Nebraska Marathon Water Heater Tank Cracked - Related To Geo Install?

Discussion in 'Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by Jeff W, Jan 9, 2017.

  1. Jeff W

    Jeff W New Member


    I went in our mechanical room on Saturday and found water running down the sides of our 85-gallon Marathon water heater. The Marathon is original to the house, built in 1998, and we have never had an issue with it. A little over three months ago, we installed a Series-7 Water Furnace with the DSH and added a 50-gallon pre-heat tank. I'm wondering if the two events could be related in any way.

    The system had been working great, until the Marathon started leaking. Initially, the water appeared to be leaking where the pressure-relief valve connects to the top of the water heater. I called the company that installed our geo system as I thought it might be their issue. The tech that came out had helped install our system, but he was not a plumber, so he called one of their plumbers for advice as he was not familiar with the Marathons. I could hear both sides of the conversation, and the plumber told the tech that we would need to turn off the DSH and run hot water out of the taps until the Marathon's tank had cooled off as letting air into a hot tank could crack the tank's fiberglass liner.

    We started doing that and the leak got worse by the minute. By then we could tell the water was leaking out of all three connections on top of the Marathon (hot line, cold line and pressure-relief). At that point we determined the tank had probably cracked near the top. There was a little water coming out of the side access panels, but almost all of it was pouring out of the top. The tech said there was nothing more he could do, and recommended I contact Rheem, especially since he was on over-time since it was the weekend and we were most likely going to be charged for the service call.

    I contacted Rheem, who authorized a warranty replacement on the water heater. The rep I spoke to told me I needed to try and get in touch with the original installer to have them come out and remove the existing water heater. She didn't really go into detail on what happened after that, but did say if that is not possible, I'd need to call back on Monday as they have a department that handles warranty replacements. We are still in contact with our builder, so I called him and found out the plumber that did the install in 1998 is no longer in business. So I'll be calling Rheem back today. Has anyone had a warranty replacement with Rheem, and if so, how did the process work? We are two days into taking a luke-warm bath with water heated on the stove, and that's already two days too many!

    Hopefully we'll get a replacement tank shortly and get everything back to normal. I'm assuming Rheem won't pay anything for removing the broken heater and installing the new one, so I'm guessing we are going to be out several hundred dollars for the plumber alone.

    I've seen Marathon mentioned as both the main water heater, and as a pre-heat tank, in a number of posts, so I assume they are fine to use in geo installations. However, the timing makes me wonder if the broken tank could in any way be related to the install. I'm 99% sure the original installers did not cool down the Marathon before they switched the plumbing over to the new pre-heat tank. Which makes me wonder if that could have caused a hair-line crack or other issue that took over three months to appear. Or perhaps it was just coincidence that the 18+ year old tank finally had issues. Any thoughts on that?

    I don't know how warm the pre-heat tank should get. I had bought a cheap indoor/outdoor thermometer with a probe for the outside temp, and just inserted that into the input side of the pre-heat tank, between the pipe and the insulation. When the Water Furnace is running at a fairly high level, which it has been with our current weather, that temp has been running as high as 110 degrees, which again, isn't going to be really representative of the actual temperature, or the average water temp in the tank itself. Anyway, the water feeding into the Marathon should be considerably warmer than it ever was before. I would think that should in no way harm the Marathon.

    Sorry for the long post; a lot of things wandering around in my head right now. Thanks for your help!
  2. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    The inner tank of a Marathon is polybutylene, so I don't understand the leak risk posed by fiberglass liner. The installation of the preheat tank plumbed to an S7 should have zero effect on the performance of the Marathon.

    I wonder if this is a case of inadvertent blunt force trauma inflicted on the Marathon in the course of the S7 / preheat tank addition. Stuff happens, and the temptation is kinda strong to cover up, although a 3 month delay reduces the probability of that being the case.

    I'd be happy at getting a new Marathon for free other than installation labor...gotta love that lifetime warranty and the fact that Rheem is still around to make good on it.

    Meanwhile, no reason to shiver in lukewarm stove top sponge baths if you are halfway handy with plumbing and the new preheat tank has heating elements...simply plumb it direct bypassing the dead Marathon and energize its resistance elements using the Marathon's circuit.
    Any plumber able to see lightning, hear thunder, walk, chew gum, and fog a mirror ought to be able to work that out in a couple hours. it would take me 4-6 hours counting 3-4 trips to LowDepot for whatever pipe bits I didn't have lying around.
  3. Jeff W

    Jeff W New Member

    I got the warranty exchange approval from Rheem; a little hassle but not bad. They told me we have a supplier here in town that carries Marathons. I was able to get a plumber out the same day, so in a little over an hour of labor we had a new Marathon in place. It appears that other than being darker grey in color, the outside of the heater is exactly the same as our 1998 model, so no re-plumbing required. I had already drained the old tank on Saturday, since it was still slowly leaking even with the water shut off to it. The plumber was surprised it was already drained, but he said it probably saved me an hour in labor charges since he didn't have to wait around while it drained.

