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Leaking Calorifier


Katie
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Hi all

i have a suspected leaking calorifier. For some time my water pump has been going off intermittently. At first I thought was just sue to drop in temperature of the water at night so ignored it. Seems to be happing more often lately so been investigating and found water around my calorifier. Have spend the last week investigating where the water is coming from, wrapping tissue paper around as many of the joints of the pipe work as I can (there are a lot!) 

 

all I can see now is that the water is seeping out from underneath the Tank, which is horizontal and on the floor under my steps. Can’t seem to trace the water to any pipes so I’m assuming must be leaking directly from the calorifier? I really hope not as this is a much bigger fix than I was prepared for. 
 

will be getting some help to investigate better and potentially taking out/lifting the tank to inspect underneath. 
 

My question is am I safe enough to continue using my water and heating it? I turn off the pump when I’m out to slow the leak. But the back boiler on my fire also heats my water, will this cause issues as obviously I need my fire at the moment!? I‘ve had no noticeable problems to my system all this time, just the pump occasionally going off. Hot water etc. all working ok. 
 

Picture attached is end of the calorifier where you can see the water trickling out. 

F8631CE3-D7E1-48D6-9801-9462E36C74FA.jpeg

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Could it be the PRV (the thing with the red knob just underneath the short piece of copper tube at the top of the picture) leaking. They often do, either because there's some scale build-up or because the pump pressure is too high. Can't see from the photo where the leak-off outlet is - it will be a short piece of pipe integral to the PRV which may or may not have a tube attached to it to release water somewhere acceptable. Twiddling the red knob on the end a few times may help it reseat (if that is the source).

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How much water is in the cabin bilge?  There should be, but often is not, an inspection hatch in floor close to the back bulkhead, maybe under steps or in the bottom of a cupboard. That water has to go somewhere so is probably building up under the floor.

 

Do you have an expansion vessel on a hot pipe, usually close to the calorifier. Often like a football or rugby ball witha  plastic cap on the opposite end to the inlet pipe. If not you may well have split the calorifier.

 

Sometimes immersion heaters leak and if you don't have one there lay be a boss and plug under the insulation. that might be leaking behind the insulation.

 

2 minutes ago, Onewheeler said:

Could it be the PRV (the thing with the red knob just underneath the short piece of copper tube at the top of the picture) leaking. They often do, either because there's some scale build-up or because the pump pressure is too high. Can't see from the photo where the leak-off outlet is - it will be a short piece of pipe integral to the PRV which may or may not have a tube attached to it to release water somewhere acceptable. Twiddling the red knob on the end a few times may help it reseat (if that is the source).

 

The PRV seem to have a red pipe connected to its outlet but we can only see a very small part of i.

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The water in your back boiler is, or  should be separate from the water in your calorifier, so there should be no problem with using the heating.  Is there a separate heating header tank?

 

You can also continue to use the water.   As above check the PRV.  Is there an expansion vessel fitted?.  It will look like the accumulator near the water pump and  should be in the hot pipework.  This is an important device because it absorbs the expansion as the water gets hot and prevents the calorifier being overstressed and the PRV  releasing.

N

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To confirm if the calorifier is leaking, you will need to remove the insulation where the leak is suspected. The most likely spots are at the ends where the end caps are joined to the cylindrical middle section. Other sources of leaks are at pipe inlets, or the immersion heater boss.

 

9 minutes ago, Katie said:

My question is am I safe enough to continue using my water and heating it? I turn off the pump when I’m out to slow the leak. But the back boiler on my fire also heats my water, will this cause issues as obviously I need my fire at the moment!? I‘ve had no noticeable problems to my system all this time, just the pump occasionally going off. Hot water etc. all working ok. 

Probably. Assuming you have radiators as well as the cauliflower connected to your back boiler, then further failure of the calorifier won't be a problem, as the radiators will be able to dissipate the heat from the fire without boiling up.

Jen

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3 minutes ago, Tony Brooks said:

Sometimes immersion heaters leak and if you don't have one there lay be a boss and plug under the insulation. that might be leaking behind the insulation.

 

I can just see the head of it, they sometimes leak inside the cover. Remember if you take the cover off to look its 230 volts

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Thanks all. 
 

