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 Posted: Sat Aug 18th, 2007 05:57 pm
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GREE3616
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About 6 weeks ago I had a Bradford White M450 water heater professionally installed.  The next day I noticed that my hot water smelled funny, almost like a sour chemical type smell (not the typical rotten egg smell that many people talk about).

I waited a couple of weeks thinking that the odor would dissipate and while it got a little better, it was still present.  To the installer's credit, they came back out, inspected everything and continually flushed the heater out for about 20 minutes.  I questioned whether it was caused by using too much pipe dope and the installer emphatically told me that he did not use any whatsoever and that the company he works for discourages the use of it all together.

Any ideas what could be causing this odor??  Even though the tank is glass-lined, is there any possible defect inside the heater that could be causing this?  Could it be that a new heater just causes the water to smell different?

Thanks,

Rick

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 Posted: Sun Aug 19th, 2007 06:39 am
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eleent
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Hello:  I don't have any easy answers, but do have a few thoughts.  I'd start by calling Bradford White's help line directly.  It is 800.334.3393.

I'm curious about the installer saying no pipe dope was used.  Something must be used at threaded connections.  Perhaps teflon tape was used.  It isn't dope per say, and would have no odor.  Did they use copper or stainless steel flex connectors?  If not, what did they use?  Some plastics, like vinyl can contribute odor.

Was anything else changed or added?  Do let us know how things progress :)

Yours,  Larry

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 Posted: Sun Aug 19th, 2007 08:02 am
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GREE3616
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Thanks for your response Larry.  I am not sure what he used at the threaded connections but my assumption is Teflon tape.  I believe all the connectors are copper except for the supply lines, which used to be copper but are now stainless steel flex lines.  Regarding Bradford White, I did call them and they vehmently deny that anything inside the heater could cause this.  I am not sure if my previous heater, which was made by State and 15 yrs old, had an annode rode but maybe that could cause the smell?  Maybe the fact that it's a new rod?  What about the steel flex lines?

Any other ideas?

Thanks!

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 Posted: Sun Aug 19th, 2007 07:52 pm
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eleent
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Hello:  It's unlikely, but if the stainless flex lines are braided on the outside, the plastic/rubber tube on the inside might have something to do with the odor. 

Does the odor occur strongly at first hot water draw and then abate with more use?  I suppose an inexpensive test would be to replace the stainless (if braided) with corrugated copper or corrugated stainless flex connectors, to see if that made a difference.

I'v never known anodes to cause any odor other than the sulpher sort.  Also, I've only experienced plasticy tank odor with epoxy lined commercial tanks that weren't properly cured.  Never in a glass lined tank.

The next step is to have both hot and cold water tested to look for contaminants; and it would be nice to avoid that expense.

Are there any other plastic components in the plumbing system?  Any filters, softener etc?

Yours,  Larry

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 Posted: Mon Aug 20th, 2007 02:12 am
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GREE3616
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Larry,

The supply lines seem to be more of a corrugated rigid type stainless steel as oppose to braided.  When I first noticed the problem, it seemed to mitigate with the more hot water I used.  I then went away on business for a few days and upon my return it was worse.  That's when I finally called the the company who installed it and they came out to check things and flush out the heater.  If I turn on my cold water, that water does not travel through the heater, correct?

 

Rick

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 Posted: Tue Aug 21st, 2007 11:58 pm
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eleent
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Hello:  About your question on cold water;  Cold supply enters the house.  A branch from that line supplies cold to the heater, with the rest going to cold uses around the house.  So, no cold should travel through the heater... cold in--hot out.  Am I getting from your question that there is an odor in the cold water too? 

If there is an expansion tank in the wrong place, or a recirc line problem, it's possible for a little hot to make it into the cold side, but generally, hot and cold only mix at the taps.  The corrugated stainless flex connectors expose mostly metal to the water and would not contribute to the odor problem :?

Yours,  Larry

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 Posted: Thu Aug 23rd, 2007 12:31 pm
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DB
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Hey Rick,

Is this city or well water? When the unit was installed, was the whole house water supplied turned off or just the ball/gate above the heater? Does the hot water have any cloudiness to it?

Well water, I would not be afraid to use some bleach, treat it like the rotten egg issues. If the whole house supplied was turned off I would guess you have some debris that was dis-lodged in the plumbing and is now in the bottom of the heater, just like the stuff you find in your fixtures after the tank is replaced. Flush, drain and chlorinate. If the water from the tap is cloudy then clears up, I would be guessing it is a reaction with the hydrogen from the anode rod. Draw some water from the drain valve, is it too smelly and/or cloudy? 

Let us know how things go!

DB

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 Posted: Thu Aug 23rd, 2007 06:31 pm
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GREE3616
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First of all, thanks to everyone for all you help.  I will address the last couple of questions in this post.

I think my cold water smells the same but I guess the problem is that I never really smelled it before so I don't have any standard of reference.

