No Water coming out of hot water heater

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by satman, Jun 29, 2009.

  1. satman

    satman New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Guys, I have the strangest problem. First off, I am very technically inclined, and plumbing is not new to me at all.

    Here's my strange problem. I open the hot water tap anywhere in the house and no water comes out, not cold water, no water at all. Then suddenly, I will hear a loud bang from the pipes and there ya go, hot water. This may happen several times a day. On one occasion, I could not get the bang to happen and therefore could not get the water to run. This was a good thing in my view because it's easier to troubleshoot a problem if it just quits as apposed to intermittantly working. I went to the basement to tear into this.
    Opened the pressure relief on the heater, no water. Cut the line feeding the heater, lots of water pressure, reconnected. Cut the line out from the heater, no water. Attached a garden hose to the flush drain and fed in cold water from the sink, no water coming out! What the???? The heater is a rental, so I called Direct Energy where I rent it from and they say that it is not a problem with the heater, it's my plumbing! They say I have "gas in my pipes" and they will come and fix it for $99. This sounds to me like a load of BS. Anyway, after about 24 hours I got the bang and the water came back. This problem still happens everyday.

    Anybody have any suggestions or advise? What would the guy mean by "gas in my pipes"? As far as I am concerned, if you push water into the heater you should get water out of the heater.

    Any input would be appreciated.:mad:
  2. SteveW

    SteveW DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,052
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    Do you have galvanized nipples going in and out of the WH? Not unusual for them to get clogged internally with rust.
  3. Doherty Plumbing

    Doherty Plumbing Journeyman & Gas Fitter

    Messages:
    810
    Location:
    Penticton, BC
    Lol "gas" in the piping. Ridiculous. They don't have a CLUE what they are talking about so save yourself $99.

    It sounds to me like the internal check valve on the dip tube of the HWT is jammed closed.

    You can probably fix it yourself. What you need to do is....

    1. Obviously shut off water to the tank.
    2. Relieve the pressure in the tank (open drain cock)
    3. Do whatever you have to do to unthread the galvanized nipped coming out of the cold water supply into the tank (the factor male end sticking out of the tank).

    4. Pull it out. This is the dip tube. Near the top you'll notice a little thing (usually pop riveted) on the dip tube. You can usually gently pry on the rivets to get it off. Try to do as little damage to the dip tube as possible.

    5. Put it all back togeather and test it out!


    Let me know how it goes!
  4. SteveW

    SteveW DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,052
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    If you are renting, I would assume that any repairs you attempt yourself that involve removing anything on the WH will likely void the warranty. On the other hand, sounds like the rental company is not exactly on the up-and-up so perhaps you don't have much to lose.
  5. Doherty Plumbing

    Doherty Plumbing Journeyman & Gas Fitter

    Messages:
    810
    Location:
    Penticton, BC
    Lol I was thinking the same thing! Although if he does it and doesn't mess up the tank then they'll never know he ever did anything. :cool:
  6. SteveW

    SteveW DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,052
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    Good point!
  7. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    What kind of WH are you working on...I have never seen pop rivits on a dip tube...

    I have seen heat traps on nipples but never on dip tubes...
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2009
  8. Doherty Plumbing

    Doherty Plumbing Journeyman & Gas Fitter

    Messages:
    810
    Location:
    Penticton, BC
    I can't remember the brand I am thinking of but I have seen it a few times where the dip tubes have built in check valves.
  9. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Only one and it was a dip tube and nipple combined but it had no rivet...
  10. Doherty Plumbing

    Doherty Plumbing Journeyman & Gas Fitter

    Messages:
    810
    Location:
    Penticton, BC
    Maybe we get slightly different tanks up here then.

    I'm not crazy I swear.

