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2nd Indirect Leaking

I have a WeilMclain Indirect DHW tank leaking in the thermostat well after just 9 mos. I actually saw water within 6 mos.  This unit replaced the same model which began leaking badly after 7 yrs.  My plumber recommends a softener (well water hardness is ~180-200).

W/M will replace with same model tank or newer tank with an anode but not labor.  Plumber will install same model and eat the labor to keep me happy or install the newer model and charge me labor & materials.  My guess for that will be >$300.

I'm leaning to the new tank, thinking the anode will solve the issue but I don't want the stinky water I've read this sometimes causes.  Or, I could take the same model and put the cash towards a water softener?

What should I do?


Frank O


  • IronmanIronman Member Posts: 5,825
    I doubt...

    That hardness would cause the tank to fail in 6 months. 180 - 200 grains is very hard water and needs to be addressed, but you most likely have another issue.

    I would look for something causing hydraulic shock, such as a water-logged well tank.
    Bob Boan

    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • Frank_OFrank_O Member Posts: 3
    Checked that...

    Thanks for the reply. 

    I actually had the well tank checked in the spring when I needed to have the pump pressure switch replaced.  I also know to watch for the symptoms of a bad tank  from when it was last replaced - pump switching on and off frequently with pressure fluxuating.  I should clarify - the water hardness test was 180-200 ppm which is approx. 10-11 grains.
  • Robert_25Robert_25 Member Posts: 211
    Happened to a friend of mine

    Hi Frank - A friend of mine had a WM indirect fail within a year of being put into service.  It was assumed that the tank was defective, and the plumber replaced it no-charge.  The second tank also failed about a year later.  This time they did a lot more digging and determined that there was a small amount of stray voltage in the home's piping.  Some grounds and such were moved/added, and the new tank was installed with pex tubing on the inlet & supply.  It has been several years since the work was done and the tank still works fine, so I think the stray voltage was causing electrolysis in the tank.  Just something to check while you are troubleshooting.
  • Jean-David BeyerJean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,665
    Where does the anode go on one of these?

    "W/M will replace with same model tank or newer tank with an anode but not labor."

    I have a W-M indirect and there is no particular place for an anode rod. With the right rod design and fittings, perhaps it could be put into one of the domestic water ports.

    I do not know if it is required by code or not, but there is a #4 gauge wire bonding the hot and cold domestic water pipes to my indirect. There is 3/4 inch copper tubing from the cold water inlet to the heater direct to where the supply enters the house through a concrete slab. Also connected to the cold water supply is the makeup to the boiler, so both lines from the boiler to the indirect are also tied to ground. None of this is bonded, though, so it depends on whether the soldered and threaded jhoints are sufficiently conductive or not. Anyhow, no leaks in 25 months.
  • HDEHDE Member Posts: 225
    2 things

    2 things kill SS indirects

    1. Stray voltage/improper grounding (as mentioned)

    2. Excessive chlorides in water (most often the case)
  • Greg MaxwellGreg Maxwell Member Posts: 212
    Bad Grounding

    Check the grounding for your electrical system. Stray voltage could very well be your problem, and we have seen a lot of this. It usually happens when you have your ground line clamped to the incoming cold water line for the building. There are 2 things you can do, 1 is relocate the ground outside with a grounding rod, and 2, install dielectric unions on your tank to isolate it from the rest of the system.
  • bill_105bill_105 Member Posts: 429
    Why do these fail so often?

    I light of the presence of the, why do they fail crowd,how about this one. Why does Boilermate fail so much. In AK certain contractors won't install them anymore. One said,"they keep them for warranty only".  I wish I had a real answer. Key word there is real. I don't mean to distract from the SS thing. Just wondering. Thanks
  • meplumbermeplumber Member Posts: 678
    edited August 2011
    A couple of opinions.

    JDB.  The new WM tanks have an anode rod.  The old ones did not. See below.

    Home Depot is correct.  There have been several reports making the rounds of the water treatment folks, discussing the effects of over-active water softeners on Stainless Steel appliances (boilers and DHW tanks.)

    bill.  I have no answer for you.  We have used Amtrol boilermates, on tight budget jobs, for years.  I have a 10+ yr old one in my own home.  Most of the leaks that we find are at the coil plate gasket.  Could be a water quality thing.

    Robert.  Pex cannot be within 18" of the water heater (indirect or stand alone) per UPC or IPC.

    Seems like every time I pick up the WQA publication, there is a different "hot" culprit for us to look out for.  I can't keep up anymore.
  • Jean-David BeyerJean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,665
    Thank you for your reply.

    The new design abandons the tank-within-a-tank design. This increases the pressure drop through the boiler side of the indirect tank. But the pressure drop in the former design is very low, and it is not all that much higher with the new design.

    The new design, in addition to including an anode rod, has an inspection port and design such that cleaning and inspecting the tank should be a lot easier. I wonder if W-M will discontinue the type I have. My chlorine level is only 2 ppm, but I do not know about other chlorides.
  • Frank_OFrank_O Member Posts: 3
    Thanks for the Replies

    Thanks to all for the helpful replies.  I thought the stray voltage may be a possibility since I did a kitchen update just over a year ago including some electrical and the timing seemed to work out that the 1st tank went about 8-9 mos, after and now the 2nd tank after another 8 mos. Also, I have a particle filter with a plastic head between the well line (and the main ground) and the rest of the system which I thought could isolate any pipes in the house from ground.  I checked though, and found no voltage difference between the house ground and any of the pipes on the tank or the boiler.  And there was no voltage across the particle filter either.  

    I guess I'll be going with the new tank with the anode since nobody picked up on the stinky water as a concern.  Install will happen Friday - I'll post the results $$$.
  • Greg MaxwellGreg Maxwell Member Posts: 212

    If you are going to buy a new tank, I definately would not use one with an anode. Anodes are used on thaks that have a cathode, or glass lining, and are there only as a sacrificial material so the tank will last longer. You need this in a glass lined tank. They are less expensive for that reason, hence the lower warranty. The stinky water caused by anodes has been a problem, but in most cases can be solved by going from magnesium to aluminum.

    I would instead go to a stainless steel lifetime water heater such as a Megastore, or Super Stor. No anode needed. I also doubt that you will see the trickle of voltage coming into you DHW system on a multi meter, since it is very small, but nonetheless, will cause issues. I have seen the copper piping actually turn black near wher the grounding clamp is.

    Pipe it up with di-electric unions on both the hot and cold, and you will be good for many years to come.

    Good luck
  • meplumbermeplumber Member Posts: 678
    stainless steel.

    Greg, the tank that he has is stainless.
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265

    Last week, I had a call from a customer complaining that he was running out of hot water in his 80 gallon electric. The tank was warm. The home is on a well. As I was getting into TSing the elements and controls, the owner mentioned that the family was getting shocked when they used the outside shower. "OH, that's another issue. You may be loosing your neutral. I'll call your electrician." While waiting, I measures 7 volts from the copper pipes to earth. There had been been a blown underground primary last week. The power company checked things out and declared that the neutral and grounding was OK but that there was voltage coming from somewhere through the ground and into the house. They installed some special equipment to keep it out of their equipment.

    I tell this for whatever it is worth.
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