Propane water heater-water temp is lukewarm


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Old 10-31-17, 08:53 AM
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Propane water heater-water temp is lukewarm

Hello everyone. I'm having a issue with my Propane water heater. The name on the heater says SATELLITE SEALED SYSTEM. The model is SCI-30-ND14. Ok, now the problem.
One month ago, I had plenty of hot water. Over the last month, we noticed the temp was dropping. First thing I did was check the pilot. It was burning. So then, I checked the thermostat, and adjusted it a little hotter, and as I did, the burner came on, so I closed the chamber door. After a half hour, still no change. In fact, the water was barely luke warm. At this point, I did some research, and decided to drain the tank for any mineral build up. I connected a hose, opened the closest hot water faucet for vacuum release , and the water heater drain valve. As the tank drained, I noticed the water was crystal clear. However I didn't shut the main water valve off, and eventually, water started coming out the sink faucet. I figured at this point, the tank must have fully drained as the water was ice cold. So, I closed the faucet, and the drain valve and removed the hose.
After draining, I decided to do a test. I turned the thermostat on FULL HOT. After 45 minutes..the water was barely warm. So, now I'm at a stand still.
I have researched as much as I can, and at this point, it APPEARS to be one of two problems. Either the thermostat has gone bad, or the down tube has disintegrated or something. Although, I'm leaning towards the down tube as the burner does come on. Whether or not it turns off at the correct temperature..I have no idea. BUT.. my real problem though, is I'm on a fixed SS income, and can't waste money on an improper diagnosis. So what I'm asking is, if anyone knows of tests to properly diagnose the problem. I'm very good at repairing things, but just need a diagnosis. Thanks for any input.
 
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Old 10-31-17, 05:12 PM
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I do not recognize the company and cannot find a matching model number.
 
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Old 11-01-17, 08:25 AM
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Hi PJmax. Thanks for replying. Yeah, me too. However, I went ahead and researched both dip tubes and thermostats. After reading a repair blog, I found out, normally, a manufacturer puts the year of manufacture in the first four digits. Mine is ...gak...1989'. Also, it said ALL manufacturer's used the same defective dip tube from 93' to 97'. After visually looking at my water heater, I discovered TWO things. First, given it's age, I believe this unit doesn't even have a dip tube, as the cold water connection is simply a cast iron nipple on top of the tank. Although, I may be wrong.
Reason being, I've watched two videos on dip tubes. Both showed a plastic tube, fused to a double threaded aluminum/steel nipple.
Given the nipple on mine is a simple cast iron nipple, I thought maybe there is a different type tube. I was right. Ace hardware sells one WITHOUT the nipple. It has a flange made of the same plastic, which appears as though must go under a nipple above it.. which suggests this might be the type used in mine, if it did indeed the unit was manufactured with a tube.

On the OTHER hand.. given I don't know when manufacturers started incorporating dip tubes as a technical advance, and also given at the same time, they moved the hot water outlet on the tank, from the lower area, to the top due to modern analysis of how water heaters work(I suppose)-(ie.. hot water rises to the top).., after learning this, I looked at my tank. GAK! The hot water discharge connection is only approx 8" from the bottom of the tank. THIS TELLS ME SOMETHING!

First off.. given it's manufactured almost 20 yrs ago.. I ASSUME, there is no dip tube. Second..I probably should just **** can this old thing and get a new one. HOWEVER.. I have NO money to do this. And there in lies the real problem.

Sooooooo, back to square one. What is causing the problem? If I can fix this, that is what I have to do. Otherwise..I just have to live with it until such time I come into some sort of windfall.

At this point, not knowing absolutely if this thing HAS a diptube..all I can do is turn off the water, and disconnect the cold water line, remove that nipple.. and LOOK. Which actually will tell me ..if there is no tube.. then the only other thing it could be.. is the thermostat. Right?

