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Rinnai R85e blew fuses and is now dead

StevenSStevenS Posts: 14Member
We returned home yesterday from a weekend trip to find one of my Rinnai R85e water heaters not working. The control pad was dead so I took the front cover off of the unit and found both 3 amp fuses had blown. I replaced both fuses ( I did check continuity on the new fuses) and the unit still does nothing. It did not blow the new fuses. I checked to make sure it has correct incoming ac voltage and it does. I though maybe the control pad had gone out as well so i replaced it with a new spare I had but still nothing. Maybe the PCB has died? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Comments

  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 9,773Member
    Power surge? If you are really sure you have good incoming voltage and current available, and a good ground, you may be looking at the whole control...
    Jamie



    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.



    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • StevenSStevenS Posts: 14Member
    When i saw the blown fuses a power spike was the first thing that came to mind but nothing else in the house is damaged and no breakers were tripped. I have a second water heater exactly the same as this one. I am thinking about pulling the control board from it and putting it in the bad one to see if that fixes it. I do not want to take the chance of destroying the working one but at the same time I do not just want to start throwing money at it. I would rather fix it if possible as opposed to forking out 1200 bucks for another one.
  • StevenSStevenS Posts: 14Member
    I have called several plumbers but none of them in my area seem to be familiar with the internal workings of these water heaters. They just install them.
  • lchmblchmb Posts: 2,877Member
    call your gas supplier...as far as swapping boards..I'd be nervous doing that...
  • ratioratio Posts: 1,822Member
    I always pucker up a little when I'm swapping good boards into equipment of unknown condition. Perhaps swap the bad board into the good unit & see if the failure follows the board? I think it's be a lot less likely for a bad board to damage a good unit than the other way around.
  • StevenSStevenS Posts: 14Member
    Thanks for the replies. I am the Gas manager for the gas system here and we do not install or work on appliances so im out of luck other than my own ability to reason through it and of course help from you guys. I agree with you guys it is to risky so I decided not to swap boards. I do not need 2 of them to work on. I believe i may have found the problem. I found a transformer hidden in the back. It has 120v AC in but nothing coming out. Now i cant find a replacement transformer based on the numbers on the end of it. Anyone have a good place i can cross reference it so I can find a new one? It does not even say what the output is supposed to be so I do not know what I am looking for.
  • ratioratio Posts: 1,822Member
    Can you check the voltage on the other unit?
  • JackJack Posts: 1,044Member
    Simply swapping boards does not fix the problem. Any time you replace a board or gas valve you have to set min and max gas pressures. Not hard, but do you have a manometer? Your best bet is to call Rinnai 800 621-9419 and have tech serv. get you the part number. Model and Ser # will be req'd.
  • JackJack Posts: 1,044Member
    Also, with two units it is a good idea to have a cross-over valve/line so you can feed from either one in a pinch.
  • StevenSStevenS Posts: 14Member
    Units are on opposite ends of the house so they have separate gas feeds. This one just runs the master bath so luckily the whole house is not down. I do have a manometer so setting gas pressure wont be too hard. I found the exact replacement transformer finally. It breaks 120 VAC down to 100 VAC. Right now the bad one has 120 VAC in and 0 VAC out. The working unit has 120 VAC in and 99 VAC out. Rinnai does not want to talk to me because I m the homeowner so I will have to get a plumber to call them for me. That is probably the best course of action. Thanks for all your input on my problem guys. Will let you know how it comes out.
  • BobCBobC Posts: 4,909Member
    If the fuses blew it could be the transformer shorted out and then the thermal fuse inside the transformer opened up at about the same time the fuses popped. With the fuses opened up measure the resistance of the transformer primary on both units, then measure the resistance of each secondary.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • StevenSStevenS Posts: 14Member
    The transformer is definitely dead so I am going to start there and hopefully that will get it back online.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,421Member
    edited June 2016
    Not to be a buzzkill, but I'd be concerned as to why that transformer is dead, seems kind of odd that it would die and take out the fuses with it. I'd expect it to just open.

    Did you ohm the transformer out? Did you ohm out what the transformer drives?

    I just don't want to see you put a new transformer in and see it go up in smoke if you can avoid it.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • GreenGeneGreenGene Posts: 290Member
    edited June 2016
    manuals

    https://rinnai.us/customer-care/manuals-literature

    not a lot on wiring or troubleshooting, geez
  • StevenSStevenS Posts: 14Member
    I believe a power surge got it. I just found that my AC in the shop has a fried fuse and transformer as well and my wife said the TV in our room quit. There was a pretty bad lightning storm here last weekend. And im with you on the manual. There is not much help in it for the trouble shooting on the wiring. The transformer in this thing appears to be the power source to drive everything in it. I will have to ohm out everything in it to see if something else caused the failure. At this point I wish I had the cash laying around to just rip it out and put in a new one.
  • GreenGeneGreenGene Posts: 290Member
    I live high on a hill in Ct, lightning all around, I have two whole house surge suppressors, after a storm years ago took out a tv, toaster, computer and printer.

