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Hot gas flex on water heater

I went on a estimate today and encountered a situation that I have never run across before. The customer has a 40 gallon LP ( propane) AO Smith water heater installed in 1998. The call was regarding a hot to the touch stainless steel gas flex. I have to admit, I thought the homeowner was one of the wackos that we all occasionally get. I went to the home and felt the stainless steel gas flex and it actually was so hot it gave me a blister! I then felt the brass gas valve and it was cool to the touch as was the main gas valve on the water heater itself. I have been in the business over 20 years and have never come across this. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks


  • SWEISWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Leakage current?

    Get out your meter and measure the AC voltage between the two ends of the flex connector.  Try again on DC volts.  If there is more than a fraction of a volt, turn off the appliance and call an electrician.
  • JTP_2JTP_2 Member Posts: 2
    Thanks swei

    Thanks will do. Due to the age of the water heater we are changing it out tomorrow. I will post the results of the meter testing. Thanks again.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 6,734
    edited December 2013
    Bad neutral connection in house service

    I'll take a guess that the neutral connection to the house is loose or broken. Be careful with this I think you have current flowing through that gas flex.

    A voltage reading may or may not show this, try clamping an Amprobe around the flex and see if your reading any amps. You should be at 0 amps.

    If the neutral is broken or loose the neutral current will try to get back to the transformer through an alternate route which in this case could be through the gas line to earth and back to the transformer.

    If you disconnect this flex you could get a spark or flash.

    You (or the owner) should have the electrical problem fixed first.

    I had a job once with a bad neutral and was reading 10 amps with my Amprobe clamped around the water pipe.
  • SWEISWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    If there's current flow

    there has to be potential difference.  Either way, turn off the breaker and see if things cool off.
  • Jean-David BeyerJean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,657
    Bad neutral sometimes tricky.

    I happen to have a UPS that records the incoming line voltage at 15-minute intervals. At some point, the incoming line voltage got up to about 140 volts. The UPS lowered that for my computer and there were no other symptoms. But I called the power company to see what the tolerance was on the line voltage. They would not tell me, but sent a technician out immediately and he tested things and found everything normal. But he went up to the top of the house and replaced a compression splice on the white wire and that fixed everything. I was surprised his tests did not reveal the bad neutral, but his experience made him diagnose that anyway.

    I guess they are fairly common.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 6,734
    loose neutral

    @Jean-David Beyer. If you loose the neutral that puts your 120 volt loads in a series 240 volt circuit. So depending on the resistance of those loads you could get 140 volts as you described.

    Sounds like a loose neutral to me
  • Jean-David BeyerJean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,657
    Sounds like a loose neutral to me

    Oh, yes. Since the one side of the 240 volt circuit was high, it is likely that the other side was low (but I did not have my UPS on that side of the line logging at that time, so I did not know).. The techie from the power company removed my meter and plugged a test box in there instead. It indicated everything was OK. I do not know what the test box measured. But he said it must be the neutral was floating, so he went up to the roof where the drop from the transformer on the pole (that supplied two houses in addition to mine) connected to the wire that went down to my meter pan. He cut out the old (compression) splice and put in a new one and that fixed the problem.
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