Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

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CAP_theorem
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Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by CAP_theorem » Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:09 am

I have a Bradford White 40 gallon water heater that is 1 month away from the end of its 6 year warranty. There have been brief periods where it hasn't been producing enough hot water and when I checked the heater the status light was indicating that it couldn't detect the pilot light even though I could see the pilot was lit. It seems to work most of the time and it isn't inconveniencing us yet.

I had a plumber I have had some luck with over and all he did was say he wants to replace it and didn't seem very interested in fixing it. This is with zero effort to diagnose what is wrong with it or inspection of the condition of the heater itself. The only thing he cared about was that it was at the end of the warranty.

After some searching it seems like one school of though is that water heaters are generally built the same regardless of warranty and the only difference is the size and number of anode rods. I plan on draining it this weekend to see if it's corroding inside and if it's not I think I might take it a shot at following the service manual instructions for diagnosing the cause of the pilot light or thermopile/thermocoupler failure. It seems to be right on the edge of how handy I am. If the fix succeeds I'll replace the anodes and see how much longer I get out of it.

Alternatively I could keep looking for a professional who is willing to fix rather than replace.

Would you invest the time and energy in repairing a water heater in this scenario vs just replacing it like the plumber recommends? The quote isn't inexpensive. 1600$ for a 9 year warranty Bradford White replacement. 3500$ off the cuff estimate for a tankless replacement (20-25 years), but the issue there is that it requires maintenance (replace filters, clean with solution). Up front costs aren't really an issue for me.

mortfree
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by mortfree » Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:12 am

CAP_theorem wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:09 am
I plan on draining it this weekend
what is your plan if you can't "put it back together"?

do you have a plumber that will come out on the weekend if things go hay wire?

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mhc
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by mhc » Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:19 am

I would fix it myself (there has to be a video online somewhere) or get a different repairman. You should be able to get a lot more than 6 years out of a hot water heater.

neilpilot
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by neilpilot » Tue Jul 10, 2018 11:01 am

So your tank has been in service for 6 years.....have you periodically drained some water out the bottom?

curmudgeon
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by curmudgeon » Tue Jul 10, 2018 12:59 pm

I would start by flushing it out to clear sediment out of the bottom (if you haven't been doing that). A lot of newer gas water heaters have sensors for pilot light that can be confused by sediment buildup. Double check with the manual, but usually it is a simple as; hook up a hose to the drain valve at the bottom and run it outside, then open the valve fully for a couple of minutes (you can turn the control to pilot only mode while doing this if you wish).

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DigitalJanitor
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by DigitalJanitor » Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:06 pm

A water heater is one of those things that I replace proactively, usually at the end of the warranty period. Leaks are messy, and you could suddenly find yourself with no hot water.

BTW, the guy who last replaced my water heater told me unequivocally that the only physical difference between the Bradford White 6 year and 10 year warranty heaters is the label. When they ship him a 10 year heater, they send along a label to paste over the 6 year label.

GAAP
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by GAAP » Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:09 pm

Water heaters can last the warranty period or 3 times the warranty period, I wouldn't just replace it because the warranty expired. If however, I had one that is not even reliably surviving the warranty period, then I would replace it.

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hand
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by hand » Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:19 pm

Beware that Bradford White water heaters are made in such a way that regular checking or replacement of the anode is more difficult/expensive than most other brands (typically attached to the hot water outlet rather than a separate location where maintenance can be done without disrupting the plumbing). For typical homeowners, this required maintenance will require a plumbers visit rather than being a DIY item. I suspect this is why my plumber was so excited about selling me a Bradford White :annoyed

diy60
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by diy60 » Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:27 pm

Replacing a water heater just because it is nearing the end of its warranty life seems wasteful to me. But a lot would depend on the quality (hardness in particular) of the water in your area. Where I used to live you would be lucky to get 5 years out of a water heater. Where I currently live my water heater is 35 years old. It is electric, not gas, so not the same as the OP, but I have replaced the elements probably 4 or 5 times. Last time I could tell the tank was in bad shape so I'll be replacing soon. I plan to buy a $500 heater from the big box store and install it myself.

Housedoc
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by Housedoc » Tue Jul 10, 2018 3:59 pm

Make sure to vacuum out the vent hole areas at bottom of unit. Newer FVIR since 2009 I think have a sealed burner. If it can't get air in it doesn't work well or not at all. 6 years is nothing unless you have extreme hard water issues. Google and YouTube some research on your model on cleaning vents.

TheAccountant
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by TheAccountant » Tue Jul 10, 2018 4:33 pm

Repair it unless it's rusted out and leaking somewhere.

First flush it to remove sediment. You should be doing this as part of routine house maintenance anyway.

Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Tue Jul 10, 2018 4:46 pm

hand wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:19 pm
Beware that Bradford White water heaters are made in such a way that regular checking or replacement of the anode is more difficult/expensive than most other brands (typically attached to the hot water outlet rather than a separate location where maintenance can be done without disrupting the plumbing). For typical homeowners, this required maintenance will require a plumbers visit rather than being a DIY item. I suspect this is why my plumber was so excited about selling me a Bradford White :annoyed
Thanks for the tip! I’ll remember that for the next go round.
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Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Tue Jul 10, 2018 4:48 pm

TheAccountant wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 4:33 pm
Repair it unless it's rusted out and leaking somewhere.

First flush it to remove sediment. You should be doing this as part of routine house maintenance anyway.
How often should you flush hot water heater? How do you go about flushing it? I last installed my water heater last December.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

criticalmass
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by criticalmass » Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:22 pm

How often have you drained sediment and inspected/replaced the rod? As long as you followed the maintenance schedule, that tank should last another decade or more.

For gas also take a few minutes and keep the burner clean each year.

CAP_theorem
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by CAP_theorem » Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:40 pm

what is your plan if you can't "put it back together"?

do you have a plumber that will come out on the weekend if things go hay wire?
Probably be sad for a while and get a plumber out. Might mean a few days without hot water. We will definitely shower first :-)
neilpilot wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 11:01 am
So your tank has been in service for 6 years.....have you periodically drained some water out the bottom?
I don't know. I could ask the previous owner. I've only had it a year.
Beware that Bradford White water heaters are made in such a way that regular checking or replacement of the anode is more difficult/expensive than most other brands (typically attached to the hot water outlet rather than a separate location where maintenance can be done without disrupting the plumbing). For typical homeowners, this required maintenance will require a plumbers visit rather than being a DIY item. I suspect this is why my plumber was so excited about selling me a Bradford White :annoyed
Yeah I noticed that the anode replacement looks dicey.

Google says the water in my area is supposedly 65 mg/L calcium and magnesium content. I don't know if that is good or bad.

TheAccountant
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by TheAccountant » Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:20 pm

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 4:48 pm
TheAccountant wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 4:33 pm
Repair it unless it's rusted out and leaking somewhere.

First flush it to remove sediment. You should be doing this as part of routine house maintenance anyway.
How often should you flush hot water heater? How do you go about flushing it? I last installed my water heater last December.
Check the owners manual. At least once a year, more if you have hard water.

tev9876
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by tev9876 » Tue Jul 10, 2018 9:02 pm

Sounds like your flame sensor (thermocouple) is dirty. If it can't sense the pilot it will shut off the gas to prevent filling your house with it. My furnace does this every couple years. All it takes is a screwdriver and piece of sandpaper to gently clean the metal sensor. YouTube, five minutes and 10 cents of sandpaper will likely take care of it.

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F150HD
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by F150HD » Tue Jul 10, 2018 9:14 pm

6 years on a water heater? sounds crazy....then to consider buying the same brand is even crazier.

Still stuck on it failing at 6 years. Feel like I'm missing information. Do you/your family use 1000 gallons of hot water a day? Then I could see it failing in 6 years.

ralph124cf
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by ralph124cf » Wed Jul 11, 2018 4:33 am

There have been several posts here about anode replacement. If you have limited clearance above the water heater, you will need a segmented replacement anode. Max price should be less than $30 from Amazon. It may be necessary to cut the old rod into pieces as you take it out, or you may be able to bend it as it comes out.

Most anodes seem to take a 1 1/8" socket. You may need a second person to hold the water heater steady as you unscrew the original anode because it has likely frozen in place. You will probably need a breaker bar to extend the leverage on the socket wrench. Use lots of Teflon tape to prevent seizing of the new anode for next replacement in five years or so.

Ralph

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NavyIC3
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by NavyIC3 » Wed Jul 11, 2018 5:09 am

ralph124cf wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 4:33 am
There have been several posts here about anode replacement. If you have limited clearance above the water heater, you will need a segmented replacement anode. Max price should be less than $30 from Amazon. It may be necessary to cut the old rod into pieces as you take it out, or you may be able to bend it as it comes out.

Most anodes seem to take a 1 1/8" socket. You may need a second person to hold the water heater steady as you unscrew the original anode because it has likely frozen in place. You will probably need a breaker bar to extend the leverage on the socket wrench. Use lots of Teflon tape to prevent seizing of the new anode for next replacement in five years or so.

Ralph
Most anodes take an 1 1/16" socket.

Mr.BB
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by Mr.BB » Wed Jul 11, 2018 5:21 am

We just replaced our water heater after 18 years. It was a tall 40 gallon one, definitely got our money out that one. The plumber said the older models used thicker metal casing versus the new ones now. We got an an AO Smith, which got pretty good ratings as far as water heaters go. I researched the Bradford one and I got to tell you I saw a lot of negative reviews from homeowners.
Last edited by Mr.BB on Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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neilpilot
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by neilpilot » Wed Jul 11, 2018 5:48 am

ralph124cf wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 4:33 am
There have been several posts here about anode replacement. If you have limited clearance above the water heater, you will need a segmented replacement anode. Max price should be less than $30 from Amazon. It may be necessary to cut the old rod into pieces as you take it out, or you may be able to bend it as it comes out.

