bradfordwhite gas water heater problem

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by kayenta, Mar 30, 2014.

  1. kayenta

    kayenta New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    wa
    I have a leased Bradford White MI5036FBN 50 gallon gas water heater from local electric/gas company who installed it. My water bill has almost tripled since it's installation and my water meter indicates a leak in my home. The company came out and checked everything and saw no leaks anywhere. They bypassed the water heater and the leak indicator on my water meter stopped moving. They said it was the water heater but they don't know why and they replaced heater. The same thing is happening again with the new heater. Nothing is leaking into my house anywhere. Why is this happening? What should be my next step?
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,415
    Location:
    IL
    "tripled"??? The theory below is not going to account for a triple unless you are a very light water user. Are you saying water use has tripled or even doubled? That's a bunch. But your leak detector shows it is not just an increase in water bill rates.

    Was a check valve installed at the same time as the heater? That could keep the expanded warm water from feeding back into the pipe coming in. You may be losing water out of the T&P valve. You can put a pan under that outlet to see. [​IMG] This theory would only account for some intermittent loss, and not big volumes. The cure could be to add an expansion tank after the check valve. The alternate cure would be to replace the faulty T&P valve that is stuck open.. but that would have been replaced when the water heater was replaced... so scratch that theory.

    You could get a water pressure gauge that records the highest pressure seen. Put that on the laundry sink faucet (with hot tap on) or washing machine hot tap for a while. See if the pressure rises high. http://www.homedepot.com/p/Watts-3-4-in-Plastic-Water-Pressure-Test-Gauge-DP-IWTG/100175467 has an extra "lazy hand" to remember the max pressure.

    It could also be that the city changed your meter and added a check valve. Same cure.

    "tripled"??? This theory is not going to account for a triple unless you are a very light water user. Are you saying water use has tripled or even doubled? That's a bunch. But your leak detector on your meter shows flow. This is an unusual set of symptoms that you have described.
  3. kayenta

    kayenta New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    wa

    My water usage went from 387 cf to 1102 cf during billing cycle. From 7.30 cf used a day to 16.45 cf used a day. The city has not done anything to my water meter in the last 2 years. Because this water heater is leased, I'm assuming they put everything on they were supposed to. I have absolutely no water dripping from the tank or anywhere else in my house. I have an open basement and one floor so I can see all the plumbing. The water heater included an expansion tank by city code.
  4. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,415
    Location:
    IL
    Strange.

    I think the leak indicator on your water meter will be the troubleshooting key. You have 3 valves that let you bypass your water heater? That is to say, cold water will come out of the hot taps when bypassed? Or is this a normal situation where you just shut off the water coming into the heater with a single valve?

    In any case, whenever you shut off that valve with no other water being used that you know of, the leak indicator stops moving. Whenever you put the valve(s) into the normal position, your leak detector shows continuous water use of 2 gallons per hour or so.

    So the thing that fits this best is that you are talking about a single valve that shuts off water to the water heater, and that you have a broken hot water pipe that leaks around 2 gallons per hour to a place you cannot see, or the humidifier is drawing hot water continuously, and passing that to its drain. OK.... maybe the washer and dishwasher could be considered also. Shut off their water and see what the leak detector says.

    If you have a full 3-valve bypass and bypassing the water heater does not leak water, and if you can see the output of the T&P valve, then I cannot imagine what could cause that.
  5. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,139
    Location:
    New England
    You can't blame the WH if there's no leak there! You appear to have a leak in the hot water line AFTER the WH. This would make the WH work harder, since it is being asked to heat water constantly, and your water AND gas bills will probably reflect this increased use of hot water. If you have your water lines running underneath a slab, you may not notice the water leak. If you do, and you walk around in your bare feet, are there any areas that seem warmer than others? It may be time for a reroute of your hot water line.

    A WH by itself and no valve open doesn't just use water - it has to be going somewhere and if it isn't showing around the WH, it's in the line after it.
  6. kayenta

    kayenta New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    wa
    First of all, my gas bill did not increase with the increase of water usage. My water heater has a shut off valve on the cold water line. The service guy from PSE where the heater is leased disconnected the cold and hot line and connected them to each other so the water did not go through the water heater. Everything else was on as usual. I have no piping under a slab. My piping is open in the basement so you can see every pipe, the water heater drain goes outside and I can see it there. It's not draining anything. When the PSE guy did this, the leak indicator on my water meter stopped moving. When he connected it back together, it started again.
  7. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,415
    Location:
    IL
    Quite the mystery. It will be a good story when you track it down.

    Investigate anything that drains directly to a drain or outdoors in case intermittent water consumption happened to coincide with the checks of the leak indicator. Maybe temporarily put a rag where it would be wetted by any water flow to the drain. Systems that may use significant water at intervals that you should check would include

    o water softener and/or backwashing filter
    o reverse osmosis system
    o humidifier
    o lawn watering system



    I would try repeating this sequence a few times:

    1. See that leak detector is moving with valve in normal position.
    2. Turn off hot water supply valve, and check leak detector expecting no movement on the leak detector.

    Maybe do 5 times, and maybe use separate communicating people to watch the meter and to operate the valve.

    Do it a few times. The reason is to eliminate the possibility that there is an intermittent water use, and that the timing happened to coincide. It sounds very unlikely, but remember the Sherlock Holmes quote" "When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."
  8. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,249
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    Sounds to me like a toilet with a leaking flapper, causing the toilet to run a lot.
  9. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,139
    Location:
    New England
    There are only a few places a lot of water can flow where it isn't immediately noticed:
    - a leak under a slab or in a crawlspace
    - a toilet
    - anything that has it's own dedicated drain like a water softener.
    - maybe an autofill valve on a leaking swimming pool or outdoor fish pond
    - maybe an external hose bib

    If it's only leaking while the WH is connected, none of those above are typically connected to the hot water line. But, some faucets can create a cross-over, and the hot water can get into the cold water pipes from there. A hot water recirculation system, if you do not have a dedicated return line, has a cross-over somewhere.
  10. kayenta

    kayenta New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    wa
    If the service person disconnected the cold water line and the hot water line from the water heater and connected them to make a continuous line for my plumbing by bypassing the water heater, got no indication of a water leak on the water meter. Disconnected those lines and reconnected them to the water heater and a leak was indicated on the water meter. What would that say to you?

    I've done all the checking on everything.
  11. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,139
    Location:
    New England
    Bypassing the WH, and the leak goes away, implies the WH is leaking. But, it can't just vanish into thin air. If it isn't showing, something is just not right, and there must be something else going on. Unless the WH was sitting on something like sand that could absorb the water, it can't be the WH.
  12. kayenta

    kayenta New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    wa
    I looked at the leak indicator on the water meter and it goes slowly forward VERY briefly, then backward VERY briefly and then stops for a while. Then goes again. Can this possibly be cause by an expansion tank on the water heater with no back flow preventer? Just trying to find answers. The PSE company is coming tomorrow to check things out again after putting in a new water heater to no avail.



  13. If its not a slab leak on the hot side of your home then it has to be
    the expansion tank....

    install a shut off valve in the line to the expansion tank and shut it off --then see what happens

    the unit is pushing water back and forth through the water meter......
    .you dont have a check valve in your water-meter and really actually dont need the tank
    so its just going back and forth....when the heater heats up.


    I have seen them push back and forth through metered water softeners
    and have seen them re-generate too many times.....eating a ton of salt

    I hope this helps
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2014
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