Any suggestions for two 50-gallon propane water heaters, leaking, in series?

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Any suggestions for two 50-gallon water heaters, leaking, in series?
Both were installed no later than 2004 (based on the serial plate date), and both are 50 gallons, propane fired water heaters.
Yesterday, I found water on the floor, but couldn't tell which one was the leaker, even though I tapped the sides of both and tried to tip them by hand.
On a 50:50 guess, I assumed the left-most heater (closest to the inside of the house) was the one leaking, as I didn't see anything suspicious coming out of the copper pipes leading into and out of the water heaters hooked in series.
Lacking spare parts at the moment, I simply bypassed the second heater, in favor of the first (closest to the well), and, the water on the floor seems to be drying up appreciably.
Is there any decent way to "diagnose" a leaking water heater to "repair" it, or, is it always a dumb-but-simple plug-and-play replacement?
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Danny D. wrote, on Fri, 18 Sep 2015 13:53:02 +0000:

Had to get the adopt-a-kids ready for school, so, here are the belated photos to give you an idea of what the mess looks like:
The left-most heater is closest to the house and appears to be leaking:
https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/600/21513580065_7291bd4873_b.jpg
Both heaters are dated 2004, and are 50 gallons, but different makes:
https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/696/21502444952_a8261332da_b.jpg
The left-most copper pipe is the cold inlet from the well to the tanks & house, while the accordion pipe is the cold water going into the house:
https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/627/21502445142_2e9458cb69_b.jpg
I long ago disabled the recirculating pump to the left, as being noisy & counter productive:
https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/684/21325738938_c05bda6db0_b.jpg
The hot water to the house came out of the second tank in series:
https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5658/21502445652_53fc475543_b.jpg
It's shocking how close the hot-air vent pipes are to the ceiling wallboard:
https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5634/21513581225_0eb49fefec_b.jpg
The two yellow-tipped ball valves control cold water to the house & to the 1st heater in series:
https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/588/21513581435_cf87107e53_b.jpg
Given all that, I know the dumb-but-simple answer is to replace the second water tank; but I just wonder if there are other ideas?
For example, can a leaking water tank be repaired? Is there an easy way to replace with a better system?
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Water tanks are replaced. Never heard of one repaired. If you can find a bad external joint somewhere, I guess you could repair.
I'm not familiar with a 2 tank set up, sounds pretty inefficient. I'd look at getting _one_ larger tank.
--
Dan Espen

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On Friday, September 18, 2015 at 10:22:46 AM UTC-4, net cop wrote:

+1
If it's leaking from the tank itself as opposed to a connection or pipe, then it's toast.

Here they do that with large homes, expecially ones that have those big Jacuzzi tubs that take a lot of hot water to fill. The few I've seen have been installed in parallel, could probably debate all day on merits of parallel versus serial. Off the top of my head, I would think serial may be better, because you would draw a full tank of hot water from one tank, plus a lot of hot water from the second, before cold water ever enters the picture. With them in parallel, cold water starts to enter both tanks immediately and at some point it's going to effect the temp of the outgoing water.
Agree that he should probably evaluate how much hot water is being used and for what instead of assuming that two are really needed. Also, as you say, one larger tank might be an option, don't know how much they cost versus two, etc.
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trader_4 wrote, on Fri, 18 Sep 2015 08:11:42 -0700:

I have no idea, but, the house has three of those large jucuzzi-style heaters, which we never use (who wants to swim in the bathtub?) since we haven't taken a bath in years.
At the moment, the single 50-gallon tank is only taking longer (about a minute or maybe even two minutes versus fewer than five seconds) to warm up at the shower, and the flow is noticeably less, but other than that, we haven't noticed anything else amiss with the single 50-gallon tank, versus the two 50-gallon tanks in series (but we only took a couple of showers so far).
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On Friday, September 18, 2015 at 1:49:48 PM UTC-4, Danny D. wrote:

No reason a single tank should result in less flow rate than two tanks in series. If you're not using those Jacuzzi tubs and have no plans to, I'd go with a single tank for sure, unless you have a large family or other unique needs.
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trader_4 wrote, on Fri, 18 Sep 2015 11:44:43 -0700:

I noticed there might be a "flow restrictor?" on the output of the hot side of the first tank. It looked like a restricted hole of some sort, but, at the time, I didn't think anything of it.
But, now that the flow is lower, I wonder if they put a flow restrictor on the output of the first tank?
Would that be normal?
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On Friday, September 18, 2015 at 5:56:22 PM UTC-4, Danny D. wrote:

IDK why they would have a flow restrictor on a water heater. I think they do have some kind of energy saving gizmo to try to stop hot water from traveling up via thermals when water is not being drawn. But what makes no sense is you had two tanks in series. Now you just have one of those same tanks. Any flow restriction would be less, not greater, unless you changed something else.
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trader_4 wrote, on Fri, 18 Sep 2015 15:04:27 -0700:

I agree with you that nothing I did should have changed the flow.
Here is a picture of the new temporary setup (bypassing the second tank).
All I did was move the output of the first tank to go directly into the house. Nothing else (there wasn't anything else to do).
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On 9/18/2015 11:11 AM, trader_4 wrote:

