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System 2000 EK1 corroded inlet - best way to fix?

beyondvoid
beyondvoid Member Posts: 10
I just purchased a home with a System 2000 EK1 oil-fired burner with a 40 gal hot water storage tank (original). It appears that the water inlet to the top of the tank was installed without a dielectric union, and there's significant corrosion around the junction. One day I noticed some water pooling around the junction (probably right after a tank refill). I got a quote from a plumber, who quoted the work reasonably but won't guarantee that it won't "crumble in his hands" in which case it may require a tank replacement.

For reasons probably not worth discussing, I am considering attempting the initial repair myself (or with the help of my father who's a a seasoned HVAC mechanic). I would like to know opinions from anyone familiar with this system as to whether this looks repairable, and how you would do it. Also, in the case that the nipple from the system is actually compromised, is a full tank replacement really necessary? If so, I think a natural gas HWH is in my future...

I really appreciate any opinions on this, thanks!

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Comments

  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,190
    I'm not a pro but I'll bet the corrosion inside is worse and when you torque that fitting it may well just fall apart. Your best bet might be to saw off the pipe and try to cut the nipple out by cutting out a section of the remaining pipe and folding it in on itself.

    In the end you'll probably have to replace the tank but who knows you might get lucky. If your hot water needs are moderate a standard gas hot water heater is a pretty inexpensive option.

    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
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,786
    50- 50% chance of getting that nipple out.

    How old is the tank?

    If and when you get it out, use a brass nipple, by code it should be a low lead brass, or a stainless steel nipple.

    You can sometimes use a small sharp chisel and collapse the broken piece inside the tank connection, if it shears off.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • beyondvoid
    beyondvoid Member Posts: 10
    Thanks for the responses. I am not sure of the age of the tank (purchase was an estate sale) maybe 10 years? I know that's old for a HWH but from what I've read its young for this system. But who knows how old it is, I couldn't find any reference on the boiler or tank.

    So the concensus seems to be that the nipple is removable -- is that a safe assumption for the EK1 system? I know some water heater tanks use a welded in nipple.

    I think I will scrub it down well with a wire brush to try and see the extent of the corrosion first. Then I will cut the copper pipe above and try to torque it off. If things break, then I will try the recommended methods of deforming the nipple pipe to help it screw out. Does that sounds right?

    Also, are there any rust-loosening products that are safe to use on a water tank? I'm hesitant to spray PB Blaster all over the fittings in case it gets into the water...
  • beyondvoid
    beyondvoid Member Posts: 10
    Also, I believe this tank has an anode rod. Would that mean the nipple would be part of the anode rod assembly?
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,786
    It could be a combo nipple/ anode rod.

    But while you are in there it would be a good idea to check and replace the anode.

    Those plastic plugs in the top metal jacket are usually the access to the anode rods. A socket and a mighty breaker bar may be need to remove the rod.

    Larry has some good advice at www.waterheaterrescue.com

    I doubt it was a weld into tank nipple, if it is galvanized.

    Not a bad idea to have access to a 3/4 NPT tap, incase the threads get damaged.

    10 years is a good life expectancy, depending on how many gallons have flowed thru that tank.

    Is this the system with an external plate HX? If so that may need a flushing also.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • spoon22
    spoon22 Member Posts: 32
    Is it the cold inlet to tank or hot outlet? The inlet nipple has a plastic dip tube that goes to bottom of the tank you would need a nipple with dip tube for replacement. If it is the hot out you can use a regular nipple. It might come out . You can replace that tank with a regular electric water heater and just turn it into an aqubooster they don't cost too much .
    Robert O'Brien
  • beyondvoid
    beyondvoid Member Posts: 10
    Thanks for the opinions! Yes it is the system with an external plate heat exchanger. I don't fully understand hot water operation yet, but the nipple I am having trouble with is plumbed from a copper pipe up above + ball valve... when I am at the house later I will trace it out, now I'm starting to doubt if its the inlet!

