Hot Water Tank

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sport
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Hot Water Tank

Post by sport » Tue Jun 11, 2019 10:23 am

I need to have my 50 gal Bradford White hot water tank replaced. The plumbers I have contacted want to install a new Bradford White tank. However there is one feature of the BW tank that I do not like. The anode rod is connected to the outlet pipe rather than having a separate connection. This means that the plumbing must be taken apart to change the anode. I would like to specify a different brand, but do not know which ones are good. I would want a better quality tank with two anode rods. The unit being replaced is 50 gal, gas fired, 40K BTU, and does not have a power vent. If you are knowledgeable about hot water tanks, do you have any suggestions?

TLB
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Re: Hot Water Tank

Post by TLB » Tue Jun 11, 2019 10:43 am

I don't know your codes for water heater installation, a lot of the heaters will be installed with brass or SS flex connectors. They are easy to remove out of the way to remove your anode rod. Even if it was copper there should be a union above the outlet connection. Bradford White is a good heater and might be a lot easier keeping the same brand of heater for other connections. If you want to look at other heaters Rheem and A.O. Smith are also good.

Topic Author
sport
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Location: Cleveland, OH

Re: Hot Water Tank

Post by sport » Tue Jun 11, 2019 11:23 am

All the connections are copper pipe. Changing the anode is beyond my capability.

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hand
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Re: Hot Water Tank

Post by hand » Tue Jun 11, 2019 11:47 am

Not hugely knowledgeable, but did my homework on installing a new water heater only to be disappointed bit BradfordWhite's cynical attempt to make anode replacement a service call rather than a user serviceable item. I will never buy again.

A couple thoughts as you look:
1) Consider a "high recovery" water heater and perhaps a smaller tank depending on your use case for lower standby loss, but ability to support multiple sequential uses (e.g. several showers in quick succession)
2) While power vent promises energy savings, the payback from installation of the required venting system is likely many, many years. Worse, if you are in an area with frequent power outages you'll lose the ability to generate hot water when the power goes out without backup power. I'd strongly consider staying with the natural vent.
3) Changing to lower flow shower heads significantly reduces your need for tank size for many households - but definitely take the time to understand your needs and size the water heater appropriately.

iamblessed
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Re: Hot Water Tank

Post by iamblessed » Tue Jun 11, 2019 11:52 am

I have a average brand tank but take out 5 gallons of water every six month from the drain valve. The tank is 30 years old. I think that is the key. Right after that I run the bathtub for a minute with no filter on the end of it.

DavidW
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Re: Hot Water Tank

Post by DavidW » Tue Jun 11, 2019 2:28 pm

iamblessed wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 11:52 am
I have a average brand tank but take out 5 gallons of water every six month from the drain valve. The tank is 30 years old. I think that is the key. Right after that I run the bathtub for a minute with no filter on the end of it.
So, what color is the liquid when you do a drain? clear or brownish? Also, how often do you end up replacing the anode rod?

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NavyIC3
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Re: Hot Water Tank

Post by NavyIC3 » Tue Jun 11, 2019 2:47 pm

iamblessed wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 11:52 am
I have a average brand tank but take out 5 gallons of water every six month from the drain valve. The tank is 30 years old. I think that is the key. Right after that I run the bathtub for a minute with no filter on the end of it.
Also a good idea to test the Temperature/Pressure relief valve every few months.

renue74
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Re: Hot Water Tank

Post by renue74 » Tue Jun 11, 2019 3:08 pm

Bradford is a brand sold to the trade. It's touted as better, but I think the only benefit is to the plumbing company who purchase them at discounts and resale.

If you are not happy with the possible Bradford unit, then I would spec another. I don't think there are a ton of differences among the usual suspects, A.O. Smith, Rheem, American Standard, etc.

