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Hot Water Heater Warning
Old 01-05-2018, 03:54 AM   #1
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Hot Water Heater Warning

I'm posting this as it might help someone out of potential disaster.

Two days ago my DW mentioned that the water was not as hot as normal. I quickly went up to the attic where my 16-year-old water heater was located.

I tore the insulation blanket off the heater and notice a rusted, bulging 6 inch crack in the outer metal wall. I quickly turned the electricity off, connected a hose and drained the tank.

My favorite plumber arrived quickly and installed a new heater. He said I was very lucky as the heater was not far from bursting. 50 gallons of water would have destroyed my ceiling. I do have auxiliary drain piping from the pan, but it would have been overwhelmed had the tank burst. The charge for a new tank installed was $1060.00. He also installed an expansion tank.

Check your aging tank, especially if it's in the attic.
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Old 01-05-2018, 06:28 AM   #2
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Sometimes it doesn't hurt to change a hot water heater that is old--whether it needs changing--if it is in an attic. My last heater leak was July 4th when relatives came into town but thankfully it was in a basement.

If I was going to spend $1k on a replacement, it would be moving the heater out of the attic to the ground floor or basement. I once had a heater blow in the attic while I was out of town and it simply destroyed my house and dropped the ceiling and insulation on my furniture. Only a fire would have been worse.
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Old 01-05-2018, 06:32 AM   #3
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I would have changed it to a Tankless and never looked back.
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Old 01-05-2018, 06:34 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bamaman View Post
Sometimes it doesn't hurt to change a hot water heater that is old--whether it needs changing--if it is in an attic. My last heater leak was July 4th when relatives came into town but thankfully it was in a basement.

If I was going to spend $1k on a replacement, it would be moving the heater out of the attic to the ground floor or basement. I once had a heater blow in the attic while I was out of town and it simply destroyed my house and dropped the ceiling and insulation on my furniture. Only a fire would have been worse.
We think alike. I replaced one leaking HWH in attic and I think I'm about due for a pre-emptive strike. While I could have it moved to garage, I hate to give up the space (tools, you know :roll eyes All I know is this time I'm paying a plumber to replace it, getting old one down and new one up the flimsy pull down stairs was a challenge. I know code does not allow them in attics any more here, sometimes regulation is a good thing.
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Old 01-05-2018, 06:55 AM   #5
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I have installed multiple tankless heaters in attic but even tankless heaters can and will leak (happed to me). However a leak from tankless heater would not be catastrophic.
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Old 01-05-2018, 07:00 AM   #6
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Not to hijack the thread, but as long as Shokwave mentioned tankless ... we're looking at replacing our heater this summer, but it'll have to be electric. Has anybody had experience with a hybrid "heat pump" heater?
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Old 01-05-2018, 07:17 AM   #7
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50 gallons of water would have destroyed my ceiling.
It is not just 50 gallons...... the amount of water leaked could be virtually infinite if you aren't there to shut off the water supply immediately. We had a pressure tank fail about 45 minutes after returning home once. Had it failed while we were gone....the well pump can provide a lot of water!