    I rec'd them highly especially since electricity isn't a very good product anyway, everything lasts longer, especially light bulbs.

    http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,387874,00.html

    They are very easy to install or have an electrician do it if you are not comfortable around the main box, safety #1.
  • BobCBobC Posts: 4,909Member
    edited June 2016
    A couple of years ago I installed a whole house surge protector, it feeds off a 50A breaker. They are useless against a direct strike but they will swallow a lot more than the puny MOV's that you usually see in equipment. They really aren't that expensive so it might be worth looking into.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • JackJack Posts: 1,044Member
    Send me a pm with your email address.
  • StevenSStevenS Posts: 14Member
    I will definitely look into purchasing a surge protector. This is a major pain trying to fix this water heater. Rinnai will not talk to me as the homeowner or as the gas technician. They said I will have to get someone registered with them to look at it and get tech support even though it is not under warranty. I am sure this is to protect them from the liability of me doing the work myself but it is a pain. I put a new transformer in it and when i turned the power on it blew the fuses again. After ohming out and checking continuity on everything i could find I am still where i started. If i hire someone to work on it and after buying parts I will have as much in this one as a new one so I am going to order a new one and scrap this one out. I appreciate the input everyone.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,421Member

    Lesson learned:

    Don't buy Rinnai.

    Any company that will not assist in troubleshooting their product with a competent individual should not get your business.

    They have made the conclusion that NOBODY is competent other than their own chosen installers. So be it.

    Tell 'em to pound sand. There are plenty of other units that are suitable.

    Name one company that will.

    Just one.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Posts: 5,335Member
    edited June 2016
    HTP....AO Smith.....Dunkirk.......Sanyo/Panasonic....Fujitsu and more.
    I am not a "licensed dealer" for any of the above; tech support must have deemed me competent over the phone with our conversation. o:)

    Slow typer.....had to check spelling on Fujetsou.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,421Member
    I see.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • JackJack Posts: 1,044Member
    HG, Rinnai will talk with anyone who is licensed to perform the work. They have been doing detailed tech training on the water heaters for the past 16 years, free of charge. How does a guy on the tech line know that the guy is capable? It is a sophisticated GAS appliance after all.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,421Member
    Jack said:

    HG, Rinnai will talk with anyone who is licensed to perform the work. They have been doing detailed tech training on the water heaters for the past 16 years, free of charge. How does a guy on the tech line know that the guy is capable? It is a sophisticated GAS appliance after all.

    Easy.

    When you ask him to grab a manometer and he says "a what?" you know he's not capable.


    We've talked people through troubleshooting antique refrigerators with damaged float valves via nothing more than text. It's fairly easy to tell when someone isn't capable of something.

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • StevenSStevenS Posts: 14Member
    Anyone know anything about EcoTemp? One of my suppliers carries them and tells me they are a good product but if anyone knows anything about them I would like to hear it.
  • StevenSStevenS Posts: 14Member
    I could understand Rinnai not wanting to deal with me if it was warranty work but the fact that it is out of warranty and i shelled out a lot of money on their products I would think a little help would be in order. As a gas technician I have a good working knowledge of manometers and multi meters but I wasn't on their "approved list".
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,421Member
    StevenS said:

    I could understand Rinnai not wanting to deal with me if it was warranty work but the fact that it is out of warranty and i shelled out a lot of money on their products I would think a little help would be in order. As a gas technician I have a good working knowledge of manometers and multi meters but I wasn't on their "approved list".

    You not being able to work on it means you'd either need to buy a new one, or hire someone to fix it. Being hiring someone to fix it is highly unlikely, you'll just go buy a new one and they like that.

