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Old 07-30-2013, 07:07 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by yakers View Post
Related to the life expectancy of a water tank and maintenance, has anyone actually changed out the annode rod to extend the life of the heater? Just wondering how easy & useful that is.
I bought a new anode rod, and the old one was so tight that I was very scared I was going to break something, or knock the tank over and break the plumbing connections trying to get it out. So I left it.

I think I've read suggestions to pull it when new, and put a good coat of thread lube on it, so it can be pulled out later. Maybe loosen it every few years, just to break it loose?

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Old 07-30-2013, 09:49 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post

Wooops, you are right, I missed that one. No real fix for that is there - replace?

My gas water heater is going on 27 years now! It is the original from when we bought the house ~ 20 years ago. The only thing I can figure, is that since we are on well water, only softened water goes in, so very low mineral content. It's in the basement with a pan and nearby drain. I was going to replace it 10 years ago, as a preventative, but maybe that new water heater would have gone out after nine years? I'm waiting, but I may regret it.

-ERD50
Wow, 27 years without changing, that is incredible. You sure got one that was solidly built! I wonder if that battle tested tank was built before energy efficiency ratings were invented?
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Old 07-30-2013, 10:33 PM   #23
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Wow, 27 years without changing, that is incredible. You sure got one that was solidly built! I wonder if that battle tested tank was built before energy efficiency ratings were invented?
I'm amazed too. Just a basic 6-year warr Kenmore. But it's got the big yellow sticker. Also interesting that our current therms are almost exactly the number used on that sticker for nat'l averages. And at that rate, it is listed as $176/year (under their test conditions). Since we are at ~ 2.5 people in the house now (just one kid at home, and she is mostly away at college), it's probably less.

Now someone will come along and tell me I could save hundreds of dollars a year with a new 'high efficient' unit!

I've been researching replacements, and comparing the energy savings versus the extra $ for 2" insulation versus 1" leads to a pretty long payback. I don't plan on spending the extra $.

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In one of my previous lives I worked for a plumbing wholesaler and we sold water heaters.

.... BTW the longer warranty units are generally the same heaters with fancier graphics and they charge more to cover the additional risk for a longer warranty period.
Yes, thanks for that (I think someone else mentioned this also) - I always suspected that, but never had the 'inside scoop'. IIRC, looking at the Kenmore models, once you stepped up to 'glass-lined' tank, I never saw any differences in tank construction between the 6-9-12 year warranty units, only the price changed. I'll 'self-insure'.

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Old 07-30-2013, 10:51 PM   #24
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I've been researching replacements, and comparing the energy savings versus the extra $ for 2" insulation versus 1" leads to a pretty long payback. I don't plan on spending the extra $.
I think those ugly insulation blankets might offer a better payback than the built-in insulation. Our NG water heater is in the basement, and for about 7 months of the year here in Ohio any heat it leaks is welcome. I haven't taken any steps to improve the insulation of the tank.
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Old 07-30-2013, 10:56 PM   #25
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If its not as hot have you tried flushing the scale and sediment out? Have you ever done this (recommended every 1-2 years). Will extend its life and performance. YouTube or google the procedure. I find it easiest to run a hose from the drain valve to my sump pump. Turn the power off first to the heater.
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Old 07-30-2013, 11:48 PM   #26
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I don't have the answer (my electric model is 11 years old), but I would just like to publicly thank you for having the wit to call it a water heater instead of a hot water heater.

[one of my pet peeves]
I got a stern talking to by someone the other day for saying hot water heater.
Was that you?
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Old 07-31-2013, 08:54 AM   #27
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Rebates may be available

We recently replaced our gas water heater and discovered that our gas company offered a $200 rebate for a high efficiency model. The rebate made the net cost pretty much equal to the basic less-efficient model.

When we bought our house, the inspector said the heater was nearing the end of its useful life, so we didn't wait for it to go bust. The water heater was 25 about years old.
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Old 07-31-2013, 09:27 AM   #28
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I got a stern talking to by someone the other day for saying hot water heater.
Was that you?
No, I would have done it to your face. Talking to someone's stern just isn't the same.
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Old 07-31-2013, 11:08 AM   #29
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We recently replaced our gas water heater and discovered that our gas company offered a $200 rebate for a high efficiency model. The rebate made the net cost pretty much equal to the basic less-efficient model. ...
Looks like our gas company will provide a $100 rebate, but must be contractor installed. I was planning DIY, so that would end up negative. I'd need to spend ~ $114 more to get that higher eff% one (using the current $100 MIR, $214 if that expires). Looks like the Fed tax credit is 10%, but I'm not sure what it takes to qualify.

