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Old 10-29-2015, 06:36 PM   #1
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Help... Water Heater Leak

Woke up this morning to find a puddle of water on the kitchen floor, hugging the base of the cabinets. Traced it to the area under the fridge. Removed the panel, and can see a trace of water that seems to be a slow leak from the bottom of the water heater.





So here's my dilemma... while I don't mind getting my hands dirty, I'm not a plumber. But here's what I've done so far...

I've pulled my paperwork, and from what I can tell, all of the hose fittings are on the rear of this thing where I can see them. I've checked them, and can detect no leaks from any of them.

I've pulled the exterior panel, and there's nothing out if the ordinary out there.

As such, it would appear the tank itself has developed a leak... and the only way I can see of inspecting and/or verifying that is to pull the whole affair and remove the molded styrofoam insulation.

Am I on the right track? And if it is the tank, can it be reliably repaired? Or am I just wasting my time by even thinking of inspecting-repairing it, instead of just buying & replacing the heater?

Advise welcome...
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Old 10-29-2015, 09:10 PM   #2
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Tom
I just replaced mine on my 2003 Teton but that's because it rusted out after 13 years. Had a pin hole on the tank. I find it hard to believe yours would do that. Have you looked at it from the outside panel. My guess it's the relief valve that may be leaking.

Good luck
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Old 10-29-2015, 09:46 PM   #3
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Area behind the exterior panel is bone dry. Nothing unusual there. Have checked everything except for removing the unit, and removing the styrofoam cover from the tank.

Area under the tank is all wet. It's a slow leak to be sure, but the tank has to be compromised somehow.

After checking prices on a new unit, I gained an education on how expensive they are. Ouch! Glad I have my Good Sam extended service plan.

Called my mobile tech, and he's gonna come check it tomorrow. I'll update then.

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Old 10-30-2015, 12:23 AM   #4
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Tom
I just replaced mine on my 2003 Teton but that's because it rusted out after 13 years. Had a pin hole on the tank. I find it hard to believe yours would do that. Have you looked at it from the outside panel. My guess it's the relief valve that may be leaking.

Good luck
Mike,

I agree that the tank is way to young to have developed a leak. I replaced a 25 year old tank in my old Airstream, simply because I wanted to have a DSI water heater.

But the relief valve shouldn't be the problem, it should be venting to the outside.

This sounds like one of lifes little mysteries that you can't believe it, until you believe it. (Sorry Yogi.)
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Old 10-30-2015, 12:39 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ATCguy View Post
Woke up this morning to find a puddle of water on the kitchen floor, hugging the base of the cabinets. Traced it to the area under the fridge. Removed the panel, and can see a trace of water that seems to be a slow leak from the bottom of the water heater.





So here's my dilemma... while I don't mind getting my hands dirty, I'm not a plumber. But here's what I've done so far...

I've pulled my paperwork, and from what I can tell, all of the hose fittings are on the rear of this thing where I can see them. I've checked them, and can detect no leaks from any of them.

I've pulled the exterior panel, and there's nothing out if the ordinary out there.

As such, it would appear the tank itself has developed a leak... and the only way I can see of inspecting and/or verifying that is to pull the whole affair and remove the molded styrofoam insulation.

Am I on the right track? And if it is the tank, can it be reliably repaired? Or am I just wasting my time by even thinking of inspecting-repairing it, instead of just buying & replacing the heater?

Advise welcome...
I've had many aluminum water heater tanks welded. I lived on RV tanks down south for many years, most of them were pulled from RVs when they had frozen and had split.
I've also repaired small pin holes with JB Weld.
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Old 10-30-2015, 01:36 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by sundancer 87 View Post
...I've also repaired small pin holes with JB Weld.
That was my first thought too. But, like I said, I've got the Extended Service Plan, so I may as well use it.

The odd thing is, the mobile tech got finished with another job sooner than expected, and showed up here today. I had just finished drying up everything I could about an hour before he arrived... and there was more water when he began looking. Searched all around, and agreed with my assessment that none of the lines were the cause.