OK, PJmax.. I'll let you know. Sure would like to know a test for the thermostat though. It does fire up the burner. I just don't know if it shuts off at the correct temp. Ok.. I'll be back. *sighs*
 
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Old 11-01-17, 10:41 AM
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The hot water discharge connection is only approx 8" from the bottom of the tank. THIS TELLS ME SOMETHING!
Cold water naturally sinks and hot water naturally rises. The dip tube keeps the incoming cold water from mixing with the hot water at the top of the tank while delivering it to the bottom . Since you are taking the hot water out of the bottom of the tank.... a dip tube would have little consequence. You are withdrawing naturally cooler water. Is there a hot water connection on the top of the tank that is capped off ?
 
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Old 11-01-17, 01:25 PM
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Hi again Pjmax. No, nothing is capped off. Only thing on top is the cold water input, and I think an anode fitting. And you are right. Hot output at the bottom seems ridiculous if hot water rises to the top.
Of course, this WH was made in 89'. I guess science hadn't caught up with common sense yet. Hahahaha. Thing is.. this tank did put out very hot water for a very long time, so who knows. Point now is to fix it. My guess at this point is there is NO dip tube. And taking the cold water line loose is no easy chore either. Last year, I had to fix that line, which is plastic coming from the floor. It had cracked at the fitting that connects to galvanized. This is an old modular home. All lines plastic. When I fixed it, I replaced the broken adapter with a Sharkbite fitting. Now, I will have to cut the plastic again, in order to back out a 3/4" x 8" vertical galvanized pipe from an elbow. Then, remove that elbow, which is also connected to another 8" horizontal pipe, which is connected to another elbow, which in turn, is connected to the nipple which is connected to the tank. Each piece has to be removed separately due to space/proximity to tank limitations. WHEW! Not only that, but, I'd have to turn the water off. Given we just had our first snow, and my luck.. this will turn into a nightmare.

This is why I'm theorizing.. there is no dip tube. In that light, I'm looking for a test for the thermostat. If there is one. If I can test it, and it turns out bad, problem solved. If it turns out good.. then.. I guess I'll have to take the cold water line apart.. to find out if I can SEE, any type of plastic FLANGE under the nipple. That's the problem. If there is.. then I'll see about finding a replacement. Either way, I need to get this fixed. Wife is getting tired of heating water for dishes..and no showers for a week. Damn. This sucks.
Ok, thanks for the reply. Any help on testing this thermostat would be greatly appreciated too.
 
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Old 11-01-17, 01:42 PM
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Could you please post a few pictures of that heater?

Dip tubes have been used for at least fifty years, it is not new technology. I have never seen a cast iron nipple, are you sure it isn't a black STEEL nipple? Are the connection points actually marked hot and cold on the heater? The way I read your description it seems the heater is piped backwards.
 
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Old 11-01-17, 03:30 PM
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The way I read your description it seems the heater is piped backwards.
*slaps forehead* OH. MY. GOD. *blood rushes to face* *feels like total moron*

Someone please slap me back to my senses. God it sucks getting old. .

Hello Fudd. I am soooooo sorry,. Yes.. Yes.. you are totally right. I don't know what I was thinking. I should have remembered.. when that water line broke last year...it was the HOT water line. Which connects to the tank on TOP!! And you are right..that connection is a GALVANIZED STEEL NIPPLE. Sorry for the confusion.
The one at the bottom is the COLD water. OMG. What a dummy. Ok, let's start all over. OK?

Dip tubes have been used for at least fifty years, it is not new technology.
Ok, but now, given the COLD water line connects about 8" from the bottom of the tank...ut ..oh.. this means there can't possibly be any dip tube. RIGHT?????

Which is a good thing, no? That eliminates one possible problem. Which also means.. it's the thermostat, or something I don't know about, amirite???
Which just might have to do with something I just saw a video about called a FLAME SENSOR. Although, I don't see any wires coming from the combustion chamber to the thermostat, so I doubt a WH of this age used that technology. But I'll get down there and look with a flash light. I just don't think so at this point.

