water coming up the top of the water heater - help!


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Old 06-08-13, 01:07 PM
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Exclamation water coming up the top of the water heater - help!

i'm a total novice, so please forgive my ignorance if this is a no-brainer. any advice would be appreciated; here's the situation:

this morning, my wife informed me that the pilot light in the water heater (it is a rheem brand) must have gone out. i went down to start it, and discovered a leak that seemed to be coming from somewhere above the cold water inlet (nipple?). i noticed right away that there was no water shooting under pressure, and that water was dripping down the side near the pilot light. because of this, i figured that this somehow put out the pilot light. since i replaced the flexible pipe on the hot side not long ago, and there seemed to be water at least that high, i went ahead and changed the flexible pipe coming down from the shut-off valve, and also the little 2-or-so-inch joint between the flexible pipe and the shut-off valve. it's a good thing that i did this, because that little joint was severely corroded inside to the point where i was sure this was probably the problem, but froom what happened next, maybe not.

when i turned the water on, the stuff i replaced seemed ok, but then i noticed water slowly coming up from base of both nipples, incoming (cold) and outgoing (hot) - but all the water is cold, which makes sense because it's been off quite a while. according to this diagram of a gas hot water heater:



there is a "water line" that is clearly shown, which shows a level below the top of the tank. if this is the case, then what is pushing the water up?

here's the strange part: when we first started repairs, we shut off the main water coming into the house, and also the incoming water to the heater using the shut-off valve directly over the cold water inlet (above the flexible pipe). later, i figured that it would be okay to leave the shut-off valve off and turn the main back on, but when we did this, cold water started coming up from the bases of both nipples, and and out of the top of the disconnected cold water intake nipple. this makes no sense because there is no incoming water;(which is disconnected at the intake nipple and shut off at the valve only the outlet is connected. to the rest of the house.

is this just a pressure thing, or should i be worried?

i don't know what the problem could be. the heater doesn't seem to be leaking anywhere else; just through the junctions of the intake and outlet, apparently due to something pushing the water up. i abolutely cannot afford a new water heater right now if tis one can be repaired by replacing one or both of the nipples or doing something else. the things i really don't understand are a) the water coming up and the fac that it's coming up even when the incoming water is disconnected to make matters worse, we live in a very small town where a) everything is twice as expensive as it needs to be and b) everything closes early on saturday and is closed all day sunday. in short, i've got very little time to find a solution.

help!

thanks in advance -

ron
 

Last edited by tasunkawitko; 06-08-13 at 01:23 PM.
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Old 06-08-13, 02:09 PM
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problem evidently (hopefully) solved.

my dad made it into town and took a quick look. he said it didn't seem like the tank was cracked, and it seemed more likely that the liner between the tank and the covering might be saturated like a sponge, and when i turned the water on it was squeezing or pushing water up and out the top. He suggested hooking everything back up, turning the water etc. on, and letting it "run its course," pushing out any more excess water until it had no more to push out..

i didn't have any better ideas, so we gave it a try. when we turned the water on, a little more seeped up slowly, and we wiped that away. a little more seeped up, more slowly, and we wiped that away. now, there's no evident seeping up, but after 5 minutes or so there's a little water to wipe away. i'm guessing that over the next hour or so it will cease altogether, and will keep an eye on it.

the good news is that i evidently made the original repair correctly and successfully - on my own, which is an accomplishment for me. i'm good at a lot of things, but i suck at handy-man stuff. hopefully, hanging out here a little will change that!

it looks like we're all taken care of for now, but when i was lighting the pilot light i noticed the "install date" scratched into the side: 1995. i'm guessing that we should probably start saving up now for a new heater.
 
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Old 06-08-13, 02:53 PM
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Welcome to the forums! Glad you were able to get things resolved.......at least for now. 1995, you know that was last century, right? You are on borrowed time, so contemplate your options regarding an eventual replacement of the water heater as well as the lead in piping.
 
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Old 06-08-13, 03:08 PM
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What you describe sounds like the tank is shot. Usually the welds around the h/c nipples.

Sorry if so but you got your moneys worth from that heater.... Replace it.....
 
