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Plumbing question

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dcbraley
dcbraley Member Posts: 15
I installed a new Bradford White electric water heater for a customer. The customer keeps having air in his hot water lines even though all the lines were bled. Customer states it is worse in the mornings when no water has been used. The house is fed by a submersible well and the well x troll tank is next to the water heater. The only thing I can think of is that the check valve at the tank tee might not be holding and some air is drawn in thru the water heater vacuum relief valve, perhaps the old one was stuck when I changed the water heater. Any one have any other ideas where the air is coming from? Its only on the hot side and didnt start happening until after I changed out the water heater.

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  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,068
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    It is possible that the Well-X-Trol bladder has failed. The air is slowly leaking out of the tank thru a pinhole in the bladder. That will eventually stop and the pump will short cycle with no air cushion.

    How old is the Well-X-Trol? same as the water heater?

    Edward Young Retired

    After you make that expensive repair and you still have the same problem, What will you check next?

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,433
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    Another unhappy possibility is the there should be a check valve on the submersible -- and that may have failed. But why that would affect only the hot water I don't know...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • dcbraley
    dcbraley Member Posts: 15
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    The submersible pump was changed this summer by the well contractor, so I assume that the check valve is fine. The water heater was changed out 3 weeks ago, so I would think if it were a pinhole in the well tank it would be short cycling by now and also shouldn't that situation put air in the cold water lines also? Myself and the well contractor suggested that the Well-X-Trol be changed as its probably 30 years old. The sticky point is that this started after I touched the water heater.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,256
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    gas from the anode rod breaking down? Seems early for that if it is new.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • dcbraley
    dcbraley Member Posts: 15
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    That's a good thought. However, water heater is brand new, but it is well water. Im not sure about their particular well, but have a customer not too far from them and had their well tested, water chemistry was all in normal ranges. There is no water softeners or other water filtration equipment. Customers have never complained about the water, so assume its fairly neutral.
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,573
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    Have them isolate the water heater overnight and see if the problem goes away.
    I suspect a bad check valve at the tank or on the well pump itself.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,335
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    Hi, If you decide that it's the water heater collecting air or gas, you could put in a "T" at the hot outlet. Put a vent on top of the T and run hot water out the side. This will get rid of the air before it gets into the rest of the piping. Hard water tends to make vents plug or leak, so it could become another maintenance item... :o

    Yours, Larry
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,075
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    Is the well pressure control located where it can be heard clicking in the house. Or working gauge to observe short cycling.
    Or could the pump be sucking some air that comes out once the water is heated?
  • dcbraley
    dcbraley Member Posts: 15
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    The well control is in the basement and the owner can hear it when the well kicks on. He hasnt reported any short cycling issues. It has a working gauge. If the pump was sucking air I would suspect you would get it on the cold side also.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,741
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    Air is less soluble in hot water and the tank is a large collection of it for it to settle out of.

    If the old tank failed the anode was almost certainly long gone or someone may have even removed it instead of solving the problem so it could be a reaction with the anode.
  • dcbraley
    dcbraley Member Posts: 15
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    Its the anode rod, pulled it today. Water heater has been in less than a month and 1/3 of anode is eaten thru. I put it in a bucket of the water I drained from the heater. You can see bubbles coming off the rod. Waiting on an aluminum rod to get delivered to the supply house so I can install it. Hopefully the new one solves the problem.
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 2,186
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    If you still have any problems I would install a powered anode instead of a traditional anode rod. This will eliminate your problem and you won't have to worry about replacing anode rods in the future. 
    mattmia2
  • dcbraley
    dcbraley Member Posts: 15
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    Thanks, I wasn't aware of the powered version. Aluminum one already on order. If problems with that one will try the powered version.
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 3,649
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    Maybe I'm just a city boy, but I'm not sure I'd like to be drinking water that is visibly eats metal…
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,335
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    Hi, If you look here: https://heatinghelp.com/heating-museum/the-danger-of-food-contamination-by-aluminum/ you'll see why I'm not a fan of aluminum anodes. Powered anodes don't seem to produce gas at all, so will solve that problem.

    I'm wondering what's in the water, making it so conductive or aggressive that it is eating the anode so fast? Normally I see that only with softened water where they try to soften down to zero grains of hardness.

    Yours, Larry
  • dcbraley
    dcbraley Member Posts: 15
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    Thanks for the link, will check it out. There is no equipment to treat or soften the water. The the water heater that had failed was an AO Smith. It had been in for awhile. I recommended to the customer to get his water tested. He has had problems with pinholes in the copper tubing and that is compounded by the fact that a lot of it is M tubing.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,433
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    I'd make a quick wager that if he gets the water tested the pH will be low... Where is this? I've seen wells in some parts of New England and northern New York State (I don't mean Westchester. I mean like Watertown...) with a pH as low as 3, and that just eats copper -- and anodes -- alive.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Gsmith
    Gsmith Member Posts: 433
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    if the water pH is not unreasonably low (easy to test for with pH test strips), then check the electrical system for unbonded neutrals or grounding problems. This type of corrosion is sometimes caused by electrical currents from bad neutral connections or other issues causing the piping system to become part of the electrical system.
  • dcbraley
    dcbraley Member Posts: 15
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    Its in Massachusetts on the coast. I have another customer not too far from this house in the same area and their pH is fine with no treatment. Ive also recommended that he have the electrical system checked before after repairing some of piping leaks. I don't think he had it done but will mention it again.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,741
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    If it is happening in a bucket outside the tank then it is a water chemistry problem, not the electrical system (or more likely other systems that are dc like phone or cable) causing a current.
  • dcbraley
    dcbraley Member Posts: 15
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    I put the anode in a bucket of municipal town water and it is still producing bubbles. Its a magnesium anode, never tried with a brand new one, so not sure if I should be seeing anything. However, the customers well water does produce more than town water does.