Anyway guys, I'm sooo sooo sorry about the confusion. This isn't the first time either. Like I said..getting old sucks. Ok, on with the solution. Any ideas on how to test the thermostat? One other piece of info too. My wife told me, over the last few months, in the morning, the water would be lukewarm even after running for 3 or 4 minutes, but as she used water over the day, by the afternoon it would be hot. But now, not even that happens. It's just lukewarm all the time..if not almost cold. Ok..that's about all I can tell you at this point. Thanks so much for pointing out my mistake. I'll be back.

ps. Maybe the reason this Water Heater has a cold water input at the bottom..is this house is an old modular and the pipes come in from the floor. From my understanding, for what ever difference I don't know, modular homes are considered *mobile* and have a different WH than normal homes. Perhaps that's the reason???




*Tells wife to make appointment for dementia test*
 

Last edited by fitz70; 11-01-17 at 03:41 PM. Reason: add info
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Old 11-01-17, 05:15 PM
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Right.... no dip tube.

I doubt you have a flame sensor and it doesn't sound like you have a burner problem. It sounds like the bottom of the tank may be partially filled with sediment. That will keep the flame from heating the tank properly and it can also cover the thermostat sensing tube. If that tube gets covered then the thermostat cannot read the correct water temperature.

Does the tank have a bottom drain valve ?

It would be nice to see where the cold line enters the tank and where the control valve is in relation to it. How-to-insert-pictures
 
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Old 11-02-17, 07:07 AM
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Hi again PJ. I suspect the same thing. Although, it seemed like this happened very quickly. Two months ago I had to turn the temp DOWN. But now, even adjusted to FULL HOT.. water is luke warm,. And yes, as I stated, I drained the tank before I posted here. I had my wife open the valve while I watched the water come out of the hose. It was crystal clear. No sediment that I could tell. HOWEVER, my water has terrible mineral buildups. If I draw a glass of water from a faucet and let it sit, I can see white flakes of something in the bottom. Even my coffee maker has to be cleaned every week. Sooooooo, I'm guessing you are right. Thermostat probe probably coated..thick. Ok, time to see if I can find a thermostat replacement. But this unit is so old, and can't find any info online. Do you think there might be a universal type replacement for these? If so, can you link? Meanwhile, I'll research my self too. Ok guys..thanks so much. Time to get this fixed.

Btw, both you guys have helped me with at least 3 other problems in the past, which I fixed due to your suggestions. I really appreciate your insights.
 
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Old 11-03-17, 08:50 AM
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Hi again guys. Well, as luck would have it, my daughter-in-law works at Lowes, and she just told me they have a discontinued 40gal Water Heater on sale real cheap. However, before I buy it, I tried to find out some info on it online, but to no avail. I just need to know if this unit will work. The existing one has what I think is a direct vent, whatever that means. All I know is there is no open venting at the where the vent pipe connects. And, it's in a closet enclosure. I don't even know if this is relevant. This unit is a AO Smith model# G6 MH4040NV 400. Can anyone tell WHAT is important here?? I know I'll have to modify all the pipes, which is no big deal. I even solder copper, which is what I'll use to connect everything to the existing plastic pipes. However, time is of the essence as I have to buy this TODAY. I only have a couple of hours to figure out if this thing will work. Can any one offer any words to the wise? Thanks
 
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Old 11-04-17, 07:26 AM
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Holy mother of inflation. Bought 2 pcs 3/4" x 60" copper pipe, (2) 3/4" unions, (4) 3/4" female threaded adapters, and a bag of (10) 90deg elbows, and a small reel of Lead free solder, at Home Depot. EIGHTY THREE FREAKING DOLLARS!!!! You'd think this stuff is made of gold instead of copper.
Someone needs to tell the US Mint, Pennies are worth their weight in gold now.
 
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Old 11-04-17, 08:59 AM
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Ok guys, I bit the bullet and went ahead and bought that water heater at Lowes. Left me broke but..oh well. Trying to fix this old one was ...well, let's just call it... dumb. I barely had enough money for everything, but that's life.

But now comes the real chore. This water heater is MUCH bigger than the old one. And heavier. The enclosure for this heater is almost too small too. Looks like I'll have to move or tear out one wall, which ISN"T really a wall per se. This house is a modular built in the 70's. Basically.. a piece of crap. This *wall* is simply 2x2 frame with a sheet of 3/8" drywall slapped on each face. Probably could knock it out in 20 seconds.