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Old 06-08-13, 03:46 PM
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hi, guys, and thanks for the replies.

well, an hour-and-a-half later, and there's still some upward seepage, but it is very, very slow.

at first, i suspected (hoped) that it is due to the water tank heating up, pushing the moisture out of the fibreglass lining, which is surely saturated. my guess was that it will work itself out over the next day or two. but now, after reading lawrosa's reply, i have a sinking feeling that he might be correct.

i'll monitor this over the next day or two, and see what happens. payday is this coming friday, and if it does need replaced, i hope that it at least lasts that long.

crazy question: is re-welding the nipples even an option? my son is a welder, and could probably do it, if it can be done.
 
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Old 06-08-13, 03:58 PM
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also, perhaps a dumb question: is it normal for the flexible hose on the inlet/cold side to ever be warm or even toward hot?
 
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Old 06-08-13, 05:16 PM
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Take a pic of the connections you have.

Maybe not from the nipples but could be the flue weld too.

These welds are the tappings from the factory. I highly doubt it could be fixed. You will just make the hole worse by trying to weld it.

Flex lines warm probably because no heat trap. Like I said take a pic.

Oh I recommend and use/ install AO smith heaters. IMO they are the best in the industry. A 40 gall runs about $350. Get at your local Ferguson dealer. They sell to the public.

Locations Finder
 
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Old 06-08-13, 05:26 PM
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Welding or doing something to this tank is likened to a bandaid on an exit wound, IMO.
 
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Old 06-08-13, 05:38 PM
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jotting this down for the record:

it is a rheemglas fury 40-gallon short hot water heaterm model #21V405-3. near as i can tell, the install date was 31AUG1995. other than the flue in the center, there are four depressions on the flat top of the tank, spaced like points on a compass. the "east" and "west" depressions are where the hot and cold nipples/flexible pipes come out; the third depression is a bolt head, possibly for the corrosion rod - and if i remember correctly the 4th is for the t/p over-flow, but i could be wrong. the upward water seepage is by way of these depressions; some depressions seep faster than others, but all seem very slow (albeit steady).

we bought this house in 2007 and the hot water heater has worked absolutely perfectly, with no problems, weird-looking water, scary sounds or any sign of trouble. i replaced one copper flexible pipe last winter, and that was the only problem until today.

if the problem is leaking nipple welds, i'm guessing that the seepage is filling the space between tank and outside cover, causing the space to fill up and push water out those depressions. it's a very thin and slow stream, but evidently enough to cause what is happening.

barring any new developments or information, i'm going to have to assume that it needs replaced; having said that, if there is any possible alternative, please let me know. i hate to use the term, but we are "dirt poor" and such a purchase is a huge cut out of our budget. i'll start a new thread on the topic of choosing one, but our choices and available funds are extremely limited.
 
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Old 06-08-13, 05:41 PM
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guys - i missed your replies while i was typing my post above. thanks for the info. assuming it is the welds, it sounds like repair is out of the question.

lawrosa, thanks for the recommendation; i will definitely take a look at that site. my son has our camera right now, but when i get the chance, i will post a photo or two illustrating the situation.
 
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Old 06-08-13, 05:44 PM
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we are "dirt poor" and such a purchase is a huge cut out of our budget
Don't think you are alone in this. Such a purchase years ago, probably would have come out of a few weeks work residuals. Nowadays they are major purchases for most of us. I just had my septic pumped at my weekend rental cabin.....$450 That hurt!! Good luck and I hope it makes it until you can replace it properly. Keep an eye on it in the meantime.
 
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Old 06-08-13, 05:58 PM
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The "average" life of a gas-fired water heater is eight to ten years. That doesn't mean that they are all DOA at ten years plus one day (my own is fourteen years old) but it does mean that you really need to seriously start budgeting for replacement starting at about eight years. Even assuming a $1,000 installed cost that is only $1.39 a day for two years. Start the replacement savings account at five years and if it lasts for ten you only need to save fifty-five cents a day.

No, there is almost no chance of repair when you have an active leak.

Now the good news. Water heater replacement is a fairly easy DIY task. You will probably need to get a permit and inspection if it is a gas-fired water heater but the actual work is straightforward and requires minimal tools. Installation costs and disposal of the old heater can easily run four hundred dollars in bigger cities.
 
 

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