At any rate, the higher eff% ones are more complex. I like simple. The $399 one is just like my old reliable one - standing pilot. But still more eff% than the old, to the tune of ~ $30/year. Going to the energy star model, additional savings is ~ another $17/year.

Kenmore #'s I'm looking at:

Model#**33165 *Model#**33702

Plus, the $395 33165 is a short design - I plan to put it up on a cement block base. I've seen some safety videos that show that keeping it off the floor adds some safety against spilled flammables or dense gasses being ignited. That would be easy for me to do with the shorty.


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Old 07-31-2013, 05:32 PM   #30
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I turned up the thermostat a bit and that has produced hotter water.

I also attempted to take out an element to see the condition of the water heater. The screws/bolts are stuck and I feared damaging the heater if I put to much force on them. That would give me exactly what I am trying to avoid - having to replace the water heater under urgent conditions at a high price.

I think I will take a few weeks and shop around for a descent replacement.

I did look at the heat pump water heaters. WOW! The cheapest is $1200 and they easily go over $2000. Plus installation. The only way to justify that price would be to get myself a family of eight or more people who each love to shower and do a load of laundry every day. That would mean the end of ER and working until I was 76. Not so good.
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Old 08-01-2013, 08:34 AM   #31
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I did look at the heat pump water heaters. WOW! The cheapest is $1200 and they easily go over $2000. Plus installation. The only way to justify that price would be to get myself a family of eight or more people who each love to shower and do a load of laundry every day. That would mean the end of ER and working until I was 76. Not so good.
Crazy isn't it? When you factor in the additional cost and complexity of these energy saving devices, appliances, etc., I just don't see where the overall savings come from. Plain Jane electric water heaters are about as simple a device as you can get. There is not much to go wrong, and if something does, they are simple to repair.
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Old 08-01-2013, 08:44 AM   #32
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Crazy isn't it? When you factor in the additional cost and complexity of these energy saving devices, appliances, etc., I just don't see where the overall savings come from. Plain Jane electric water heaters are about as simple a device as you can get. There is not much to go wrong, and if something does, they are simple to repair.
I don't like the complexity of the whole house on demand systems, or these heat pumps sitting on top of the tank devices. Just more stuff you can't repair or even manage yourself. More expensive service calls. I really think some of the service companies love them because of this.

My 16 year old gas fired started leaking a bit last month and replaced it with another gas fire. It is in a garage, so I've been freaking over code issues (raising it on a platform to avoid gas fume ignition). I barely have enough head room, and the new water heaters are taller.

Turns out they changed the general code (and my municipality accepted the change) that you can put a water heater down on the ground in a garage if it has all these ignition suppression features. Those features a simple too, just a bunch of screens and baffles. Nothing complicated. So, I was good to go for another water heater. House is 32 years old and is just starting on its 3rd heater.

I might think differently if my heater were in an attic (yeah, they allow that here). A "spray leak" causes mayhem. I've had friends with a lot of damage with those installations. They had a drain pan and everything, but the leak was small and caused a spray beyond the pan.
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Old 08-01-2013, 08:50 AM   #33
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Crazy isn't it? When you factor in the additional cost and complexity of these energy saving devices, appliances, etc., I just don't see where the overall savings come from. Plain Jane electric water heaters are about as simple a device as you can get. There is not much to go wrong, and if something does, they are simple to repair.
Yes, but they play them up on the home shows as some great new advance. I sure hope those units are made so that the tank can be replaced, and the heat pump re-used. If the heat pump is built to last (like my 20+ YO basement refridge, and garage freezer) at least the WH replacement costs would be lower. But since electric WHs are so simple, I guess it would not really save anything over a new electric WH. There would be extra labor to swap the heat pump.

Hmmm, so how 'green' are these if you end up building, and then throwing away an entire compressor/heat-pump when the tank goes out ( often just 10 years depending on your water)?

I doubt there is any practical way to use the cold side of the heat pump. That would be site specific, and tough to make as a generic unit. You could cool a fridge, use it as a dehumidifier, or to cool a room. But too much variability in all those to do much.

And of course, these are not used if you have NG available. That is easier/cheaper than either.

