Your Place: Take heater troubles straight to manufacturer

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Q: A year ago, we had a plumber install a Nevian instant hot-water heater at our home. Everything worked fine for about four months.

Now, sometimes when we turn on the bathtub water, it will be cold, and it doesnít get hot unless you turn off the faucet and turn it back on.

We had the plumber out who installed the heater, and he said that we must be getting a back feed from the washer or dishwasher. He said to check that and left, which doesnít solve anything.

We did watch to see, when it did this, whether anything else was running. There is no consistency to when it happens. Nothing can be running at the same time, or everything can be. The bathtub is the farthest point the water runs to.

Because our plumber pretty much washed his hands of the issue, we are at a loss as to where to turn next.

A: I think the plumberís leaving was for the best. The last thing a homeowner needs is someone who canít be bothered to solve a big problem with something he installed.

The heaterís name is actually Navien. The problem would best be solved by dealing with the company directly. Contact Navien at www.navienamerica.com. Make sure you have all the pertinent information about the product you purchased (serial and model numbers) and give detailed information on your problem.

From what you have described, my guess ó emphasis on guess ó is that it might be the heater itself. Perhaps itís a relay that worked fine at the start but had an inherent fault that now forces you to try twice for hot water, for example, because the message doesnít get from the faucet to the component providing hot water on the first try.

Many manufacturers, Navien included, have installers who are not their employees but who have been trained to troubleshoot such problems. That may be what it suggests to you.

The heater has a warranty; download the information for your model at the website if you donít have a copy.

Experience has shown not all manufacturers are great with service, but you need to give it a try.