Hot Hot Hot Water!

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by Marty 1, Oct 10, 2009.

  1. Marty 1

    Marty 1 New Member

    Messages:
    34
    Hi:
    My mom (in her 80's) called me yesterday from Arizona about her 15 year old Rheem hot water heater. It seems that she had to turn it off because even on the lowest setting (vacation setting), the heater is heating up the water way to hot. So, I guess, the burner is staying on all the time. What's the problem? Thermocouple? I'm going to see her early next week, so I'd like to fix the problem when I'm there. Yah, I know she needs a new heater, but I need to patch up the old temporarily for a family gathering at her house. Thanks for any suggestions. Marty 1
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,270
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    hot water

    IF the burner stayed on all the time she would have a bigger problem because the water would be constantly discharging from her safety valve pipe. We cannot tell you WHAT the problem is without being there.
  3. Marty 1

    Marty 1 New Member

    Messages:
    34
    Thanks HJ. Yes, I know it's hard to tell from her description what's going on. She recently had all her 50 year old galvanized changed to copper, so maybe that has something to do with it, since that's when the problem started. Marty 1
  4. shacko

    shacko Master Plumber-Gas Fitter

    Messages:
    561
    Location:
    Rosedale, Md
    More than likely the control valve is shot, anything 15years old is probably not worth fixing. :(
  5. Marty 1

    Marty 1 New Member

    Messages:
    34
    You're right shacko, but replacing the entire water heater in the next few days is not possible. The heater is in a closet that's way to small for a new heater. Marty 1
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,270
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    heaters

    IF it is that small, it may be too small for a gas heater of any age.
  7. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    So swap it for an electric unit. Replacing a 10 year old gas valve will cost as much as a new water heater.
  8. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,270
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    heater

    Change a gas heater to an electric? In the first place most electrics are wider than gas heaters, and second, unless his mama raised a stupid kid, why would he want to go from gas to electric?
  9. Thatguy

    Thatguy Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,460
    Location:
    MD
    Half of gas water heaters get replaced at this age.
  10. Herk

    Herk Plumber

    Messages:
    547
    Location:
    S.E. Idaho
    If the water is overheating, the water heater is a bomb. If it is over 15 years old, the relief valve is also probably 15 years old and there is no reason to expect it to work.

    I don't care if you have to take out a second mortgage on your house, if your mother's water heater is not shutting off, you either replace it or she does without hot water. Her life is at stake.

    Attempting to repair a 15-year-old gas heater will probably cost nearly as much as a new one anyway, and the money is just going out the window because you're taking a chance that some other part of the heater will fail right after you repair it. Then, you have even less money for a new one.

    If it doesn't fit where it's at, you'll have to move it. If you don't have a place to move it to, you'll have to make one.

    What were you hoping for? Just tweak some little screw and it will work like new?
  11. Marty 1

    Marty 1 New Member

    Messages:
    34
    I guess you're going without hot water.
  12. Runs with bison

    Runs with bison New Member

    Messages:
    891
    Location:
    Midwest
    Changing a gas valve is not that big of a deal. It's a PITA since you have to drain the tank and get the old valve/thermostat off, but unless you find the inside of the heater is a mess it should be okay. Be prepared for needing a new water heater though.

    You should be able to check the performance of the relief valve. But I wouldn't do it until the faulty gas valve is replaced or at least let the person who is there to work on the gas valve test it simultaneously in case it sticks open.

    My in-laws' gas water heater is 21 years old (Reliant or Reliance). They run that thing on scalding hot, probably 140 F or so, but it seems to have a lot more capacity than its 50 gallon tank would suggest.
  13. Marty 1

    Marty 1 New Member

    Messages:
    34
    Hi:
    Thanks to all for the advise! Today I fly to Arizona, so tomorrow I'll check out the water heater. Thanks again-Marty.
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