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Old 12-06-2016, 07:57 PM   #1
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Help with hot water


Last Sunday, 11/27, I went to do some dishes and hot water was running only cold. Called our home warranty company and they sent plumber on Monday afternoon who informed us he had to replace some wiring at the top that had been "fried". We could see a brown burn mark from it. Told us to wait 45-60 mins and it would work- still no hot water. Was then informed we would need new control panel which was ordered and placed on Thursday and still no hot water. Same plumber came back out Friday while we were working and shut off the breaker and the water at the heater because he then observed that the meter was spinning and I was told we have a "slab leak". Fast forward and now warranty co sent another plumber on Monday and then we were told we needed a new hot water heater (ours was 15 yrs old so no big surprise) and that they believed a leak was happening three inches into the concrete and that had to be repaired as well. No diagnostic testing was completed to determine this and no visible water or hot spots observed. Plumber comes out today and installs new hot water heater, meter still turning and again was told a possible slab leak but that we should still have hot water and just to turn off hot water line when it being used to prevent too much water wasted from the leak until it was repaired. And here we sit again with absolutely no hot water- cold water running through the hot side. 10 days without hot water and we are desperate! Any insights from anyone appreciated!
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Old 12-06-2016, 10:51 PM   #2
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Re: Help with hot water


a different contractor..... one that knows what am amprobe is.....
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Old 12-07-2016, 05:33 AM   #3
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Thank you for your response- I have had suspicions about the electrical component since the beginning.
Any thoughts as the the water leak they are insistent upon?
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Old 12-07-2016, 07:47 AM   #4
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Re: Help with hot water


How old is the house? If the water supply pipes are copper, they can and probably will develop pinhole leaks. Usually that takes 40+ years to happen, but can happen sooner. If the pipes run under the concrete floor slab, they are almost impossible to service. Modern detection tools can find the location of supply pipe leaks under the slab.

Turning the water off without also turning off the power to an electric water heater can ruin the heating element(s) if the water level gets too low inside the tank of the water heater. All electric water heaters should have a power switch to easily shut the power off to them.
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Old 12-07-2016, 09:28 AM   #5
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Re: Help with hot water


What you are telling us, that is what you are being told, does not make much logical sense.

I get the impression that you have an electrical water heater. I cannot imagine how the wiring to the heater could have been " fried". The circuit breaker for the water would have prevented that. There is no control unit for a water heater. You have two heating elements in most water heaters. Each controlled by a thermostat. There would be no control unit unless you have some special device installed.
With an electric water heater you have a tank. That tank has two heating elements, each controlled by a thermostat. Both the heating element and their thermostats are easily replaceable. There is no reason to replace a water heater unless the tank itself is leaking. There is no repair for a leaking tank. For any other problem you simply replace heating elements or thermostats.

It is implied that your hot water piping goes into a concrete floor. That also implies that your house is built on a slab. If the piping in or under the floor is leaking you may see a large wet area in the flooring or you may not. To confirm that a pipe is or is not leaking, make sure that no water is being used anywhere in the house and then watch your water meter. If there is a leak under the floor the water meter will be turning.

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they believed a leak was happening three inches into the concrete and that had to be repaired as well
He would have no way of knowing that. If there is moisture in the floor in that area you probably do have a leak but that leak could be anywhere. If you have a leak that is so bad that you don't have any hot water, then water should be showing up through the floor and be obvious.

First make sure that no water is being used in the house anywhere. Then watch your water meter at the street. If the meter is not turning, you do not have a leak. If the meter is turning you have a leak. If the meter is turning, close the valve on the cold water input pipe to the water heater. Check the water meter again. If is no longer turning you have a leak in the hot water pipe under the floor.

If you determine that you do have a leak in the hot water pipe under the floor, turn the valve on the cold water input pipe to the water off until you need hot water. When you need hot water turn the valve on. That will at least give you some hot water until you can make repairs.

Much of what you have told us, that is what you have been told. is not logical. That is not unusual for these home warranty companies. They always seem to be able to find something that is not covered by the warranty. Then charge you an exorbitant price for repair.

Post pictures of the water heater and the piping. Tell us what happens at the meter when you turn off the water to the house.

