Calcium and lime (white cakey hard stuff), around the pressure relief valve and around the threads of the drain valve spigot.
triedn to flush the system by opening the lower drain valve with a garden hose attached-turned off the natural gas pilot and the shut off valve on the cold water intake (over the top of the heater)... and it is likely to leak. Had to wrench it to get it to stop leaking 3 years ago.
My main questions are:
How can I open the drain valve to try and get the sediment flushed out and drain the tank?
I have no sump pump and the drain next to the water heater is a trap drain- only intended to keep sewer gas odors out of the house and it will not take more than a quart of liquid in a 1/2 hour.
The drain valve on this natural gas water heater is brass I believe... should I be concerned before going gorilla strong and trying to wrench it off- with no way to deal with 40 gallons of water in my basement?
In the process of getting a home appliance repair plan but it has been reeking of combustion/burning odor like exhaust smell-intermittently.
I turned off the pilot to this and the natural gas furnace-shwew no more fumes-was scary!
Has the power company out to check for CO- none detected and no natural gas leaks either... have a carbon monoxide detector- does not register anything---THEN?
Looked at the vent piping into the chimney... it seems a little lame- a hole or 3 in the end near the chimney... but no draw!
Went up on the roof to inspect for vermin/blockage and nothing wrong-could see all the way down to the clean out (below the vent and flue for the furnace). Cigarette smoke is a valuable tool... the top of the chimney was drawing in smoke and pumping it IN to the lower basement!
Took off the duct/steel pipe vent from the water heater to the chimney and the smoke was being blown in to the basement-NOT up and drafting at all properly.
The smells have been intermittent-about once every 24 hours... then it increased to once every twelve hours- would last about an hour after opening upstairs windows--but again- the chimney is not drafting anything UP... so... the smells were likely due to the downdraft/back draft of the chimney issue blowing the spent natural gas from the furnace pilot and the use of the water heater exhaust fumes.
Chances are the water heater is on its last leg but it will be difficult to replace it-without draining it, and that the warranty company has at least a 15 day exclusion period before they can wrench on it.
Any help appreciated!
Like what would you do with all this mess and didn't have anywhere near the price of a new water heater in the bankm nor the cost to install it- heck don't forget miscellaneous valves, plumbers dope and maybe a few missing unique tools/wrenches!
Wow However you can remove the drain shutoff, by all means do it. Next to impossible via the net to tell you how. Just be careful, don't damage the threading in the tank. That way you can replace with a somewhat better copper and a black pipe nipple, if needed.
"Why isn't everyday Earth Day ?"
OK, you have two things going on here (fitting, since you copied your own post and have it printed twice!)
1. Calcium built-up inside the tank. This will affect how well your water heats since the calcium can insulate the water from the outside burner. Not that serious a problem and not as bad on a gas WH as compared to an electric one. Still, it would be better to drain the calcium out. The problem is that there is so much calcium in the bottom of the tank that it has clogged up the drain valve. Having no way to handle water spills in the area does complicate things.
Try the simple fix first - open the drain valve and try to get a thin wire up inside to clear out any calcium. Put a folded towel under the valve to soak up the small amount of water that may escape during this process.
If this doesn't work, then you may have to make up your own custom hose attachment so that you can screw a hose to the drain valve. Attach the hose to a water source. Open up the pop-off vent and apply back pressure to try to clear the drain valve of calcium. One complication here is that pop-off valves are notorious for leaking once opened - the rubber seal gets coated with calcium and will not reseal. On the plus side, it's a simple and cheap replacement.
If those don't work, then you'll have to remove the drain valve to clean the area. Since you have a gas WH, it should be sitting 18" off the floor. Get a large bucket or tub to catch the water, then either bail it out or pump it out of the basement.
2. Chimney draw. I'm betting that this turns out to be a non-problem. While your smoke tests are fine, I am thinking you did your testing with the burner turned off. In that situation, you can easily have reverse air flow as cool outside air will drop down the chimney. While the air inside the chimney may be warmer that outside due to residual heat in the WH, without the burners on the cooler outside air can easily overpower the warm air inside the chimney. Hot air rises, cool air falls so in this case, the cool air rushes downwards.
Try your smoke test again with the burners running. You'll find that it's working as it should.
It is possible to have a poorly located chimney that is affected by air currents around the roof. However, if the air is still outside then this is not a factor.
thanks! i appreciate both of your wisdom yet now am considering the reality of... spending good (and extremely), limited money on a failed unit. The costs of a valve here and there-the cost of an anode tube, the cost of a curved dip tube and etc etc... and still have to get a shut off valve/plumb it and try to get maybe MAGERAD to rid the rock sedimnet - bottom line is I will still have a 2001 water heater that could still mess up a thermostat, sensor and be ineffective and an energy hog.