    What do you mean by aquabooster? Are you referring to using a regular electric water heater but leaving the heating elements disconnected?
    wyo
  • Robert O'Brien
    Robert O'Brien Member Posts: 3,326
    I agree with Spoon, a new tank is pretty cheap. I'd use an aquabooster tank,same as electric heater but no elements to leak and you don't have to fabricate a bottom tapping.

    http://www.johnwoodwaterheaters.com/en/products/residential/6-Storage_Booster_Tanks/13-Storage_Booster_Tanks
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,180
    By the fact there is an H next to the fitting, I am going with the hot outlet. As others have said, most likely the nipple will break off and you will have to cut it out. This is a pain, but very do-able.I would try penetrating oil on it for a day or so before trying it though. You might get lucky.
    If for some reason it doesn't work out and you have to replace the tank, and you don't use a System 2000 tank, you need to know that the dip tube on a System 2000 tank is shorter than normal. I am thinking about 22 inches. the specs are in the manual. You will have to take the one out of the new tank and shorten it by cutting it and using a torch to soften it and then spin it closed.
    Also if you go with a water heater and am not using the boiler to heat it, you will need to at least leave the plate heat exchanger in or pipe in a bypass for the boiler to function correctly.
    Rick
    beyondvoid
  • beyondvoid
    beyondvoid Member Posts: 10
    Well... I wire brushed the fitting, and I don't think it looks too bad to be honest. I sprayed it with some penetrating oil; this week I'll cut the pipe above and see if I can take it apart. My only concern is the white substance around the bottom of the nipple, seemed hard -- I hope its not an epoxy. Looks like whoever installed the system used that white stuff on all the threaded joints. Maybe I'll get lucky and the nipple won't even need to come out.

    image

    Rick -- your discovery of the "H" near the fitting made me laugh at myself pretty hard -- can you tell I'm a first time homeowner? I appreciate the great advice on tank replacement from everyone -- I know we can't discuss actual pricing on here, but lets just say the plumber's estimate for tank replacement alone was about 70% higher than installation of a new natural gas hot water heater + NG hookup...

    One question though -- Rick you mentioned that the manual mentions specs on the hot water heater. I have been unable to find a manual for the storage tank. The only one I've found is this one:

    http://www.wessonenergy.com/documents/Sysytems2000Manual.pdf

    which seems to be for the boiler only. Does anyone have a link to a manual for the System 2000 tank? That would have answered lot of questions!

    Thanks again for all the help, I'll post an update when I start cutting.
  • beyondvoid
    beyondvoid Member Posts: 10
    edited July 2015
    It does leak very slightly from the top (see the wetness in the first pics) but one time I saw water pooled in the little recess around the fitting. I haven't moved into the house yet so my hot water usage is almost 0 -- its possible that leak gets worse when the hot water is in use. So at a minimum, I would want to replace the coupling at the top and seal the threads with teflon tape. Since I don't know if the corrosion is due to the leaking water or if the leaking water is due to the corrosion, I'd also use a dielectric union or replace the nipple with a dielectric nipple (but I'm open to suggestions).

    Another piece of non-technical but related information -- discovered the leakage during final inspection of the house, and seller's agent agreed to repair it but is now dragging it out and playing games (entered the house and left his plumber there to "fix" it without my permission -- scared my mother-in-law who was also in the house!). So I'm either going to make them pay for a professional plumber, which could take forever, or I'll just do it myself and see if I can one day get the escrow money...
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,180
    All I have is the service manual I got from taking some of their classes. I think you might be able to call Energy Kinetics and get a manual from them, but am not sure. Can't hurt to try though.
    Rick
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    The white substance may be an anaerobic threadlocker. If so, heating it with a torch should facilitate relatively easy removal of the connected nipple.
  • Jim Hankinson
    Jim Hankinson Member Posts: 99
    All of Energy Kinetics glass lined tanks have been made for the past 15 years or so by American Water Heater. The top nipples are plastic lined and made by Perfection Corp. They're installed by American, not EK. The cold side has a dip tube as Rick mentioned, the hot does not.

