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Water Heaters

Water heater related

b2ap3_thumbnail_carbonmonoxide.jpgWe got called out to service an appliance that was red tagged by the gas company this week.

PSE had disconnected a Rinnai Tankless water heater that was discharging 435 PPM of CO into the OUTSIDE air. (400 PPM is the legal limit).

We had not run into this situation before. We know that CO is dangerous in the house but we had no idea that there were federal laws related to residential gas appliances and outdoor air quality.

Well, we contacted the manufacturer asking for the technical service specifications so we could fine-tune the appliance to comply with the EPA requirements. It turns out that the appliance was not adjustable. All we could do was insure that the unit was burning blue and had a clean combustion chamber.

We see some risk to our customers with some tankless water heaters that are not compliant with EPA air standards.The gas company may disconnect the appliance with no recourse except to replace the appliance with one that complies.

We are researching the options. It appears that some tankless water heater models should not be purchased.

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General Causes for Catastrophic Hot Water Heater and Home Heating Boiler Failures

  1. Improper adjustment of temperature and pressure controls
  2. Altered safety valves or relief valves
  3. Work performed by unqualified or untrained personnel Check a license!
  4. Lack of routine inspection and proper maintenance
  5. Improper installation
  6. Lack of proper controls and safety devices

What Home Owners Should Do To Minimize the Potential of a Catastrophic Failure

  1. Have your home heating boilers cleaned and services annually by qualified personnel..
  2. On hot water heaters, it is recommended to manually lift the relief valve every two months and at the least once a year to ensure they open freely. Due to the relatively low cost of safety valves for this service, it is recommended that a defective valve be replaced with a new valve if the valve does not open easily or close tightly.
  3. Make sure your hot water heater has a relief device that protects the heater from excessive pressure AND temperature. Pressure & temperature relief valves (commonly known as P&T valves) are noticeably different from a regular relief valve due to its long protruding temperature element attached to the inlet of the valve.
  4. Regardless of the condition of the "P&T Valve", replace the pressure & temperature relief valve on your hot water heater every three years (This is pretty aggressive maintenance).
  5. Maintain a temperature set point not to exceed 180°F on any heating boiler or hot water heater. Water temperature should NEVER exceed 212°F on these units. Boiler or hot water heater failures with water temperatures exceeding 212°F can result in catastrophic explosions that can level homes. Note that most water heaters are typically set to run at 120°F or so upon installation.
  6. Your water temp at the faucet should never be more than 140°F even with only adults in the residence. If small children or the elderly are in the home never more than 120°F should be set on the temperature control.

Effects of a 5 gallon hot water heater explosion - Avon High School 5/11/00


Most water heaters are installed by those without a license in Washington State. Many advertise water heater installation and repair but are not licensed. Demand to see the plumber license required to be carried by every plumber. You will be glad you did!

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Bradford-White water heaters are the plumbers' water heater. Why? 

  1. Brass drain fitting
  2. Heat traps built-in minimizing migration of hot water when not used
  3. Large selection of models
  4. Large inventory in Seattle
  5. Multiple distributors in Seattle
  6. Better than average warranty service from the factory

Seattle Hot Water Company preferrs Bradford-White for these reasons.



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