Please answer these questions best you can

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by vtxdude, Dec 28, 2009.

  1. vtxdude

    vtxdude New Member

    Messages:
    127
    Location:
    NH
    Guys, I know I have become the resident pita but I have these questions I'm hoping that can be answered

    1) Does it make a difference drafting wise if the draft hood is not perfectly centered over the flue on WH?

    2) Should the draft hood get hot to the touch? Also should the connecting pipe on top be totally sealed with no gaps where it comes in contact with the hood? I have a 4 inch pipe on on the standard 3 inch hood as you can see in the pics I have posted in other threads...small gap in the back but hot air goes up right?


    3) Does BTU's of the water heater play a role in requirements for venting or drafting? In other words a 36000 btu WH draft easier than a 40000 btu one (if that makes sense) Is 4 inch vent pipe too big for either one of those WH?

    4) How hot should the vent pipe get? reason I ask is that at my folks over the weekend and the vent pipe did not seem to heat up all that much, draft hood was cool to touch.....my vent pipe gets hot and I mean real hot


    5)How high should the flame on the burner be? The flame on this Kenmore is tall and looks like it licks the bottom of the tank.....sometimes it is blue with orange points here and there and other times seems yellow


    6) And finally.....could all this be traced back to the Water heater itself? I have been toying with the idea of either bouncing to a lower BTU heater (36000) or going with a Bradford White... Since BW doesn't make a 36000 BTU water heater...maybe a Rheem or even a GE which has to be better than the Kenmore.


    My reasoning for the Bradford White is what looks like a superior air intake system for primary air.....and with a better air intake isn't the draft and venting better? Or am I just chasing a marketing ploy?

    Or should I bag all of this and surrender to electric?

    I so thought I was all set after this past Monday however it does not appear to be the case :( maybe the adhesive was just a masking agent on the other pipes and combustion just isn't working on this WH the way it should

    One would not think that it should be so difficult to replace a water heater....my 20 year old Vanguard worked perfectly with the 3 inch badly laid out venting and all of a sudden this new Kenmore with its FVIR system can't seem to vent worth a crap...wtf??? I am so frustrated...thats why I keep bouncing back to the Bradford White or a lesser BTU Rheem/GE hoping that it will perform better than the Kenmore


    Thank you so much guys...I know I have probably mad a lot of eyes roll and heads shake but I do appreciate the help and words you have provided


    Thanks
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2009
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,237
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    heater

    quote; 1) Does it make a difference drafting wise if the draft hood is not perfectly centered over the flue on WH?

    2) Should the draft hood get hot to the touch? Also should the connecting pipe on top be totally sealed with no gaps where it comes in contact with the hood? I have a 4 inch pipe on on the standard 3 inch hood as you can see in the pics I have posted in other threads...small gap in the back but hot air goes up right?


    3) Does BTU's of the water heater play a role in requirements for venting or drafting? In other words a 36000 btu WH draft easier than a 40000 btu one (if that makes sense) Is 4 inch vent pipe too big for either one of those WH?

    4) How hot should the vent pipe get? reason I ask is that at my folks over the weekend and the vent pipe did not seem to heat up all that much, draft hood was cool to touch.....my vent pipe gets hot and I mean real hot


    5)How high should the flame on the burner be? The flame on this Kenmore is tall and looks like it licks the bottom of the tank.....sometimes it is blue with orange points here and there and other times seems yellow


    6) And finally.....could all this be traced back to the Water heater itself? I have been toying with the idea of either bouncing to a lower BTU heater (36000) or going with a Bradford White... Since BW doesn't make a 36000 BTU water heater...maybe a Rheem or even a GE which has to be better than the Kenmore.

    1. WHY isn't it centered because there are tabs on the diverter that fit into slots on the top of the heater.
    2. You have hot gases flowing through the diverter AND the flue pipe, so how could it NOT get hot?
    3. Drafting is a function of the temperature of the flue gases AND the internal temperature of the flue. BTU has little to do with it, other than that the size/diameter of the flue has to be adequate for the burner.
    4. If the diverter and flue did NOT get hot, where was the heat going?
    5.The color of the flame is more important than its height. If it is blue, but not "blowing" off the burner, then it is adjusted properly. If it is yellow, either you have too much gas or not enough air, and if it were to continue on a permanent basis, the heater flue would eventually be plugged with soot.
    6. Could WHAT be traced back to the water heater?

    Final point, your Vanguard heater WAS a GE/Rheem/Ruud/Richmond/etc.
    Your Sears is an A O Smith/State/Reliance/etc.
  3. Doherty Plumbing

    Doherty Plumbing Journeyman & Gas Fitter

    Messages:
    810
    Location:
    Penticton, BC
    1. Absolutely....... The draft hood is to be installed without alterations...

