Discolored hot water after new HWH install

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by Chris-A, Sep 19, 2020.

  1. Chris-A

    Chris-A New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2020
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    [​IMG]

    We hired a licensed plumber to replace a 10 year old gas HWH with a Rheem Performance Platinum ProTerra Hybrid Electric Water Heater. I should backup and say that a licensed electrician first installed a new electrical subpanel (we had no room for new circuits) and a new 240v 30 amp line for the electric HWH.

    Our condo is 25 years old. To the best of my knowledge, the builder used copper pipes throughout. We did not have a problem with discolored hot water before this project and we do not have any discoloration on the cold water side. There has been no city work on the water supply. We have the same cold water supply leading to the HWH (meter, pressure reducing/backflow valve, house shutoff valve, piping, and shutoff at the wall above the HWH) and the same hot water lines running throughout the condo.

    The old HWH had two simple connections: a flexible copper connector running from the cold water supply to a T-fitting above the tank where a thermal expansion tank was installed, and a flexible stainless steel connector running from the hot water outlet to the condo hot water system.

    It took two flexible copper connectors and perhaps 22' of new copper piping to connect this Rheem HWH. The cold water inlet is located 5" above the floor on the front-left side of the tank, the hot water outlet is 3'-6" above the floor and further to the left from the cold water inlet. We still have a thermal expansion tank (new) but the addition of a thermostatic mixing valve so the unit can run very hot but deliver safe water to the condo. (At this time, we are only running the HWH at 120*F.)

    Here's the problem. Shortly after installation, we begin to notice dark orange water coming out of any hot water faucet in the condo. Turn on the hot water valve to the bathtub, a slug of clear, cold water comes out first, and as warm water arrives it turns dark orange for a few seconds. This is especially pronounced in the morning when we've not used any hot water overnight, but also happens to a lesser extent during the day when we've not used hot water for 4-6 hours.

    I tried draining the tank, refilling it, draining it a second time, and refilling it. Same result the next morning.

    I have sampled water from the T&P valve and it runs clear.

    When asking the plumber, his response was "bad pipes in your house." That does not make sense to me because the only changes made were between the cold water inlet and the hot water outlet above the HWH, and we had no problem with discoloration before the installation.

    Here are video links showing my description of the installation and the discolored water discharge.

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1zBq4GS0dfUNOcPr9R4t8MwgOrVQ9owEw/view?usp=sharing
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/19Ubz0COc8fOfZs2yb6_Az884AM649ArL/view?usp=sharing

    I've shared these videos and more with Rheem technical support...no response from them yet.

    Does anyone out there have an idea about the cause of this?
     
  2. phog

    phog Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2017
    Location:
    Rochester NY
    How long has this been occurring for? After plumbing work you can get solder flux dissolving into the water which will make it look that color. However this should go away after a few days at most.

    It could also be rust, which could be coming from the connection nipple. It's really soon to be getting that, but if you have corrosive city water then not impossible. Installing a dielectric union between the copper flex and the water heater top connections would slow that down. Did you perhaps have dielectric unions in the old unit and the plumber neglected to install them in the new one?
     
  3. Sponsor

    Sponsor Paid Advertisement

     
  4. Chris-A

    Chris-A New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2020
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    HWH was installed on August 27. Started noticing discolored water around September 3. So we've been experiencing it consistently for almost 3 weeks now.

    I don't know if dielectric unions were installed on the old HWH, but I have these photos taken before and after removal.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here are photos of the new HWH connections at the cold water inlet and hot water outlet. The flexible copper connector came from Home Depot, reading the specs it says, "Eliminates the need to install an additional dielectric union" and you can see in the photo a plastic washer that separates the brass connector from the copper flex pipe.

    [​IMG]

    On the hot water outlet, it's a brass elbow screwed onto a threaded copper connection (using what appears to be blue tape on each end). The flex copper connector is at the top of the pipe that connects into the thermostatic mixing valve.

