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Old 25-10-2009, 00:10   #1
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Isotherm Water Heater Expansion Valve Leak or ?

In an earlier thread I mentioned that my 6 yr old Indel Isotherm (10 gal) water heater seems to be the source for a good amount of water in my bilge. Someone responded that this was probably normal, the expansion valve just doing it's job.
But I'm not sure. This valve leaked a few yrs ago and I replaced it. It's leaking again, exactly like it did before the last repair, and way more than I think it's supposed to, (over a cup overnight) and probably has been doing so for awhile.
A few facts:
1) I leave the heater off except when I plan to take a shower, turning it on before bed, and off again before I get in the shower in the morning.
2) The heater is mounted on it's side, so the valve, along with all other fittings, sits under water 'pressure' constantly, (as opposed to if the heater were standing upright, where I assume the valve would not have water sitting against it -- the point or question is, does mounting the heater on it's side contribute to pressure valve spitting, dripping, etc.?
I don't really have a choice regarding this positioning, there's not a place suitable for an upright installation.
3) I've manually engaged the valve a number of times, letting it "blast" water, in case there was some debris caught there, but that doesn't help.
4) I called Indel in Fla. on Friday to discuss, but got VM and no call back; I'll try them again on Monday.... but in the meantime, does anyone else out there have any experience with this problem.

I've got a pan sitting under the valve now (a cup wasn't big enough - it just ran over overnight.) But I sure would like to solve this and get rid of the running water!!!
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Old 25-10-2009, 03:00   #2
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Water Heaters are mounted so that the safety valves are always near the lowest level of the tank.
They will tend to leak a lot more than usual, if you have “hard” or gritty water, which tends to clog the valve.
Isotemp “Drum” style water heaters are intended to be mounted horizontally.
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Old 25-10-2009, 05:52   #3
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Hate to answer a question with a question but more info is needed. Are you connected to shore water? What is your system pressure set at? Do you have a expansion tank installed in your system on the hot water side? and what is you water temp set at? All these can contribute to pressure surges that will cause your valve to leak. If you have shore water that valve should be connected to an overboard thru hull so that if it pops open you will not sink your boat.

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Old 25-10-2009, 06:59   #4
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I was the one writing that it's probably normal. I agree with all Wayne writes, plus, it also matters if there's a one-way valve on the cold water connection of the water heater.

With the trouble you have, I would recommend you add a pressure-meter (using an extra T-connector) at the hot water output of the heater. This allows you to compare the pressure-rating of the safety-valve with the actual pressure inside the heater. They should be close when it drips. If the valve drips when the pressure is way lower, the valve is defective.

If you have an expansion tank in the cold-water part of the plumbing, it will help only if there's no one-way valve at the cold water input of the heater. But that expansion tank might be rated for compensating pulses from the pump etc. and too small for the expansion in the heater. So... it also matters how big the heater is.