It's your $, you pick what you want.

iamblessed
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Re: Hot Water Tank

Post by iamblessed » Tue Jun 11, 2019 6:57 pm

DavidW wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 2:28 pm
iamblessed wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 11:52 am
I have a average brand tank but take out 5 gallons of water every six month from the drain valve. The tank is 30 years old. I think that is the key. Right after that I run the bathtub for a minute with no filter on the end of it.
So, what color is the liquid when you do a drain? clear or brownish? Also, how often do you end up replacing the anode rod?
clear
I have not replaced the anode rod.

mortfree
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Re: Hot Water Tank

Post by mortfree » Tue Jun 11, 2019 7:03 pm

Lochinvar. Spelling might be off.

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serbeer
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Re: Hot Water Tank

Post by serbeer » Wed Jun 12, 2019 2:58 pm

You can still install Breadford White but have plumber replace their factory anode rode with this $90 Powered Anode that will never need replacement:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074X ... UTF8&psc=1

Since plumber will be working on new heater anyway, I expect a very small charge for this anode conversion, just buy the extra parts in advance at the local hardware store. I had two of these units installed for my Bradford White 40gal heaters due to sulfur smell from hot water -- we have well water with water softener and that fixed the problem, while may not be relevant for your case, Powered Anode never needs to be replaced.

One of the listing pictures shows how to install this anode into BW heaters -- requires a couple of extra parts, and my plumber suggested to use all brass parts, not gavanized like in the picture, told me in that case there is no need for dielectric coupling between anode and copper piping and that does not break local codes either.

A440
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Re: Hot Water Tank

Post by A440 » Wed Jun 12, 2019 3:55 pm

FWIW, I replaced a ~14 year old 40 gal Bradford White. It wasn't leaking and I never replaced the anode rod, I just thought it was time for a new one because of its age. I did inspect the old rod and compared it to the new and it didn't look much different. I suppose it may depend on the water in your area.
I purchased a 50 gallon Bradford White atmospheric vent (no power) from an online retailer (supplyhouse.com) for around $600. They delivered it free to my door. It was about the same dimension as the 40 gallon unit so replacing it was fairly easy with a helper. Push to connect fittings worked like a charm. All in it cost around $750, including a case of beer for my helper. :sharebeer
I don't know what the future holds, but I know who holds my future.

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dratkinson
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Re: Hot Water Tank

Post by dratkinson » Wed Jun 12, 2019 6:19 pm

BH Hot Water Tank


Been there, done that. I know AN answer.



The short answer.

Rheem Professional* model of their Classic Series (standing pilot light, vertical vent, room air intake), works during a power outage, and has the features you and I wanted. (* Not Performance model sold at big box stores.)

I installed a 40-gal Rheem with a single anode (in second port) in Jan 2017. Recall pamphlet suggested it would serve the hot-water needs of 5-person* household. Flushed it Mar 2017, fall 2017, fall 2018. Almost nothing came out each flush.

* I keep water temperature on the low end of the scale. (So I can jump into the shower and it’s the perfect temp without needing to fiddle with separate H/C valves. Yes, I know about the newer temperature compensating single valves.) I’ve taken some long showers and needed to back off on the cold water near the end. So shorter showers or raising the water temperature would more easily handle the hot water needs of larger family.



The long answer.

I remember changing out a water heater in my youth, so it's doable. But I don't do that any more. Today I'm much better at "supervising".


The search. The parts guy at a preferred plumbing company would not search for what I wanted (they only sold BW). So I called a second preferred plumbing company and the parts guy DID search and found what I wanted. (It’s good to have a backup plumber, just in case.)

I wanted these features.
--Magnesium anode (not aluminum).
--Anode in second port (easier to change anode since it's not under a water connection).
--Brass ball valve tank drain (sediment less likely to cause leak than with compression washer valve).
--Dip tube that swirls inlet water at tank bottom (more likely to remove sediment when tank flushed).
--Thicker glass tank lining.


Lessons learned.
--A tank with two anodes puts second anode under water connection. First anode is in second port.
--A 40-gal tank with two anodes was ~$2200 installed, ~$600 more than tank with one anode.
--Costs: ~$200 to replace first anode in second port, ~$400 to replace second anode at water connection.
--I'll need to buy a segmented anode to replace original (low basement ceiling vs fixed anode length).
--Installer suggested not testing TPR valve as it can begin leaking afterwards (his experience).


