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Old 09-30-2008, 11:07 AM   #41
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Cool! Wadjaget? Mostly little bits of rust and flecks of paste from the pipe joints? Does the inside of the cap look rustd, like there's been water in there? (I wonder if a natural gas environment even supports an oxidation reaction in iron). Our gas line is less than 4 years old, so I don't think I'd find many "treasures" in ours yet.
Yep. All of the above. Gas isn't widely used on Oahu and that house is in one gas neighborhood surrounded by mostly all-electric areas. What's far more worrisome in an old water heater is flakes of rust in the combustion area around the bottom of the tank.

Which flakes bring up another thought for Soupcxan. If you have any minerals in your house water, especially if you're using a well, this may be a good time to add a whole-house water conditioner to the water-heater project. It'll dramatically lengthen the life of the water heater along with greatly reducing the mineral deposits in the piping... and the sinks, tubs, faucets, & toilets. It'll also greatly reduce your use of shampoo, soap, laundry detergent, and dishwasher detergent. Water conditioners are widely available at places like Home Depot & Lowes for around $500 and they're well within the capability of the average DIY homeowner who doesn't shrink from doing his own water heaters.
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Old 09-30-2008, 02:54 PM   #42
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this may be a good time to add a whole-house water conditioner to the water-heater project.
Please, no more home improvement projects! My plate was already full before the garage door opener started buzzing...
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Old 10-13-2008, 12:59 PM   #43
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Thanks to everyone who posted their tips here. We got the new water heater installed (see pics), took about 8 hours but we could've done it in four if not for some minor snafus that a pro would've recognized up front. We unsweated the old flex hoses and used the sharkbite connectors which so far, have worked like a charm - not a drop of a leak from them. We'll see how they hold up over time but based on initial impressions, I would definitely recommend them. Ended up buying the 12-year GE, a few extra bucks but hopefully it'll last longer and it has a better recovery rate than the 9-year model. The hoses don't match because when we couldn't fit a braided hose in the space without kinking it. I may replace the current copper hose with a longer one to do the gooseneck hot-water-loss-prevention trick when I have time.
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Old 10-13-2008, 01:02 PM   #44
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Nice work.
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Old 10-13-2008, 01:38 PM   #45
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Thanks to everyone who posted their tips here. We got the new water heater installed (see pics), took about 8 hours but we could've done it in four if not for some minor snafus that a pro would've recognized up front.
Looks very good.

Makes me want to clean up some of the mistakes suboptimal design decisions I made on ours.

BTW, unlike your radiant-foil project, I didn't get any spam from installers or sellers...
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Old 10-13-2008, 02:33 PM   #46
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There was an interesting "unknown unknowns" we ran into on this project. The width of the cut-out area is 23 inches. The width of the old water heater was 19. So it was no problem to remove it. The new water heater is 21 wide, but it is approved for zero clearance on the sides and rear, so we figured no problem when we bought it. HOWEVER, we didn't notice that the gas pipe on the left and the overpressure relief tube on the right reduce that clearance by about 3 inches total. So the disassembly of those junctions added some time to the project.

We also had a hard time finding the correct size drain pan, all the stock at home depot and lowe's is much larger than 23 inches. Ended up buying one at Ace Hardware.

I don't know exactly what setting the old thermostat was set on, although I know we turned it up from the default. However the new water heater is so hot that I actually had to turn the thermostat below the default (which is supposed to be 120). The old burner was probably clogged, reducing heat output. In removing the old unit, I was amazed at how much rust came out of every part of that monster. In retrospect, I think it was leaking much more than we suspected (the water collecting in the drain pan appeared to staying level so I thought if leaking=evaporation then it can't be leaking that much. I didn't know there was a drain tube behind the heater that was secretly allowing the runoff to dissapate). So maybe we'll see some incremental gas and water savings next month.

Also, I would like to express my irritation at Home Depot for having a "10% off appliances" sale and despite the fact that the sale does not explicitly exclude water heaters, they are not considered to be an appliance. And yet, when you go to homedepot.com, the drop down menu for Appliances lists water heaters. So if a water heater isn't an appliance, wtf is it?
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