Expansion Tank Questions & Recommendation

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Claythrow

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I have an Amtrol CH-41 IWH. 41 gallons obviously, top mounted coil.

It recently started leaking (a lot) out of the top gasket/plate. It was covered under warrantee but the parts/labor was $95 to come & look at it, for which he was here a half hour. Then $462 to replace it. $50 of that was a fee Amtrol charges to use the warrantee (I wouldn't exactly call that a warrantee but whatever) Maybe I'm just not up to speed on MA plumbing rates, but the guy was here for a total of 3 hours & didn't do anything I wasn't capable of doing except dealing with Amtrol. First question- does that parts/labor sound reasonable? I wasn't unhappy with the quality of the job. I was a bit unhappy b/c on the initial visit the guy kept going out to his truck to grab another tool. I finally said to him, "you don't just keep a plumbing toolbox with all the tools you consistently need?" (I have one & I'm not even a plumber). He replied that he never knows what he is going to need. I didn't say anything, but I could have told him what he needed for crying out loud. He was a nice enough guy though, & the finished job was satisfactory (perhaps, read on)

So after the job was done & I had paid them. The check cleared etc. I got a call from the owner saying that Amtrol's current paperwork for that IWH says that it requires an ET, & that if it fails again, the warrantee probably won't be honored because there is no ET installed on that side of the system. Second question- That being the case, shouldn't they have installed an ET? I'm not terribly upset that they didn't because now I can save a little cash & just install it myself, but owning my own business, I thought that was a very strange phone call to receive.

Third question- The water that was leaking out of the top of the original IWH was an opaque rust color. I have city water & no WS system installed. The IWH was 3 years old, is that normal?

So, now I'm going to install an ET, the paperwork says it goes on the CW inlet, Fourth question- This is just a curiosity q, & related to me not being a plumber... but how does that help anything? I would think it would need to be on one of the hot lines because the CW isn't really expanding very much, no?

Fifth question- Most of the 2 gallon ones (the size Amtrol says I need) come pre-charged circa 12 psi. Not only do I not understand the "charging" theory, but I don't know what it SHOULD be charged to, or how to do it. Can I assume it will be in the paperwork for the ET?

Sixth question- Having read on here a fair amount, I know that ET's in general are not your favorite way to go. But in my case, in order to avoid some extensive re-routing, I need one. Any recommendations on which 2 gallon to get?

Thank you all!
 

jadnashua

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In Nashua, NH, every WH installation, if done with a permit, requires both an ET and a vacuum breaker. Technically, they are only needed if you have a closed system, but here, since if they ever have to replace your meter, it would be replaced with an internal check valve making it closed, they want all WH to have one, even it right now, it is not technically required.

The ET can go anywhere on the cold line, but there should not be any valve between it and the WH tank. IOW, they do not want a way to close the system off from the ET.

You want to probably go to http://www.watts.com/pages/support/sizing_DET.asp to size your ET properly. You can use any brand you want, but it is imperative to size it properly. Bigger is okay, but just costs more.

An indirect on a boiler would also require an ET, but keep in mind, they get sized differently than one for potable water, and are NOT interchangeable. The bladder materials are different. A boiler ET is typically precharged to 12psi...one needed for potable water is often more like 40psi. You MUST precharge the thing to a pound or so less than your normal pressure (12 is about normal for boilers, 40 is maybe the minimum you typically see in a home potable system, it could easily be more requiring you to pump up the precharge). The idea is that having the air pressure about the same as the water pressure means that the bladder is not being stretched much except when there is expansion, and that is relieved when you then open up a faucet to use hot water (at least on the potable side). On the boiler side, as the temp goes up and down, the bladder would move in and out to keep the system pressure close to the same.
 

Claythrow

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Thanks, in another post I noted that I only live 5 minutes from Nashua, I'm in Pepperell MA. So I need a potable water ET, & to charge it to 53 psi which is the pressure coming in from the street. Is that right?
 
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The reason to pre-charge close to your operating water pressure is that this will make the maximum volume of tank available for expansion. Otherwise you effectively have a smaller expansion tank because the bladder will already be pushed in by the normal water pressure. It is the compression of the air volume that provides the expansion. By pre-charging to the higher pressure you normally have in the supply, you start with a greater initial expansion volume available.

Municipal water supplies generally have backflow prevention in the form of check valves so that a problem in someone's home or business can't push contaminated water back into the mains. If you have a closed system and a tank water heater without an expansion tank, then you can count on recovery of the tank after a substantial draw over-pressuring the system somewhere...in many cases this might not be noticed or a problem.

I discovered my previous home without an ET was relieving through the toilet fill valves. I didn't notice this until I replaced all of the toilets with Totos. When the last one was swapped out I began noticing the water heater relief valve dripping in the morning. Earlier I had checked water pressure max over several days before and found the spikes manageable although high, but after the toilet change relief was coming at 150 psig at the water heater. So I had an ET added. No more problems. It also ended some surges I had experienced in the faucets when first opened.
 