The draft or lack of draw in the chimney issue is what prompted me to look into the situation. That was a good thing-we were getting some kind of combustion exhaust fumes being blown back in to the house and my solution was- shut off the pilots and eliminate the burning of natural gas-no more smell-well other the smell of us in a couple days from not having a shower.
Great that it happens on Labor Day holiday weekend too... come Tuesday we will have more options.
Again thanks- have many more other issues to deal with that need yesterday attention.
Oh , sorry about the double post- in addition to being not so good at DIY... i don't always understand the ins and out of the internet forums either.
I'm wondering what has happened to that you have a draw problem all of a sudden - for a unit that has been in place for over a decade.
If nothing else, you could open doors and windows to provide ventilation enough to fire the WH up so you can shower and not chase away all the neighbors. At least to get thorough the weekend.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Jaybee,
How old is the unit? Something paramount to keep in mind before throwing good money @ an obsolete unit.
"Why isn't everyday Earth Day ?"
(O/P said a 1991 heater)
I'm not familiar with gas w.heaters, but if you have a problem draining it (which you say you're going to have to do ) I may be able to help
Shut off the gas and the water inlet valve, then remove the pressure relief valve. put some flexible plastic tubing ( garden hose will work if it fits )down to the bottom of the tank. then start a siphon into a bucket, being as the floor drain doesn't hold much, and dump the water a bucket at a time untill ther is no more water in the tank, then do whatever it is you have to do with the tank empty
You may have to put a length of rigid tubing into the end of the plastic tubing going into the tank to help get it all the way to the bottom
Thanks again Jaybee for the get through the weekend with running it a while... it is not carbon monoxide (or detectable), hasn't harmed us-although some of my posts are beginning to have me question the effects of the smell!
We have yet to fire it up yet-P EWW is staring from humans lol.
The big thing is... we talked to a friend of a friend that does WH's and he too is baffled by the lack of draw without chimney obstruction. He said this is something more common-almost exclusive to a winter situation-not summer. paint from overheating the sediment/rock - could also be melting the glass lining or just burning the rock... all a mystery to me but the downdraft is why I said ENOUGH! Turned off the nat gas and not let the downdraft blow the pilot of the furnace and WH back in the house.
I know hot air rises and the temperatures of the basement are cooler than upstairs, so maybe the vent pipe burning off the
The vent pipe that goes from the WH to the chimney has some black paint on it from previous owners, and some of it (about 25% say), is gone. Perhaps that is the heat burning the paint off that we smell... but no one can understand why the draft stopped or changed.
My research on WH's on the web indicates a zillion reasons why the WH needs replacement and my ignorance/neglecting to maintain it for 3 years over ways trying to fix the booger. Anode tube could be/is likely shot-valves corroded/calcilfied- water shut off valve is weak or not going to be able to be leak free if touched-the dip tube could be broken and rattling around in the tank - pressure relief valve is corroded too, probably won't be able to relieve the pressure with that little aluminum flip trigger anyhow which will require a need pressure relief valve etc.... the heating element. Wow, a new unit that I will maintain!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! sounds better and better -not to mention efficiency and longer showers.
I like the idea for draining it- gives me an option to drain it that way- the heater needs replacement/removal and without extra gallons of water in there will be helpful.
In between the posts, after the WH cooled-and quickly cooled... we went and pulled the flue in the WH, stuck a vacuum hose down there and sucked out about a pound of what I can best describe as rust fines/particles. Even with the gas off it seemed to have a slight odor of the peculiar smell that we just noticed a few days ago. Haven't turned it back on yet-too afraid to start wrenching on anything until tomorrow-when stores and or plumbers are available.
Happy Labor Day
we are laboring~
I know that it's been in operation for a long time but wonder if you are near the limit for chimney length. Could be when everything is working perfectly that it will draw OK but once it starts getting old and cranky it just may not draw well. Sounds like with the age of the unit that a full replacement is due - maybe look into either finding a way to make a shorter chimney run or get a WH with a forced fan blower. Be prepared to spend some $$$.
things break with force.
I'd try soaking the valve for a while in a plastic bag full of white vinegar. if you get a little motion and some flaking, use a stiff brush on it to get more of the crud off the surface, and go back to the bag with a fresh vinegar charge.
once the valve starts acting like it might someday work again, soak it down with WD40, tap it a couple time medium-lightly, and respray. once it opens, you might have to clear internal crud as mentioned above with a wire.
since you apparently have the gas off, I'd also shut off the feed water, open a hot tap someplace, and drain the whole thing. replace the drain valve, it's cheap and won't kill you if you toss the heater. your existing valve is a goner anyway. it failed closed, and now could fail open, or even way open as in "the top blew off."
the more serious problem is the backdraft. might you have a birds nest or a dead critter in that chimney now? worth checking out. a sudden change in draw indicates a quick blockage. a nest/critter is much less painful than a broken tile or partial collapse of the chimney, and much more likely.This message has been edited. Last edited by: swschrad,
sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
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