When to proactively replace water heater

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verbose
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When to proactively replace water heater

Post by verbose » Tue Jul 05, 2016 6:40 pm

I have a 2007 gas-powered tank-type water heater that was installed in a new-construction house. Since it was new construction, we became used to not doing any repairs because it was all new! Suddenly nine years have passed. (This must be part of "getting older"--not knowing where the time went.)

The water heater is not supplying enough hot water to meet demand and it sometimes makes knocking noises. I realize that it's filling up with sediment because we have never drained it--we kept thinking of it as "new." OK, that was clearly our mistake. So, do we attempt to drain the tank or call 9 years the lifetime of a water heater and replace it? I'm concerned that draining it when it's so clearly suffering from excessive sediment is going to make a simple chore into a hellish waste of a weekend for a water heater that will die in a few years anyway. On the other hand it feels wasteful to just throw it away because we ignored it too long. Opinions?

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Epsilon Delta
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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by Epsilon Delta » Tue Jul 05, 2016 6:57 pm

Where is the water heater located? What will happen if leaks? A water heater in an unfinished basement is less of a problem than one in finished space.

How long do your neighbors' (or if a new subdivision not so near neighbors') water heaters last? The life of a water heater is largely determined by the chemistry of the water supply. In some areas they last decades, in others 9 years is borrowed time.

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by livesoft » Tue Jul 05, 2016 6:59 pm

Do you have more than one water heater?
Do you have a garden hose?
Does heater have safety drain pan?
Where is the heater located? Attic? Basement? Garage?

We replace heaters when they start leaking.
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Artsdoctor
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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by Artsdoctor » Tue Jul 05, 2016 7:03 pm

As above posters have alluded to, it's all about risk. If your water heater is in a finished part of the house, you have a lot to lose if it goes (once you actually see what happens when a water heater "goes," you'll know what I mean).

If you have a pan under it, check it periodically. If there's a reason to get a new one (size, function, etc.), go for it, and mark the installation date on the side of the heater.

If this is outside, then I wouldn't worry nearly as much. You can get years more out of it. Maybe.

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by livesoft » Tue Jul 05, 2016 7:06 pm

BTW pan drain holes can be plugged by spider webs and/or mud daubers.
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123
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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by 123 » Tue Jul 05, 2016 7:09 pm

Replacement could easily cost $500 or more with installation (depending on size). Why not spend an hour or two and try draining some of the water out? Based on the status of the water that drains out you might come to a more informed conclusion. The drained water could comes out rusty or it might come out clear with sand particles or who knows what. Once a few months after I bought a new subdivision house the water supply to the house slowed because of sand blockage around the main valve. The builders had not adequately flushed the new water lines in the subdivision.

It's not too hard to put a bucket under the drain value, open the valve, and see what comes out.
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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Tue Jul 05, 2016 7:13 pm

You answered your own question - unit is not supplying enough hot water to meet demand. You may have an undersized unit - 40 instead of 50 gallon unit.
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Watty
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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by Watty » Tue Jul 05, 2016 7:16 pm

Trust your gut and replace it.

When you are not in hurry you can call around and get a good price. I have had to replace a failed hot water heater in a hurry and I am sure that did not get a good price. Just getting a good price would likely pay for missing out on getting few years of extra life out of the old one.

You can also get water sensors that are vaguely like smoke alarms that you can put under the water heater to alert you when it starts leaking.

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by student » Tue Jul 05, 2016 7:50 pm

Watty wrote:Trust your gut and replace it.

When you are not in hurry you can call around and get a good price. I have had to replace a failed hot water heater in a hurry and I am sure that did not get a good price. Just getting a good price would likely pay for missing out on getting few years of extra life out of the old one.

You can also get water sensors that are vaguely like smoke alarms that you can put under the water heater to alert you when it starts leaking.


+1

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by canderson » Tue Jul 05, 2016 7:59 pm

Is it possible to insert a drain pan under an existing gas water heater n a small upstairs closet?

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by livesoft » Tue Jul 05, 2016 8:10 pm

canderson wrote:Is it possible to insert a drain pan under an existing gas water heater n a small upstairs closet?

