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Old 02-21-2016, 11:06 PM   #1
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New hot water heater issue with water quality and potential resolutions


Had to replace a new hot water heate a little over a week ago. The new hot water heater now has water that's coming out sort of milky looking--been running it a lot hoping it would go away.

My plumbers are good people and I trust 'em.

Question--the plumber tells me I have two options: (1) the mfr will allegedly provide a new hot heater but I'm getting a vibe that they'd rather not. So we have option two--plumber will drain the new heater and then have the heater and the lines cleaned with bleach--four hour process--and will come back four hours later and do whatever it is they'd need to do to clean this out.

Seems like mfr is coming up with some BS issue whereby they're claiiming this totally new issue with my water could be from an issue in the line which is affecting the water (not sure if they claim its some contamination issue but if there was contamination wouldn't it have already been there with the old hot water heater and not have cropped up when the heater was merely replaced?

Doesn't make sense to me (and I'm a novice which is why I look to the good advice I get from the honest folks I come across on this forum). Prior to replacing the heater we had no issue with the water quality/issue being off like it is now post replacement.

I was going to go with the drain and bleach route but now my old man and some friends are asking me why I'm nit just taking the new heater since I had no issues before with water quality rather than wasting time with this drain process.

My thought process was why not take a whole line cleaning and tank bleaching with the hope I'd never have to worry about it again if I'd end up with a high functioning heater. Now I'm starting to wonder why I don't just take the new heater especlally since I never had an issue with the water quality before.

Wondering if plumber might want to take this bleach route because it would be easier than dealing with getting a new heater from AO Smith and doing double work. Just confused and you guys have always steered me in the right direction in the past.

Any guidance from you kind souls out there would be greatly appreciated!

Also, apologize for the babbling and i hope I'm making any some sense but as indicated I'm just a novice looking for kindness from strangers!

Thanks folks.
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Old 02-21-2016, 11:44 PM   #2
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Have they attempted to isolate the problem to the heater or the service line? You didn't indicate where you draw the water from. Is it all the faucets?
Given the unknowns- did they disconnect the hot line out from the heater and inspect the water at that point? This would narrow the problem to the heater or piping supplying it.
What is your pipe made of? copper galvanized. pex or other material?
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Old 02-22-2016, 12:02 AM   #3
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Thanks for such a prompt, ePlumber! You guys are truly amazing. I'm gonna ask some educated questions to see what I they have to say. Some things I do know--this entire portion of our split level house was an in-law suite built for a senior citizen. Separate zones for all. Pipe is all copper and I'm gonna put em to the test of taking the steps u recommended to isolate the problem to the heater or source of the water, stay tuned and thanks for ur support!
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Old 02-22-2016, 08:19 AM   #4
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Found a little info on water quality issues (see link below). May have nothing to do with your situation, just a good read.

Hope you can get it figured out soon bigdaddy.

http://www.home-water-heater.com/milky-hot-water.html
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Old 02-22-2016, 09:18 AM   #5
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Hard to believe a brand new heater would have bacteria issues and need bleach run through it.
Tried running some water is a clear glass and just letting it sit for a while to see if it's just air bubbles in the line?
Did you remove the aerators on the faucets and flush out the lines.
Any time major plumbing like that gets done trash always gets kicked up.
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Old 02-23-2016, 07:22 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joecaption View Post
Hard to believe a brand new heater would have bacteria issues and need bleach run through it.
Tried running some water is a clear glass and just letting it sit for a while to see if it's just air bubbles in the line?
Did you remove the aerators on the faucets and flush out the lines.
Any time major plumbing like that gets done trash always gets kicked up.
Now that we have asked for a new unit, AO Smith has now told the plumber they are well aware of the problem with this unit (i think its a self ventilating unit because it doesn't run to an outside line--not sure if that matters but we previously had a unit that worked with no issues). Now that we decided to ask for a new unit they told my plumber that this is not a bacteria issue (surprise, surprise) but is rather an aeration issue that they are well aware of.

Their solution is for homeowners with this unit to run it for 10 minutes before they are able to use it (for as long as they have own one). That is their permanent solution to an apparent manufacturing defect.

Not sure if I'm the only one out there but my wife and I both work full-time and have two young children. We cannot afford to waste any of the limited precious time we have in the morning running a hot water heater in preparation for a shower because AO Smith has decided not to stand behind their product. Very disappointing when I have had no prior issues with them which is why I buy their products. Guess I shouldn't be surprised if the quality of their Manufacturing has gotten worse over the years as they attempt to cut corners in order to improve their profit margin.

On the bright side, I feel very good about our plumber and I really feel as though we are in good hands. Nice feeling and I'm going to make sure that I provide them with positive feedback on every possible forum that is out there

Any ideas from you pros out there about how or if i should I approach AO Smith about this issue. Or, should I just shut my mouth, since I am a novice and don't know what the hell I'm talking about, and let my plumber do the talking for me.

The fact that AO Smith made up some BS bacteria issue when they knew that wasn't the problem to begin with really leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Shame on them.

Shame on AO Smith for playing dirty. Had they been honest from the outset, they wouldn't have lost a customer for the future and wouldn't have someone out there who is going to be telling people about his horrible experience with what might be constituted as a blatant case of consumer fraud. And, if they have taken this approach with more than one customer they might have a really big issue on their hands!
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Old 02-24-2016, 06:50 AM   #7
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After several hours when no one has used hot water, such as first thing in the morning, drain out some through the water heater bottom drain. There might be manufacturing residues or other debris that has collected down there. Should there be sediment in the tank, larger amounts are gotten rid of faster using the bottom drain compared with just using hot water normally.