He then pulled the exterior panel and partially removed the unit from the cavity... and still couldn't find anywhere the thing was leaking. However, there was plenty of water under the unit that HAD to be coming from the unit, because it was still warm. The odd thing was, he broke away some of the styrofoam insulation, and could feel NO water between the aluminum tank & the styrofoam. He did say, however, that he didn't like the seal that Dutchmen made at the factory. So he pushed it back in, and took the time to seal the exterior real good before replacing all of the screws.

Even though he & his assistant put in over an hour trying to diagnose the thing, he wouldn't take any money from me. The plan is to see if it leaks again tonight, and call him in the morning. If it's dry, great... and if not, he'll come back and begin the claim process to just replace the whole unit, and/or upgrade it to a tankless 'on demand' system that I have been thinking of anyway.

Update tomorrow...
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Old 10-30-2015, 01:52 AM   #7
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Good plan to go with the tankless unit. I eventually replaced my RV heater down south with a tankless and installed a Noritz tankless in this house I'm rebuilding.
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Old 10-30-2015, 02:42 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by ATCguy View Post
That was my first thought too. But, like I said, I've got the Extended Service Plan, so I may as well use it.

The odd thing is, the mobile tech got finished with another job sooner than expected, and showed up here today. I had just finished drying up everything I could about an hour before he arrived... and there was more water when he began looking. Searched all around, and agreed with my assessment that none of the lines were the cause.

He then pulled the exterior panel and partially removed the unit from the cavity... and still couldn't find anywhere the thing was leaking. However, there was plenty of water under the unit that HAD to be coming from the unit, because it was still warm. The odd thing was, he broke away some of the styrofoam insulation, and could feel NO water between the aluminum tank & the styrofoam. He did say, however, that he didn't like the seal that Dutchmen made at the factory. So he pushed it back in, and took the time to seal the exterior real good before replacing all of the screws.

Even though he & his assistant put in over an hour trying to diagnose the thing, he wouldn't take any money from me. The plan is to see if it leaks again tonight, and call him in the morning. If it's dry, great... and if not, he'll come back and begin the claim process to just replace the whole unit, and/or upgrade it to a tankless 'on demand' system that I have been thinking of anyway.

Update tomorrow...
A poor seal makes sense on a unit that young.
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Old 10-30-2015, 05:31 AM   #9
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Tom, From one of your Photos, I see a black drain passing by, Have your guy check that first, I feel like everyone else, the tank is too new, for it to have a leak… You may have to run water thru that drain for it to leak?
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Old 10-30-2015, 10:30 PM   #10
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Please keep us all updated. If you are filing a claim I'm interested how that goes. I originally purchased the Good Sam extended service plan. When I did the agent made a big deal out of having all routine MX that the manufacturer recommended done and have proper documentation or the claim would be denied. I cancelled after a year because if I did everything recommended in the manuals I would be very broke.
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Old 10-30-2015, 11:00 PM   #11
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Well, it's definitely the heater...

About 8pm last night, I already had another puddle in front of the fridge. So I killed power to the unit, went outside to the wet bay and moved the red bypass lever into the bypass position... and then removed the drain plug from the heater and drained the unit.

From that point, no more leaks or puddles on the floor overnight.

Called my mobile tech to update him... but as luck would have it, he's under the weather today. His wife said he'd get back to me later in the day. True to form, he called about an hour ago and said he'd try to get by here tomorrow.

So I'm in a holding pattern for now... but at least I know it's definitely the heater unit.

More to follow...
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Old 11-05-2015, 04:56 AM   #12
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Well, got the new water heater installed today.

Upon removal & inspection, the old one was leaking from a place in the weld where the 2 halves of the tank were joined. Didn't even try repairing it... replacement was the best option.

Took about 2 hours to remove & replace. Total cost was $1,185.00... but on the positive side, my Good Sam extended service plan covered all labor & parts cost, minus my $100 deductable since I didn't bring the rig to a Camping World.
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Old 11-05-2015, 06:54 PM   #13
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Glad you got it sorted out Tom. $100.00 isn't bad to get hot water again.
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Old 11-05-2015, 07:33 PM   #14
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Doesn't take much crap on aluminum to cause a defective weld.
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Old 11-05-2015, 10:18 PM   #15
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Glad that you found out what the issue was. Great troubleshooting by the way!
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