Water heaters in series

Staying with friends at their newly renovated Nantucket home. I observed the water heater system. One gas 50 gallon and one electric 38 gallon plumbed in series. Noted several apparent defects. The drain valves are connected with a rubber washing machine hose, valves are open. The smaller tank, second in series, has a capped TPR valve opening, no valve present. Definite series set up, with cold water supply to larger tank and hot water piped from #1 to #2, hot water supply for system from second tank. Has anyone seen drain valves connected, if so, why?

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I have been a little suprised with the absence of any response to this post. Several licensed plumbers confirmed the installation defects with the water heater connections. The rubber hose connecting the two open drain valves is a serious defect and the missing TPR valve is a definite safety defect. This system was installed last year during a multi million dollar renovation.

From looking up the Thermaflow tank, it is a storage and circulation tank and does not actually heat the water. From what I can see on their diagram, the smaller tank valve at the bottom is not a drain but a combination fitting for use in circulating the water from this storage tank to the actual heating tank. Any other pictures of the connections, pumps or piping?

I also do not think that is an electric water heater and the use of what appears to be a washing machine hose to connect the two gives me pause.

The capped TPR port is only an issue if this tank actually heats water. I don’t see any electrical connections nor do I see gas connections, so I agree with others - this is simply a supplemental (holding) tank.

Please explain how this is a “serious” defect. Did you verify that the drain valves were open?

If the second tank is not operating, they will need to provide a means to circulate water between to two in order to maintain hot water in the downstream tank or users will wait an awful long time before they even get lukewarm water at a fixture. I expect that the hose between the open drain valves facilitates this circulation similar to old gravity feed boilers.

I don’t expect that this installation conforms to any manufacturer’s installation instructions and I would be surprised if it even functions adequately. I wouldn’t trust a rubber washing machine hose to be under constant pressure at constant water heater temps, although I don’t know what the temp/pressure rating is. I would be surprised if they were approved for any use other than the final appliance connection.

I realize the photos did not clearly show the existing connections. Second tank is electrically heated. Have attached new photos

I don’t see any heating connection for the copper colored tank.

Neither do I.

I see (what appears to be) a thermostat connected to that tank. I also see the recirculation pump, which explains why the drain ports are connected.

That is how is see it as well.

The wiring to the copper colored tank either controls the circulation pump or possibly a boiler.

No boiler present, gas heat. A rubber hose certainly cannot be considered as an acceptable hot water pipe. Never thought about the thermostat, thanks for the information.

I’ll take a guess! Could it possibly be hot water radiant flooring heating system with thermostat to controll temperature?

Or simply a recirculation system with reserve.