Wet insulation on new Bradford White water heater a big problem?

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by damselindistress3, Mar 29, 2012.

  1. damselindistress3

    damselindistress3 New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Hello,
    Three weeks ago I purchased an (expensive) Bradford White 40-gallon water heater and had it installed by a professional plumber. Today I discovered that it was leaking. There was a large puddle under the heater (it is on a stand) which had seeped under the wall into the carpeting of the neighboring room. The leak was found to be coming from the pipe at the top (which wasn't tight enough). The water entered the heater a drop at a time, eventually exiting out of the bottom of the heater. Today, the plumber repaired the connection with metal pipes/connectors (instead of the PVC which the original guy had used) and it looks much better. I currently have 3 fans and a dehumidifier drying out the carpeting (which the plumber is paying for) and my question is this: should I insist on getting a replacement unit since this one was brand new and might be water damaged? I am worried that because there was a significant amount of leaked water the insulation inside is ruined/wet and that rust or mold could be an issue. The plumber told me that it would dry out quickly because of being near the heat source and that I don't need to worry. Is he right? I worry that there might not be enough air flow to dry it well... or that maybe the insulation is now damaged and less efficient. Or that my 10-year warranty will be invalidated due to their carelessness. I paid so much for the "peace of mind" of a new water heater, and am worried that this problem will shorten its life. Thanks for any advice you can give me!!
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,488
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    The insulation is a "closed cell foam" and was not affected in any way by the moisture. If the installing plumber used PVC or even CPVC to connect to the water heater, I would not call him a "professional" plumber. What type of heater is it, because the average 40 gallon Bradford White, or any other heater, is not normally "expensive".
  3. damselindistress3

    damselindistress3 New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Leaky water heater/Wet insulation

    Dear HJ,
    Thanks for your input! I purchased a Bradford White 40-gallon gas water heater with a 10-year warranty (MI403S6FBN) and a thermal expansion tank and paid $1200 for the equipment and installation. The last one I bought (11 years ago) was a (9 year-warranty) GE from Home Depot which cost about half of that (this was before all the new safety regulations (FIVR?) and new technology made things more expensive). It wasn't leaking, but I was nervous that it might start, so I bought a new one.

    When I was looking over Bradford's warranty paperwork they say they don't "cover leakage or other malfunction caused by defective installation..."
    My plumber is covering the cost of this leak because of their defective installation. So, your opinion is that the water which ran through the unit on its way to the floor did not damage the closed cell foam insulation, and won't set us up for mold or rust (or a premature failure of the water heater)?
    And that this initial problem shouldn't invalidate my warranty with Bradford White? (And that I shouldn't ask them to switch this one out for another one?) Also, should I have a drip pan installed under it? They acted like that wasn't standard operating procedure... but it would've helped yesterday ;-)

    When I did the pre-purchase research, Bradford Whites seemed to be a reliable choice (especially with the new technology, and other companies experiencing class-action lawsuits). But when I started trying to figure out this leak problem online I saw lots of complaints about BW's. I know people usually vent about problems online (and not so much the good stuff) so I'm wondering: Is Bradford White a good brand in your opinion?

    Thanks again!
    D-in-D3
  4. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    The water absolutely did not harm the insulation.
  5. damselindistress3

    damselindistress3 New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Thanks so much!!
  6. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,329
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    As far a the expensive part of you question is concerned, $1200 is not exactly chump change, but is not an excessive price for what you got and had done. Your original installer was not a plumber because #1 no real plumber would use PVC on the inside of a house and #2 using any plastic pipe to connect a water heater is a sign of an hack. Closed insulation is definitely not harmed by water. It does not even absorb water. This is the material used for sleeping pads by campers for that very reason.
  7. damselindistress3

    damselindistress3 New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Thanks for the reassurance. I feel much better. The plumbing company I used has lots of different contractors, and the second installer was much more professional, and his work looks much more professional (and all metal). Would you recommend placing a drip pan beneath the water heater as a precaution?
  8. Hackney plumbing