Claythrow

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Thanks Bison! I understand the theory now.

Any plumbers to answer the other questions I had? I won't mention the name or location of the company, just for my own curiosity I want to know if this is how things are done. I'm guessing they didn't read the installation requirements for the Amtrol & therefore called me after the fact. But in the literature, it wants an ET no matter type of system you have. It makes that very clear.

So do I need to solder in a memory pressure gauge for a few days to see what the cold line to the IWH is being fed? I just assumed it would be the same pressure as coming into the house?

Amtrol has told me what size ET to get, but in reading here most plumbers are not fond of them. In one post from the first 10 pages or so someone said they had a slack day & brought like 5-6 failed ones to the dump. I didn't know if any particular brand was more notably reliable. I haven't seen the answer to this question anywhere that I recall & I've been on this forum (as a lurker) since I bought the house in 2011. It was a foreclosure so I got it cheap & tore it down to the studs & joists. I wanted to put radiant floor heating in but the quotes I got were between $23k-$40k (no argument there, it's a lot of work, I would like an answer to my question #1 above though)

So I decided to do it myself, & aside from the dizzying designing of the pex coming into & out of a room it wasn't that hard. It cost me about $6k for a system kit from Radiantec & of course, my labor is free.

If you ever want to live for a couple weeks in complete & utter fear try nailing 1500 sq ft real hardwood down over radiant flooring with 5/8" OD tubing. Positively petrifying! I did knick two tubes but it was on the first floor so I was able to slot it down into the basement to make the joint so that if it ever fails it won't ruin any flooring - nor would I have to tear up any flooring to access it. The upstairs I managed not to hit any tubes due to much prayer, Buddha belly rubbing & sweat.
 
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ET's are pretty simple devices analogous to the well pump pressure tanks. The bladders will eventually fail--I had to replace my grandparents well tank for this reason some years ago. But so do water heaters and PRV's, etc. A properly installed ET should be no problem to replace: simply turn off the water, unscrew the tank, pre-charge/screw on new one, and leak check.
 

jadnashua

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Big box stores and most any plumbing supply house will have a water pressure gauge with a second (tattle-tale) hand that will show max pressure. You can get them with a hose bib connection, and you can just screw it onto say the drain valve of the WH (careful, it will get hot), or one of the washing machine supply valves, or anywhere you have a faucet if you buy some adapters. Outside, this time of year, on the actual outside hose bibs is not a good idea! Leave it for 24-hours at least, and note the max pressure - that's the result of expansion and sometimes, a result of night-time peak pressures when the utilities try to replenish water towers and there's not much use.
 

Master Plumber Mark

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[QUOTE="Runs with bison, post:
I discovered my previous home without an ET was relieving through the toilet fill valves. I didn't notice this until I replaced all of the toilets with Totos. When the last one was swapped out I began noticing the water heater relief valve dripping in the morning. Earlier I had checked water pressure max over several days before and found the spikes manageable although high, but after the toilet change relief was coming at 150 psig at the water heater. So I had an ET added. No more problems. It also ended some surges I had experienced in the faucets when first opened.[/QUOTE


Is this on the Whirlpool water heater that your dumped on someone in your last house???
so you went ahead and installed a thermal expansion tank on that Whirlpool heater instead of
just replaceing the whole mess??:cool::cool:o_Oo_O;);)
 
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Is this on the Whirlpool water heater that your dumped on someone in your last house???
so you went ahead and installed a thermal expansion tank on that Whirlpool heater instead of
just replaceing the whole mess??:cool::cool:o_Oo_O;);)

I didn't dump anything. There was no reason to replace the water heater as it was working as designed, and the relief valve was working as designed. The expansion tank also worked as designed.

Some folks make money by replacing things that could more easily be repaired. I avoid doing business with them. Why don't you go troll somewhere else?

p.s. I find it hilarious that you still haven't figured out how to use the quote brackets without screwing them up. One might conclude it is a reflection of the quality of your work! ;)
 

Master Plumber Mark

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Dont worry Terry, I am just poking fun at RUNS ...... he has said that its all just a conspiracy by all the plumbers
to sell water heaters and not repair them ..
I have only questioned him about why he would feel good about dumping a water heater that he knew was
crappy on the new homeowner...... Now he states that he actually installed a thermal expansion tank on the whirlpool heater that
he has already had to fix twice... I just feel that RUNS is a cheap ass to do this to someone.... Thats all i meant...
 