Of course. I have an idea of how I would do it myself. Note that drain pans have a pipe that has to lead the water somewhere.
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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by dougger5 » Tue Jul 05, 2016 8:18 pm

Another factor is the age of the unit relative to the stated warranty. These things have a habit of failing shortly after the period is up.
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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Tue Jul 05, 2016 8:25 pm

Why not just drain a bit of it? Heck, I'm watching tv right now and commercials are on. If I had a reason to check what's going to come out of mine, I'd check it and be back in front of the TV before the show comes back on. It isn't hard if you have some plastic tupperware type containers.
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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by livesoft » Tue Jul 05, 2016 8:28 pm

^Ha! The valve could fail to close after opening it.
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psteinx
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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by psteinx » Tue Jul 05, 2016 8:31 pm

Older thread on this issue:

viewtopic.php?t=160149

FWIW, I was the OP in the linked thread. Our water heater is now ~20 years old, and we haven't proactively replaced it.

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by RudyS » Tue Jul 05, 2016 9:27 pm

livesoft wrote:^Ha! The valve could fail to close after opening it.


In that case, the worst scenario is that you turn off the water to the heater, and live without hot water till you can get it replaced.

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by livesoft » Tue Jul 05, 2016 9:32 pm

You have to find a place for 30 to 50 gallons of water to go, too. A few plastic tubs or buckets won't do. That's why I attach a hose that leads somewhere safe first.
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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by itstoomuch » Tue Jul 05, 2016 9:50 pm

Poor gas combustion is very dangerous.
Bad heat transfer.
Corroded pipes, especially on output side and on galvanized pipe.
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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by edge » Tue Jul 05, 2016 10:01 pm

1) Rust
2) Leaking

The knocking could be coming from water pipes that are moving a bit when water goes through them.

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JaneyLH
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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by JaneyLH » Tue Jul 05, 2016 10:07 pm

What is the average expected life of a water heater? :confused

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by sport » Tue Jul 05, 2016 10:10 pm

The life of a water heater can be extended dramatically in some cases by replacing the anode(s) every 5 years or so.

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by Katietsu » Tue Jul 05, 2016 10:22 pm

If the water heater is not meeting your needs then that is a good reason to replace it. I doubt that the sentiment is your issue.

I will say though that I read your post a few times. What type of set up do you have? My experience with draining the tank is that it takes about 10 minutes of "work" and under an hour of total time.

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by Ged » Tue Jul 05, 2016 10:25 pm

JaneyLH wrote:What is the average expected life of a water heater? :confused


I've heard numbers like 10 years. However that is an average.

The water heater in my house was there when I purchased the house 24 years ago. I don't know when it was originally installed.

As they say YMMV.

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by August » Tue Jul 05, 2016 10:54 pm

If the water heater is upstairs, in an attic, or in a finished place, I'd look into getting it replaced (or at least checked) before it starts leaking. Though Homeowner's insurance will typically cover the resulting damage from the leak, it is still a major inconvenience to deal with.

I just recently replaced my water heater (in the attic) with a tankless version. It is also gas. Having gone through a prior water heater leak in my apartment (I was out of my apartment for three weeks, and the downstairs unit had to have the kitchen and living room pretty much gutted), I didn't want to take any chances with a 15 year old unit.
If it's in an unfinished space, as mentioned above, you can probably wait awhile as even a catastrophic failure won't cause too many problems.

I usually start seeing claims for water heaters that are 10+ years old. 15-ish seems to be about average. Damages can range from minor to catastrophic depending on how fast the leak was caught and where the heater is located.

I think the bottom line is the water heater is no longer meeting your needs, thus it's time to repair or replace.

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by verbose » Wed Jul 06, 2016 7:12 am

Thanks for the replies.

Based on the advice above, I believe I should try to drain it first. It's in an unfinished part of the basement about one foot away from a floor drain. I'll need to buy a very short hose to drain it--all of mine are 50 foot garden hoses. There's a small chance it could damage the finished part of the basement if it failed.

If I can't get it back online, well, a few cold showers in hot, steamy July never hurt anyone. It's certainly a better time of year to mess with it than January.

Neighbors haven't reported water heater failures yet. The homes in my neighborhood are between 10 years old and brand-new (building has been constant). We do have a moderately hard water in this area, but our city water comes from a large river.

The water heater is 50 gallons and it was working fine. I believe that the sediment is causing it to not be able to deliver enough hot water at peak demand. Or it might be because we have a teenager now and we expect more from it.

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by jharkin » Wed Jul 06, 2016 7:16 am

The 10 year average is for your garden variety inexpensive plain steel tank standalone elec/gas/oil heaters. Stainless tank heaters and especially indirects can last 20,30 years or more...

