Water heater leak/element corrosion

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blueludedude

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Hello,

My home has a State Select electric water heater, 9+ years old now, still working (for the moment), but there's been a very slow leak for a few months now from where the PRF valve connects to the unit. The leak has left a rusty stain down the side of the unit, but the water that pools on the ground looks pretty clear. There is also a very tiny bit of condensation and a light grey vertical streak that appears right above where the leak is.

Also, it's a typical residential unit with two heating elements, and the top element has some visible corrosion on the outside that was not there when I flushed the tank last fall. Both heating elements show proper voltage when I hook up a multimeter, and we are not noticing a lack of hot water, so I assume both elements are functioning normally.

Can anyone offer any advice on how to proceed in troubleshooting these issues? Thanks in advance for the help. Given its age and the symptoms, I'm afraid it may be rusting out and need replacement, but I'd like to try any simple fixes on my own first before breaking down and calling a plumber.

Quick maintenance history:
  • Unit is 9+ years old
  • First time homeowner, so first water heater, and I was unfortunately ignorant about maintenance for a long time
  • I think the top heating element was replaced by a plumber 5-6 years ago
  • I replaced the bottom heating element 2-3 years ago and finally learned about draining the unit, checking elements, replacing them
  • For the past few years I have flushed the unit completely every fall. Our water is pretty good out here (county water, south of Raleigh, NC), and I never saw much sediment come out of it, just a few small white pebbles and grit. However, the flow rate from the drain valve + hose has always seemed pretty slow (vs. hose connected to faucet outside the house).
  • I have never done any inspection/maintenance of the anode(s).

Photos can be found here, and if you have any questions, just ask. Thanks again!

- Kevin
 

Jadnashua

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Budget to replace the thing. FWIW, flushing may not really extend the life, but it can help keep the internal volume up and the recovery rate down. Terry has reported that he's seen some that end up nearly entirely full of mineral deposits. While an electric WH tends to last longer than a gas fired one, 9-years is still probably pushing the average.
 

Reach4

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I would use the lever to make sure that pulling it releases water, and releasing it shuts the water off. If that works, with pressure off and some water drained, I would unscrew the valve, inspect for visible defect, add 3 wraps of good teflon tape such as Oatey pink or yellow, and screw the valve back in. I am not a pro.
 

Master Plumber Mark

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State Select is a very crummey brand of water heater... you are lucky you got 9 years out of it..
you can attempt to pull the leaking element out and use some rectoseal on the inner threads of the
tank and some tef lon tape and rectoseal on a new element ..
grease it up good to seal the threads as best possible....
. it might work and it might not depending on how
far gone the tank threads are...



I would probably just get ready to change it out and be done with it..

get a Rheem heater
 

DonL

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Can anyone offer any advice on how to proceed in troubleshooting these issues? Thanks in advance for the help. Given its age and the symptoms, I'm afraid it may be rusting out and need replacement, but I'd like to try any simple fixes on my own first before breaking down and calling a plumber.

I would look at replacing it.

It looks like it is leaking around the elements too.

If you do try messing with it, You may end up with a bigger leak. :eek: Then it will be emergency replacement.

Good Luck.
 

blueludedude

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Hey guys, FYI I finally got the tank replaced today by a local plumber. He came out with the intention of trying to fix the leak and clean up the rust, but he took one look at the T&P valve and said that the leak was coming from the tank.

He gave me a great price on a 50-gallon electric Rheem unit. It's only got a six year manufacturer warranty, but we should be long gone from the house by then. At least we'll save a bit on the electric bill until then thanks to the government mandated improvements in energy efficiency over the last decade.

Here's a photo of the new unit. Thanks to everyone for your input.
rheemHeater.jpg
 

Dj2

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The drain line out of the T&P valve on the new water heater doesn't seem to be 3/4" copper (code in my city). Verify that what your plumber installed meets your code.
 

DonL

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The drain line out of the T&P valve on the new water heater doesn't seem to be 3/4" copper (code in my city). Verify that what your plumber installed meets your code.

I noticed that. Looks like 1/2 PVC.

You did it now.

upload_2016-8-17_9-47-56.png
 

blueludedude

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I noticed that. Looks like 1/2 PVC.

You did it now.

View attachment 35723

Hey, I haven't gotten around to calling the plumber yet, but I'm wondering if this really is an issue. It doesn't hurt to ask the plumber, but if you take a look at my old water heater in the photos in my OP link, it used 1/2" PVC as well. Here's a close up of my new setup just to give you a better idea of how it looks. Thanks.
IMG_20160818_185305.jpg
 

Reach4

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3/4 galvanized would meet most rules and needs. That is the good use for galvanized pipe in a house.
 

Dj2

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bluedude,

From this angle it doesn't look any better, but I live and work in a city that allows only 3/4" copper, to the outside of the house, 6" above grade.
All other pipes, metals, plastic, titanium combinations and so on are not acceptable. Hey, I didn't make the rules, just follow them.
 

blueludedude

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Since the new setup (1/2" PVC) matches the old one that was passed by what I'm told are very picky county inspectors, I'm sure it's fine. I left a message with the plumber about this today just to be safe.
 

Reach4

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I am pretty sure that is 1/2 inch PEX rather than PVC.
 

Master Plumber Mark

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I am pretty sure that is 1/2 inch PEX rather than PVC.


the t+p pipe is 3/4 pex pipe which is ok... I can tell that from a mile away..
look at the male adapter in the valve...its not reduced

we normally use 3/4 cpvc for the discharge line off the heater...

you are ok on it and it looks like he strapped the thermal exp tank to the top of the heater
which is also ok even though its a little cocked at an angle...

who did the beautiful insulation job?? it works ok .....
 
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