    [​IMG]

    Reading the specs on some of these Rheem nipples, they say, "Dielectric lining helps prevent galvanic corrosion."
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2020
  5. phog

    phog Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2017
    Location:
    Rochester NY
    Sounds like everything is correct. I don't have any other ideas. Except to check that hot and cold are not hooked up backwards -- which I'm sure you've already done. Sorry i can't be more help.
     
    Chris-A likes this.
  6. dj2

    dj2 In the Trades

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2013
    Location:
    California
    Questions:
    Did the plumber bring the WH into the house in a factory sealed box OR, out of the box?
    If out of the box, did you see the WH when he took it out of his van? Box or no box.
    Answer these first.
    BTW, the WH in the picture is not a Rheem, It's a Bradford White.
     
  7. Chris-A

    Chris-A New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2020
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    The Bradford White is the old water heater that was replaced by the Rheem Performance Platinum ProTerra Hybrid Electric Water Heater. The photo of the Bradford White was only included when someone asked if dielectric unions were used on the old heater. Here's a photo of the Rheem:

    [​IMG]

    We ordered the Rheem from The Home Depot and it was delivered by a freight company. It came in a factory sealed box that was banded around its circumference and banded to a wooden pallet. I watched the plumber unbox it and have no reason to believe it was previously used. (My brother worked at HD for 15 years, when I told him about this problem he told me horror stories about returned HWHs being resold.)

    Just to update on this problem...we still have it. Rheem sent out a plumber of their choice to take a look and he could not determine a cause. Rheem authorized a replacement HWH, but the plumber doesn't believe it's the unit itself but he's also not convinced it's due to our pipes. Our condo is 25 years old and to the best of our knowledge the builder used copper piping throughout. We live downstairs in a two-floor building, our water pipes are in the space between our ceiling and our upstairs neighbor's floor, and the builder did not provide access into the space in between. So we cannot take a quick peek into that space looking for an oddball galvanized pipe somewhere. My upstairs neighbor, who has access into the attic above his unit, reports all copper water pipes. Our Homeowners Association also reports that to the best of their knowledge, the builder used copper in all 1500 homes in our community.

    It continues as before...when the hot water is unused for 4-6 hours or overnight, we get 3-5 seconds of discolored water at any hot water faucet after all the cold water in the line is discharged. As long as we're using hot water frequently, we don't see discoloration. It's only when the water sits for at least 4-6 hours.

    It makes me think there's a rogue galvanized pipe in the hot water system just after the HWH. I bought a cheap home water test strip kit at The Home Depot and tested both the clear cold water and the discolored hot water. Copper was in the "OK" range for both samples; iron appeared to be zero for the cold water and just slightly above zero for the hot water, so I believe it's rust in the water.

    [​IMG]

    And when you let the discolored water sit for several days, it settles and looks like this:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2020
  8. Sylvan

    Sylvan Still learning

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2004
    Occupation:
    plumbing - fire suppression - boiler inspector
    Location:
    New York
    Where is the fresh air to allow for proper combustion?
     
  9. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2020
  10. Chris-A

    Chris-A New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2020
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    There is no combustion. This is an electric heat pump hot water heater. It uses electric elements in the tank plus a heat pump on top of the unit that uses a compressor and refrigerant to extract heat from the surrounding air and transfer that heat into the water via coils that encircle the water tank.
     
Similar Threads: Discolored water
Forum Title Date
Water Heater Forum, Tanks Discolored hot water Apr 23, 2017
Water Heater Forum, Tanks Smart Triangle water heater not stable Saturday at 8:57 PM
Water Heater Forum, Tanks Heat Pump Water Heater with "Lifetime" Tank? Tuesday at 11:09 AM
Water Heater Forum, Tanks Really slow leak under hot water heater Oct 16, 2020
Water Heater Forum, Tanks Water heater install (CA) Oct 6, 2020

Share This Page