To the OP - are you sure you are getting sediment? Ive heard the same thing, but I will tell you I open the bottom drain on mine once a year and nothing but plain water has come out (disclaimer mine is stainless). I would try draining it to see what happens. Just check the supply shutoff works first in case...

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by Swansea » Wed Jul 06, 2016 7:23 am

Since it is a gas water heater, check and see if your local government requires an inspection after installation.

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by michaeljc70 » Wed Jul 06, 2016 9:32 am

I knew I was moving in a year or so and didn't want to replace my water heater (it was a 75 gallon). It wasn't working that well and I suspected sediment. I drained it and added 5 bottles of CLR (I used generic from the dollar store). I added it by using a funnel and the drain hose held up above the bottom spigot. I let it sit in there a few hours. I rinsed and drained it many times. I also cautioned people not to use hot water for cooking for a few days. It worked fine from that point forward.

However, if you are planning on staying at your place, you are going to have to replace it sooner or later and if you a simple draining doesn't help, I would replace it.

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by livesoft » Wed Jul 06, 2016 9:36 am

verbose wrote:Based on the advice above, I believe I should try to drain it first. It's in an unfinished part of the basement about one foot away from a floor drain. I'll need to buy a very short hose to drain it--all of mine are 50 foot garden hoses. There's a small chance it could damage the finished part of the basement if it failed.

The 50 ft garden hose will reach over to the drain easily, so no need for another hose to drain it. You can probably run the garden hose outside, too, but I'd test that the drain actually works while draining the water heater.

There are probably several youtube videos showing how to drain a water heater.
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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by sport » Wed Jul 06, 2016 9:52 am

What would be the point in draining the entire water heater? In my experience, when I open the drain valve, the water is rusty when it first starts to drain. However, after a quart or two of water has drained, it runs clear. The sediment is at the bottom and once it runs clear, all I am doing is draining clear water. If all I need to drain is a small amount, I can just drain it into a bucket and do not have to use a hose.

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by blmarsha123 » Wed Jul 06, 2016 1:43 pm

Yes, drain several gallons is typically the first troubleshooting or maintenance. Since you are very close to a drain, should be quick and painless.

Someone mentioned replacing the anode. Here's a cautionary tale. I replaced the water heater in my current house after the failure of a 15 year old tank. Because I also have a (salt-based) water softener, the installer recommended that the anode be replaced every 3 - 4 years. So 3 years in I scheduled an anode replacement with a national chain. A day after the job was completed, there is water all over the place and no hot water. They send a different guy out who with a straight face, says that the tank must be bad, not related to the anode replacement. And furthermore, for all he knows, I could have broken the tank. I told him to get out of my house and promptly laid in to his supervisor, who sent out the original guy. He hemmed and hawed and finally asked me what I wanted. I said "A new tank." Which he/they did at no charge (beyond the original service call and anode replacement). What did I learn? Never, ever gonna replace an anode again.

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by sport » Wed Jul 06, 2016 1:52 pm

blmarsha123 wrote:Yes, drain several gallons is typically the first troubleshooting or maintenance. Since you are very close to a drain, should be quick and painless.

Someone mentioned replacing the anode. Here's a cautionary tale. I replaced the water heater in my current house after the failure of a 15 year old tank. Because I also have a (salt-based) water softener, the installer recommended that the anode be replaced every 3 - 4 years. So 3 years in I scheduled an anode replacement with a national chain. A day after the job was completed, there is water all over the place and no hot water. They send a different guy out who with a straight face, says that the tank must be bad, not related to the anode replacement. And furthermore, for all he knows, I could have broken the tank. I told him to get out of my house and promptly laid in to his supervisor, who sent out the original guy. He hemmed and hawed and finally asked me what I wanted. I said "A new tank." Which he/they did at no charge (beyond the original service call and anode replacement). What did I learn? Never, ever gonna replace an anode again.

You learned the wrong lesson. The real lesson was that if something goes wrong, you get a new tank every 3 years. 8-)

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by tainted-meat » Wed Jul 06, 2016 1:54 pm

My parents built a house in '99. The same tank still works. I think 'rules of thumb' don't always apply.

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by NotHardly » Wed Jul 06, 2016 2:20 pm

Does your water heater have an expansion tank connected to it? If so, the bladder in the expansion tank can rupture and cause problems similar to what you describe.