Decision. I installed a 40-gal Rheem with one anode in second port (~$1600 installed, 6yr warranty) and will call the plumbers back to replace the anode when the warranty period is up. Plumbing parts guy gave me the part number for the segmented anode I’ll need to buy then.


Tank flushing schedule. I planned to follow a quarterly tank-flushing schedule. But almost nothing came out at first quarterly flushing. New plan: flush tank in the fall when I start up my central heater. (Both co-located in basement alcove with adjacent shelves to store their pieces/parts. Both tasks should take <30min, total.)

At 2 annual flushing (~10-gallons of water each time), water drained out was clear, with only a few small pieces of sediment (looked like sand) in the bottom of my 5-gallon bucket.


Flushing paraphernalia (stored on nearby basement shelves, with furnace air filters) and method.
--Old water hose cut to length to reach a shower stall.
--5-gallon bucket, placed in shower stall. (To collect/see how much sediment comes out.)
--Water drained from tank flows into bucket, sediment settles to bottom, clear water overflows into shower.
--Notice amount of sediment collected in bucket, then discard in toilet.


CYA #1. I put a screw-on brass cap over the end of the brass ball valve drain spigot, just in case. I checked it a few weeks ago and saw a few drops inside, but nothing outside. So it works.


CYA #2. Water shutoff valve with waste port for deep flush (if needed). I had installer change out old corroded gate valve cold water shutoff to the tank and replace it with a ball valve with waste port. (Waste port is closed by small screw-on cap.) Valve installed so waste port is on the tank side. This means, if I need to, I can shut off the water to the tank, open the waste port to let air into tank, and completely drain the tank. (Saves running upstairs to open a hot water valve.)

Why? A deep flush of the tank is recommended if you have severe sediment build up.
--Shut off water, open waste port to admit air, completely drain tank.
--Close waste port (if you forget, you will quickly remember).
--Open water valve to tank, in-rushing water is said to splash about and help dislodge sediment.

I’m thinking the waste port can also be used to admit a safe chemical (apple cider vinegar?) into tank to help dissolve calcium buildup. (Would need to find a compatibly-threaded part to adapt a funnel to waste port threads.)

I’m hoping that none of this is needed if I follow a regular tank-flushing schedule.



Powered anode. Glad to learn that I might be able to replace sacrificial anode with a permanent powered-anode. Will research it. Would be concerned about it failing and me not knowing about it.

First I’ve heard that it’s a good idea to mix electricity and water. :)



Edit. Clarity, completeness.
Last edited by dratkinson on Thu Jun 13, 2019 11:40 am, edited 2 times in total.
d.r.a, not dr.a. | I'm a novice investor, you are forewarned.

Topic Author
sport
Posts: 8081
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Location: Cleveland, OH

Re: Hot Water Tank

Post by sport » Wed Jun 12, 2019 7:39 pm

d.r.a.

Many thanks for the detailed response. You have shared some valuable info.

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dratkinson
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Location: Centennial CO

Re: Hot Water Tank

Post by dratkinson » Thu Jun 13, 2019 2:13 pm

BH Hot Water Tank2


Second thoughts on removing tank scale (mineral buildup).

Above I was thinking I could use the waste port on my brass ball valve water shutoff, to add a safe de-scaling chemical (apple cider vinegar?) to the tank. But now think this is not the best way to do it.

Why? Because
--The waste port opening is very small (would be very slow to add de-scaling chemical).
--It’s difficult to find compatibly-threaded parts to adapt a funnel to connect to waste port.
--Even if waste port could be made to work, you can’t use it to see inside tank to observe scale.



Disclosure, and a new idea. I have a similar ball valve/waste port on my basement lawn sprinkler connection. Every year when I shut down my lawn sprinkler system, I open the waste port to drain the water from the above-ground vacuum breaker. And every year, water splashes around as I fumble to connect a rubber hose to drain water into a jar.

I went by preferred plumber looking for a compatibly-threaded fitting to permanently connect a small valve to waste port, so I could connect the rubber hose to valve’s discharge, before opening it to drain water. No joy.

