Gas water heater burner flame condition

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skywriter

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We've had a rental 40 gallon natural gas Rheem water heater for 16 years. It ran beautifully and unless you were in the laundry room with it, you would never know it was heating. Even standing in the same room you would only hear a very subtle burner noise. We thought we'd be proactive and not wait for a leak (or worse)... especially over the holidays. So we contacted Reliance who replaced it with a 40 gallon Giant GreenFoam unit last weekend.

When the installer was finished he informed me that the default temp for these heaters is set to 120 degrees, but he set it to 130 because that is a safer temp ("kills bacteria that causes Legionnaires disease") and helps with heating costs because you use less hot water. While I was listening to him explain that, I noticed a loud roar coming from the heater. I don't know anything about these units, so I asked "is that something burning off the new unit". He thought I was referring to a smell and said it would go away. I said I didn't smell anything, I was asking about the noise. He said that was normal for a new unit.

Over the next couple of days we were surprised at how loud the heater burner was, as we could now easily hear it roaring on the floor above. Not only that but we were having a hard time adjusting to the higher water temp, especially with two young children in the house. I decided to take a temp reading (meat thermometer) at the kitchen faucet - it read 150 degrees! That seemed excessive, so I did a little reading and then looked in the manual, and what he had told me was the default 120 mark was actually the 130 mark, and he had set it to between 140-150. I adjusted the temp dial down until the reading at the faucet was between 125-130.

The flame is a few inches high, blue with yellow flames licking around and it roars.

I booked a follow up service call because I am worried there is an issue causing what seems like an excessive flame and noise.

My questions are:
  1. What temp do you suggest a water heater be set to (keep in mind we have young kids in the house, and no one is immune compromised)?
  2. What should the flame on the burner look and sound like?
I have included a video of how the burner looks and sounds.

Thanks for any advise you can offer.

 

WorthFlorida

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Place the setting back to 120 degrees. Kids can be burned very quickly. To kill bacteria in a WH is at 140 degrees. When setting a water heater to 140 degrees a mixing valve is needed to bring the temperature down to no more than 120 degrees. Cash Acme tank booster is nice since it has a built in thermometer. If your WH install has threaded flex pipe you can easily add the Tank Booster mixing valve easily. Raising the water temperature does not save energy or cost.

https://www.cashacme.com/product-category/thermostatic-mixing-valves/
https://images.homedepot-static.com/catalog/pdfImages/dd/dd52ddeb-b9c1-4a79-8afe-75381297410a.pdf.

Ideally, at the faucet it should not be more than 105 degrees but in reality you would use too much heated water and the temperature would drop faster. At a sink run the water until you, an adult, feels it is too hot then measure its temperature. For children it is less. I would not use this plumber again. He would have been liable if someone was burned. Was he licensed or a handyman?

I know nothing about this WH. It might be normal if it has a fast recovery rate. Looking up a current Rheem gas water heaters and this Giant model, the input BTU ratings are nearly the same. Maybe the flame is way too much. A call to the manufacture should give you an answer.

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skywriter

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I already set the temp back to 120 degrees, as soon as I checked and got a 150 reading at our kitchen faucet.

The WH is a rental, and the rental company is Reliance. It was a Reliance tech who switched the tanks out (no cost to us). He told me the Rheem and replacement Giant ( UG40-38LF1-N2U-RE - https://giantinc.com/wp-content/uploads/docs/GI-PB021En-Res-Gas-Fired-Atmospheric-Vent.pdf ) were basically the same tank. That is why I can't understand the huge difference between the look of the flame and the sound produced between our old rental tank to this new one.

There is no flex pipe running to our tank.

"It might be normal if it has a fast recovery rate." - what do you mean? Are you saying the look of that burner flame might be normal?
 

WorthFlorida

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I'm surprised no one else gave an input. All I can figure is most 40 or 50 gallon units are 38K or 40K input BTU's, the flames should be the same and the recovery rates similar. Most of these manufactures purchase burners, thermostats and gas valves from common suppliers. It's why I suggest you call the manufacture. It is possible the gas valve has a bad regulator. With too much line pressure you would have issues on other gas appliances.
 

skywriter

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I honestly thought I would get more of an immediate, polarizing response to the video of our burner flame. To me it looks totally out of control, but if it doesn't to those who work in this industry, then I guess that should be all the peace of mind I can expect. We'll just have to get used to the roaring every time it heats...

I will contact the manufacturer, but I get the feeling they will just say call the installation company.
"With too much line pressure you would have issues on other gas appliances." - Yeah, and all is well with the gas furnace which is about three feet away from the WH.
 

skywriter

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I looked up my previous tank - Rheem Fury Guardian System gas standard vent 22V40F 40 Gallon

I looked in the manual and it has this reference graphic for proper burner pattern. That is what our Rheem looked like - and it was almost silent.

The way our new Giant burner pattern looks is really worrying me...
 
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