    3. 4" vent is not too big and a 36,000 BTU appliance will actually draft WORSE through a 4" pipe then a 40,000 BTU appliance would. However the difference between 36,000 and 40,000 BTU is next to nothing in the grand scheme of things.

    5. Depends on the burner. However the flame speed should match the velocity of the gas so the flames should be stable. Little bits of orange here and there is probably just dust being burned off. Constant yellow flames are not good at all...... Usually caused by lack of primary air.
  4. Thatguy

    Thatguy Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,459
    Location:
    MD
    vent hood

    If it sizzles a water drop it's over 100C.
  5. vtxdude

    vtxdude New Member

    Messages:
    127
    Location:
    NH
    Thanks for the replies guys...I'll try to answer some of your questions now....


    HJ

    1) Now centered..was not before because the 2 Sears plumbers obviously had no idea how to do it and were too lazy because the vent pipe did not match up exactly with the flue on the new water heater so they "made it fit". HVAC guy got it as centered best he could and looks decent now

    2) Makes sense

    3) Ok good to know on the BTU

    4) See 2 lol

    5) This is a weird one...sometimes the flame is blue with yellow tips on some of them (not all) and other times under same circumstances it is almost all yellow...then next time it fires it will be blue??? :confused: I don't understand what is up with that

    And as far as what the flame looks like......it is billowing..it doesnt leave the burner but it is not tight by any means and in fact the end farther away from the pilot sot of really rolls up and licks bottom of WH. And it is loud...you know when this water heater is on

    6) What I mean by trace back to the water heater is the issues I'm having with smell, incomplete burning, the design of the primary air intake? The drafting looks fine...we took a lighter and after it has been running for about 10-15 minutes the lighter is drawn towards the flue..not blowing back at all

    Where you trying to say something about the Vanguard being a Rheem etc? In other words better quality?




    Doherty- I think I may have answered you questions above....good info on BTU's so thanks!

    I will say that i would not call the flame stable at all..it it is reaching for the bottom of the water heater and is roaring pretty loud



    Ok so here is where I am at..even with the draft hood centered and good draft I am still getting a slight exhaust smell but I have to go looking for it by standing on step stool as it rises to the basement ceiling...no CO detectors have registered anything at all...

    I have read on a Sears forum that a lot of people have pointed to the small flame arrestor on the Kenmore as being a bottleneck on the water heater and it is not big enough and starves the burner for primary air which in turn contribute to the pilot going out (have not had this issue yet)

    So could it be that because the Kemore is not getting enough air through its smallish flame arrestor that is could be

    1) Wavy lazy LOUD tall flames
    2) Sometimes yellow/orange flame
    3) Because not enough primary air this is causing sooting which could be the exhaust smell??


    So let me ask this once more..given the design of the primary air intake of the Bradford White water heaters would this allow more primary air into the burner chamber than the AO Smith design with their small grate on the bottom. The marketing of the Bradford White sure as heck looks like it has a superior primary air intake and would perhaps solve some of the issues I listed above?

    I am going to try my damnedest to get Sears to take back the Kenmore and I think I have a pretty good case......

    I could have the BW installed very soon if I decide to go that route......should I believe in the BW having better primary air intake? I'm beginning to think this is where all the issues lie with the Kenmore.....not enough air causing the flame issues, exhaust issue and roar


    I have learned a lot over the past month guys, now asking if I am way off base thinking BW will make things better


    Thanks so much
  6. Doherty Plumbing

    Doherty Plumbing Journeyman & Gas Fitter

    Messages:
    810
    Location:
    Penticton, BC
    If all your problems are related to your lack of primary air then yes a better performing air intake system would definetly help! However your yellow waving flames could also be caused by a vent not working properly.

    An orange flame is usually caused by dirty primary air. IE your gas appliance is in a dusty room or something.

    The waving flame isn't necessarily causing the smell. The poor venting is most likely causing this.

    -------------------------------

    Have you tried putting a lighter up to the draft hood to see if it's drafting properly?

    Have you inspected the entire venting system to make sure you have no blockages?

    Have you checked the gas pressure across the appliance regulator?

    Have you inspected the flue baffle inside the tank?

