Damaged "flue baffle" in American Powerflex Water Heater


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Old 03-25-14, 09:15 AM
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Damaged "flue baffle" in American Powerflex Water Heater

Hello,

We recently noticed this object siting on the top of the burner inside our 3 year old water heater and it appears to be the bottom portion of the flue baffle that has melted off:



The water heater is a 75 gallon American Powerflex (or Powervent) model number PVG62-75T75-3NOV shown here: Product Details - Products
The unit was originally installed by a qualified licensed plumber, not myself.


We are looking into ordering a replacement part through the manufacturer to replace, but our main concern at this point is 1) why did this happen, and 2) could it happen again? We are basically wondering if this is caused by improper usage, or some kind of defect.

This water heater is supplying hot water to a 3-family home but with a total of only 4 people. Could this be caused from it being overused which is causing it to melt away the bottom of the flue baffle??

In the meantime, we assume best case scenario for continuing to use the unit with the old flue baffle with severed bottom piece would be that it would still work fine but just run less efficiently, or worst case scenario could possibly be a fire hazard or toxic fume hazard. Is this a safe assumption?

Any thoughts on the matter are appreciated.

Here's a diagram showing the flue baffle part running down the middle of the unit:

 

Last edited by tmpardi77; 03-25-14 at 10:46 AM.
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Old 03-25-14, 02:59 PM
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I would think that it could happen again. Can you post some pics of the unit?
 
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Old 03-25-14, 05:21 PM
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I can't post any pics at this time. Its a rental property and I don't plan to be back over there until the 1st of the month. It is the same exact model as the one in the link I posted in the OP.

I should have also mentioned we originally noticed this problem because the burner was not firing (the pilot light stayed lit however). We had to oil the blower motor to get the burner to fire again. This was yesterday and its been working fine since.

We are unsure, but wondering if the fact we neglected to oil the motor (we didn't know it needed that particular maintenance) has anything to do with the baffle piece melting off.
 
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Old 03-25-14, 06:12 PM
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I would think that you would want to go back there sooner. I consider that a possible fire hazard. I hope there are smoke alarms there.
 
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Old 03-25-14, 06:17 PM
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There are smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors close by.

Can you explain why you believe it could be a fire hazard? I was thinking the same, but not sure exactly how it could. The piece that melted off was the bottom of the baffle. Most of it is still intact, and there doesn't seem to be any blockage up the flue.

Also, we have the replacement part ordered and should have it within a week. Just need it to function for that time period.
 
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Old 03-25-14, 07:07 PM
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I have seen a few heaters do that. I just replace the baffle..

The cause IMO is when the heaters are transported the baffles get dislodges and not put back when installed. They often need to be installed in a certain slot or resting groove..

Last its possible when it go installed at the factory by the robot or person in a rush it got bent during the install..


Since its closest to the burner it just got melted..

Is the unit under warranty? Possibly the manufacturer will send a replacement free... But that unit looks like a commercial unit maybe. They only have a one year warranty...

Hope this helps.
 
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Old 03-26-14, 06:56 AM
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Thanks for the informative reply, lawrosa.

Yes, I do believe under the circumstances we installed it--in a multi-family home providing hot water to multiple rental units--the warranty policy actually changes from 6 years to 1. However, when we ordered the replacement part from the manufacturer they asked no questions and did not charge us for it (we just paid shipping). So I guess we got lucky on the warranty situation.

One other concern we are still wondering about though, is it safe enough to run the unit for a week or so while waiting for the replacement baffle?? I actually have no way of knowing for how long it was running with the bottom piece melted off, could have been a while, so I am assuming it will do the job for now... albeit possibly a bit less efficiently.
 
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Old 03-26-14, 07:03 AM
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is it safe enough to run the unit for a week or so while waiting for the replacement baffle??
As long as the baffle is not blocking the draft tube you should be OK... I usually pull the baffle and make sure the end where it broke off is straight and looking normal. Which it sounds like you did...
 
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Old 03-26-14, 07:20 AM
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We didn't pull it out (yet).

What we did to inspect it was reached our hand in with a phone and took a video of the inside to look at the bottom of the baffle in the flue. It looked like it made a clean break.
 
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Old 03-27-14, 07:39 PM
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I think there is no danger or hazard if the baffle is broken or missing. The water heater will perform normally without the baffle.

It's purpose is to extract some of the heat from the exhaust gases and add that heat to the water in the tank, for added overall energy efficiency.

If the baffle was intended to fit in a groove in the central tank flue and is not then the following can happen:

1. Heat captured by the baffle does not get passed on to the tank and the water inside,
2. The baffle gets hotter than it should and the likelihood of a portion breaking off due to overheating is greater..
 
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Old 03-28-14, 06:16 AM
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Thanks AllanJ for your input.

So basically you believe it will still operate safely, just less efficiently? If that's the case I can live with that for a short time until we receive and install the replacement baffle.
 
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Old 04-01-14, 07:53 AM
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Hi Lawrosa,

I am tmpardi's brother and we are going to replace the baffle this weekend. The baffle is initially installed at the factory so the manual didn't have any instructions to install or replace the baffle.

It looks as easy as removing the 4 screws on top plate of the boiler under the exhaust blower? Is there anything else that I may be missing? I am assuming once I unscrew the blower we should be able to move it over enough to get to the baffle without disconnecting it from the PVC piping. I'd like to avoid messing with the exhaust system as much as possible.
 
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Old 04-03-14, 05:39 AM
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fixed it!

Looks like the old baffle was 95% ok and most likely didn't need to be replaced. THe extensive burning / melting on the part that did break off was most likely from sitting on the burner after it broke off. I do believe the baffle was damaged before it even went into the system and that's why it eventually failed. It is actually quite flimsy and I could see mishandling to cause failure.

We removed the blower (4 screws) and had enough play in the PVC to move it out the way to access the Flue without disconnect. The baffle just sits in there so it pulled right out. The bracket used to keep the baffle was quite flimsy (just a ring that sits on the top) but seemed to do its job.

One issue we almost ran into was having enough ceiling height to pull the baffle out. This 10 minute job could have turned to an expensive and lengthy problem if our basement ceilings were not the right height. This would have required a plumber to disconnect the tank.

Thanks for the info
 
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Old 08-29-15, 04:18 AM
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Bradford-White Water heater

M475S6CN12 -392 ************

Serial number : WE9593138

Was wondering what the typical flue baffle length is so I know if it can even be removed with the space we are working in. Also could a disintegrating baffle cause the flames to become too hi and yellow at the tips? I found a similar looking peace on the burner plate as mentioned in this post. We have already cleaned the area below the burner and burner plates. Is there possibly a screen I can't see because of corrosion?

Thank you,
Cindi
 
 

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