    That's my opinion on it anyway.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • rick in Alaskarick in Alaska Posts: 793Member
    I am a plumbing /heating contractor myself and we have a lot of Rinnai heaters and water heaters around here, and I have to say, whenever I have needed tech support, which hasn't been often, they have been excellent. They answer the phone right away and will stay on until the problem is resolved. Not sure why the op couldn't get any help from them, but I will definitely keep buying them because I know they will be there for me and the products are great.
    Also, I had to go do a warranty call on one a few years ago and they paid my bill for labor, which totally shocked me because nobody pays labor. Top notch company in my opinion.
    So, that is my plug for Rinnai.
    Rick
  • StevenSStevenS Posts: 14Member
    I have no doubt that tech support from Rinnai is good if you are an approved technician. It has lasted 8 years trouble free so I am not badmouthing their products or tech support either for that matter. It is just a matter of them not giving ME tech support. All of the reputable plumbers around here charge an average of $125 an hour with a 2 hour minimum, which I have no problem with when I need a plumber. Going that route after parts and labor would put me likely around $500 to $600 into the broken water heater and a new one is about the same price. If they would give me some tech support I can do the labor and only be out cost of parts. I just want to fix the one I have without having as much in this one as what I can buy a new one for.
  • Larry WeingartenLarry Weingarten Posts: 1,398Member
    Hello: Their system seems flawed, clearly! How about a work-around? Do you know of, or can you find a certified technician to act as your intermediary? Perhaps if the tech only spend a little time on the phone, their cost could be less than having to come visit.

    Yours, Larry
  • StevenSStevenS Posts: 14Member
    I am in negotiations with a plumber I have used before to do that for me. Will let you know how that works out. Thanks for the input.
  • StevenSStevenS Posts: 14Member
    Yes. He is a plumber i have used on jobs at work and he said he is on their list and has been through Rinnai training so they should talk to him. Only issue is he said when on the phone with tech support they require him to be in front of the unit. So we are negotiating his rate now. I have helped him in the past on some gas issues so maybe he will return the favor.
  • StevenSStevenS Posts: 14Member
    It has been narrowed down to the circuit board. I will order a new one Monday. Thanks for all your help guys.
  • MichaelPMichaelP Posts: 4Member
    StevenS said:

    It has been narrowed down to the circuit board. I will order a new one Monday. Thanks for all your help guys.

    Hi StevenS, I hope you're still around two years later to see this.

    I also have an R85 with a bad transformer, which also blew both fuses. The secondary winding is open (infinite resistance). I'm searching for a replacement transformer now. In case my issue turns out the be the same as yours, can you tell me where you found a replacement control board for order?
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,421Member
    > @MichaelP said:
    > It has been narrowed down to the circuit board. I will order a new one Monday. Thanks for all your help guys.
    >
    > Hi StevenS, I hope you're still around two years later to see this.
    >
    > I also have an R85 with a bad transformer, which also blew both fuses. The secondary winding is open (infinite resistance). I'm searching for a replacement transformer now. In case my issue turns out the be the same as yours, can you tell me where you found a replacement control board for order?

    I don't know anything about Rinnai but I would question why the secondary is open. Did something cause that? It's rare for a winding to just open on its own.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • MichaelPMichaelP Posts: 4Member
    edited November 2018
    ChrisJ said:


    I don't know anything about Rinnai but I would question why the secondary is open. Did something cause that? It's rare for a winding to just open on its own.

    Thanks for the reply. Unknown what could have caused it. The service manual doesn't list any diagnostic tests for such a condition. I could check impedance on the circuit(s) the transformer feeds to see if something is shorted there.

    The Rinnai diagnostic manual says to replace the transformer if it's found to be faulty. So that will be step #1

    In the time since my initial post, I found a source for a replacement control board. If it turns out the new transformer doesn't solve the issue, I'll give that a try.

    Update: My bad. It's the primary winding that's open, not the secondary. I checked impedance where the secondary feeds to control board anyway. It started ~14Mohm and steadily dropped (I assume from a cap charging). So I think that's okay. Or at least not the cause of the bad transformer.

    Maybe 60hz vibration eventually caused a winding to rub through the shellac coating causing a short, which in turn blew an internal protection mechanism inside the transformer?
  • MichaelPMichaelP Posts: 4Member
    Installed a new transformer. The 3 amp fuses blow immediately. The solenoids and igniter pass impedance tests. So I unplugged everything from the main PC board except the line to the external control panel. It still blows the fuses immediately. I can't check the individual components on the main board because it's potted. So I've ordered a replacement board.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,421Member
    > @MichaelP said:
    > Installed a new transformer. The 3 amp fuses blow immediately. The solenoids and igniter pass impedance tests. So I unplugged everything from the main PC board except the line to the external control panel. It still blows the fuses immediately. I can't check the individual components on the main board because it's potted. So I've ordered a replacement board.

    Sounds like you did what you could.

    Potted boards suck for that reason.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • MichaelPMichaelP Posts: 4Member
    I received the replacement control board today. That solved the issue! The new transformer and new control board combined cost just over $200. Well worth it to make it functional again, even as a spare/backup.
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