Question about Emerson Water Heaters

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HOW TO REPAIR A LEAKY INSINKERATOR HOT WATER DISPENSER...... Found the following at another website when looking for a solution to my leaky hot water dispenser. Worked great for me, so wanted to share the info here..... This Insinkerator product suffers from a couple of design flaws. Like many here I found a puddle of water under my unit about two years after installing it. Checked into buying a new unit, but at $200 I wasn't going to give in easily. After reading other folks' experience with the unit I opened mine up and found the obvious source of the leak. There is a 1/4" plastic vent hose than helps handle the return hot water after you release the faucet handle. Since it's a non-pressurized unit, all water in the line up to faucet gets returned to the tank after you release the faucet handle. This hose, combined with a plastic overflow tank handles the water return. The root cause of the leaking problem is the type of tubing that was used for this one part. In the hot water heater it sits at near 200F, 24/7/365, and it can't handle the heat. Mine had turned a dark brown to nearly black color and had completely failed where the hose was routed right along the stainless steel tank. Every time we used the heater the return water ended up in our cabinet. Because of this one piece, customers everywhere are replacing their tanks prematurely. It can be fixed if you are handy. Please note that any modification of your unit will void the warranty, and rightfully so. If your unit is under warranty you should call Insinkerator at 800-558-5712 and have them replace it. If you buy a new unit, don't mess with it -- it's under warranty. Even if it's out of warranty, give them a call -- there's a good chance they'll do right by you. If you do try and repair it, know that you are on your own. Insinkerator strongly advises against any owner-initiated component repair. What I have done has been untested by Insinkerator and they have implemented their own fix in the current product design. Anything that happens during or after any repair you make will be your responsibility. And remember, nothing lasts forever. HOW TO REPAIR: Basically you have to replace the hose with the right kind, and fortunately it's pretty easy. I recommend silicone tubing (rated to 500F), and you'll need some with 1/8" or 3/16" inside diameter. I bought some from an Amazon seller, 1/8" ID and 3/8" OD with thick 1/8" walls. (Edit: The original tubing is 3/16" ID but I went with 1/8 for a good snug fit. 3/16" ID tubing will also work quite well, and is what I would recommend at this point if you can find it.) Search on Amazon and you'll find what I'm talking about. Unfortunately it's only sold in 10' or longer lengths, and you need less than a foot. If you can find it locally, all the better. For good measure get a couple of small plastic zip ties (cable ties) or the proper sized spring clamp to secure the new tubing. 1) Unplug, drain, and remove the tank. After unplugging the power cord, run water thru the unit till cold water flows out the faucet. Then place a large bowl (1-gallon capacity minimum) under the tank, unscrew the drain screw, and let the tank drain into the bowl. If you can easily shut off the water supply do it now, but it is not necessary as long as no one uses the faucet when you are working on the tank. While draining, remove the three tubes from the top of the tank. One has a spring loaded clip you need to depress to remove the tube and the other two are silicone and plastic tubes that just pull off (might vary a bit based on the age of your unit). Loosen the mounting screws, and when the tank has drained, remove it from your cabinet and find a water resistant place to work on it. 2) Disassemble the tank. Really easy -- there is a small screw on the top that holds the two sides of the plastic shell together ... remove it. The two sides of the shell pull apart fairly easily but you might need to muscle it a bit. Once you get them apart, remove them from the unit and place aside. Then remove the temperature dial and put it aside. At this point you will have the guts of the unit with the steel tank encased in a dense styrofoam shell. Take a minute to examine the way it's put together (pictures wouldn't hurt either). You'll most probably easily pick out the problem part -- it will probably be very dark and brittle, and one end will be attached to the side of the water inlet port. Cut the hose somewhere before the metal (maybe plastic on yours) water inlet port it attaches to, and you will then be able to remove the upper styrofoam shell. After that you will see where the other end of the defective hose goes -- the bottom of the plastic overflow tank. You will need to cut the old zip ties (or maybe spring clamps) at each end of the hose to fully remove the old hose. 3) Inspect and dry the full unit. You may want at this point to remove the other styro shell piece and completely dry everything. At this point I discovered that the leaking water has badly rusted several of the screws holding the two pieces of the stainless tank together. IMHO they should have used stainless steel screws. I wasn't sure whether or not the rust has led to any leak in the tank itself, so I disassembled the stainless tank (fun to do with rusted screws I'll tell you). Mine took a T-10 Torx driver for the screws, and I eventually got them all out. A trip to the hardware store got me some #6 x 3/4" stainless machine screws and lock nuts. If you see anything else besides the hose that could be a problem, you'll need to deal with it for a complete repair. 4) Reassemble the unit, installing the new hose as you go. Put the tank back in the bottom styro shell. Attach one end of the silicone hose to the plastic overflow tank and secure with a zip tie cutting off the excess tie. Put the plastic tank back in the upper styro shell and slide the two back onto the top of the stainless tank. The plastic tank lines up with the silicone hose to the front of the unit. You'll route the hose along the tank flange to the right of the unit just like the old hose was. Once the shell is as far down as it goes, route the hose along the side of the styro shell following the groove for the old hose (not a perfect fit, but that's OK) and then over the top to the water inlet port. Hold it in place and see where you need to cut the silicone hose to fit the port without excess slack in the hose. Then cut the hose, attach it to the port and secure with a zip tie. Replace the thin upper piece of styro over the top of it all and reassemble it all into the plastic shell. Take your time and work the two halves together, making sure to get the power cord grommet correctly into the cutout in the shell. Get the bottom together first then work your way up. Pay attention to the new hose, keeping it tucked in behind the side of the front half of the shell (don't let it end up stuffed behind the back half of the shell. When done properly the shell will snap together nicely, and you may note a slight bulge where the new hose is if you used the thicker silicone tubing like me -- that's OK. Put the small screw back into the top the shell, and reinsert the drain screw. 5) Reinstall and test tank. Just reverse the removal steps. Open the faucet until water flows before plugging the tank in. Then use the faucet normally, checking regularly for any leaks. Mine has been leak free for two weeks, and should last for years now. That's it, and it's probably easier than it sounds. For a grand total of less than $25 (with nine feet of hose left over) I have a fully functional tank again. The rest of the unit is very well made. The tank iteslf is built like a ... well, a tank, so I expect it to last years. Good luck with your home repair efforts if you try.