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by Ninegrams » Wed Jul 06, 2016 4:47 pm

Have a tank that's 28 years old and still going strong. Just replaced the original anode a few months back( virtually nothing left of it ). Drained off a few gallons and only the tiniest of residue showed up. I'd credit this to having very soft water. If it was in finished space I'd probably have already replaced it, but being in a garage I'll let it ride to the bitter end.

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by Aptenodytes » Wed Jul 06, 2016 5:11 pm

sport wrote:What would be the point in draining the entire water heater? In my experience, when I open the drain valve, the water is rusty when it first starts to drain. However, after a quart or two of water has drained, it runs clear. The sediment is at the bottom and once it runs clear, all I am doing is draining clear water. If all I need to drain is a small amount, I can just drain it into a bucket and do not have to use a hose.

You drain it on purpose when you need to discard it. But you need to be ready to drain it not-on-purpose too, e.g. if a valve fails.

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by sport » Wed Jul 06, 2016 5:21 pm

Aptenodytes wrote:
sport wrote:What would be the point in draining the entire water heater? In my experience, when I open the drain valve, the water is rusty when it first starts to drain. However, after a quart or two of water has drained, it runs clear. The sediment is at the bottom and once it runs clear, all I am doing is draining clear water. If all I need to drain is a small amount, I can just drain it into a bucket and do not have to use a hose.

You drain it on purpose when you need to discard it. But you need to be ready to drain it not-on-purpose too, e.g. if a valve fails.

I understand that. However, some people talk about draining the entire tank for maintenance.

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by Watty » Wed Jul 06, 2016 5:37 pm

sport wrote:
Aptenodytes wrote:
sport wrote:What would be the point in draining the entire water heater? In my experience, when I open the drain valve, the water is rusty when it first starts to drain. However, after a quart or two of water has drained, it runs clear. The sediment is at the bottom and once it runs clear, all I am doing is draining clear water. If all I need to drain is a small amount, I can just drain it into a bucket and do not have to use a hose.

You drain it on purpose when you need to discard it. But you need to be ready to drain it not-on-purpose too, e.g. if a valve fails.

I understand that. However, some people talk about draining the entire tank for maintenance.


Once you open the valve to let the sediment out it may not close again because some of the sediment got stuck in the valve and prevents it from fully closing. I have had this happen but fortunately there was only a trickle of water coming out.

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by Ninegrams » Wed Jul 06, 2016 10:47 pm

Watty wrote:
sport wrote:
Aptenodytes wrote:
sport wrote:What would be the point in draining the entire water heater? In my experience, when I open the drain valve, the water is rusty when it first starts to drain. However, after a quart or two of water has drained, it runs clear. The sediment is at the bottom and once it runs clear, all I am doing is draining clear water. If all I need to drain is a small amount, I can just drain it into a bucket and do not have to use a hose.

You drain it on purpose when you need to discard it. But you need to be ready to drain it not-on-purpose too, e.g. if a valve fails.

I understand that. However, some people talk about draining the entire tank for maintenance.


Once you open the valve to let the sediment out it may not close again because some of the sediment got stuck in the valve and prevents it from fully closing. I have had this happen but fortunately there was only a trickle of water coming out.


If that occurs, just stick a hose cap on the end. No more drip.

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by Gene2001 » Wed Jul 06, 2016 10:54 pm

HVAC mechanic here. Been in the industry since I was 5 years old riding with my uncle in NY on service calls. Worked for several Oil/repair companies and been running my own Oil company now for 22 years and counting.

Just to give you a small resume for my advice.


Hot water heaters - oil or gas or electric last as long as they last. Most get replaced because they start leaking, but not until then usually. All others usually get fixed. Gas valves, thermocuplings, electronic starts on gas units, elements on electric, and various parts on an oil burner all are replaceable.

If you were a customer of mine calling in - my first questions would be - you were in the house for 10 years? How was the hot water for those 10 years? No trouble meeting demand?

Has demand changed? You said your daughter/ or kid is using up lots of extra hot water now? Is that when you noticed the change?

Is it not enough hot water? or the water is not hot enough? Draining it won't hurt anything - but your not really gonna help it either. If you have the sides rusting and sediment - you might get some of it off the bottom. But its the side rusting that is the problem. If you hear bubbling or knocking where you didn't before its gonna be the rust heating up and releasing oxygen.

anode rods should be replaced now and then. What they do is sacrifice themselves to help protect the inside tank from rusting. Once the rod or rods are gone then the tank starts to go. How fast will depend on how hard your water is and if its treated.