I’ve tried leaving a container under where the PRV valve is and that stayed dry but was wet underneath so I don’t think it’s that. 
 

yes water in the bilge. However my shower has an interesting/old set up that drains into bilge and pumped out via bilge pump so not sure if this water is from that or the leak. And no proper inspection hatches on board. So I’m not sure where the shower water actually comes out (next project to install whale gulper I think) 
 

I do have an imersion heater so maybe I should take the cap off and check around that? Like suggested, it could be leaking into the jacket and coming out underneath maybe? Tho no sign of any wetness around it at the moment. 
 

Beleive the attached pic is the expansion vessel at the other end of the tank? 
 

surely if the tank itself was split there would be a larger leak considering it’s coming from the bottom of the tank? 
 

good to confirm that heating should be ok(I didn’t think so as I understand it’s separate water) was just concerned about heating the tank. And yes I have a separate external header tank for heating system.

 

i know the water pools on the floor so likely to cool down very quickly but the leaked water is also always cold. If leaking from a heated tank would you expect to be a little warm when inspecting regularly? 
 

F58A2D5C-34EC-451F-BC2C-098F4468A12B.jpeg

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I have just replaced my tank due to a leak from the main body it was a slight leak that was only apparent when the tank was hot. I had to remove insulation to locate it. On removal of the tank there was signs of the immersion heater leaking at some point as well this was replaced also along with the accumulator. New tank was about £300.00 immersion heater £35.00 pounds and £35.00 for accumulator 

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19 minutes ago, Katie said:

Beleive the attached pic is the expansion vessel at the other end of the tank? 

Follow the pipe back from it. There may be a non-return valve in the water pipe in to the calorifier? If the tank is plumbed on the downstream side of the non return valve, or in the hot water output pipes from the calorifier, then it is an expansion tank. Otherwise, it is an accumulator. If there is no non return valve, then it acts as both an expansion vessel and an accumulator.

22 minutes ago, Katie said:

surely if the tank itself was split there would be a larger leak considering it’s coming from the bottom of the tank? 

It may just be a small weep. Put a washing up bowl under a tap that drips occasionally. It fills up sooner than you think.

 

23 minutes ago, Katie said:

I do have an imersion heater so maybe I should take the cap off and check around that? Like suggested, it could be leaking into the jacket and coming out underneath maybe? Tho no sign of any wetness around it at the moment. 

Make sure the immersion is definitely switched off before poking around here. A mains shock will ruin your day.

24 minutes ago, Katie said:

i know the water pools on the floor so likely to cool down very quickly but the leaked water is also always cold. If leaking from a heated tank would you expect to be a little warm when inspecting regularly? 

There is a temperature gradient in the calorifier. Hot water near the top. Cold water near the bottom. If there is a split near the bottom, then this water is likely to be cool. Especially as fresh cold will be added continually, due to the leak.

Jen

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I've also noticed some dampness around the bottom of my calorifier as I was doing another job today. Mine is vertical and sits directly on the plywood floor inside the cabin.

 

I've checked the prv and can't see any other wet joints including immersion heater, but I'll have a better look tomorrow. I have an expansion tank on my hot water system but the calorifier is now 17 years old so I suppose it was bound to happen eventually. 

 

I never hear the water pump going off unexpectedly, so it must be a very small leak. At what point do I go to the trouble of ripping out the calorifier and replacing it?

Edited by blackrose
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1 hour ago, blackrose said:

I've also noticed some dampness around the bottom of my calorifier as I was doing another job today. Mine is vertical and sits directly on the plywood floor inside the cabin.

 

I've checked the prv and can't see any other wet joints including immersion heater, but I'll have a better look tomorrow. I have an expansion tank on my hot water system but the calorifier is now 17 years old so I suppose it was bound to happen eventually. 

 

I never hear the water pump going off unexpectedly, so it must be a very small leak. At what point do I go to the trouble of ripping out the calorifier and replacing it?

I noticed dampness first before and out it down to condensation possibly, could be the case for you if not actually seeing any water leaking at at all?

