Old Hot Water Heater

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IndexBeliever
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Old Hot Water Heater

Post by IndexBeliever » Tue May 22, 2018 6:08 pm

Dear BH,

I just bought a 20 year old house. It's hot water heater has never been replaced. Seems to be working fine now. I have a 1 year home warranty that we had to do when we bought the house. My old man says I should replace the hot water heater now and eat the cost.
Anybody have experience or strong suggestions?
Part of me wants to wait it out. But also don't want it go out and have 20k worth of water damage.

Any recommendations or experiences would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

Broken Man 1999
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Re: Old Hot Water Heater

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Tue May 22, 2018 6:13 pm

Where is the water heater located that it could cause so much damage?

Our water heater is located in our garage, a leak would cause water on the garage floor, but little if any damage, other than perhaps wetting objects on the garage floor.

Broken Man 1999
“If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven than I shall not go. " -Mark Twain

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Pajamas
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Re: Old Hot Water Heater

Post by Pajamas » Tue May 22, 2018 6:15 pm

IndexBeliever wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 6:08 pm
Dear BH,

I just bought a 20 year old house. It's hot water heater has never been replaced. Seems to be working fine now. I have a 1 year home warranty that we had to do when we bought the house. My old man says I should replace the hot water heater now and eat the cost.
Anybody have experience or strong suggestions?
Part of me wants to wait it out. But also don't want it go out and have 20k worth of water damage.

Any recommendations or experiences would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
Does it have sufficient insulation?

Drain it and see what you think about replacing it after that.

runner3081
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Re: Old Hot Water Heater

Post by runner3081 » Tue May 22, 2018 6:25 pm

We bought a house that was 15 years old and had the original water heater. It was in the garage and we placed one of those cheap water detection alarms behind it.

Alarm went off at about 10pm one night, shut the water off to it and had it starting to drain.

No damage.

One thing I learned the hard way... make sure to locate and TEST the heater water supply shut off valve. Ours snapped off and we had to cap the incoming line from the wall to keep the cold water running and prevent filling of the hot water heater.

If you test it before and it fails, replace now before the water heater goes out.

TallBoy29er
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Re: Old Hot Water Heater

Post by TallBoy29er » Tue May 22, 2018 6:39 pm

You are living on borrowed time. If it ruptures, which will happen at some point, what will get damaged? You will likely be at work, the store, sleeping, etc when that happens.

mortfree
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Re: Old Hot Water Heater

Post by mortfree » Tue May 22, 2018 6:47 pm

I would replace it.

It is probably not up to code, inefficient, and a potential disaster.

One less thing to worry about.

And your dad will appreciate you taking his advice.

sschoe2
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Re: Old Hot Water Heater

Post by sschoe2 » Tue May 22, 2018 6:50 pm

Mine lasted 25 years. It rusted and bulged and started oozing a bit out the top but not a steady leak.

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jharkin
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Location: Boston suburbs

Re: Old Hot Water Heater

Post by jharkin » Tue May 22, 2018 6:54 pm

Everybody is jumping to conclusions without any details.

What KIND of water heater is it?

-Standard glass lined steel electric/gas tank heaters can have warranties ranging from 5 years to lifetime. "7 years" is a commonly quoted life estimate but it can vary greatly.... and especially can be extended if its been well maintained, had the sacrificial anode replaced, etc.
-Tankless heaters may have longer lifespans than tank heaters.
-Boiler based on demand coils can last as long as the boiler (decades in the case of a cast iron hydronic boiler).
-Some units like the stainless steel indirect heater I have have lifetime warranties.


So some detail will help. Don't assume the worst just because of a 'rule of thumb'

sesq
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Re: Old Hot Water Heater

Post by sesq » Tue May 22, 2018 8:07 pm

Ha, in the same position but the house I am buying is 15 years old with a "warranty". Mine, natural gas, standard 75 gallon unit is in the basement right next to the sump pit. Part of me is debating keeping the corner clear (huge basement) and seeing if the warranty may get a chance to replace it over the next 12 months. But I hear horror stories about those warranties so I am not sure I'd want to suffer through that process. Life is busy.

Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: Old Hot Water Heater

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Tue May 22, 2018 8:11 pm

Replace it. If it's in your basement and it goes without a nearby drain, you are going to have a heck of a mess to clean up, especially if you aren't home and the water is running into it all day long.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

IndexBeliever
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Re: Old Hot Water Heater

Post by IndexBeliever » Tue May 22, 2018 9:01 pm

Thanks all for the advice.
It is located in the attic :(

Not exactly sure the kind. It is not tankless. Looks like one of those big 60 gallon ones. Will get some more details this weekend. Take possession of the house Saturday.

IndexBeliever
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Re: Old Hot Water Heater

Post by IndexBeliever » Tue May 22, 2018 9:02 pm

Broken Man 1999 wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 6:13 pm
Where is the water heater located that it could cause so much damage?

Our water heater is located in our garage, a leak would cause water on the garage floor, but little if any damage, other than perhaps wetting objects on the garage floor.

Broken Man 1999
Located in the attic :( :o

TallBoy29er
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Re: Old Hot Water Heater

Post by TallBoy29er » Tue May 22, 2018 9:04 pm

IndexBeliever wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 9:01 pm
It is located in the attic :(
i jumped to my conclusion. replace it. it will, undeniably, fail at some point. it won't be tears from heaven.

Wakefield1
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Re: Old Hot Water Heater

Post by Wakefield1 » Tue May 22, 2018 9:06 pm

IndexBeliever wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 9:02 pm
Broken Man 1999 wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 6:13 pm
Where is the water heater located that it could cause so much damage?

Our water heater is located in our garage, a leak would cause water on the garage floor, but little if any damage, other than perhaps wetting objects on the garage floor.

Broken Man 1999
Located in the attic :( :o
Does not belong there. Is there any possibility of relocating it (or its replacement)?

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Epsilon Delta
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Re: Old Hot Water Heater

Post by Epsilon Delta » Tue May 22, 2018 9:18 pm

IndexBeliever wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 9:01 pm
Thanks all for the advice.
It is located in the attic :(

Not exactly sure the kind. It is not tankless. Looks like one of those big 60 gallon ones. Will get some more details this weekend. Take possession of the house Saturday.
While your there take a look to see what steps have been taken to contain any leaks. Ideally it's located in a nice 100 gallon stainless steel tub with a four inch drain pipe. :twisted:

The life of a tank varies greatly depending on the chemistry of the water. If the house is on city water it's worth talking to some of the neighbors, to see how often their tanks have needed to be replaced.

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jabberwockOG
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Re: Old Hot Water Heater

Post by jabberwockOG » Tue May 22, 2018 9:21 pm

The attic is a bad place for a water heater to fail. First verify that the heater has an adequate drain pan under it and that the pan is connected to a drain pipe that is open/not clogged or buried in the dirt, etc. Pour a quart or two of water into the pan drain pipe and verify where it drains and that it is open (regardless of if you replace the heater with a new one or keep the old heater). Also check that the pressure release valve is functional and not stuck. If it is stuck or clogged call in warranty service to fix - they may just replace the heater depending on how hard it is to remove the valve. You may also want to drain a gallon or so of water out of the lower drain valve. Note this valve may be stuck or corroded shut - if so again call warranty service to repair or replace.
Before testing PRV or opening lower drain valve be sure the heater cold water shutoff valve works and is not stuck. Also immediately find and know how to turn water off at the main water valve into the house and have the right wrench for that purpose always close and handy. Teach your spouse where the valve is and how to quickly turn the water off in an emergency.

If the heater looks bad structurally - bulging, significant rust, bad or corroded wiring, etc. I'd replace it immediately but you might be able to do that by calling the warranty service. The heater doesn't necessarily have to be completely broken before you can ask for repair or replace. But if it still looks good and works fine, I'd check it monthly for next 12 months, replace using the warranty if something goes wrong, or in the event that it continues to work OK for 12 months, I'd personally replace right after warranty expires. 20 years is too long for most consumer grade water heaters especially ones in the attic.