-ERD50
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Old 08-01-2013, 09:50 AM   #34
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Crazy isn't it? When you factor in the additional cost and complexity of these energy saving devices, appliances, etc., I just don't see where the overall savings come from. Plain Jane electric water heaters are about as simple a device as you can get. There is not much to go wrong, and if something does, they are simple to repair.
Plain Jane is my philosophy on about all appliance purchases. When I purchased my water heater last month, I compared it to the efficient models and rebates for purchasing. No savings at all, and potential savings in energy had such as long payback period, it wasn't worth my money to consider those options.
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Old 08-01-2013, 10:40 AM   #35
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[QUOTE=Chuckanut;1343839]I turned up the thermostat a bit and that has produced hotter water.

Just a thought....One of the largest wastes of energy is creating hot water, then adding a bunch of cold water to use it. The other point to keep in mind is the danger of scalding a child.
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Old 08-01-2013, 10:42 AM   #36
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Dear Old Dad replaced his electric water heater a couple of years ago. It was original to the house, installed in 1973, making it between 35-40 years old. He had to replace an element or two along the way but never had much trouble with it until it stopped heating one day, and he never drained it. He's on well water and has a water softener, which might have had something to do with it.

Your mileage will definitely vary!
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Old 08-01-2013, 10:54 AM   #37
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Just a thought....One of the largest wastes of energy is creating hot water, then adding a bunch of cold water to use it. The other point to keep in mind is the danger of scalding a child.
I don't want to drift too far from OP's original post but this is an excellent point. I actually had an elderly relation die after being scalded in the shower and spending weeks in the hospital. Her husband was too bull headed to turn down the water temp on the heater. Thermostatic valves could have prevented it but he was saving money by not getting them.
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Old 08-01-2013, 11:24 AM   #38
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Just another thought Chuck, based on my past experience with an old electric water heater. Now, unless someone turned down your water heater before you noticed the change, you may just be masking the problem. I did that too before I dug into my lime caked water heater. It did indeed warm the water up, but the amount of warm water available still drew down quickly because of element issue. Do you notice a decreased overall amount of warm water before it gets cooler?
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Old 08-06-2013, 08:03 PM   #39
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I got a stern talking to by someone the other day for saying hot water heater.
Was that you?
Yeah if the water's already hot.... Why heat it?
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Old 10-12-2013, 05:50 PM   #40
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I might think differently if my heater were in an attic (yeah, they allow that here). A "spray leak" causes mayhem. I've had friends with a lot of damage with those installations. They had a drain pan and everything, but the leak was small and caused a spray beyond the pan.
Oh, the joys of an attic water heater replacement...in a two story house...with a flimsy pull-down folding stair for access...with every tank inlet and outlet pipe plumbed with soldered copper joints...on a humid 85 degree day.

I thought about replacing my 50-gallon gas unit a couple of months ago. It's a 14 y.o. builder grade unit, and this thread had reminded it was time. I included it on a list of repairman stuff to be scheduled when I take a couple of weeks off w*rk over the holidays.

I didn't climb up to take a look at my tank, however, which I now regret.

Thursday night, DD leaned over the rail at the top of the stairs and called down with six words no one ever likes to hear: "Do you hear a dripping sound?"

Water was dripping from one, then two spots in the second floor ceiling. Investigation showed water was slowing trickling out from screw and connection points at various spots on the outer tank shell. Dear water heater was giving out. The catch pan underneath was full to overflowing, its outlet clogged with some insulation and wood debris the builder had graciously left behind. I pulled the crud out of the drain hole and shut off the gas and water supply to the tank. No shower for DW, no joy for Harry.

Friday: call in to w*rk, research heaters, measure, decide I don't want to try sweating copper pipe for the first time, shop, haul home a heater, drain the tank via a hose stuck out the second floor window, saw the copper fittings loose, call in a favor for BIL to help on Saturday. No shower for DW, no joy for Harry.

Saturday: more measuring, more research, another shopping trip (two stores). My fancy new 170-pound, 12-year tank measures 22" in diameter, about 1-1/2 inches more than the deceased tank. The widest part of the attic stair opening is 24", but for only about 18 inches horizontally before hardware makes it narrower. The tank is just over five feet tall, and the distance from the top edge of the stair opening to the rafters is less than six feet. Over where the tank goes, the gas supply pipe extends 6 inches vertically from the floor at a spot directly in front of the pan, requiring a lift of the tank up and over without enough headroom to keep it vertical.

New words I have learned today:
Barrel Hitch
How to Tie a Barrel Hitch - wikiHow


Gun tackle:


The new tank is in place after BIL, a neighborhood kid and I spent two hours wresting with our 170-pound adversary. I'm taking a break right now before I start in on making the new connections.

Fortunately, my vocabalary proved adequate for the wresting part. I've said it before: there is no doubt that plumbing has the highest cuss-words-per-hour rate of any home repair category.
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