Most anodes seem to take a 1 1/8" socket. You may need a second person to hold the water heater steady as you unscrew the original anode because it has likely frozen in place. You will probably need a breaker bar to extend the leverage on the socket wrench. Use lots of Teflon tape to prevent seizing of the new anode for next replacement in five years or so.

Ralph
But remember that the top of that anode must make electrical contact with the tank or it won’t work. If you have too much Teflon tape it’s insulated so be sure the lower few threads are bare.

BIGal
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by BIGal » Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:02 am

Nothing lasts forever. I've yet to have anyone tell me they flush their WH annually or ever. Unless it is a bad thermocouple that can be replaced there is not much that can be repaired on a WH. Unless you don't mind waking up to a cold shower some morning, replace it.

neilpilot
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by neilpilot » Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:22 am

BIGal wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:02 am
Nothing lasts forever. I've yet to have anyone tell me they flush their WH annually or ever. Unless it is a bad thermocouple that can be replaced there is not much that can be repaired on a WH. Unless you don't mind waking up to a cold shower some morning, replace it.
Interesting observation. I had 2 identical Bradford-While 50gal gas water heaters installed in 2011. They both failed after about 5 years, and needed replacement gas control valves. The thermopile aka thermocouple did not fail. I replaced the failed part, which was supplied at no charge. The units are now past their 6 year warranty.

PS - I drain bottom sediment from each annually. Since there's little solids or discoloration, I don't flush the tanks..

curmudgeon
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by curmudgeon » Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:17 am

BIGal wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:02 am
Nothing lasts forever. I've yet to have anyone tell me they flush their WH annually or ever. Unless it is a bad thermocouple that can be replaced there is not much that can be repaired on a WH. Unless you don't mind waking up to a cold shower some morning, replace it.
In the past, I never flushed gas WH, and got good life out of them (20+ years). The most recent one, with more safety sensors proved to be sensitive to sediment in the tank. It reported a code saying the gas valve had tripped from overheat and would have to be replaced. In actuality, all it needed was the sediment flushed out (one sensor sits very near the bottom of the tank) and it has worked fine since. Flushing is now on my "every two years" list.

new2bogle
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by new2bogle » Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:58 am

I don't flush my water heater. It is now almost 14 years old. Actually there are two of them installed, one of them I had to replace the temp sensor about 3 years ago since it stopped turning on. Other than that, no maintenance.

In my rental house, I've had to replace both water heaters after just 4 years (back in 2013 i think). The part was under warranty and labor was $300 per unit (take old one out, put new in, and this is in the attic so more difficult labor wise). When at first they weren't going to replace the water heater under warranty I started looking up places to get them (HD, Lowe's, etc). They seemed to be in the $600 for something mid-grade, which seems good enough. (but with enough pressure I got them to honor the warranty, which is strange because it was the manufacturer warranty - I guess maybe they wanted to sell me a new one from their stock so they could profit from that, rather than having a warranty replacement where they don't make any money off of it).

I would not spend $1600 on a single water heater.

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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:23 am

new2bogle wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:58 am
I would not spend $1600 on a single water heater.
That's likely the installed price, not hardware. It looks about right for that.
This week's fortune cookie: "Your financial life will be secure and beneficial." So I got that going for me, which is nice.

david99
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by david99 » Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:39 am

Look into a stainless steel hot water heater. You can get a lifetime warranty.

Beach
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by Beach » Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:11 pm

Got gas? Go Tankless...you won't regret it.

seashell
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by seashell » Fri Jul 13, 2018 4:08 pm

My vote would be to replace. I went through this recently and honestly, it was a very easy straightforward job for the installer, and we've had no problems since. Good luck on whatever you decide. Best wishes

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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:49 pm

To me, replacing a six-year-old water heater makes no sense. It's at least $1000 if you have it installed. I went through emergency replacement but I wouldn't be preemptively replacing at this age.
This week's fortune cookie: "Your financial life will be secure and beneficial." So I got that going for me, which is nice.

criticalmass
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Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Post by criticalmass » Sat Jul 14, 2018 9:54 pm

Earl Lemongrab wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:49 pm
To me, replacing a six-year-old water heater makes no sense. It's at least $1000 if you have it installed. I went through emergency replacement but I wouldn't be preemptively replacing at this age.
I just changed the anode 5 years into my 6 year warranty tank. Cost $30. I’ll check it in a few years but don’t expect to change it until 2023. I don’t see why the tank won’t be in service in 2030, assuming someone is still maintaining it according to the manual.

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