    I'm still not sure if the geo retrofit had anything to do with the leak, or if it was pure coincidence. And I'm not sure what the final bill will run for labor, but yes, this was a pretty cheap way to get a brand new Marathon!

    I was going to pursue having a bypass installed if this would have been a drawn out process, but since it was resolved in just over 48 hours I did not.

    Does anyone happen to know how Rheem handles the warranty on an exchange like this? The plumber or supplier (not sure which) wrote a note on the tank that says it was a warranty replacement, with the date and the plumbing company that did the install. I went ahead and registered the new water heater with Rheem, but I'm just curious if the replacement carries the same life-time warranty or if it's a one-time offer and now we are out of warranty.

    Thanks again for the help!
  4. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I have no idea, but I would think it difficult to arbitrarily abridge a lifetime warranty following a failure / claim.
    If the claim occurred during the 19th year of a 20 year warranty then I would expect the warranty on the replacement to time out 20 years after the original installation.
  5. Jeff W

    Jeff W New Member

    I agree. Hopefully it will be another 18+ years or more before I need to find out!
  6. mrrxtech

    mrrxtech Member

    The power company I worked for used those new water tanks, so I checked on buying one for the house I was building. Yikes!

    I ended up buying a Whirlpool 80 gallon water tank that I had been planning on buying for 3 years since I was building my house on weekends. The Tank went up in price from Low to High (I have the price on an XL Spreadsheet where I listed all of the items I planned on using in the house with the initial price). The Spreadsheet gave me a view on item pricing over several years.

    The reasons for the price of everything increasing comes and goes: China building a dam; items added to the Commodities Market like coffee, gasoline etc; deregulation; stockholders need higher dividends; the list never ends.

    The only common thread to the price increases is ceo GREED and there are just a few signs that the US government is starting to realize where this uncontrolled greed is taking us.

    Example: I called Andersen Windows and asked how much for 3 Pine Trim pieces for the 2 Circle Top windows and one Arch top window. After some delay for calculations the lady told me $700 for the 3 pieces of pine. I told her that I thought the ceos had already done all the downsizing and had a huge income already, why the high price? She said it was her Supervision setting the prices not the ceo. I told her she was wrong it is the ceo making the decisions, and told her I would have the local Amish Folks make the Trim for a fair price.

    So this info may not belong on this website but it may open the eyes of those who have yet to understand why the price gouging at every store they go into today. The discount on a new truck would have bought an equivalent truck 5 years ago. I catch myself thinking that's a good price on that vehicle, Oh it's the discount not the price.
  7. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    You seem to be on your very own pursuit of happiness.....I very much hope for you, but have sincere doubts, that you get there some day.

    The solution is easy. Go elsewhere, in your case to the Amish, and get it for less. That way the greedy Anderson will suffer from you not buying their product and soon be out of business, and the Amish will prosper. It is called competition, and it drives the capitalistic system, and it is self regulating.

    In one single post you seem to be at odds with a lot of things: The guys selling Whirlpool tanks, China, the coffee commodity market, gasoline suppliers, stockholders, the government and the deregulation, the CEOs, Anderson Windows, the lady selling you 3 pieces of wood, the supervisor, and the car dealer selling new trucks.

    Can all those people being wrong, and you are the only guys who is right?

    BTW, I do that trick too sometimes. When I don't want a person as a customer because I am worried about their personality, I am trying not to be rude and personal by telling them I don't want their business, I just give them a ridiculous high price and hope to never hear from them again. That way they don't take it too personal, they just think I am gouging them. Works most of the time....;)
  8. ChrisJ

    ChrisJ Active Member Forum Leader

    Magoo has probably blocked Doc, so I will post this reply for him to read.

    So I will now be blocked I guess.

    I have been reading here for 6 years now, I very much value the knowledge shared here by the Pro's.
  9. mrrxtech

    mrrxtech Member

    No matter your age, position in life, your knowledge, who your Daddy Was, there is never justification for being abusive to another human being who is trying to help others by using his or her knowledge.

    Life is short, why take abuse from anyone, I don't.
  10. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    You are not helping since you clearly lack knowledge and expertise, thus you mislead others who come here for help and make their misery worse!
    Deuce likes this.
  11. jk96

    jk96 Member

    Working on changing the bottom element on a marathon water heater at my shop. I think it is most likely that the hot water was not cleared from the tank before draining causing the crack. See warning sticker on my tank.

  12. Just a comment. I believe that when you use a preheater tank, it is likely to extend the life of the second or final tank. (Apart from the quality of tank or exposed conditions). There are things that can shorten the life of a hot water tank. Imagine for example, a natural gas heater set at 140 degrees used in your locale. (Depending on various scenarios) You are trying to heat water hot, but water coming in could be coming in at 32 degrees during the winter. Talk about shock effect ! BUT when we buffer, or preheat with geo-thermal, we have a water mass of 70 - 90 degrees. Even if it is only 79 degrees, there is no shock ! And of course you do not have to raise temperature from 32 - 90 or 120 degrees ! That is useful. That is wonderful. Temperature is low enough to avoid facilitating corrosion, (because of high termperature) but high enough to be useful !

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