50 gallons is usually fine for demand. You should be able to have 2 people take moderately long showers back to back. not 30 min showers each. but both of you should be able to take 10 -25 mins showers. Make sure you mix in cold water and hot just open the hot side all the way and add a little cold. If your demand is very bad - recovery not keeping up the heat transfer from the sides to the water is being stopped somewhat from the rust. It acts like insulation.

Most people don't replace hot water heaters until they do go. Most start to leak slowly - but I have seen a few pop unfortunately .

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by verbose » Mon Jan 23, 2017 12:02 pm

OP update:

We attempted to drain sediment out of this water heater a few months ago. A little bit came out, but mostly the water ran out clear. The water drained very slowly. We drained the entire tank (twice) and it took about an hour and a half for each draining. There was just one point where a chunk of sediment came out and the water drained for a few seconds with full pressure, but then it was back to a slow drain. I believe we have so much sediment in the water heater that we would need to remove the drain valve or perhaps attach a hose from an outside faucet and run water back into the heater to flush it. Either way, the water heater is still making loud, frequent popping noises and it's still nine years old.

This is a 50-gallon water heater that barely meets demand because I have a 90-gallon bath tub that I enjoy using daily. Given the size of the tub, I think the water heater may even be undersized. We are original owners of the house, built new, and the water heater always had trouble meeting demand. I used to get it to meet demand by turning up the thermostat, but other people in my household keep complaining about scalding hot water. Also, when the hot water is at 150 F (which it was), it will damage the dishwasher (which it did). I had to turn it down and keep it closer to 130 now (still a scald risk)--any lower, and the bath tub is unusable.

It's on our list for replacement this year, when we have the money set aside for it or when it dies--whichever comes first. Since it's in the basement, in an unfinished area, less than a foot away from a floor drain, it's not going to cause a lot of damage if it ruptures or leaks. If we have room in the area where it's installed (the pipes and venting and such), we will be getting a larger capacity water heater.

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by hand » Mon Jan 23, 2017 12:31 pm

verbose wrote:It's on our list for replacement this year, when we have the money set aside for it or when it dies--whichever comes first. Since it's in the basement, in an unfinished area, less than a foot away from a floor drain, it's not going to cause a lot of damage if it ruptures or leaks. If we have room in the area where it's installed (the pipes and venting and such), we will be getting a larger capacity water heater.


While a floor drain may handle a leak (assuming floor sloped in your favour), it is unlikely a floor drain would handle a rupture which would not only include the 50 gallons of hot water in your tank, but also cold water flowing unchecked until you notice and shut off (think hose on full volume into your basement - multiple gallons per minute!) .

Suggest you invest in a cheap water detector that you can place on floor near water heater to improve your chances of noticing a leak or rupture.

As an aside, you may want to consider a point of use water heater specifically for the tub if that is the only place you need the excess capacity.
Probably worth just getting a bigger water heater if you are replacing anyway, but perhaps a solution if you can't upsize your waterheater.

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by Epsilon Delta » Mon Jan 23, 2017 2:29 pm

hand wrote:Probably worth just getting a bigger water heater if you are replacing anyway, but perhaps a solution if you can't upsize your waterheater.


Another solution is a thermostatic mixing valve. You can set the tank to 150F and have 120F water at the taps.

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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by SimonJester » Mon Jan 23, 2017 3:01 pm

Does the pooping noise sound like water dripping onto a hot flame? If so you might want to replace that baby right away!
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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by criticalmass » Mon Jan 23, 2017 3:12 pm

blmarsha123 wrote:Yes, drain several gallons is typically the first troubleshooting or maintenance. Since you are very close to a drain, should be quick and painless.

Someone mentioned replacing the anode. Here's a cautionary tale. I replaced the water heater in my current house after the failure of a 15 year old tank. Because I also have a (salt-based) water softener, the installer recommended that the anode be replaced every 3 - 4 years. So 3 years in I scheduled an anode replacement with a national chain. A day after the job was completed, there is water all over the place and no hot water. They send a different guy out who with a straight face, says that the tank must be bad, not related to the anode replacement. And furthermore, for all he knows, I could have broken the tank. I told him to get out of my house and promptly laid in to his supervisor, who sent out the original guy. He hemmed and hawed and finally asked me what I wanted. I said "A new tank." Which he/they did at no charge (beyond the original service call and anode replacement). What did I learn? Never, ever gonna replace an anode again.