Last edited by hkstroud; 12-07-2016 at 09:36 AM.
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Old 12-07-2016, 09:48 AM   #6
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Thank you all so much. A few clarifications: yes our home is built on a slab. When we turn off the main valve into our home and the valve on top of the water heater then our meter does stop spinning. When we turn the main valve back on we still have no spinning. When we turn on the valve on top of the HWH then it begins spinning. There is likely a leak but I don't know how they determined where it was because there is absolutely no visible sign of the leak.
Even when we turn the hot water on we get nothing even for a short period of time.
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Old 12-07-2016, 09:53 AM   #7
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Re: Help with hot water


Can you post a pic of your water heater and the piping leading to it?
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Old 12-07-2016, 09:53 AM   #8
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Re: Help with hot water


How old is the house?
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Old 12-07-2016, 10:04 AM   #9
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At work now but can post pics later and was built in 1979.
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Old 12-07-2016, 10:25 AM   #10
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Re: Help with hot water


The reason you don't see the leak is that the pipes run under the slab until they go into the walls where the fixtures are. A thermal tool is used to locate the leak by it's heat signature. Your choices to fix it are to pay for the leak to be located and dig up the floor there and fix the leaking spot, or do a repipe. A repipe involves running new PVC (cold)/CPVC(hot) or pex pipes in the attic and down the walls to the fixtures. A good DIYer can do a basic repipe, if codes allow a homeowner to do that.
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Old 12-07-2016, 11:24 AM   #11
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Re: Help with hot water


Here is what I would do.
First I am assuming that you have a single story home.
I would close the cold water input valve to the water heater.
I would turn up the thermostats of both heating elements as high as possible, say about 130 to 140 degrees.
While the water heater is heating up I would go to each bath and close the cold water stop valves to the sinks. Also close the stop valves to any bath tubs or showers if possible. Also close the cold water stop valve to the kitchen sink .

After the heater has gotten up to temperature, open the stop valve to the water heater. Then open the hot of each faucet and see if you get hot water and what the water pressure is. Temperatures should be all the same. A difference in water pressure might give you a hint.
You should logically figure out how the pipes are run. Feel along the floor for warmth and moisture. You may get some concept where the leak is. You won't be able to do anything about it but when you call the plumber you will have a better idea of what he has to do. In other words you will be in a better position to evaluate what he proposes.

Of course if you have carpeting on the flooring you are not likely to feel any heat or moisture.

As Clarence said, you can consider re-piping up in the attic, but only if you live in an area where it does not get below freezing. That approach would also mean tearing up wall to get the piping down to sinks and showers or tubs.

Post pic of water heater and make a drawing of how the house is laid out.

Last edited by hkstroud; 12-07-2016 at 11:27 AM.
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Old 12-07-2016, 11:33 AM   #12
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Re: Help with hot water


Have you confirmed that the hot water heater is in fact heating the water to start with?

And if so, is the suspicion really that all that hot water is dumping itself out of a leaky pipe under the concrete? So that none of it reaches your fixtures? That would have to be some massive leak...

Is this a tankless heater you have now?

Something is amiss..
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Last edited by ryansdiydad; 12-07-2016 at 11:38 AM.
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Old 12-07-2016, 01:25 PM   #13
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Re: Help with hot water


Quote:
Have you confirmed that the hot water heater is in fact heating the water to start with?
Quote:
Is this a tankless heater you have now?
Two good questions.
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Old 12-28-2016, 05:52 AM   #14
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Re: Help with hot water


Quote:
Originally Posted by clarenceboddick View Post
The reason you don't see the leak is that the pipes run under the slab until they go into the walls where the fixtures are. A thermal tool is used to locate the leak by it's heat signature. Your choices to fix it are to pay for the leak to be located and dig up the floor there and fix the leaking spot, or do a repipe. A repipe involves running new PVC (cold)/CPVC(hot) or pex pipes in the attic and down the walls to the fixtures. A good DIYer can do a basic repipe, if codes allow a homeowner to do that.
Yes, a good DIYer can locate the leak with the thermal tool and fix it. Otherwise, you can ask any professional to locate the leak and fix it without troubling you.


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