    Have you checked the air intake to see if it's blocked or filled with dust?
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2009
  7. vtxdude

    vtxdude New Member

    Messages:
    127
    Location:
    NH
    It is very hard to get at the Sears intake as you have that mesh screen and then small holes around the base.....I vacuumed best I could and it does not appear that there is anything from what I could feel


    To me it looks like the Kenmore only has that one grate on the bottom of it to allow in primary air...even the Whirlpools look like they have at least 2 to let in more air......from the trouble shooting guide the yellow flame, lazy flame, sooting and combustion smells all point first to lack of primary air...this seems to be the case given the one intake slot system

    Mark showed the bottom of a Whirpool heater showing 2 slots...can anyone confirm that the Kenmore only has the one?

    It seems to make sense..the other Vanguard water heater had pre FVIR which allowed in lots of air.....no issues......put in this Kenmore with its one slot on the bottom with a mesh screen on the base ring and all of a sudden issues

    T ome the Bradford White has a much better intake air system that allows more air into the combustion chamber...am I correct in assuming this?? It also appears that the bottom of the combustion chamber is one big flame arrestor letting lots of air in instead of just a flame arrestor slot...am I right in assuming this as well?


    I wish I went Bradford White to begin with and I wish I found this forum prior to buying Sears..gonna do my best to return that Kenmore and replace with a BW


    Thoughts on some of my thoughts?


    Thank you
  8. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Do a smoke test and see if there is draw at the diverter hood...if you have draw and the heater is giving you hot water just use it until it is time to replace it and deal with it then...I think you will be spinning your wheels trying to get Sea rs to take it back...

    How long has it been installed...
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2009
  9. vtxdude

    vtxdude New Member

    Messages:
    127
    Location:
    NH

    A little over a month and nothing but headaches and issues since...with some really inept plumbing that could have caused a fire or poisioned my family....I think I have a good case...I really think it is a primary air issue with the sometimes yellow flame and the sooting I am seeing through site window....why sometimes blue and sometimes yellow under same conditions has me scratching my head...have eliminated about 90% of the negative air pressure that furnace was causing by opening up new cold air return in living room


    So would you think the BW has a better air intake system than the Kenmore? I know I am beating this to death with that question but I figure I'm asking guys who deal with water heaters a lot and especially BW water heaters and hoping I could get some feedback about them as I have not seen one in person to be able to check out some of the questions I have been asking (size of air intake, etc)


    Thanks
  10. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    #1 is the flue pitched right

    #2 is the flue going into a brick chimney

    #3 how old is your home
  11. vtxdude

    vtxdude New Member

    Messages:
    127
    Location:
    NH



    1) I think so...HVAC guys said should work fine...it is not ideal as up and out but given how basement is laid out I can't do too much differently. there are more bends than desirable but they are going up and not down

    2) No it has its own chimney, not brick, metal

    3) 1983 I think? It is a town home
  12. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    The more pitch you have the better it will draft...have you checked on the roof to be sure it is all open and free of anything blocking...I have seen where the flue goes through the roof and is exposed to the elements where it has rusted and colapsed enough to prevent adaquate venting...
  13. vtxdude

    vtxdude New Member

    Messages:
    127
    Location:
    NH
    I have not but I am thinking it is ok..when we first started the heater the other day we could see well it isn't smoke but white vapor coming out of the stack at the top...doesn't look like anything is collapsed up top..it is up there so nothing I can get a ladder up to without probably killing myself! Last night it was windy as heck I could hear the wind going across the top of the chimney down at the water heater


    So you thinking that heater is ok and Bradford White not a good option? I can't get over that small opening on the Sears where the BW seems to let so much more primary air in and some of the issues I am seeing seem to point to lack of primary air....if I take one of those butane lighters that you would use to light a grill etc and stick it under the hood the flame draws up....should this show good draft?
  14. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    When you first start up a heater on a new installation the majority of the time there copious amount of condensation that collect and fall on the burner and additional that never makes it to the burner but goes up the flue...it all will go up the flue and if it is cold outside will show as white "smoke" when in reality it is only water vapor (steam).

    My guess is that that is what you saw...in the winter it will be more pronounced because the water in the tank and the outside air is colder than than you would find it in the summer months...
  15. vtxdude

    vtxdude New Member

    Messages:
    127
    Location:
    NH
    Thats what I thought on the white vapor I saw...


    But given what I have stated do you think that a Bradford White is a better option than the Kenmore as far as primary air intake?




    Have you worked with Bradford Whites?


    Thanks
  16. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Without question...

    Good luck trying to return the Sea rs
  17. vtxdude

    vtxdude New Member

    Messages:
    127
    Location:
    NH

    I just spoke to Bradford White and he did explain that the whole bottom of the combustion chamber is open (well it is all grated instead of 1 slot) allowing for more airflow...he said the yellow flame is a tell tale sign of not enough air

    So I guessing by his words and your above response that the BW will allow for more primary air correct?




    Thanks Cass, appreciate the help
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