Master Plumber Mark

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Dont worry Terry, I am just poking fun at RUNS ...... he has said that its all just a conspiracy by all the plumbers
to sell water heaters and not repair them ..
I have only questioned him about why he would feel good about dumping a water heater that he knew was
crappy on the new homeowner...... Now he states that he actually installed a thermal expansion tank on the whirlpool heater that
he has already had to fix twice... I just feel that RUNS is a cheap ass to do this to someone....
Thats all I meant Terry....

RUNS is the one who has to live with himself for sticking it to the new people
that bought his house.... Even though he thinks its all a conspiracy by plumbers
to change out these terrible water heaters,
I could not in good conscious drop a whirlpool heater on someone like that...

that is all I am saying Terry......:D:D:D.
.
 

Terry

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It would be hard to justify doing some repairs on an old water heater that has little life left in it anyway.
And one with known issues? Not by me. :)

It doesn't make for a happy customer if they need to call you back to do the next thing that went bad.
 
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Terry,

Somehow, I doubt you would replace a water heater that was about 18 months old and working fine if it's T&P relieved at 150 psig (it's set point) because it lacked an expansion tank. Nor do I think you would be inclined to replace the tank several years later for no reason.

Mark is simply lying/making crap up. Seems to be a habit for him. He thinks folks are "cheap ass" if he can't convince them to pay him to replace working equipment that doesn't need to be replaced. Haven't those Bradford Whites had a bunch of problems with their gas valve/temp sensor system in recent years? And weren't they the recommended "go to" when I was learning about the Whirlpool problem (and noticed that Rheems were using the same Robert Shaw/Unitrol valve at the time.) I feel sorry for the poor shmucks that follow Mark's advice spending a lot of money unnecessarily only to get a new set of problems.

I only had to repair the water heater once and the repair was free (other than my time.) Water heater was about 1 year old at the time as I recall. It had the gas valve problem that people like Mark misdiagnosed for years (and still either doesn't acknowledge or understand.) I swapped out the parts and got my money back for them. Expansion tank came a few months later when I replaced the toilets. Water heater was fine and it's T&P valve was working fine based on gauge checks.
 

Master Plumber Mark

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Well, RUNS....you do what ever you think is best with your money...
I was led to understand that the Whirlpool heater was about 10 years old
that you "repaired" numerous times and dumped onto the next young kids starting out
with a family that bought your home... Maybe those kids did not know any better
and still dont know about this brand., or maybe they are now going through the same trials
and troubles and expenses that others have gone through with that junk., .
maybe they got the money and maybe they dont have it to make repairs to that junk........ thanks to you....

you have read all the complaints about this heater here on this site and
on many others.....so therefore.....you knew exactly what you were handing them.
and we both KNOW that they will soon be dealing with it...

I am just saying that for a little bit of money out of your pocket you could have done
the more stand-up thing and replaced that junk....so they would not have had to..:cool::cool:
 

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It would be hard to justify doing some repairs on an old water heater that has little life left in it anyway.
And one with known issues? Not by me. :)

It doesn't make for a happy customer if they need to call you back to do the next thing that went bad.


Well, Terry.... I totally agree with you on this...
But RUNS thinks we are both theives, liars and crooks and we are in
ca-hoots with each other telling people they should trash their whirlpool heaters.
We are both lieing to our customers and im-morally profiting from replacing the heaters instead of trying to bring them back to life.... Of course their are many other sites out
there with thousands of complaints about this .



but like I already stated he knows that the heater was trash, but got
away with it and is long down the road now
its the new home owners problem to deal with... ... ...
 
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Well, RUNS....you do what ever you think is best with your money...
I was led to understand that the Whirlpool heater was about 10 years old
that you "repaired" numerous times and dumped onto the next young kids starting out
with a family that bought your home...

No, you were not led to understand that. You've been making up stories as you go along and creating strawman arguments. You repeat lies hoping that they will stick.

I repaired the gas valve problem, the one that still seems to befuddle you, despite it being your profession to be able to diagnose this sort of thing. Tank was new in spring 2008 as best I recall. I experienced the gas valve issue in 2009 and repaired it. Replacing toilets later revealed the need for an expansion tank. Water heater still worked fine as did the original T&P valve.

Water heater continued working fine as I added insulation blanket and insulated hot water lines. I periodically checked flame arrestor and such for lint, etc. but never had problems with it. Sold home in 2014 with no expectation that the water heater would experience any other problems out of the ordinary for a tank. Tank was likely a 6 year warranty which would be expired now, and the new owners have a 1 yr homeowner warranty.
 
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Well, Terry.... I totally agree with you on this...
But RUNS thinks we are both theives, liars and crooks and we are in
ca-hoots with each other telling people they should trash their whirlpool heaters.
We are both lieing to our customers and im-morally profiting from replacing the heaters instead of trying to bring them back to life.... Of course their are many other sites out
there with thousands of complaints about this .



but like I already stated he knows that the heater was trash, but got
away with it and is long down the road now
its the new home owners problem to deal with... ... ...

