hotwater out the cold water line
Posted by Peter Strathdee on September 18, 2001 at 17:06:30:
I am an insurance adjuster and recently became involved with a claim in a strata complex.
The short version is that around 3am one morning one of the tennants woke up and went to the bathroom. He finished up and flushed the toilet. The cold water in the tank was replaced with steamming hot water which immediatly caused the tank to break. The steam triggered the smoke and fire alarms. Several of the tennents in the 3 storey building headed for their bathrooms before going outside in response to the alarm. As soon as they flushed their tanks were filled with hot water and the tanks immediatly failed.Six in total.
One person on the ground floor tried to turn off the water to his toilet but only succeeded in burning himself quite seriously.
The plumber who has briefly tried to identify the problem believes that a contact failed which caused one of the elements to remain on. The excess heat then transferred up the cold water line and as no one was using the water at 3 am ( static in the line) it affected the entire building.
the tanks are set up in a series of 4 3-phase 208 volt 100 gallon tanks manufactered by John Wood and installed in 1998.
Initially when the damage occured no one seemed to know where the hot water came. It wasn't until the plumber re energised the tanks that about 10 hours later someone found the ground floor lobby flooding. They discovered the defective tank had ruptured at the base, it was literally bulging out at its sides.
The T&P valve did not activate and none of the breakers in the building shut down the tank.
Any ideas? Seems like anyone I talk to has never experienced anything like this in their past.

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