Is your water unusually acidic? If litmus paper from an old toy chemistry set does not reveal that, then have a lab analyze a sample. Unusually acidic water will accelerate the sacrificial action of the anode rod which in turn can introduce higher mineral content into the water. (Sorry, Flint MI residents, it's the same chemical process.)

The best material in terms of tank life for an anode rod is magnesium.

Objectionable odors or tastes or colors in the water from the anode would be alleviated by substituting an anode rod of a less active nature but the sacrificial action could be reduced and tank life may be shortened. The best material used nowadays is magnesium.

The interior of a "smart" water heater tank is no different from the interior of a "dumb" water heater.

Aeration of the water is a non-problem.

Bleach in the water heater is an optional one time treatment to kill bacteria. Thereafter any bacterial activity inside the tank is no different than in the old water heater and is usually kept to a minimum by a chlorinated water supply.

Have you tried the "fill the glass and let it settle" trick yet? If there is any sediment, as opposed to air, that will be found at the bottom of the glass.
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Old 02-28-2016, 11:33 PM   #8
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AO Smith defect with self aerating/self venting Hot water heater-lawyers


Found out from the plumber that AO Smith is no longer claiming it's merely a bacterial issue--guess they realize that it was a pretty lame excuse even for someone like me to swallow who is an inexperienced novice. Instead they're now claiming the problem is a lack of calcium. They now concede that bleaching isn't a solution. They also say that although an aerator might be a temporary solution, they don't how long it would last for and at the end of the day who would get stuck holding he bag when the last aerators' warranty breaks (who bets it would be on me? :-)

So, here's where I currently stand. Into to this for about TWO grand. Had an old hot water heater that worked fine, new one is installed and now with the "superior" technology from overseas, I have an issue that I never had before--milky, overaerated, just bad water that wasn't there before.


AO Smith, who until this experience, I had held in very high esteem as one of the top water heater companies in this country, tried to play games with me and led me down some red herring path with bleaching a new tank as the solution (which they were apparently doing to multiple customers not just me knowing full well this wasn't the solution and that bleaching was BS).

Now that they see I am not just going to go away like they hope most of their customers do, so they have to spend more money and can't pocket more earnings.

AO Smith has given me the following solutions not---(1) to have the water run every morning or any time I want to shower for up to ten minutes before EACH usage until this allegedly harmless "milky/fog" dissipates (we all have so much free time lately, i can burn 10 minutes easy--in between homework and paying my bills); that is assuming I trust that there is no issue with the water having a ten year old and seven-year-old in the house; and the sad thing is that plumber ran into this issue before (gotta ask them why they sold it to me with those issues--they're costing me time and losing themselves money, going to have to they'll lose time although I know they will be reimbursed by AO, I'm sure it's not top rates and they're still going to lose time they could've used for new jobs--I feel bad for them but I guess it's the nature of the beast plumber also indicates that we are apparently not the only customers who have this issue (though I am uncertain as to whether not they received this information from AO Smith or from their own records).

Either way it's a disgrace I wanted to use an American company--and after you read the AO Smith customer service department contact information I thought that's what I was doing.

Not sure about the rest of you guys out there, but $2000 is a lot of money to me. I've had to waste a lot of time and energy on this. Though I hate litigious people, God knows how many companies are screwing people on this kind of stuff only because people have no time to take off from work to sue these SOBs do they get away with it.

One more question, and I apologize again for taking up so much of every one's time (which is why you guys are really such a great resource for people like me who are totally clueless) but does anyone have a secondary recommendation for a mfr who produces a high-quality self-aerating/self venting hot water heater.

Seems like they build these hot water heathers like Apple does iPods and iPads--to last for a few years before you have to replace the items, and the repairs, by the way, cost more than the actual product--a quote I heard from an Apple ""Genius" who educated me when I asked him about the price to repair an Apple product which he said would cost more than the price to buy a new Apple products.
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Old 02-29-2016, 08:36 AM   #9
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whats the model number of the AO smith water heater? why dont you tell plumber to change brand and install new heater as new one is defective( supposedly) ...
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Old 02-29-2016, 03:25 PM   #10
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Why the need to have a WH that aerates or did I read some of this thread wrong?
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Old 03-01-2016, 10:36 AM   #11
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We still have not found out what that foam consists of.

I am not yet convinced that the new water heater is defective.

There is no need to have a water heater that aerates. Either it does or it doesn't and you have no control over that matter. Any such aeration is incidental and not intentional.

But a water heater cannot aerate much for very long. Sooner or later, most likely sooner, it runs out of air to aerate the hot water with. Any air came in with the cold water or if you drained water from the tank with a faucet open. No water heater has an air injection or air infusion module attached to its tank.

Because whatever is in the water (excluding anode sacrificial byproducts) came all the way from the water main or well and you never cared about it before and it will continue to do so, that is acceptable contamination.

Some water heaters have a dip tube that is a bit longer than average or that curves at the bottom so sediment at the bottom is swirled up. So you may have some of the sediment that came in continually and gradually from the water main or well coming out with your hot water as opposed to settling down at the bottom of the tank. So you don't have to drain the bottom of the water heater as often but you should still do that once in awhile.

If you want to you could check the dip tube and, if you wish to , replace a curved dip tube with a straight dip tube or cut off the end to make it shorter.
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Old 04-13-2016, 10:17 AM   #12
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Re: New hot water heater issue with water quality and potential resolutions


Wanted to thank you all and give you an update (been recovering from major spinal surgery--mess). They replaced the anode and we are good. Milky for a few secs then gone. Wanted to give big thanks to those of you who took time out of your own lives to help a novice you have no ties to. You are all good people. World needs more of you types!
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