But THEN, now I have to deal with the floor. Reason is.. the plastic pipes come up through the floor..right in FRONT of the water heater. No wonder this water heater had never been changed. It was installed FIRST, at the factory, and then they ran the pipes.
To have someone else do this work would cost a fortune today. Thank god I have the skillsets and tools. Not much to it. Just time and energy. Ok.. onward.

Thing is.. I have to cut these pipes flush with the floor, just to get this old one out. Which means, now I have to cut a piece out of the floor, to get down in and re-route these pipes so I can get the new water heater in place.
I would have to do this anyway eventually, as the floor is just particle board. And last year, the hot water pipe cracked, and flooded this crap. Needless to say, particle board and hot water arn't a good mix. This crap is so weak now, you can almost break it with your hands. Don't know what else I'll find when I open it up either. But, hopefully all I'll have to do is re-route the pipes, reinforce the area under the water heater with 2x material between the joists, put in some cleats, and a new plywood piece. I've actually done this procedure in 2 other houses. So..no big deal.

However, what I'm really concerned about is the vent. I haven't even opened up the box yet. So I really don't know what I'm up against. This new one is at least a foot higher than the old. And, the old one is what I think is called a *direct vent*. Don't know what the new one has yet. But we'll see. I know I'll have to shorten up the vent tube. Thing is, somewhere, I saw something about water heaters in *mobile* or modulars, are some how different. Anyone know why? This new one is a standard residential WH. Is there anything I should be concerned about???
Ok guys, time to get busy. Just thought I'd post updates, and, I'll post pictures of the progress, just in case it might help other people down the road. I'll be back. Wish me luck
 
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Old 11-04-17, 10:12 AM
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Ok guys, I bit the bullet and went ahead and bought that water heater at Lowes.

What brand is it? If this is an old discontinued Whirlpool or American water heater you just bought a peck of troubles. If it's a Whirlpool I'd return it and buy an AO Smith. There are numerous reasons why Lowes has dropped the Whirlpool line for AO Smith. If you are a veteran you can get a 10% discount. If not a veteran, your daughter-in-law gets an employee 10% discount, just give her the money to pay for it for you.

the old one is what I think is called a *direct vent*.

Uh-oh, you have a problem. Your old direct vent water heater vents through a side wall, probably with a blower, and the new one needs a vent through the roof. I don't think it will work.
 
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Old 11-06-17, 06:46 AM
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I find it hard to believe that the water heater ran for 45 minutes and the water was still just lukewarm.

Do you have a slow leak in your hot water plumbing that is drawing off water almost as fast as the heater can heat it?

Did you make any changes or repairs between the time you still had good hot water and the time this problem started?

This bears repeating. Turn off the water heater heating before draining the tank if you plan to turn off the cold feed then let much water out the drain valve. Turn on the water and see it gush from a hot faucet for a minute before turning the heat back on.

Older technology water heaters require a roof vent and are not quite as energy efficient as water heaters that require a wall vent. Water heaters designed for mobile homes are more likely to draw combustion air from outside which uses a more complicated vent pipe assembly which incidentally is the same as that for the more modern wall vent technology.
 
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Old 11-06-17, 08:53 AM
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Hi guys. Ok, got a comedy of errors story from hell.

But first things first.
CasualJoe said:
What brand is it? If this is an old discontinued Whirlpool or American water heater you just bought a peck of troubles. If it's a Whirlpool I'd return it and buy an AO Smith.
WHOA!!! I can't believe it. This isn't my usual luck. Turns out, the unit IS an AO Smith! AND.. it's manufactured for a MANUFACTURED HOME!! What kind of luck is that?? I mean..I didn't select it. It just happened to turn out that way. Bejeebus. Thank god. HOWEVER..

..installing this requires a ****load of modifications to the space. Started yesterday. Took ALL day to get the old one out. A total, mindf**k comedy of errors...