    The leak is most likely the female adaptor. I'd cut the pipe then heat the adaptor. That'll come apart much easier than trying to back out the nipple.
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,180
    I just had one yesterday with the same problem. The tops of the nipples were totally rotted off and leaking. Since there is hardly any nipple sticking up to get a pipe wrench on, it makes it hard to get a grip on it without buckling it further. I put my wrench on it anyway and promptly crushed it and started twisting the tank. Experience tells me you can tighten a fitting that won't loosen, so I went the other way and managed to get it to move. Once it moved, then I was able to go the other way and get them to back out. I really expected to have to cut both of them out. Sometimes things work out ok.
    Rickimageimage
  • Bob Bona_4
    Bob Bona_4 Member Posts: 2,083
    I've never used female by sweat adapters, they expand too much and get distorted easily by wrenching. Far better to use a brass coupler/male setup for piece of mind. Monster tape with Megaloc dope over the tape is what I've had great success with.
    ChrisJ
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    The problem is the galvanized nipples used. I guess they figure that by the time of deterioration, it is time for another 10 year glass lined tank. The only repair here is to remove what's left of the nipple, and replace it. Brass is the way to go. I have flared "L" copper, and used it as a dip tube if it's a cold water inlet
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,566
    Bob Bona said:

    I've never used female by sweat adapters, they expand too much and get distorted easily by wrenching. Far better to use a brass coupler/male setup for piece of mind. Monster tape with Megaloc dope over the tape is what I've had great success with.

    Every leak I had early on was with female adapters and is why I ended up using megaloc + blue monster tape
    .
    I like the brass coupler + male adapter idea and will use that from now on.
    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
  • beyondvoid
    beyondvoid Member Posts: 10
    Wow sorry for not responding, I didn't realize there were more posts here! So I finally got to it last weekend, and as someone mentioned, the top of the nipple was deteriorated and needs to come out, but there is a plastic liner in it. So do I take out the nipple (very difficult but I'll keep trying) and just put in a new one over the plastic? Or do I need to buy a new plastic lined nipple? I'm also worried about torching the nipple and melting the plastic so I have avoided that.

    Rick in Alaska, did the unit you fixed have the plastic liner in the upper?

    Thanks for the help!
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,180
    Both nipples are plastic lined. The difference is the cold water feed has the dip tube installed. I can't remember if the dip tube is the liner for the nipple, or if it stops just under the nipple. If it is in the nipple and you are real careful, you probably can get it out without damaging it. If it is under the nipple, just leave it alone.
    You can get plastic lined nipples at plumbing supply houses and a new dip tube if needed. If you get a new dip tube, you have to shorten it to make it the same length as what is in there now. As others have also said, just put in a brass nipple and not worry about galvanized.
    Rick
  • beyondvoid
    beyondvoid Member Posts: 10
    Thanks for the response. Any other thoughts on how to get this hot water nipple off? A pipe wrench with about 50 blows from a hammer still has not gotten any movement, I even tried tightening it first as you suggested. Someone online suggested drilling though the nipple and fabricating an adapter to use a 30" breaker bar, but that's a last resort.

    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated -- thanks!
    Derek
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,180
    The only other way I know of to do it would be to cut the nipple off flush with the top of the tank. Then you would have to take a hacksaw blade and make a vertical cut in the nipple, starting in the center, and very slowly cutting until you just touch the threads. It works best if you do two if these cuts about 30 degrees apart. After making the cuts, you take a half round cold chisel and use it to fold the nipple in on itself. Fold in the part between the two cuts. After getting this piece out, then the rest will come out easily.
    If you do this carefully enough, you can get the nipple out without damaging the threads.
    Hope this helps.
    Rick
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