cheers,
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Old 25-10-2009, 08:18   #5
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Geoff,
I've had the same problem from Day1 on mine and it is really much more than what I would consider normal. I have ordered a new valve and hopefully it will be an improvement. I'll let you know.
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Old 26-10-2009, 09:55   #6
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Thanks for getting back on this one everyone. Answers to questions. No, i'm not hooked up to shore water, system is strictly a variable output Shurflo pump (which has an expansion tank built in. I checked and there doesn't seem to be a way to adjust the thermostat; it appears to be "set".
The tag on unit says that the pressure is 7 bars. (I don't know what that means.) Perhaps idea of a pressure gauge would be good. Going to talk with Isotemp today (I hope). In mean time I took a some 5/16 plastic hose and forced one end onto the little nipple just above the pressure valve lever, and have run it to a bucket. Sure enough, water there this morning. I'm not sure how smart this would be as a permanent fix; perhaps I can fashion a fitting into the shower sump box and run this water flow there. Just not sure how successful I'll be in keeping the hose (type you find on a house icemaker option on a fridge (Home Depot) on the nipple. Couldn't get a hose clamp on, too small, so used a small zip tie. Hmmm.
I'd like to think that I could get the expansion valve to stop "leaking" but since I've had this problem before, and replaced the valve, and the problem has come back (or maybe never really went away) I'm thinking I'm ultimately going to have to fashion some water catch system.
Okay, just looked, and there's also water in the pan I left under the expansion valve itself, so it's coming out of the nipple and from the valve lever also.
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Old 26-10-2009, 10:07   #7
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Ahhh Hahhh!!! Just talked to Sergio at Indel and he asked me to describe the expansion valve, and he's says, oh that one, no you don't want that one, we updated that one, that one didn't work. Got to love it. They're sending me the "new one." And BTW, he concurred that unit doesn't have an adjustable thermostat, it's factory set at 160 F to prevent bacteria. Yikes. No wonder they expand!!!!
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Old 26-10-2009, 10:12   #8
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for purpose of this discussion 1 bar = atmospheric pressure at sea level. Call it 15# US so 7 bar = 105#. Is this tag on the relief valve? Normally relief valve is temperature and pressure actuated and would normally be at the point of highest temp i.e. the top of the tank - this also lessens the likelihood of particulates fouling the RV. If crud covers the RV inlet or otherwise restricts the opening to the tank could = KABOOM! Be glad it's working! Need pressure gauge to be sure but I'm thinking you need a compression tank (erroneously called expansion tank in common usage) in the hot water outlet to allow for the expansion of water when heated. The one on the pump is normally to reduced pulsations in water pressure/vibration. If tank is on all the time this might not happen but you want to save energy so add the tank. diaphram tank pressure should equal system max operating pressure.
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Old 26-10-2009, 10:17   #9
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Interesting. My expansion valve is definitely at the bottom of the tank, which is mounted horizontally. I'm sitting here trying to imagine turning the tank 180; don't think I can get it turned all the way to exactly the top (there's a big beam right there, but perhaps I can get it closer to 12oclock position, say around 1:30 or 2:00. I'll look into adding the compression tank you're talking about. And THANKS.!!
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Old 26-10-2009, 10:30   #10
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Manufacturers do things that ordinarily would not be standard practice - but they have the resources to test and certify things not standard practice. Follow the manufactures instructions for any given product! Drive belts and bearings are a biggie. Look at a Browning book to see how to size belts for long life and then compare that to what's in a lawn mower for instance LOL!
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Old 26-10-2009, 11:02   #11
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NO ONE EVER WARNED ME I HAD TO ACTUALLY BE SMART/LEARNED TO SAIL A BOAT!!!!
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Old 26-10-2009, 13:58   #12
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I just replaced my pressure relief valve this morning. It may not have been the valve as the O-ring on the original factory installed fitting was essentially cross threaded. I doubt it was properly doing it's job. Was/is your leak actually coming from the valve discharge or the threads immediately next to it?
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Old 26-10-2009, 14:16   #13
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mine dripped from the tiny little nipple that jutted out from the valve, and also from around the blue aluminum trip arm on the valve
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Old 09-12-2010, 07:38   #14
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Fixed it

Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff H. View Post
Ahhh Hahhh!!! Just talked to Sergio at Indel and he asked me to describe the expansion valve, and he's says, oh that one, no you don't want that one, we updated that one, that one didn't work. Got to love it. They're sending me the "new one." And BTW, he concurred that unit doesn't have an adjustable thermostat, it's factory set at 160 F to prevent bacteria. Yikes. No wonder they expand!!!!

Thank you for posting. Over the past 4 weeks our pressure leak from the valve has been getting worse going from just a short burst to over 16 ounces every time we turn the pump on/ close a faucet/ or generally over the night. Were we were loosing about a gallon of water per day over our normal consumption.

I spoke to Sergio today. He reaffirmed that the old style regulator with the twist knob would need to be replaced. The part number is SFD0004AA and now comes with a flip top.

Hope this helps for anyone with a leaking "Orange Drum" style Isotherm water heater with the old style knob type pressure regulator.

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Old 09-12-2010, 09:31   #15
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Forever,
Wow, this was so long ago. Am now happy cruising, in Mazatlan, leaving for Puerto Vallarta on Saturday. The new valve I got from Iso is working perfectly; there is rarely any discharge and the bilge stays dry. Hope yours works well!!
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