a Bradford White.
The Bradford White is the old water heater that was replaced by the Rheem Performance Platinum ProTerra Hybrid Electric Water Heater. The photo of the Bradford White was only included when someone asked if dielectric unions were used on the old heater. Here's a photo of the Rheem:

chris-a-02.jpg


Did the plumber bring the WH into the house in a factory sealed box OR, out of the box?
We ordered the Rheem from The Home Depot and it was delivered by a freight company. It came in a factory sealed box that was banded around its circumference and banded to a wooden pallet. I watched the plumber unbox it and have no reason to believe it was previously used. (My brother worked at HD for 15 years, when I told him about this problem he told me horror stories about returned HWHs being resold.)

Just to update on this problem...we still have it. Rheem sent out a plumber of their choice to take a look and he could not determine a cause. Rheem authorized a replacement HWH, but the plumber doesn't believe it's the unit itself but he's also not convinced it's due to our pipes. Our condo is 25 years old and to the best of our knowledge the builder used copper piping throughout. We live downstairs in a two-floor building, our water pipes are in the space between our ceiling and our upstairs neighbor's floor, and the builder did not provide access into the space in between. So we cannot take a quick peek into that space looking for an oddball galvanized pipe somewhere. My upstairs neighbor, who has access into the attic above his unit, reports all copper water pipes. Our Homeowners Association also reports that to the best of their knowledge, the builder used copper in all 1500 homes in our community.

It continues as before...when the hot water is unused for 4-6 hours or overnight, we get 3-5 seconds of discolored water at any hot water faucet after all the cold water in the line is discharged. As long as we're using hot water frequently, we don't see discoloration. It's only when the water sits for at least 4-6 hours.

It makes me think there's a rogue galvanized pipe in the hot water system just after the HWH. I bought a cheap home water test strip kit at The Home Depot and tested both the clear cold water and the discolored hot water. Copper was in the "OK" range for both samples; iron appeared to be zero for the cold water and just slightly above zero for the hot water, so I believe it's rust in the water.

8LjBOdP.jpg


And when you let the discolored water sit for several days, it settles and looks like this:

lC31rsl.jpg
 
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Chris-A

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Where is the fresh air to allow for proper combustion?
There is no combustion. This is an electric heat pump hot water heater. It uses electric elements in the tank plus a heat pump on top of the unit that uses a compressor and refrigerant to extract heat from the surrounding air and transfer that heat into the water via coils that encircle the water tank.
 

Chris-A

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Someone asked me about how I resolved this issue.

Rheem was unable to offer a solution short of replacing the entire hot water heater, which they paid for under warranty. This time I asked the plumber to connect the replacement water heater with PEX instead of copper pipes/fittings, a flexible copper connection at the cold-water-in nipple, and a brass elbow at the hot-water-out nipple.

After pulling out the problem child, just for fun the plumber unscrewed the hot-water-out nipple to reveal this:

IMG_3694.JPG


IMG_3695.JPG


The end of the nipple was rusting away. There were signs of rust in the J-shaped water inlet tube. The 90* brass elbow connected to the nipple had rust collecting in the bottom of the elbow. In hindsight, it seems strange to me that Rheem never recommended examination and replacement of this nipple...they just scratched their heads and went straight to complete replacement of the entire unit.

So how is the replacement unit working? Just like the original, it ran free of any signs of rust for about three weeks, then it too started showing slight signs of rust discharge when initially running hot water--not as much rust as the original, but still visible. But unlike the original, after a few more weeks it faded away to the point where I can no longer discern any discoloration. I have no doubt that if we pulled the nipple, I'd find some corrosion, but nowhere near as bad as the photo above.

I am able to live with the situation as it currently stands.
 
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Glocklt4

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Just wanted to chime in that I had the exact same issue as you for a while after installing my tank 4 years ago. After a while it eventually stopped I guess as the end of the nipple was not exposed to enough electrolysis, maybe because enough crud prevented the water from allowing it to happen. Who knows...

