Worrisome rusty streaks on exterior of GE Geospring hybrid water heater - what to do?

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Temp945

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Hello all,

I have a 7-year-old GE Geospring hybrid water heater that has recently acquired some rusty looking streaks on the exterior of the tank. The bottom/pan of the tank appears to have bulged a bit away and I can see some wetness in there. I have indicated that area with red arrows in the last photo.

Can anyone help me diagnose what the problem is and what I should do about it? It apparently has a 10-year manufacturer's warranty for parts.

I must admit I have not inspected the anode rod, although this has been on my to-do list for some time. I do have an expansion tank installed as well as a water pressure gauge that consistently reads about 50 PSI. I've never actually used the conductive heating elements - it has always been used in heat pump mode. I last drained the tank about 2 years ago and there was very little sediment.

Thanks for any help!
 

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WorthFlorida

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You need to remove those covers to inspection the heating elements threaded into the tank. If the hybrid unit is on top, condensation might be the cause as the drain line could be clogged. Do turn off the power first. WH tanks usually will leak wherever there are welts. The threaded connections are welded to the steel tank, then coated with porcelain.

Electric WH do no get much sediment built.
 

Temp945

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Thanks, WorthFlorida.

Tonight I removed the covers and found the upper heating element is leaking as shown in the last photo below. The metal cover and styrofoam allows the hot, leaking water to condense on the cooler metal surface and then drips down to the metal pan/seam and is causing the corrosion/bulging of the bottom pan as shown in the OP.

The lower element seems to be fine (no photos).

GE has a 10-year parts warranty. Does anyone know how they will handle this problem? I don't see how they can supply parts that will fix this.


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Reach4

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If the element still works, I wonder if you could tighten it 1/16 of a turn to stop the leak. I am not a pro.

If you buy a new element yourself, there are "low density" elements that have more surface area. They spread the heat out, and are expected to last longer.

Another thought, assuming there is continuity as measured by your ohmmeter on the isolated element, would be to remove the element, apply new PTFE tape and dope, and screw in again. The wrench is 1-1/2 inch 6-point socket.

But your element may not be burned out, as you point out.
 

Temp945

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Reach: thanks for the suggestion. I actually don't know if the element works because I have never used the water heater using the elements; it is used 100% on heat pump mode.

I suppose it could be as simple as needing to be tightened 1/16 of a turn. But I wonder why it would only start leaking after 7 years?
 

WorthFlorida

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Reach: thanks for the suggestion. I actually don't know if the element works because I have never used the water heater using the elements; it is used 100% on heat pump mode.

I suppose it could be as simple as needing to be tightened 1/16 of a turn. But I wonder why it would only start leaking after 7 years?
Corrosion and high pressure will cause leaks. My son's house in Altamonte Springs with about a 12 year old WH, the T&P relief valve was opening leaving a little water on the floor. I checked the pressures and it was peaking out at 125 psi. Most water utilities in Florida uses a back flow preventer at the water meter. It prevents any water from back flowing to the main from the home. After many years with thousands of heating cycles places pressures on the parts. The fix was adding an expansion tank.

If changing out the heating element and it still weeps water, it may be coming from higher up. If you have to replace the water heater, they're $500 rebates from the water utility. If you never applied for one with this WH, you may be able to apply for it. Fed tax credits may also kit in. It's easy to find on line the details.
 

Temp945

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I think the fix may be as simple as a bad gasket, but may need to replace the element if the gasket surface is corroded as Fitter30 mentioned.

I'm going to try calling GE warranty and see if they'll send me a new element and gasket.

This video of a leaking GE water heater looks identical to my problem:

 

Temp945

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Bradford White took over the GE Geospring line back in 2016 and is now providing warranty support. I gave them a call this morning (as a consumer - not a pro) and it took about 2 minutes to get a real, live, American customer service rep on the phone.

I told him that the upper element was leaking and inquired about the 10 year parts warranty. I was a bit nervous that they would tell me I would need to pay a "pro" to diagnose the problem and then pay again for him to install the new element. I've run into this type of "warranty" runaround before with certain companies.

I was very pleasantly surprised when the Bradford White rep told me he'd ship me out a new element today and it would arrive tomorrow. But then he went even further and told me he would also ship me out the lower element as it would be trivial to replace it at the same time since I would have the heater drained anyway. Fantastic!

I then asked the rep for the part number for a new anode rod since I could replace it at the same time as the elements. He said he would throw one in the shipment at no charge. Wow! Now that's what I call customer service!
 

Reach4

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Be aware that anodes can be hard to pull. Often you need an impact wrench with a 1-1/16 inch impact socket.

If you are going to first try with a breaker bar, at least make sure that you use a 6-point, rather than 12-point, socket. There is no reason to screw in the new anode with great torque. I think 15 ft-lb should be enough, but at least don't tighten the anode with the full-blast impact wrench. Do use PTFE tape on the anode. The threads cut thru the tape early and establish the electrical connection.
 

Temp945

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I removed the anode rod and am draining the tank right now. I was surprised to find that the anode rod appears to be in great condition after 7 years. Is this because I have only used the heater in heat pump mode (never electric)? To see a photo, click on the "x" image below - the forum is currently not hosting photos or displaying links correctly.

 
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