1 hour ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

Follow the pipe back from it. There may be a non-return valve in the water pipe in to the calorifier? If the tank is plumbed on the downstream side of the non return valve, or in the hot water output pipes from the calorifier, then it is an expansion tank. Otherwise, it is an accumulator. If there is no non return valve, then it acts as both an expansion vessel and an accumulator.

It may just be a small weep. Put a washing up bowl under a tap that drips occasionally. It fills up sooner than you think.

 

Make sure the immersion is definitely switched off before poking around here. A mains shock will ruin your day.

There is a temperature gradient in the calorifier. Hot water near the top. Cold water near the bottom. If there is a split near the bottom, then this water is likely to be cool. Especially as fresh cold will be added continually, due to the leak.

Jen

Ok I’ll have to investigate to see if it’s and accumulator or expansion tank. My pump is all the way on the other end of the boat with an accumulator though does that make a difference? 
 

thanks for your help. I’ll have to wait to get some help on Tuesday and maybe lift up the whole thing or remove to inspect. 
 

Was really hoping it was a leaky pipe! 😔

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25 minutes ago, Katie said:

I noticed dampness first before and out it down to condensation possibly, could be the case for you if not actually seeing any water leaking at at all?

 

Ok I’ll have to investigate to see if it’s and accumulator or expansion tank. My pump is all the way on the other end of the boat with an accumulator though does that make a difference? 
 

thanks for your help. I’ll have to wait to get some help on Tuesday and maybe lift up the whole thing or remove to inspect. 
 

Was really hoping it was a leaky pipe! 😔

 

I don't think mine can be condensation as the calorifier is well insulated.

 

If you've got a tank next to the pump at the other end of the boat then that's likely to be an accumulator. If there's another one near your calorifier then that's probably a hot water expansion tank. Just check what they're connected to. 

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30 minutes ago, Katie said:

My pump is all the way on the other end of the boat with an accumulator though does that make a difference? 

In that case, the one by the cauliflower is almost certainly an expansion vessel. Worth tracing the pipes anyway to be sure.

Edited to add: Post clash with @blackrose!

Edited by Jen-in-Wellies
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26 minutes ago, Katie said:

 

Ok I’ll have to investigate to see if it’s and accumulator or expansion tank. My pump is all the way on the other end of the boat with an accumulator though does that make a difference? 
 

 

In that case it is almost certain its an expansion vessel but unless the air pressure inside is correct it won't act as one. There is a car type tyre valve under the black plastic cap. With pump off and taps open the air pressure inside should be around the pump cut out pressure. If there is no pressure in there the that will help split calorifiers.

  • Greenie 2
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Ok thanks all it’s. A bit tricky to get to in order to check the pressure but likely have to dismantle some stuff to inspect under the tank so can do it then hopefully. 
 

not sure if it’s because I know about it now but leak seems worse too. Keeping water at bay with rags at the moment. Merry f*ing Christmas! ☹️

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1 hour ago, Katie said:

Ok thanks all it’s. A bit tricky to get to in order to check the pressure but likely have to dismantle some stuff to inspect under the tank so can do it then hopefully. 
 

not sure if it’s because I know about it now but leak seems worse too. Keeping water at bay with rags at the moment. Merry f*ing Christmas! ☹️

 

I don't see why it should be difficult from your first photo. Reach in/down unscrew the black cap, put car tyre pressure gauge on the valve that will then be exposed. However I accept we ant see as much as ideal in that photo re surrounding structures.

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1 hour ago, Katie said:

Ok thanks all it’s. A bit tricky to get to in order to check the pressure but likely have to dismantle some stuff to inspect under the tank so can do it then hopefully. 
 

not sure if it’s because I know about it now but leak seems worse too. Keeping water at bay with rags at the moment. Merry f*ing Christmas! ☹️

Others have more experience than I do but we had a leaking calorifier. It was a pain to get to it (in a cupboard by the stern steps so lots of dismantling). A few weeks later the battery charger gave up so I had to take the steps out again to get to that. I know where my theoretical Lithiums will go now. :) 

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20 hours ago, blackrose said:

I've also noticed some dampness around the bottom of my calorifier as I was doing another job today. Mine is vertical and sits directly on the plywood floor inside the cabin.