Ok, I started by turning the PROPANE OFF. Then hooked up a hose and ran it out the front door. Last week, I drained the tank too, but didn't think of turning the water off. This turned out to be a lesson in hindsight. The tank drained until just cold water came out...and it drained...and drained and drained... until it dawned on me.. this was just cold water pressure from the line. DOH!!

Ok, I closed the valve. Fast forward to yesterday. After hooking up the hose, I then shut the main water valve off. Then opened the WH drain valve. I also opened all the hot water faucets to prevent a vacuum effect. Then I looked at the end of the hose.. and waited..and waited.. and waited... WTF??? Nothing... zero... not a drop. This is where things started going down hill. At first, I was baffled why. The tank couldn't possibly be EMPTY! Or could it? And if so... why? Right before I started, I had my wife fill every large pot with lukewarm water from the kitchen faucet. She got water... but why nothing was draining now? I thought about it and decided to turn the main water valve on again, just to see if water under pressure would fill the tank, or, start draining from the WH. No such luck, BUT.. water started coming out the faucets! WTF?? Ok..this told me something. Apparently, sediments had either been sturred up from the previous drain, and clogged the drain valve..or.. something is happening that I can't figure out.

Well, I decided the tank was just empty for some reason. Now, I decided to start demo'ing the enclosure walls. As I said before.. this new tank is WAAAAY bigger and heavier than the existing one. In order to get the proper side clearances, I have to take out two enclosure walls. This enclosure, is actually built around a corner of a walk-in closet. So... sledge hammer fun!!

Knocked the bottom plates loose, which popped the outer 3/8" drywall loose too. In these old modular homes, drywall was just stapled. Terrible craftsmanship too.
The studs were screwed to sidewalls though..naturally..with square head screws. Driven below the surface. Crap. Took half hour to get these all out. Ok..walls demo'ed. Now to disconnect.

Ok..*thinking* the tank was empty.. the first line I cut was the lower cold water plastic pipe. I used a hack saw. First two strokes... EEK!!! WATER SHOOTING OUT. Yelled for my wife to bring a bucket!! DOH!! Took 8 fills into the bathtub..meanwhile, trying to close off the line with my finger while she dumped each bucket fill. Crap. Water everywhere. Lesson learned. Cleanup and continue.

Onward. Disconnect everything. Halaluja. Not. Ok, I lift the vent pipe and try to move the water heater. I can tilt it in any direction, but can't move it sideways. WTF. This is when you know you don't know anything. Ok, I try to lean the tank until it rests against a side wall. WTF. I scratch my head and think. VOILA! Dumb me. I knew this thing had to be vented at the bottom, but I just *assumed* there was some kind of opening in the bottom to draft air upwards. I get down and look. F**k. There's a bracket, AND..a 3" vent tube, 12" long. DOH!! And trouble is..there are 6, rusted screws..with BARELY enough room to get my hands and a 2" phillips screw driver in there. Half hour later... success and scratched hands. sheeezusH. FINALLY.. I get a dolly.. and move this &%&^%#()_((*@$%^&*( piece of crap outta the house.

Wife asks.. "Am I going to have water tonight??" *sighing* *Put's on thinking cap* "uh.. maybe." I think about it. VOILA... *idea forms*. Ok, last winter when the hot water line broke, I had to buy what's known as a "Sharkbite" adaptor. Turns out, there are NO modern plastic fittings that match this old plastic pipe found in manufactured homes. This is the only thing that fits. But they work marvelous. All I have to do is get a Sharkbite with a male 3/4" threaded end, and a 3/4" threaded cap. A quick trip to Ace hardware.. and half hour later.. done. I turn the water on...I hear screams and my wife running through the house.. GAK! WTF???????? I turn the water off...again. I go in and look. Water everywhere. All of a sudden.. it dawns on me. I did the SAME thing when I described these lines when I started this thread. I HAD IT BACKWARDS.. I capped off the HOT WATER line. ..#$#^%*(&*(*&#^#$!!! Like I said..getting old sucks..

Ok guys.. I capped off the COLD LINE.. turned water on.. SUCCESS. At least we can draw water and flush the toilets. Enough for today.

ps... I'll post some pics and a few sketchups tonight. Gotta get this thing installed. I'll be back.
 
