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Propane Water Heater kicks on almost immediately?

mwc125
mwc125 Member Posts: 4
edited February 15 in Domestic Hot Water
Greetings,

Bradford White 50 gallon power vent water heater - model number M4TW50T6FSX. Installed about 18 months ago.

Home to 4 people with propane used to fire the water heater and kitchen range. We heat with wood.

This water heater kicks on almost immediately after starting to draw hot water inside the house. I've never owned a water heater like this, so have no point of reference on what "normal" is. It seems like we are using more propane than in the past and I'm trying to run this down. Is this normal operation for such a water heater?

Thanks,
Mike


Comments

  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 5,713
    my similar water heater did, especially in winter when the incoming water temp was in the 30s.
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,584
    edited February 15
    Hi, When you draw hot water, cold water enters the heater via a dip tube. This tube directs cold water to the bottom of the tank where it hits the thermostat pretty quickly. The colder the water, the faster the thermostat will respond. Faster draws like a tub will trigger the thermostat more quickly than slow draws, like a sink. That paint a thermal picture? B)

    Yours, Larry

    ps. It tells me the dip tube in your heater is good!
    PC7060
  • mwc125
    mwc125 Member Posts: 4
    Thanks for your insight folks! I am trying to run down what appears to be greater than normal usage of propane and this helps me eliminate the water heater from the the suspect list. I've got complete access to every gas line in my home, so after smelling, soaping and then using a "sniffer" to inspect each and every inch of piping not under ground, I was focusing on appliance gas usage. Next, I'll figure out how to put a gauge on one end of the gas line at the tank and plug the other to gain fidelity on potential leaks underground!

    Be well,
    Mike
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,584
    Hi @mwc125 , A few more thoughts. Try the sniffer around the tank itself, particularly the plumbing on top. I've had relief valves leak slowly there. Also, at any pressure reducer, check the vent as there could be a diaphragm leak. I like your idea of isolating portions of the gas line and putting air on it to see if, and how fast pressure drops.

    Yours, Larry
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,378
    If you do put a pressure test on it, make sure you disconnect all appliances first. If one of your shutoff valves does not work, the pressure can destroy your gas valve.
    Rick
    mattmia2
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 5,713

    If you do put a pressure test on it, make sure you disconnect all appliances first. If one of your shutoff valves does not work, the pressure can destroy your gas valve.
    Rick

    Or if someone opens a valve without releasing the pressure first.
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,584
    Hi, @rick in Alaska is right! I did that once... only once ;)

    Yours, Larry
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,378
    Hi, @rick in Alaska is right! I did that once... only once

    Yeah, me too. I did learn that if you are going to test a line in a place that has more than one meter, to make sure they are all labeled accurately. Lucky for me, the owner took responsibility for it and it didn't cost me anything.
  • mwc125
    mwc125 Member Posts: 4
    Howdy guys! Appreciate all the dialog on this subject.

    My perceived loss of propane is not a significant one, but it is more than we've used in the past without any changes in our appliance demand. This stuff drives me nuts! Have dialoged with my propane supplier and he too believes my consumption is "high" based on demand. My propane guy does offer pressure testing services, but that costs money and honestly, I've observed this process where the gas guy gives the line about 10 minutes under pressure before calling it "good". Prefer to do myself and get a better feel for what's happening.

    Larry, I did employ the sniffer around the fittings on the tank without detecting a leak. That said, I'll do it again and focus on the pressure relief valve as you advised.

    I intend to pressure test the line from the tank to the house. Will disconnect union to house and remove the pressure regulator before capping that end with a gauge. Then, will disconnect line from tank and somehow pressurize the line. Propane runs at very low pressure, so I was thinking maybe 10 to 20 PSI should be adequate? While I'm mechanically adept, I've never done this and could use some advice on what hardware, gauge, and whatnot I should employ in this task. Some specific questions...

    What type of gauge to hook up?
    Adapters for pressurizing the line?
    What pressure should I test the line?
    How much time should pass before calling the line "good"?

    I'll go outside and get some photos of the tank to line connections and where it comes from the ground to better illuminate my situation. Look for those in a bit.

    Thanks!
    Mike
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,584
    edited February 21
    Hi @mwc125 , Look for a gas test gauge something like this:
    In my area, inspectors like to see 15 psi. Personally I like to leave the gauge in place at least an hour, during a time of day that the ambient temperature doesn't change much. Requirements vary depending on where you are. AND make sure to follow @rick in Alaska 's instruction on how to not blow up gas valves!

    Yours, Larry