Two Unusual Water Heater Events

I got calls from both my sons the other day a few hours apart. One at 2:00AM, the other at 7:00AM. Turns out they both had water leak events involving water heaters at about the same time. Both situations were fairly unusual.

The first incident was the son in Texas with a five year old house that has a Bradford White Defender water heater in the attic. He said that he had water running out of the control box on the front of the water heater. I’ve never encountered that one before, but it’s apparently fairly common with these when they are in the attic. The WH was still 1 year inside warranty, so he called Bradford White. So it appears that part of the temperature probe for the thermostat is made of plastic and prone to spontaneous failure when the water heaters are installed in hot attics. When it does, water from the tank discharges through the controller (made by Honeywell). BW sent a plumber out an replaced the controller under warranty. Now he just has to dry his ceiling out and sell or replace it within the next four years. I think I’m going to start warning clients when I encounter BW Defender tanks in their homes.

The second incident was my son in a rented home in Colorado. He said the the humidifier on his furnace started leaking so he turned off the water to that. A few minutes later he heard water and went down to the basement to see the T&P of the water heater discharging at full blast so he shut the water off to the water heater too and called a plumber out. As it turns out, the pressure regulator on the water service failed and the water pressure in the house went up past 150 psi causing both leaks. I guess with all of the varying elevations around the colorado front range, the municipal water tanks have to be pretty high up.

I thought both incidents were pretty interesting and both were firsts for me. It’s scary to think how many ways your house can be flooded if you are not present to catch a major event immediately.

That’s wild!

Interesting, to say the least. Thanks for sharing, Chuck.

Very strange coincidence for sure!

Is there any documentation on the Bradford White issue that can be referenced?

Anecdotal. He said his neighbor’s failed a month ago. The plumber told him that BW is proactive about replacing them and that they will replace them if the customer calls, even if they are not yet leaking (not verified). He’s going to notify his neighbors, all of which have a similar setup.

There’s a similar incident here (check the photo)