There are also leak detector alarms that are standalone or work with security systems that are very useful for attic water heater monitoring. I use leak detectors that work with my security system and have them adjacent to refrigerator, water heater and washing machine.

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Pajamas
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Re: Old Hot Water Heater

Post by Pajamas » Tue May 22, 2018 9:27 pm

IndexBeliever wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 9:01 pm

It is located in the attic :(
Agree that you should relocate if possible and if not, replace it now and install a drain pan or similar. Might even go tankless if you can't replace it.

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whodidntante
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Re: Old Hot Water Heater

Post by whodidntante » Tue May 22, 2018 11:12 pm

My water heater (why do people add the word "hot" to that LOL) is more than 20 years old. It's in my unfinished basement near a floor drain and looks OK, so I haven't replaced it. I drain it and test the valve that keeps it from being a rocket or a bomb. My prior house had a water heater of similar age.

Yours is in the attic, so I would replace it every year of the dog. Or move it.

IndexBeliever
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Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2014 10:39 am

Re: Old Hot Water Heater

Post by IndexBeliever » Tue May 22, 2018 11:26 pm

jabberwockOG wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 9:21 pm
The attic is a bad place for a water heater to fail. First verify that the heater has an adequate drain pan under it and that the pan is connected to a drain pipe that is open/not clogged or buried in the dirt, etc. Pour a quart or two of water into the pan drain pipe and verify where it drains and that it is open (regardless of if you replace the heater with a new one or keep the old heater). Also check that the pressure release valve is functional and not stuck. If it is stuck or clogged call in warranty service to fix - they may just replace the heater depending on how hard it is to remove the valve. You may also want to drain a gallon or so of water out of the lower drain valve. Note this valve may be stuck or corroded shut - if so again call warranty service to repair or replace.
Before testing PRV or opening lower drain valve be sure the heater cold water shutoff valve works and is not stuck. Also immediately find and know how to turn water off at the main water valve into the house and have the right wrench for that purpose always close and handy. Teach your spouse where the valve is and how to quickly turn the water off in an emergency.

If the heater looks bad structurally - bulging, significant rust, bad or corroded wiring, etc. I'd replace it immediately but you might be able to do that by calling the warranty service. The heater doesn't necessarily have to be completely broken before you can ask for repair or replace. But if it still looks good and works fine, I'd check it monthly for next 12 months, replace using the warranty if something goes wrong, or in the event that it continues to work OK for 12 months, I'd personally replace right after warranty expires. 20 years is too long for most consumer grade water heaters especially ones in the attic.



There are also leak detector alarms that are standalone or work with security systems that are very useful for attic water heater monitoring. I use leak detectors that work with my security system and have them adjacent to refrigerator, water heater and washing machine.
Lot of good suggestions here. Thank you so much for your time! Will get started on these this weekend. Sincerely thank you!

IndexBeliever
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Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2014 10:39 am

Re: Old Hot Water Heater

Post by IndexBeliever » Tue May 22, 2018 11:27 pm

whodidntante wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 11:12 pm
My water heater (why do people add the word "hot" to that LOL) is more than 20 years old. It's in my unfinished basement near a floor drain and looks OK, so I haven't replaced it. I drain it and test the valve that keeps it from being a rocket or a bomb. My prior house had a water heater of similar age.

Yours is in the attic, so I would replace it every year of the dog. Or move it.
Ha! Good point! Water heater!

IndexBeliever
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Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2014 10:39 am

Re: Old Hot Water Heater

Post by IndexBeliever » Tue May 22, 2018 11:29 pm

Wakefield1 wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 9:06 pm
IndexBeliever wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 9:02 pm
Broken Man 1999 wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 6:13 pm
Where is the water heater located that it could cause so much damage?

Our water heater is located in our garage, a leak would cause water on the garage floor, but little if any damage, other than perhaps wetting objects on the garage floor.

Broken Man 1999
Located in the attic :( :o
Does not belong there. Is there any possibility of relocating it (or its replacement)?

Not sure why they put it in the attic :(
Will check and see if possible to move to the garage. Thanks for the suggestion!

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