Posted by roland_desch on

  • 7 more comments 
  • Bill Jan 17, 2013

    Thanks for the detailed description. Have not taken mine apart yet but am encouraged to try and fix this myself. Good to know that the rest of the unit is very well made.I have only had this tank for three years so

  • Pete Summers Feb 03, 2013

    Well, mine's leaking as well (HC1100C), Taken it apart and found a stain all round the bottom of the unit. Seems like it is leaking from the white plastic 5/8th inch hex nut where the drain screw fits. I've dissembled the tank and removed the heating element, but can't seem to be able to remove the white plastic plug. Anyone else had this problem?

  • David Zier
    David Zier Mar 04, 2013

    Our unit is 3 years old, the plastic fitting that runs the hot water to the dispenser had broken off, thankfully we had a large plastic bin underneath to catch the water leaking ,probably for about a week. going to try to replace the plastic fitting with a metal fitting. Meanwhile my wife contacted customer service, they are sending a new unit with a 90 day warranty. By the way this was a replacement(by Insinkerator)for the first model that had a plastic tank, the tank started to dispense very stinky water!

  • Steve Gilliland Apr 18, 2013

    I have an SST unit that just started leaking. I installed it in 2006, so it is clearly out of warranty. Upon disassembly, I found my leak was the heating element. I called Insinkerator and was informed that there are no servicable parts; my only option is to replace the tank.The agent then gave me a promo code that would give me a 65% discount on a new SST-FLTR. They retail on the Insinkerator site for $396, but the promo code will get it down to $138. So I think I will do that. And I'll now have the filter too. And by the way, disassembling the unit and separating the actual water tank reveals the nasties sediment buildup in the tank. Makes you not want to drink from it at all! Hmmmm, I wonder what my 10 year old water heater looks like inside! Yikes!!

  • David Deal Aug 08, 2013

    I also have an SST model that was installed in 2006 and recently started leaking. I disassembled it and found two problems. It was leaking around the heating element gasket. Also, the nipple on the plastic recovery tank was brittle and broke off in the return hose. Just like Steve G, I called Insinkerator and was informed that parts were not available but they offered me a 65% discount on a replacement model. It was time to change the filter on the old one which would have cost around $30 and the new one comes with a filter. I don't like the ideal of throwing something away that could be fixed with a few simple replacement parts, but feel that Insinkerator was more than fair in offering me a new tank and filter for $139.30

  • fixya517 Jun 30, 2014

    I had the same problems. I replaced the plastic tube and that was no big deal. The white plastic plug started leaking after I removed and replaced the drain screw. It leaked from the plastic part, not where the screw goes. I used lots of epoxy on the outside, and so far, so good. I wasn't about to open it because too many of the screws were rusty. I can't speak for the long term.

