Dielectric / heat stopper failure?

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by shortly, May 6, 2014.

  1. shortly

    shortly New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    Texas
    Do these things (dielectric nipples) ever shed their plastic innards? I'm wondering if one of mine did so and the pieces are now lodged in the hot water piping.

    Situation: apparent restriction in the hot water supply to the house. Opening any faucet results in a brief flow that quickly tapers to a steady dribble. Onset of the problem seemed to be rapid*, not like a gradual buildup of sediment even though there's probably plenty of sediment there. WH has been in place since 1988. All four hot water outlets are affected - three are on one side of a tee and one is on the other side.

    * Maybe related or not, the faucet nearest the WH had been a little slow for several weeks. I figured there was probably something in its valve but hadn't gotten around to investigating. The other fixtures worked normally 'til suddenly there was no flow. Well, the brief flow that quickly tapers to a steady dribble... Any ideas?

    Yeah, I know the WH is overdue for a replacement. I'm planning on moving the new one to the garage but that's another thread. I just wasn't planning on doing it tomorrow...
  2. Wallijonn

    Wallijonn Member

    Messages:
    191
    Location:
    Arizona
    Some di-electric nipples have a hanging anode. It should be easy enough just to replace the di-electric heat traps. You unscrew the feed/outlet pipe, put a pipe wrench to it and turn. When you take the hose connector off you can try pushing a clothes hanger wire down about 12 inches. If it stops you probably have an anode on it. Obviously put a right angle at the end so that if it tries to drop into the connector it will stop. Lowe's Hardware, Home Depot and Ace Harware all have the di-electric nipples for about $10 a pair.
  3. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,836
    Location:
    IL
    Opening the drain faucet on the side of the heater would tell you if the restriction was on the input or output side of the WH, I would think.
  4. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,438
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    If you have ball check nipples on the tank, then yes, then can and have failed. I have also seen the plastic balls wind up further along in the piping. It creates a real mess. Sometimes water will pass through, and then nothing.
  5. shortly

    shortly New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    Texas
    Yup, they stop up all right! Fortunately most of the big chunks didn't get downstream. There was some pretty impressive blockage after 26 years.
    Thanks all for the replies.
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