All I can say is it was lucky that you had caught it in time.
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Old 01-05-2018, 07:40 AM   #8
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Interesting post. I for one am pro-active with such things. I have them replaced every 8 years even of they don't show any issues etc. I will have a plumber schedule me in and just do it. That is one thing that I would never want to happen especially when I have control of a problem.
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Old 01-05-2018, 08:00 AM   #9
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Everyone I know that has installed an electric tankless heater has regretted it. Maybe not you for now, but you will at some point.
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Old 01-05-2018, 08:01 AM   #10
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good idea to check on those - we had one in the attic in houston and that thing made me nervous
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Old 01-05-2018, 08:12 AM   #11
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If corrosion over time is a problem, last I checked, Rheem makes a heater that employs a plastic tank. Could still rupture of course but it won't rust away as is inevitable with conventional tanks. If you have acidic water, choose the titanium heating elements so they won't rust either.
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Old 01-05-2018, 09:20 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Mr._Graybeard View Post
Not to hijack the thread, but as long as Shokwave mentioned tankless ... we're looking at replacing our heater this summer, but it'll have to be electric. Has anybody had experience with a hybrid "heat pump" heater?
Left FL 20 years ago so my heat pump days behind me. Not sure what you're interested in, but when built house there in 1987 thought I'd be energy efficient and install what I THINK you are describing: recirculation that takes the waste heat from HP (in summer) and circulates it through the hot water tank. Sounded good, and it's been many years, but I recall having many problems including weird circulation patterns in the tank. These were new at the time and the local electric utility said not recommended but I did anyway. May be perfectly now nowadays, but it wasn't for me then.
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Old 01-05-2018, 09:31 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Blueskies123 View Post
Everyone I know that has installed an electric tankless heater has regretted it. Maybe not you for now, but you will at some point.
We had a gas tankless installed 10 years ago and would never go back to a regular hot water heater. Especially since we had one rupture in the attic and it destroyed our ceiling and walls. Builders save money by installing water heaters in the attic but they can cause many problems.

A builder told me in the past 5 years they only install tankless hot water heaters in newer houses.
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Old 01-05-2018, 09:39 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr._Graybeard View Post
Not to hijack the thread, but as long as Shokwave mentioned tankless ... we're looking at replacing our heater this summer, but it'll have to be electric. Has anybody had experience with a hybrid "heat pump" heater?
I've installed 2 heat pump water heaters in different homes. They saved a lot of energy over electric resistance heaters, and have the side benefit of cooling and dehumidifying the room, which is helpful in warm climates.
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Old 01-05-2018, 09:49 AM   #15
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Why would you need a heater if your water is already hot?
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Old 01-05-2018, 10:01 AM   #16
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Wow, I don't think I could sleep nights with a water heater in the attic!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blueskies123 View Post
Everyone I know that has installed an electric tankless heater has regretted it. Maybe not you for now, but you will at some point.
I'm not a fan, electric or otherwise. I know lots of folks who love them, but they seem to take too long to bring the water up to temp, and even then they don't seem to produce water as hot as a traditional tank system.

It could be because the cold water here really is cold, and it could be the manufacturers and installers set the thermostats way down to prevent lawsuits. But from what I've seen, I have no interest in going tankless.

On a side note, I just looked, and a 50G electric water heater with a 12-year warranty is $600 at Lowe's. If plumbers are getting $1,000 each to install them, I might just come out of retirement to start a new career!
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Old 01-05-2018, 10:14 AM   #17
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Incredible, I would not want one of those in the attic, that is just asking for trouble.

We have ours in the basement, and recently replaced it as it started to leak (slow drips). But there was no danger to the house even if it had burst as it's right beside the drain, and the basement is unfinished.
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Old 01-05-2018, 10:15 AM   #18
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We had a gas tankless installed 10 years ago and would never go back to a regular hot water heater. Especially since we had one rupture in the attic and it destroyed our ceiling and walls. Builders save money by installing water heaters in the attic but they can cause many problems.

A builder told me in the past 5 years they only install tankless hot water heaters in newer houses.
I'd never buy a house where the only option was tankless...the builder would have lost a customer if that was the only available option. I'd also never buy a house with a water tank in the attic...not that they'd ever do that here with our winter climate.
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Old 01-05-2018, 10:29 AM   #19
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Hmm, I've wondered about my 15yr old water heater, may be I should pre-preemptively replace it. I'm just worried that generally the old stuff was built better and the new one I get will probably only last half as long. In a 'don't try to fix what ain't broken' kind of way.
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Old 01-05-2018, 10:37 AM   #20
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Another potential issue with replacing a water heater in the attic is the new efficiency standards that went into effect in 2015. Many (most) water heater manufacturers added more insulation to accomplish this, resulting in larger diameter tanks. The opening to your attic may be too small for the new water heater to fit. Not good.
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