Where was the water leaking? Some tanks (those with 10 or 12 year warranties) have two anodes, one is a separate rod, and the second is attached to the hot pipe port. Other tanks (with 5 or 6 year warranties) have one anode, accessed from its own separate opening at the top of the tank.
Last edited by criticalmass on Mon Jan 23, 2017 3:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

criticalmass
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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by criticalmass » Mon Jan 23, 2017 3:24 pm

The tank itself can last indefinitely IF the anode is replaced properly every 4-10 years, depending on your water's chemistry. As mentioned above, 10 year warranty tanks have two anode rods, which is why the tank is expected to last longer.

The electric elements can wear out/break, but are easily replaced. Gas burners occasionally need inspection and adjustment. Parts may need to be replaced from time to time, and the flue should be inspected regularly. Do not wait for a tank to go bad to perform regular inspection and maintenance of a gas water heater.

Definitely drain the tank 2-4 times a year to get sediment out. I shut off the water heater the evening before I do this, then proceed to take showers, run the dish washer, or even do a load of laundry (if I really need to use heated water for laundry which is rare). This is all so the heat in the tank is used and not wasted. Once ready, I shut off the water inlet valve to the tank and attach a garden hose to the drain connection. I run the hose outside and into a bucket in the yard. The bucket is important, because I can see what is coming out of the hose. I open the drain valve and watch the junk accumulate in the bucket as the water overflows into my flower bed. Turning the valve on and off a few times can also help stir up the junk (sediment) so it goes out the drain as much as possible. I then close the valve, and go upstairs and remove the kitchen sink aerator and open the faucet slightly.

Next, I open the cold water inlet valve to allow the tank to refill. Any air in the plumbing goes out the kitchen sink slowly, which avoids pipes banging and potential damage. Any sediment in the plumbing goes right into the sink and does not clog the aerator, because the aerator is not on the faucet. Once the water is completely refilled the tank and pipes, I close the kitchen faucet, and turn the water heater back on. In a short while the tank is hot again and life is good.

Also, never drink the water (or use it for cooking or boiling water) that comes out of a water heater, even if it has cooled off in the pipe. After seeing what comes out of a tank while draining, you will be reminded why. Also as the anode breaks down, it adds things to water (magnesium, aluminum, etc.) in forms and quantities not great for you body.

This web page has a lot of great information on maintaining a water heater. It also sells components for water heaters.
http://waterheaterrescue.com/

Take_Five
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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by Take_Five » Mon Jan 23, 2017 4:55 pm

I've been considering this very question - my hot water heater is original with the construction of my house: 20 years old! It's nothing special - surely a contractor's special (i.e. cheap). It is electric, located in the garage, and we have very hard water (Florida.) I have never done any maintenance - never replaced an anode, never drained it. I can only imagine what it looks like inside. However, it works. Perfectly hot water for my family of 5 - long showers, lots of laundry, and daily dish washer runs... no issue with demand or performance.

So..... I struggle with "if it ain't broke" vs. I can't imagine it will make it another year! :?

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Frugal Al
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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by Frugal Al » Tue Jan 24, 2017 10:06 am

Take_Five, given the heavy usage, the good run you've gotten out of the tank, the lack of anode replacement, and the hard water, I wouldn't hesitate to replace the tank at 20 years. On the other hand, if it's located in a space with no collateral damage potential, you'll be doing the work yourself, and don't mind the surprise when it goes, there's an argument to just wait. I suspect you'd have a hard time even inspecting the anode at this time as it's probably corroded in. I like to repair and replace things on MY time table, not fates. As Watty points out in an above post, replacing now will allow you to negotiate better pricing. It's hard to negotiate with a plumber when there are four unbathed family members breathing down your back to get it fixed.

michaeljc70
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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by michaeljc70 » Tue Jan 24, 2017 11:34 am

I've seen a few comments on pans for the water heater. Don't most of those pans hold only a few gallons of water? Even if they have a hose connected to a drain, it seems unlikely to me that that will contain a big leak. I can see it being useful for a slow leak.

CorradoJr
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Re: When to proactively replace water heater

Post by CorradoJr » Tue Jan 24, 2017 11:48 am

This might be a good time to consider a (gas) tankless water heater if the situation is right.

Just 2 of us in our house, but the hot water is endless. Take a shower, run the clothes washer, dishwasher, and use the kitchen sink all at the same time if you wish....

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