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Old 11-06-17, 06:40 PM
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Hello AllanJ . Well, I'm already beyond most of your concerns. Mostly solve the problems.. at least in theory. Thanks for your input. Look for updated pics and Sketchups to see how I am solving this.
 
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Old 11-06-17, 07:01 PM
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I'm sorry for laughing but it does me good knowing that I'm not the only person who has these kinds of problems.

My former house had the water heater in a corner of the kitchen surrounded by cabinetry. Once I started in on removing it I discovered it must have been installed BEFORE the cabinets were built and there was no way I was going to get it out without first destroying the cabinets. That tank was still there when I sold the house.
 
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Old 11-10-17, 09:46 AM
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Hi guys. Well, it's been one hell of a week getting things ready for this install. Got lots to show, but no time right now. However, I have an important question. This water heater has something on the bottom that the description in the manual(what a joke too) calls a "Flame trap" and other online illustrations call a "flame arrestor". Can someone tell me what this is for? Thanks.

btw, here's one sketchup showing pipe planning..
[IMG][/IMG]
 
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Old 11-10-17, 04:52 PM
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Hahahahahahahaha.. good god. I know the feeling when you go.. "what the **** were these dimwits thinking"
 
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Old 11-11-17, 07:07 AM
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If you spill flammable liquid, say, cleaning fluid, on the basement floor, some of the vapors may drift over to the water heater. Then the water heater burner might ignite the vapors and the flame comes out following the plume of vapor and sets the spill on the floor on fire.

The flame arrestor in the water heater is a screen or mesh in the intake vent and prevents the burner flame from coming out.

Unfortunately the flame arrestor can clog with dust and prevent the water heater from getting its combustion air.

Long long time ago, oil and kerosene and candle lanterns used in coal mines had a metal mesh or screen around the flame to prevent igniting of coal dust or other explosive materials and vapors that might be present in the mine.
 
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Old 11-12-17, 09:10 AM
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Hello Allan. Thanks so much. Now I understand. A *one way filter*. Ok, I'll be back. Got a ton of sketchups to show. Had to plan this out in detail as there was so much to this, I didn't want to forget anything. Thanks again.
 
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Old 11-12-17, 09:16 AM
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As a quickie.. here's the final plan. I did this to ensure I didn't forget anything.
[IMG][/IMG]
 
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Old 11-12-17, 01:09 PM
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#$#@^%*%&(*O(%%$%# ?Arrrrgggggggggggrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

ALMOST MADE A MASSIVE MISTAKE!! I measured a dimension from the edge of the cutout to the gas line centerling. Unfortunately, when I used the dimension in Sketchup, I used it from the wall. Thank goodness I laid the leak pan in place before doing anything else,, and something wasn't lining up. This would have caused me to cut the vent holes in the wrong place. And THANK GOD I didn't. After moving the vent layouts to the correct place and cutting them.. I discovered had I cut them in the wrong place, I would have cut directly into an electric romex cable.
GAK!. Here's a pic of the wrong position. Had to move them 4" towards the new enclosure wall ...and had to move the wall too.


Ok.. onward
 

Last edited by fitz70; 11-12-17 at 01:31 PM. Reason: added pic
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Old 11-12-17, 06:03 PM
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If bad luck was weather, I'd be the Great Red Spot on Jupiter. Case in point. I'm laying on the floor, with a spotlight laying down in the joist cavity to see what I'm doing. And what I'm doing is cutting the plastic pipes with a universal cutting tool. Water is coming out of the cold water pipe ever time I bend it slightly, All of a sudden.. I get a 120v shot of electricity. WTF???? Here's what happened.

I'm laying on the AC line to the light. My arms are extended under the floor, to cut these plastic pipes. As I do, water is running out, and all of a sudden, my right arm comes into contact.. GET THIS.. a spot in the cord of the lamp, that had BEEN EATEN AWAY BY A RAT!! ZAP!! It's beyond my comprehension, reality could line up this way. I could have been killed. fuk. Ok, long day.. I'll be back... if I don't get killed or have a heart attack.
 
 

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