 

I've checked the prv and can't see any other wet joints including immersion heater, but I'll have a better look tomorrow. I have an expansion tank on my hot water system but the calorifier is now 17 years old so I suppose it was bound to happen eventually. 

 

I never hear the water pump going off unexpectedly, so it must be a very small leak. At what point do I go to the trouble of ripping out the calorifier and replacing it?

 

Pondering on this last night. I think that may well be condensation because the bottom of vertical calorifiers is usually concave and not insulated so if warm ait can get under it the cold water inside is likely to cause condensation on the copper.

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Update: I’ve had a boat neighbour who’s a plumber pop by for a quick look he also couldn’t really see where the water is coming from said there are a few suspect joints he’s recommend replacing anyway but no obvious leak. Looks like I’ll have to drain the system strip the area back and try to have a look under the tank. He thought would be unlikely the tank has split. He also said no real sign of immersion leaking. 
 

being a horizontal tank it’s not likely to have any drain holes underneath is it? 

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15 minutes ago, Katie said:

He thought would be unlikely the tank has split.

They can and do. I've had one fail. The most likely place is a very small leak at the joint between an end cap and the main cylindrical barrel. The water can travel a long way under the insulation before finding an escape route. You may even notice a bulge in the insulation. Prick a hole through that with a screwdriver or such like and water will come out.

15 minutes ago, Katie said:

being a horizontal tank it’s not likely to have any drain holes underneath is it? 

No. The place to drain it is from the place shown below. Undo the square peg a couple of turns. More to the point, has this been checked that it is not leaking? Have at least one hot tap open to allow the water to come out. Once enough water is out, the tank will be light enough to lift. Water is 1kg per litre, so a 50l cauliflower will weigh 50kg in water alone.

Jen

drain.jpeg.63d387db869ca23929cbb42703dbd57a.jpeg

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1 hour ago, Katie said:

Update: I’ve had a boat neighbour who’s a plumber pop by for a quick look he also couldn’t really see where the water is coming from said there are a few suspect joints he’s recommend replacing anyway but no obvious leak. Looks like I’ll have to drain the system strip the area back and try to have a look under the tank. He thought would be unlikely the tank has split. He also said no real sign of immersion leaking. 
 

being a horizontal tank it’s not likely to have any drain holes underneath is it? 

I've had a split cauli. Similar symptoms to yours (water at stern of boat, water pump running at odd times).

 

Split cauli.jpeg

 

This is what it looked like once I got near

mess.jpeg

Edited by George and Dragon
additional pic
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3 hours ago, Tony Brooks said:

 

Pondering on this last night. I think that may well be condensation because the bottom of vertical calorifiers is usually concave and not insulated so if warm ait can get under it the cold water inside is likely to cause condensation on the copper.

 

Thanks. Actually I think it might have been a false alarm as the floor next to the calorifier is drying out now. Seems like it must have been some water run-off that wasn't caught by the towel when I replaced the nearby isolator (twice) that I talked about on another thread. Sorry about that but I'm quite relieved as replacing the calorifier wasn't a job I was looking forward to.

Edited by blackrose
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19 hours ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

They can and do. I've had one fail. The most likely place is a very small leak at the joint between an end cap and the main cylindrical barrel. The water can travel a long way under the insulation before finding an escape route. You may even notice a bulge in the insulation. Prick a hole through that with a screwdriver or such like and water will come out.

No. The place to drain it is from the place shown below. Undo the square peg a couple of turns. More to the point, has this been checked that it is not leaking? Have at least one hot tap open to allow the water to come out. Once enough water is out, the tank will be light enough to lift. Water is 1kg per litre, so a 50l cauliflower will weigh 50kg in water alone.

Jen

drain.jpeg.63d387db869ca23929cbb42703dbd57a.jpeg

Yeah I didn’t think there would be another drain point but thought I’d check. I’ve checked and doesn’t seem to be leaking from that drain though was my first suspicion. That whole pipe is a bit dodgy as has more joins than pipe for some reason so gonna look to swap that out too. 
 

hopefully I’ll get to the bottom of it with some help from my dad tomorrow and we will empty/ lift the tank to inspect underneath 

 

wish me luck and thanks for all the help!

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