First, I've repeatedly opined; Second, that series is better than serial. Thirdly, serial has its uses.
I thought looking around the burners for rust was (is) excellent idea.
--
.
Christopher A. Young
learn more about Jesus
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Dan Espen wrote, on Fri, 18 Sep 2015 10:22:35 -0400:

The only difference I can see, having taken a couple of showers since I bypassed the second 50-gallon hot water heater, is that the water flow seems lower and it now takes about a minute before the water warms up in the shower - whereas it was always almost instantly (if not sooner) warm before.
I don't actually see how that can be (since the pipe distance was not increased nor did we do anything overt to the water pressure), but that's my observation with the temporary setup of only one 50-gallon tank.
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On 9/18/2015 10:22 AM, Dan Espen wrote:

Or, one of the new low mass "instant"
hot water heaters. *
- . Christopher A. Young learn more about Jesus . www.lds.org . . * Troll.
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Oren wrote, on Fri, 18 Sep 2015 07:50:51 -0700:

Hi Oren, You always have a fine eye, as that rust, which I didn't even realize showed up in the photos, is what made me "guess" that the left-most (second in the flow) tank was the bad one.
So far, the water on the floor has been drying up - but it's still wet - so I'm gonna give it another day or two before I proclaim that the bypassed water tank was the culprit.

Thanks for those ideas of where to look. The top seems dry, and the pressure relief valve also seems dry. There is still water in the bypassed tank, even after a day of just sitting there, so, I'm wondering if the leak isn't at the bottom, but, if it's on the sides, I don't see how that can happen.
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Danny I have seen few crazy set ups what it looks like that Furnace was replace by lager hot water heater or perhaps it was added to AC as boost or primary Heat, I am only guessing You need some professional, to take good look. As tank leaking no fixing, forget about that you will need new one. Be aware of that heater comes size, Recovery time, slow recovery are more efficient but you will need increase in volume, faster recovery person can reduce size, how much I would not make change more then 10-20% up or downwards.
"Danny D." wrote in message
Danny D. wrote, on Fri, 18 Sep 2015 13:53:02 +0000:

Had to get the adopt-a-kids ready for school, so, here are the belated photos to give you an idea of what the mess looks like:
The left-most heater is closest to the house and appears to be leaking:
https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/600/21513580065_7291bd4873_b.jpg
Both heaters are dated 2004, and are 50 gallons, but different makes:
https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/696/21502444952_a8261332da_b.jpg
The left-most copper pipe is the cold inlet from the well to the tanks & house, while the accordion pipe is the cold water going into the house:
https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/627/21502445142_2e9458cb69_b.jpg
I long ago disabled the recirculating pump to the left, as being noisy & counter productive:
https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/684/21325738938_c05bda6db0_b.jpg
The hot water to the house came out of the second tank in series:
https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5658/21502445652_53fc475543_b.jpg
It's shocking how close the hot-air vent pipes are to the ceiling wallboard:
https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5634/21513581225_0eb49fefec_b.jpg
The two yellow-tipped ball valves control cold water to the house & to the 1st heater in series:
https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/588/21513581435_cf87107e53_b.jpg
Given all that, I know the dumb-but-simple answer is to replace the second water tank; but I just wonder if there are other ideas?
For example, can a leaking water tank be repaired? Is there an easy way to replace with a better system?
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On Fri, 18 Sep 2015 14:08:30 +0000 (UTC), "Danny D."

Never heard of a leaking _tank_ being repaired. The connection plumbing, yes, the tank, no.
Let us know how it turns out.
--
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and having to visit 10 different news stands to pickup each one.
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It seems to me that you are very young, I have replace three (3) water heaters in my house, it is nothing unusual for hot water heater tank to open leak, It depend lot on what kind water it happen to be in the area you live.
"CRNG" wrote in message

Never heard of a leaking _tank_ being repaired. The connection plumbing, yes, the tank, no.
Let us know how it turns out.
--
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and having to visit 10 different news stands to pickup each one.
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On Wednesday, September 23, 2015 at 1:13:56 PM UTC-4, tony944 wrote:

What he said was:
"Never heard of a leaking _tank_ being repaired"
He didn't say he never head of a leaking water heater being *replaced*.

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SORRY I FAIL TO READ IT ALL!!!
"trader_4" wrote in message

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On Fri, 18 Sep 2015 13:53:02 +0000 (UTC), "Danny D."

Cap the inlet and outlet with an air fitting and gauge in one cap. Pressure in tank will need to hold 60 psi. or the working pressure if less than the t/p valve blowoff.
--
Mr.E

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Mr.E wrote, on Fri, 18 Sep 2015 10:50:58 -0400:

That's an interesting test!
I like that test, because the bypassed tank is still holding water, so, the leak isn't a wide-open hole.
I'll probably need to make a fitting from 3/4" NPT (which I think the heater has at the top) and a pressure gauge and Schraeder valve though, but I like that it would make sense that the tank needs to hold a certain psi (e.g., 60psi).
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