Plumber suggested I add a hose bibb downstream from sprinkler system water shutoff valve. In this way, I can easily attach a water hose to hose bibb to drain system after the water is shut off.

Will use this idea and add hose bibb when I call plumbers back to install my whole house automatic water shutoff valve and leak detection system. (It’s on my list of things to do. Just not at the top.)

New idea. I like the idea of a valve/hose connection, to make it easier to de-scale water heater tank. But I want a valve with a straight shot into tank, so a ball valve would be better than a hose bibb.



De-scaling tank. In searching for methods to de-scale tank, I found recommendations to pour de-scaling chemical into tank by removing anode or TPR valve. Both methods seem to be more involved than using a vertical discharge ball valve (see below) connected to hot water line.

Will research tank de-scaling methods between now and when plumbers come back to replace anode at end of tank’s warranty period. (E.G.: Is de-scaling safe to use with copper pipe and soldered joints?)

If it seems to be a recommended idea, will have plumbers install parts when they replace anode.



My current thinking. Mount straight discharge ball valve* vertically to tank hot water line.
--* Like tank drain ball valve fitting with hose connection.
--A vertical ball valve would allow an easy straight shot into tank (reason below**).
--Hose threads would make it easy to connect hose/funnel to add de-scaling chemical.
--Use 45-degree pipe fittings to flow hot water around new vertical discharge valve and into house. (Leave enough space around valve to make it easy to attach a water hose.)

Installing new discharge valve in hot water line would allow me to:
--Flow water completely through tank. (If desired. Connect water hose to shower.)
--When it overflows, know that tank is full of new mixing water + de-scaling chemical.
--It’d be more difficult to do both if new discharge valve were installed in cold water line. (Would need to use hot water faucet upstairs to fill tank.)
--Not disturb anode and TPR seals. (If it ain’t broke, don’t touch it.)
--CYA. Cover end of new hot water discharge valve with screw-on cap.


Also, with a discharge valve in the hot water line (to let air into tank), you don’t need a waste port on the cold water shutoff valve (to let air into tank), to avoid running upstairs to open a hot water faucet (to let air into tank), to drain tank.



** To observe tank scale buildup before de-scaling process.
--Shut off cold water valve to tank.
--Connect water hose to tank drain valve and place hose free end in shower.
--Open tank drain valve to start tank draining.
--Open new discharge valve in tank hot water line, to allow air in and tank to drain.
--After tank drained, insert inspection camera* through vertical discharge valve to observe tank scale.

* I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy an inspection camera. My tank’s hot water line is 3/4” inch, so it should be an easy straight shot to get an inspection camera’s cable through vertical discharge ball valve and into tank. (I would not be able to insert inspection camera through small opening on waste port on cold water shutoff valve.)

Also, since the tank’s 3/4” hot water line, mates to the house’s 1/2” hot water line, a pipe loop around the hot water discharge valve using 45-degree fittings, should have little effect on the flow into the house’s 1/2” hot water line.



To remove scale from tank and observe effect afterwards.
--Connect funnel/bucket and short water hose, to hose connection on hot water discharge valve.
--Follow recommended instructions to de-scale tank, and drain afterwards.
--Repeat tank inspection to observe remaining tank scale. (Lather, rinse, repeat if needed.)



Bottom line. Assuming it's a good idea to try to de-scale tank, I’d feel comfortable using above method. I’d be less so if I were removing the anode or TPR.


Even if I used plumbers’ visit to replace anode to observe tank scale, I’d want to observe the effect of de-scaling afterwards. (A second round of de-scaling might be needed and I would not want to pay for a second plumbing visit.)

And I would not want to remove anode or TPR to perform de-scaling inspection after plumbers left. (If I were going to do that, then I might as well replace anode on my own, instead of calling out the plumbers. And I’m not planning to do that.)


Who knows, maybe after adding a hot water discharge valve, I could incorporate a tank inspection and light de-scaling operation into my annual tank sediment-flushing schedule.


More research/thinking required.
d.r.a, not dr.a. | I'm a novice investor, you are forewarned.

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