Anyway, I recently believe I had an electrical surge which killed the control assembly on my tank, and since Rheem has had no boards for months and won't have any more for a while, they told me to take the whole tank back to Home Depot for exchange. I took out the heater today and found exactly the same as your last pictures. The end of both nipples was rusted, clogged, and corroded.

I believe the problem is that their pex inner lining inside the galvanized "dielectric" nipples ends before and doesn't wrap around the end of the steel pipe. If you look at other proper dielectric nipples for sale online, you can easily see that the plastic liner goes out of the pipe and increases in diameter to cover the ends of the pipe.

I'm expecting our new heater to be delivered on Monday and REALLY hope that they have solved this problem and put better dielectric plastic tips on the nipples. If they have not, I'm going to call them about this and tell them they need to give me a solution to prevent the corrosion. It's not just you and me that have experienced this. I also don't believe that you can just replace the nipples with better ones since they are sealed to the tank inside (at least I think I read that somewhere).

BTW, here is my post about the issue: https://terrylove.com/forums/index.php?threads/yellow-water-after-heater-replacement.82598/
 

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We hired a licensed plumber to replace a 10 year old gas HWH with a Rheem Performance Platinum ProTerra Hybrid Electric Water Heater. I should backup and say that a licensed electrician first installed a new electrical subpanel (we had no room for new circuits) and a new 240v 30 amp line for the electric HWH.

Our condo is 25 years old. To the best of my knowledge, the builder used copper pipes throughout. We did not have a problem with discolored hot water before this project and we do not have any discoloration on the cold water side. There has been no city work on the water supply. We have the same cold water supply leading to the HWH (meter, pressure reducing/backflow valve, house shutoff valve, piping, and shutoff at the wall above the HWH) and the same hot water lines running throughout the condo.

The old HWH had two simple connections: a flexible copper connector running from the cold water supply to a T-fitting above the tank where a thermal expansion tank was installed, and a flexible stainless steel connector running from the hot water outlet to the condo hot water system.

It took two flexible copper connectors and perhaps 22' of new copper piping to connect this Rheem HWH. The cold water inlet is located 5" above the floor on the front-left side of the tank, the hot water outlet is 3'-6" above the floor and further to the left from the cold water inlet. We still have a thermal expansion tank (new) but the addition of a thermostatic mixing valve so the unit can run very hot but deliver safe water to the condo. (At this time, we are only running the HWH at 120*F.)

Here's the problem. Shortly after installation, we begin to notice dark orange water coming out of any hot water faucet in the condo. Turn on the hot water valve to the bathtub, a slug of clear, cold water comes out first, and as warm water arrives it turns dark orange for a few seconds. This is especially pronounced in the morning when we've not used any hot water overnight, but also happens to a lesser extent during the day when we've not used hot water for 4-6 hours.

I tried draining the tank, refilling it, draining it a second time, and refilling it. Same result the next morning.

I have sampled water from the T&P valve and it runs clear.

When asking the plumber, his response was "bad pipes in your house." That does not make sense to me because the only changes made were between the cold water inlet and the hot water outlet above the HWH, and we had no problem with discoloration before the installation.

Here are video links showing my description of the installation and the discolored water discharge.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1zBq4GS0dfUNOcPr9R4t8MwgOrVQ9owEw/view?usp=sharing
https://drive.google.com/file/d/19Ubz0COc8fOfZs2yb6_Az884AM649ArL/view?usp=sharing

I've shared these videos and more with Rheem technical support...no response from them yet.

Does anyone out there have an idea about the cause of this?

I have the exact same model WH and I am experiencing exactly what you went through. Thank you for posting that follow-up about the rusty nipple. Time to call Rheem.
 

Bgard

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Is the heat pump water heater located in a closet? If so it needs to be able to circulate ambient air in and out of the closet, if not the closet air temperature will drop, and then there won’t be sufficient heat left in that air for the heat pump to remove and the recovery rate will be Even longer.
 

Caryncbreeef

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I have the same problem, as well as the noise issue. the HWH has been installed about a month and once the bath was installed we started noticing it. Crazy. My house is all brand new PEX A, no copper or iron All the way to the service. I will call them on Monday! Thanks
 
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