Air in water lines… and then another problem

The Tank Air in water lines… and then another problem

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      First let me tell you about my setup. I have an Whirlpool 40-gallon, electric water heater installed in 2013. My house is on a well with a water softener (set for the lowest tolerable setting) and a Culligan SulferClear whole-house water filter. The well water used to have the rotten egg smell problem but that was solved with one of WHR’s electric anodes (thank you VERY much for that solution).

      Everything was fine until this year when we started getting air in our hot water pipes. It was slight at first and then increased in volume and frequency over time. Today we cannot turn on hot water any time day or night without a burst of air. I’ve tried by-passing both the water softener and the Culligan filter to isolate them as potential sources and neither approach changed the situation.

      I read through your tanklets section and learned that this could have something to do with anodes. But I think that’s presumably ruled out since I have an electric anode (true?) and read elsewhere that sediment buildup can contribute to the issue. So I got out a hose and decided to flush my water heater to make sure I cover that base.

      Turned off the circuit breaker. Closed the cold water inlet valve. Opened a hot water faucet and then opened the flush/drain valve. Even though the circuit breaker had only been off for a couple of minutes, the water coming out of the flush valve was cold. Like not even luke warm. And no perceptible sediment came out of the hose by the way.

      The water heater has been “working fine” as far as we can tell. Water at the faucets has been (and continues to be hot). But I assume the cold water is an indication that my bottom heating element is bad — is that a good assumption?

      Is it possible that a bad heating element can cause gas in the tank? Any other suggestions on what to check? I’m chasing two problems now and it’s driving me nuts.


      Larry Weingarten

        Hello, My take on cold water coming from the drain valve is that the dip tube is good and delivering cold to the bottom of the tank, which is normal. I don’t believe the lower element is bad. or you would have noticed it in the form of shorter showers. You can test the element following instructions in “tanklets”. About “air” in the lines, perhaps the anode is putting out too much current for the softened water, but you should deal with Randy on that. If there is no adjustment to be made, you can install an air vent on a “T” in the hot outlet of the tank so any gas will be vented out there. This would be done by putting that “T” on top of the hot outlet nipple, so the vent was on top and the hot water pipe leaves the side of the “T”. That way all gas leaves from the vent.

        Yours, Larry
        ps, Wells used to have an air injection system that acted as an air cushion. If you have that, rather than a well tank with a rubber diaphragm between air and water, that system could be injecting too much air, which then settles in the water heater…. until you turn on a tap 😕

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