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When should you REPLACE your hot water heater?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by tubbster, Nov 12, 2008.

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  1. tubbster

    tubbster Member

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2008
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    Loc:
    Central NY
    My water heater is a power vented, 40 gal reliance heater. 15+ years old. A couple weeks ago, I had to relight the pilot light because for some reason or other it extinguished. When I was under there, I found literally, mounds of rust. Like it was shedding under there!
    So do I wait for a problem (could be years?) or fire a pre-emptive blow to it? It does not have an anode to change, I put it in with the "insulator" type plumbing.
    Never did any maintenance to it other than oil the blower once in a while.

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  2. the_dude

    the_dude Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2008
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    Loc:
    Southern WI
    Most people don't replace them until the bottom rusts out and start leaking. If yours is 15+ years old, I would be surprised if you got a couple more years out of it. If it isn't going to damage anything when it starts leaking out of the bottom, I don't see why you would have to replace it now. If you don't want a wet floor around it soon, I would go ahead with the job.

    Edit: The other thing to consider is the timing of it going out. If it goes out at an inoportune time, and you had to have it professionally installed, you are looking at about $800 - $900 for a 40 gal power vent. If you are able to do it yourself, it is probably only half that. With that said, if you have time now, and are bored, it may be worth getting it done now.
  3. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    West Michigan
    Do you trust the drain in the room with the water heater? If you have adequate drainage the worst thing that can happen is you waste a lot of water when the units starts leaking. If you don't have enough drainage, or if your floor is sloping away from the drain, you could have a huge mess if the unit begins leaking.

    For me, with a proper floor drain just a foot or so away from my water heater, I'd wait until she gave it up. But I'm very Dutch!
  4. tubbster

    tubbster Member

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2008
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    Loc:
    Central NY
    No drain, finished basement in the next room...
    Hmm.

    Maybe I better...
  5. tubbster

    tubbster Member

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    Loc:
    Central NY
    What is a quality name in water heaters?
  6. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2008
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    West Michigan
    I have an A.O. Smith with the power vent and I think it's a quality unit.

    Hopefully you can reuse your power vent? Those suckers are expensive...
  7. PaulRicklefs

    PaulRicklefs New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2008
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    68
    Loc:
    La Ronge, SK Canada
    My suggestion is that it will likely go within the next few years or so depending on water quality.

    Something to note is that water heaters usually only rust like that if you regularly use up all the hot water. The cold water against the metal with flames on the other side creates a ton of acidic condensation, kind of like a cold beer on a hot day. Might I suggest while you are doing the work to upsize to a 60 gallon for longevity reasons. Or even better a tankless.
  8. tubbster

    tubbster Member

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2008
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    Loc:
    Central NY
    I actually looked into a tankless today. A rinnai. The cold water sandwich scares me a little bit. It run about $500 more than a replacement ao smith w/ 6 year warranty.
  9. the_dude

    the_dude Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
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    Southern WI
    A.O. Smith is a good brand. 40 gal is smallish. Do you have a family? Daughters? If you have daughters, once they hit their teens, 40 gal ain't gonna cut it. As the baby in my family of six (parents + 4 kids) I took quite a few cold showers due to a 40 gal. water heater.

    Tankless are nice, but I'm not 100% sold on them yet. If you do go tankless, you can get a federal tax credit, so make sure you save your receipt and such.
  10. Beanscoot

    Beanscoot Member

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    Loc:
    Vancouver Island, Canada
    I scrounged up an old bronze hot water tank on junk day years ago, and installed it when my installed modern POS gave out. This is an electric unit, but I imagine they made bronze tanks for gas fired heaters as well. I got some blanket insulation (fiberglass with aluminum foil outside) around it and am pretty confident it will be fine for a long time. They had 50 year guarantees on these back in the old days (the warranty card was still stuck in the insulation near the electrical hookup).

    If you go this route, just visit a scrap dealer and see if he has some bronze tanks. People routinely throw them out and replace them with new crap, because the new crap is a bit larger.
  11. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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    Back in the day, before my seperate water heater sprung a leak, I stored alot of stuff in my basement. The daughters fav childhood books, etc. They were on the floor, tucked in a corner in a cardboard box >:-(

    All gone.

    Had I known at the time what was going on, I'd have gone for a new one.

    'Course, the oil burner died at 20 years old the same day, but that's another story :eek:hh:
  12. Czech

    Czech Minister of Fire

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    One other thing I didn't see mentioned, a new unit will be much more efficient than what you have now. Tankless has a long pay back and is expensive install wise regarding the vent, you mentioned pilot light so I'm guessing NG or LP? The vent is a killer cost wise.
  13. rowerwet

    rowerwet Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Merrimack Valley, MA
    I put in my Paloma two years ago, my 40 gallon power vent died after years of fighting with the auto ignition. I got the paloma tankless at HD for $700 which was only $50 more than the powervent. The Paloma has a remote thermostat that allows me to set the water temp I want and forget about it. I would buy another one as soon as I could if I bought a new house, and I would recomend one to anyone who needs a new water heater.
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