  • fixya517 Jun 30, 2014

    I had both problems, and fixed the tube just fine. Then it leaked from the bottom because once I opened the drain screw, the plastic part rotated. It didn't leak from the screw itself. I fixed it with epoxy from the outside because the screws that keep the tank together were all rusty. So far, so good, but I can't speak for the long term. Naturally, the company recommends against this.

  • Lawrence
    Lawrence Nov 08, 2014

    I'm trying to understand the purpose of this tube and the plastic overflow tank. So the tube and overflow tank just handles water that is returned to the tank after the faucet is closed? Or does water go from the hot water tank, through this tube and up to the faucet? The reason I asked is because I in advertenly used a tube that is not meant for use with potable water and I want to know how much exposure my family had to these toxins from this tubing. I discontinued using the dispenser until I procure the appropriate tubing. I am really concerned about the health implications of using this tubing.

  • Anonymous Jun 22, 2017

    I expected I'd have the same trouble based on this note & the video so I blew $6 at Amazon on a few feet of silicone tubing, so I'd have the unit out of service as little as possible.

    Turned out the tubing was fine; Insinkerator must've upgraded this obvious design flaw. What DID go bad for me was the junction where a pipe comes out the top; the O-ring was compressed flat & the joint was loose; water residue stained the top. The O-ring was easy to remove & I replaced it at the local hardware store & all is well.



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Ken Fowler

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  • 426 Answers

What if you back the temp down to say 165 or so would that not keep the plastic from frying?
Also does that model not sit ambient until hot water is needed and is not "hot" 24/7/365 as you
stated? Just wondering.

Posted on Feb 07, 2011

  • 6 more comments 
  • roland_desch Feb 10, 2011

    I suppose there is some temperature you could set it to where the vinyl wouldn't fail, but that defeats the purpose of this. It's supposed to give near boiling water hot enough for making tea, etc. Look up "InSinkErator SST-FLTR 2/3-Gallon Stainless Tank" And it does indeed keep the water hot all the time. It's supposed to dispense on demand, so it cycles the heating element on and off all the time ... just like a whole house water heater, just a lot hotter.

  • Ken Fowler
    Ken Fowler Feb 10, 2011

    It sounds as if the design team cut 32.5 cents off that they might have left in for a good product.
    So sad when you think about it.

  • Malcolm G Jul 28, 2012

    Thanks Roland, what a great post. My unit just started dropping water so I ignored the "not fixable parts inside" label and dismantled. I found the hose you mentioned black and split. So here I am looking for what people have done and what sort of tubing needed. Thanks again. I also noticed that it looked like some sort of adhesive had been used along he tube during assembly. Since this is where the split is maybe the adhesive attached the tubing. Off to find some silicone tubing. Malcolm.

  • fixya517 Jun 30, 2014

    I used the same type tubing as the original. It's supposed to be taped against the Styrofoam to minimize contact with the tank. I'd suggest surrounding it with a bit of insulation. Go to your attic and rip a thin strip that's a couple of inches long so you can wrap the tube. If it's the contact with the tank that's the issue, it might help. If it's the material itself or the water through the tube, that's another story.

  • Lawrence
    Lawrence Nov 08, 2014

    I'm trying to understand the purpose of this tube and the plastic overflow tank. So the tube and overflow tank just handles water that is returned to the tank after the faucet is closed? Or does water go from the hot water tank, through this tube and up to the faucet? The reason I asked is because I in advertenly used a tube that is not meant for use with potable water and I want to know how much exposure my family had to these toxins from this tubing. I discontinued using the dispenser until I procure the appropriate tubing. I am really concerned about the health implications of using this tubing.

  • Walt French
    Walt French Jun 22, 2017

    Lawrence, water under the bridge. Get some rated-safe silicone tubing & replace the other.
    It seems unlikely you'll have ingested much chemicals and also unlikely you could do anything about it even if you went thru a lot of trouble to see what chems might've been dissolved in your water.

  • Dawn
    Dawn Jun 23, 2018

    Mine is dripping from the tap... Can't figure out why

  • Akiva Eisenberg
    Akiva Eisenberg Jul 18, 2018

    I have a 3 year old system with a Contour faucet. The tank started leaking 2 years ago and they replaced it. My faucet just started leaking so I called them and they said that it is not serviceable and I have to buy a new one. I figured that I have nothing to loose so I took apart the faucet by removing the chrome cap and took apart the valve and discovered a piece of debris embedded in the rubber "washer" I removed it and turned on the water momentarily to flush the valve body. I put it back together and everything is fine!



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