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Bradford White KA17715748 MI5036FSX 50 gallon Liquid Propane Water Heater.
Home Maintenance and Structures
Plumbing & Bath
Gas Water Heaters (118)
BRADFORD-WHITE CORPORATION    
Bradford White KA17715748 MI5036FSX 50 gallon Liquid Propane
MI5036FSX
KA17715748
8/8/2013  
 
Garden City Plumbing and Heating
Unspecified
8/8/2013
Included in this statement is an email I sent to Consumer Reports about the installation of a Bradford White Hot Water Tank in my residence and my concern about the safety of the Liquid Propane controller used on the appliance. The second part of this report is the response from Consumer Reports about the hot water tank and contacting the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Dear Consumer Reports,

I write this email about my experience with a new Bradford White hot water tank installed on August 8, 2013 and my doubts about the safety of the Bradford White Hot Water tank equipped with the Honeywell Icon Controller labeled for use with Liquid Propane.

My old hot water tank failed. I called a local licensed contractor to install a new hot water tank for my home. The tank that was recommended and installed was a Bradford White KA17715748 MI5036FSX 50 gallon.

After the installation the smell of raw Liquid Propane was evident not only in our large utility room, but other areas of the house as well. The smell of Liquid Propane increased dramatically during the first month of service. So much propane at times, that we had to open windows periodically to lessen the smell. The county inspector, that inspected the new hot water tank installation, stated that there should be absolutely no propane smell being given off by the new hot water tank and I should call the licensed installer immediately. I looked on the internet and saw that other owners of the Bradford White hot water heaters using the Honeywell LP controller were reporting similar problems with the smell of propane. I called Bradford White to ask for their recommendation. They stated it was normal for the Honeywell controller to vent LP at a rate of 20CC's. But could not answer my question to whether this was per second, per minute, per 5 minutes or over what time span. I then called the licensed contractor. They called Bradford White. Bradford White gave them the same story.

My contractor sent a tech specialist to inspect the hot water tank. After an inspection by their tech he found a leak of LP along the upper edge of the Honeywell controller. This Bradford White Honeywell Icon LP gas controller with LED was changed for a new controller of the exact same type.

Again in the beginning there was a faint smell of Liquid Propane, but as time progressed so did the quantity of propane smell increase. From the middle of September to the middle of October the propane smell at times was alarming, especially when you walked into the utility room where the hot water tank was located. The smell of propane was extremely strong when the utility room was left undisturbed for a long period of time. Again we had to start opening windows and/or turning on bathroom fans. With winter coming on and the probable use of our furnace I requested our Liquid Propane provider to do a system inspection. The Propane Provider checked every connection starting with the propane tank. They checked the regulator, all connections within the house including a LP fireplace, furnace, and the hot water tank. The Propane Provider's tech Red Flagged the hot water tank and stated no amount of raw LP should ever be leaking from any device, especially in the quantity the hot water tank was leaking from the second LP controller. He recommended we permanently turn off our hot water tank.

Again I called the licensed contractor who installed the hot water tank. They sent a different specialist out to inspect the hot water tank. He also concluded that he was concerned with the amount of LP being given off by the second new Bradford White Honeywell controller. The leak from the controller was coming from the area where the heat dial pushes a button into the controller to increase or decrease the burner propane for water temperature. He wanted me to turn off the hot water tank until a fix could be performed. No hot showers for a possible two week period was unacceptable. Instead of turning the tank off he allowed me to place a fan in front of the hot water tank to dissipate the LP fumes into the utility room coming off the controller. The leaking hot water tank is installed next to the LP house furnace. The tech was more concerned with a buildup LP on the floor and the hot water tank igniting causing a flash explosion. He wanted to go back and give a report to his office to see what they wanted done. Higher ups within the office called Bradford White. Bradford White sent new controller.

This controller is of an older style similar to the [REDACTED] controller on the old, replaced water heater. The older style of controller does not leak LP. Problem solved! No smell of LP in the utility room or being evident anywhere within our 3,000 square foot house.

BUT: Do all Bradford White Honeywell Icon LP gas controllers leak? Where the natural gas controllers do not? Are the Bradford White Honeywell Liquid Propane Controllers on hot water tanks in reality safe without the threat of explosion due to a ground build up of propane? Are the Honeywell controllers really designed to vent continuously?

Is there a major structural defect in the Honeywell Icon LP gas controller for LP? Or was I just unlucky and got two bad new controllers in succession? The contractor stated that they have installed hundreds of the Bradford White water heaters which used the Honeywell Icon LED Controller with no problem, but using Natural Gas not Liquid Propane.

I am a subscriber to Consumer Reports. I do not keep an archive of the publication on hand. Could Consumer Reports shed some light on this subject? Have you tested the Bradford White Hot Water Heaters with the Honeywell Icon LP Controller? Is this hot water tank dangerous with the LP controller? My most important question... What are the laws that govern the amount of raw, flammable liquid propane (or Natural Gas) that can be "vented" into a room or home from a hot water heater or any LP device? All individuals in the know that I have talked to about this question state that no flammable gas should ever be vented from any device within the confines of a home or dwelling.

I feel Consumer Reports should be aware of the "potential" problem!

Please send any correspondence concerning this matter to the following address or email:

[REDACTED]
****************************************** RESPONSE FROM CONSUMER REPORTS:

Dear [REDACTED],

Thank you for taking the time to contact Consumer Reports®. I want to express how much we value your choice of our products and services to help you make informed purchasing decisions.

You've provided us with important feedback on your Bradford White Hot Water Heater . I can certainly understand your concerns. Please be assured that our readers' feedback plays a strong role in the work that we do. Because of this I have taken the liberty of sharing your feedback with the appropriate members of our staff for their review and future consideration.

I would also suggest that you share your experience with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The CPSC can be contacted at 4330 East West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814-4408 or toll-free 1-800-638-2772. This is the government agency with the responsibility of protecting consumers from unreasonably dangerous consumer products. If possible, you may wish to visit their website at http://www.cpsc.gov, where you will be able to report a problem with a defective product, search through an extensive list of product recall notices, and link to other government organizations. In addition to their website, the CPSC offers a 24 hour Fax-on-Demand service, which allows you to obtain CPSC news releases, catalogs, and other information via fax, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Consumer Reports is committed to making your experience positive and informative.

Sincerely,

[REDACTED]
Representative
Customer Relations Department
____
8/8/2013
Home/Apartment/Condominium 
Incident, No Injury
Unspecified
Unspecified
Unspecified
Yes
No
No
Please read written statement.
Yes
N/A

CPSC does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the contents of the Publicly Available Consumer Product Safety Information Database on SaferProducts.gov, particularly with respect to information submitted by people outside of CPSC.