    Hackney plumbing Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,174
    Location:
    Alabama
    If a pan can be installed with a suitable drain it should have been installed when the heater was installed. Its part of a proper install. I do not know of a plumbing code that does not require it......if when the heater leaks it will cause damage. Yours clearly will cause damage....you spoke about wet carpet in your previous posts.
  9. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,891
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    When other countries start buying US steel, the pricing for it goes up. There is quite an overseas demand for it now.
    Sometimes I look at an old invoice and think wow! What happened? But then my first new car cost $2,099.00 too.
  10. Hackney plumbing

    Hackney plumbing Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,174
    Location:
    Alabama
    The O.P. is in Atlanta,Ga. I remember back in the early 90's seeing advertisements for 40 gal gas water heater change outs for 900.00. That was 20 years ago. I remember thinking I should move to Atlanta and open a water heater install biz.......I around 20 yrs old at the time. Took a trip to six flags with my girlfriend. Good ole days.

    I always use to check out the plumbers in the phonebooks when I would vacation. Still do when theres a phonebook. :)
  11. damselindistress3

    damselindistress3 New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Thanks! I'll see if they can add one after the fact.
  12. damselindistress3

    damselindistress3 New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Thanks for having this forum! I really appreciate all the answers!!
  13. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,893
    Location:
    New England
    To add a pan now, you have to do almost a new install - you need to lift the thing up far enough to slide the pan underneath which means disconnecting the gas and water lines along with the flue. Then, if it is going to do anything, it needs a drain line going somewhere. While a pan might help with a drip, it would quickly become full and then leak if it was plugged.
  14. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    You will see exports of US steel, as we have natural gas at about $2.50 VS. the world average of 9 to 15$ As we speak, a huge mill is reopening with the cheap gas, several plastic plants are being built to utilize ethylene [we landed the worlds pot of gold there] And incredibly, a plant is on its way back from Columbia to make denim, because the energy costs are about 1/3 now.

    The only danger is we allow the greedy to build LNG ports to export our advantage.

    My first car cost $35, a nash rambler missing the windows. Ran good though. Probably worth 12 grand today.
  15. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,488
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    As a practical matter, it doesn't make a hill of beans whether the tank got wet or not. IF it starts to leak during the 10 year warranty, and your model number does not indicate it is a 10 year heater (the 6 in the model number should be a 10) unless you got a certificate along with it saying that the extended warranty was purchased, all BW will want to know is the serial number. NO ONE will EVER look at the installation or check anything before replacing the heater.
  16. Runs with bison

    Runs with bison Member

    Messages:
    892
    Location:
    Midwest
    Sounds outrageous to me for a tank with only 1" of insulation and a 0.59 factor. It is ~$450 dollar tank. (Plumbing work was cheap when I lived in Georgia a few years ago, lowest prices I've experienced although I mainly had drain work done.) Back when I thought I might have to replace the Whirlpool a few years ago I tried getting some estimates on Bradford Whites. Never even got a call back after calling a few listed BW dealers. Fixed the Whirlpool myself for free and scratched BW from the list when the other eventually fails.

    But there shouldn't be any damage to the tank from this connection leak, so BW has no obligation, and wouldn't anyway since the problem was a defective install.
  17. damselindistress3

    damselindistress3 New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Thanks. Yes, after installation I got extended warranty paperwork from the plumber, and a 10-year warranty sticker (from BW) to put on the water heater. Are the two models (the "10" and the "6") the same water heater except for the warranty period? I was told that there was no physical difference between the two models.
  18. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,329
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    That's the standard gimmick on extended warranties. The make a ton of money on warranties. Usually the tanks last longer than 10 years, and even if it fails after say 8 years, all you have left is 2 years pro rated.
  19. Hackney plumbing

    Hackney plumbing Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,174
    Location:
    Alabama
    Sounds like you were treated fair to me and made the choice you wanted to make. Like with any extended warranty its useless until you need it and then it sure is nice to have.

    I hope you have goodluck with it.:D
  20. Runs with bison

    Runs with bison Member

    Messages:
    892
    Location:
    Midwest
    One comment about the foam. I've noticed on my water heater and some others (may not apply to BW) that there is some filler fiber/sheet type material around the lower panel and foam fill point at the top. I assume that it provides a sort of stand off for the jacket during foam insertion and prevents the foam from extruding out the edges. These are areas that I see as being susceptible to accumulating some water during servicing/installation. In my earlier post I was ready to state that there was no reason any dripping should be happening after several hours at temp, until I noted this material that is in place in addition to the closed cell foam.
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