Regarding the other questions, my water is generated by the city as opposed to a well.  The installer did NOT turn off my condo's entire water supply, just where it enters the water heater.  When the install was completed and after he came back to flush it out again, there was definitely lots of air in the pipes and some debris coming out of the taps.  According to the installer, debris settles at the bottom of the pipes and is expelled due to the air pressure.

Bottom line, my hot water is starting to smell a little more normal but I sitll detect a little something.  Also, my skin feels a little 'itchy' after showers but maybe that's just from being paranoid.  I've even thought about replacing the heater again at my own expense (not sure if the installer or Bradford-White would cover it) but that would be a last resort.

Keep the advice and reassurance coming as it is much appreciated.

Thanks! 

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 Posted: Thu Aug 23rd, 2007 08:32 pm
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DB
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Sounds like your making progress. Given that the cold has some smell, I am sure it will continue to work its way out. I have used the chlorine thing for just about any unusual smell...seems to work!

DB

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 Posted: Fri Aug 24th, 2007 01:22 pm
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GREE3616
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Thanks.  So is it safe to say that it is highly unlikely that something inside the tank is causing the smell?  I seem to be itching more after showers but maybe I am just being paranoid.

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 Posted: Fri Aug 24th, 2007 05:19 pm
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DB
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Rick, can't say about the itching thing? Is the water hotter causing dryness? My understanding of the lining "glass" is not going to create a smell. I have cut tanks apart out of curiousity, I compare the lining to a range top. smooth and shiny..can't see that creating a smell or itchy skin?

DB

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 Posted: Sat Aug 25th, 2007 05:28 am
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elenano
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I agree with DB and Bradford White. And given that the cold water smells, too, I really doubt the water heater has anything to do with it. On the other hand, if there is something weird in the cold water, heating it might produce certain effects.

Randy Schuyler

Last edited on Sat Aug 25th, 2007 05:29 am by elenano

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 Posted: Sun Aug 26th, 2007 08:18 am
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GREE3616
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One other item I forgot to mention is that when I turn my cold water on, it starts off nice and cold then actually begins to turn warm and then at best it becomes cool.  I have reproduced this from multiple faucets. Any explanation and could it be related to the water heater installation?  Like the smell, I don't remember this happening with the old heater.

Thanks,

Rick

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 Posted: Sun Aug 26th, 2007 03:37 pm
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eleent
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Hello:  Do a search under "cross connection".  You may have that going on and it would produce the result you described.  Let us know ;)

Yours,  Larry

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 Posted: Sun Aug 26th, 2007 06:56 pm
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GREE3616
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Thanks.  I did some checking under cross-connection and at this point I plan on calling the company that installed the heater and demand a new one.  Between the strange smell and now the cross-connection issue, I am at my wits end.

I'll let you know how I make out but in the meantime, feel free to pass along any additional advice.

Rick

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 Posted: Mon Aug 27th, 2007 02:57 pm
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GREE3616
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Is there any possible way that the installation of the the new water heater could cause warm water coming out of the cold-water tap (aka cross-connection).  Maybe connecting something wrong or a faulty part in the heater?  I just don't remember this happening with my old heater.

Thanks.

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 Posted: Mon Aug 27th, 2007 09:43 pm
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eleent
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Hello:  I'd do the cross connection test.  It should take less than ten minutes to find where it is, if it exists.  It is possible for multiple things to misbehave at the same time... meaning there could be a cross connection that has nothing to do with the heater installation.  The cross connection test can only give you more info to work with and that's good :cool:  Breaking the problem down into manageable bits will help get it solved.

Yours,  Larry

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 Posted: Mon Aug 27th, 2007 10:30 pm
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GREE3616
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What exactly is the cross connection test?

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 Posted: Tue Aug 28th, 2007 02:20 am
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eleent
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Hello:  Sorry, I've answered this before, but not for some time.  Turns out the answer I was referring to was buried pretty deep.  So, the cross connection test is to determine if there is a leak from hot to cold or visa versa.  Also the test will help you to find where the leak is, so you can deal with it. 

THE TEST:  Turn off power to your electric heater or turn to the pilot position if gas.  Shut off the cold water supply to the heater.  Open a hot tap.  Water should run only a few seconds and then stop.  If it keeps running, the shut off valve doesn't work, or there is a cross connection.  Have a look at the shut off valve.  Is the pipe between that valve and the heater cold?  If so, water is likely leaking through the valve.  You also should hear water movement.  Replace the valve and try the cross connection test again.  If there is no water running from a hot tap this time, good.  If it runs, go around the house with your ears on.  Can you hear running water?  Try shutting off stops under sinks or at washing machine; until you hear the water stop or see no more running from that tap.  Say you've isolated a single lever bathroom faucet as the cause.  Personally, I've seen this with older Moen and Grohe faucets. Note that there may be more than one leaking.  I've had up to four at once.  Newer models may be better, don't know.  Clothes washers are supposed to be a big source of cross connection, along with showers (which seldom have shut off valves).

Once hot and cold sides of the plumbing are truly separate, your odor problem will be easier to deal with, and you'll get more hot water for showers etc.  Hope that helps ;)

Yours,  Larry

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