    I believe they are found on John wood tanks and I have seen them on another brand too but I'm drawing a blank.
  11. satman

    satman New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Thanks to you and everyone for the replys. I was thinking the same thing, but I went online to a "how it works" website to see what the inside of a HWT looks like, but it did not show a check valve. I would think that if there was not one, hot water could be pulled out through the "cold in" when a sudden pressure drop occurs in the cold line. Do all HWT have one? And more specifically, the unit in question here is a "Rheem, Guardian System, Fury Gas Water Heater, Model RP50-45FV. Thanks.
  12. Doherty Plumbing

    Doherty Plumbing Journeyman & Gas Fitter

    Messages:
    810
    Location:
    Penticton, BC
    Honestly I can't say for all HWT if they come with them or not. I don't pull the new ones I install apart to see what's in them. Most customers don't wanna pay for this heh!

    The only way to find out is to pull the dip tube and look.
  13. satman

    satman New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Just looked up my model online and found that it has heat traps (aka check valve!) installed on the input and output. I am going to call Direct Energy again and let them have it for transfering me from the HWT rental department (where by the way I was told that it is not possible for a HWT to deliver no water at all) to the plumbing department where all they did is feed me a load of BS about "gas in my pipes" and offered to fix it for $99 and also tried to sell me a plumbing service plan for $15 a month!!!!! Like I'm dumb enough to fall for that!
  14. Doherty Plumbing

    Doherty Plumbing Journeyman & Gas Fitter

    Messages:
    810
    Location:
    Penticton, BC
    :) There ya go!
  15. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,905
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    What about "muffler bearings"?

    They didn't try to sell you muffler bearings to go with your gas in your pipes?

    I've had problems with heat trap nipples before too.
    They can create some pretty erratic problems with your water.

    I'm glad you found out about the check valve "heat trap" nipples.

    Good job Doherty Plumbing for nailing this on the first answer.
  16. FloridaOrange

    FloridaOrange Plumbing Designer

    Messages:
    1,317
    Location:
    SW Florida
    Muffler Bearings
    5th one down. :D
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 29, 2013
  17. Doherty Plumbing

    Doherty Plumbing Journeyman & Gas Fitter

    Messages:
    810
    Location:
    Penticton, BC
    Thank you sir.

    I have never heard them called heat traps! I guess that's what I'll call them from now on.
  18. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    The reason they are called heat traps is because that is what they do...generaly speaking they do not stop the flow of water they stop or slow the transfer of heat...at least that is what they are supposed to be doing...while I could be wrong I don't think they are your problem...what type of shutoff valve is above the heater..the one located on the cold inlet side?
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2009
  19. Capt Marvel

    Capt Marvel New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    Toronto
    I have the same problem and my hot water tank is a three year old Rheem, Guardian System, Fury Gas Water Heater. Although its hard to get it to repeat the problem on demand, it seems to happen when cold water is run first followed immediately afterward by trying to run hot. Such as flushing a toilet then washing your hands. If can take 5 seconds to 10 minutes to get the hot water to flow again and it's usually starts after a "bang" from the pipes in the basement. I suspected a backflow valve or something to that nature but most diagrams for the hot water tanks don't show one similiar to what "satman" also found.

    My tank is a rental so I guess Direct Energy is going to get a call from me shortly. Thanks for the responses everyone, you confirmed my suspicions and have given me ammo to deal with the gas company.
  20. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,917
    Location:
    New England
    There are at least a couple of versions of heat traps for WH: those with plastic balls (they use different plastic so that the cold one floats up to seal, and the hot side is heavier than water and drops down) to seal the outlets; the other type I'm aware of is a flapper valve (check valve). They must be installed in their proper positions, or you'd get little to no flow out of the WH ever (so if it ever works, they're probably installed on the proper side). These things don't normally block the flow, and if they are, they probably need to be replaced. By blocking convection losses through the water pipes, it can save a little money on energy usage. The WH will work without them, and they aren't always installed (but usually come with the WH). Depending on where you live, they may be required - I wouldn't be surprised if heat traps were a requirement in Canada, since they have more strict energy use codes than the USA.
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