No, I don't think that of Terry, despite your repeated attempts to claim I do. However, I do know that you have lied about me repeatedly and intentionally. So it wouldn't surprise me if you similarly misled your customers for your own profit.

I found the Whirlpool thread helpful back when I had trouble. It was confusing, but it became apparent that the problem was rarely the TC or the flame arrestor as some had latched onto. I looked for the root cause. Unlike you I read the many complaints and recognized that the major common failure mode was in the gas valve. Curlysir even found documentation of the defective portion of the component. After that it was easy to advise folks on what needed replacement when they described the same failure mode.

I would expect a good plumber to provide some recommendations like:
1. The tank is x years old. I can repair it but can't guarantee that it will last more than a few years.
2. I don't work on whirlpools. (If you hate the brand and your only answer is to trash it, or you don't know how to repair it.)
3. I can replace it for $$ with something else that will be warranted for y years.

(I would hope that if #2 is the case that the make would be established before showing up at the home.)
 

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No, I don't think that of Terry, despite your repeated attempts to claim I do. However, I do know that you have lied about me repeatedly and intentionally. So it wouldn't surprise me if you similarly misled your customers for your own profit.

I found the Whirlpool thread helpful back when I had trouble. It was confusing, but it became apparent that the problem was rarely the TC or the flame arrestor as some had latched onto. I looked for the root cause. Unlike you I read the many complaints and recognized that the major common failure mode was in the gas valve. Curlysir even found documentation of the defective portion of the component. After that it was easy to advise folks on what needed replacement when they described the same failure mode.

I would expect a good plumber to provide some recommendations like:
1. The tank is x years old. I can repair it but can't guarantee that it will last more than a few years.
2. I don't work on whirlpools. (If you hate the brand and your only answer is to trash it, or you don't know how to repair it.)
3. I can replace it for $$ with something else that will be warranted for y years.

(I would hope that if #2 is the case that the make would be established before showing up at the home.)


Well, RUNs,,,, that is what most good plumbers do....when you are dealing with
a sub-standard brand that you cannot get parts for to repair in a timely manner...
I wont work on them because you cannot get parts......in a timely manner
and a cheap ass like yourself wont be willing to pay me to run around town
looking at every Lowes for parts to please you....
.

I try to get people hot water today,,,, that is probably why they are calling me....
if they want to hunt parts down themselves and make their families wait up to 2 weeks that is their choice to wait.....and wait... and wait

I gave up on this heater a long time ago...
We have actually gone out to homes and Whirlpool had sent the wrong parts to
the customer and there was nothing that could be done for them... so after about
a full 10 days without hot water they had me install a new heater.........

Plumbers in most towns across the USA cannot spend their day attempting to
round up and get the specific parts from Whirlpool or Lowes all around town..

I suppose you think that is dis-honest for me to charge a customer 90 an hour to scrounge all over the city.
Perhaps you expect the plumber to wait at your home while you go looking all over town for the correct parts....RUNS....are you gonna leave us doughnuts and coffee while we wait...
So Mr Tight=Wad.....what exactly do you expect??



if you have a ton of time and are willing to call the 800 number for the customer service and wait up to an hour or more....
that is your choice.... and now its what the next owner of your old home will have to consider doing when the water heater goes down some day...
I am sure that they will thank you for that warranty.

notice on my site what I state about the heater you dumped on the next guy
right on the very front page http://whirlpoolwaterheaterrepair.com/





 
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Master Plumber Mark

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Well, RUNs,,,, that is what most good plumbers do....when you are dealing with
a sub-standard brand that you cannot get parts for to repair in a timely manner...
I wont work on them because you cannot get parts......in a timely manner
.

I try to get people hot water today,,,, that is probably why they are calling me....
if they want to hunt parts down and make their families wait up to 2 weeks that
is their choice to wait.....and wait... and wait

I gave up on this heater a long time ago...
We have actually gone out to homes and Whirlpool had sent the wrong parts to
the customer and there was nothing that could be done for them... so after about
a full 10 days without hot water they had me install a new heater.........

Plumbers in most towns across the USA cannot spend their day attempting to
round up and get the specific parts from Whirlpool or Lowes all around town..

I suppose you think that is dis-honest for me not to go around and scrounge
all over the city for parts....when I already KNOW that they are normally not available
So RUNS would a tight wad like yourself pay a plumber to do this task at 90 per hour
you do the math and ask how long you are willing to wait for repairs......?

if you have a ton of time and are willing to call the 800 number for the customer
service and wait up to an hour or more. for service ..
that is your choice.... and now its what the next owner of your old home
will have to consider doing when the water heater goes down some day...
I am sure he will thank you for that home warranty that is basically worthless....

notice on my site what I state about the heater you dumped on the next guy
right on the very front page http://whirlpoolwaterheaterrepair.com/




 
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