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Water heater implosion


Bain
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Originally posted by Bain

I found a five-year-old water heater this morning that had pretty much disintegrated internally. There were no other signs of trouble at all. Anyone have a clue about what may have happened?

The baffle fell down onto the burner and self destructed. Clean out the remains of the baffle and install a new one. Make sure that the burner is still ok. The water heater might be fine.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by Bain

Wasn't the baffle originally welded in place, Jim? I'm just not clear on why it failed.

No. The baffle, hangs by two little ears at the top of the tank. If you remove the vent connector, you could grab the baffle and lift it straight out. When the ears break or corrode away, the baffle just falls down till it hits the burner. The heat from the burner melts it and it progressively crumples downward. Your picture shows a classic instance of this.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by mthomas1

BTW, the technical name for that baffle is a "turbulator" - it functions by increasing exhaust gas velocity at the surface of the tube enclosing it, which increases heat transfer and reduces sooting.

I always thought it slowed down the gases, thereby increasing heat transfer. How would it cause the gas velocity to increase and why would faster moving gas transfer heat better?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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One of the reasons that the turbulator, does this melt down....is when a contractor throws the water in his truck on its side in the box and the turbulator comes off the top hooks during this rough handling. Now the turbulator is sitting on the burner head while firing, which will cause this issue. Like "Jim from Oregon" stated......install a new turbulator, and re-check gas pressures to factory specs to be sure that reason number 2 for this failure (does not happen )an over fired unit.........hvacman

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Actually that would be hot air not gas,along with our good buddy carbon monoxide.It is basically just increasing the amount of surface area exposed to heat by taking it for a spin.Back in the good old days when coal furnaces were being converted to gas,they would increase the efficiency by introducing turbulator tubes.

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