replace hot water heater prophylactically?

nojazzhere

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I'm just not that dialed in to the hot water heater, it isn't on my radar until the water isn't hot or there is a leak. The leak has always presented itself before the tank completely rusts out.

What are you going to do, set a reminder on your cellphone to replace the hot water heater ten or twelve years down the road?
Just put a piece of tape on it with a date.
Piece of tape?......Just write info on that nice white tank with a Sharpie.
When I replaced my water heater, HVAC, and plumbing, I wrote the date and who did it (for service reference) on the unit itself......no paperwork to lose or tape to dry out and fall off.
And yes.....twenty years for a water heater is being very optimistic. (although natural gas ones seem to last longer than electric.)
 

Wayne Alexander

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The last two or three I've had (natural gas 50 gallon ones) in Los Angeles (hard water, which leads to scale buildup) have all failed right about at the 6 year mark. Draining them out every few years reduces the scale buildup a little (it makes crackling noises when it's built up) but they never last more than 6 years here. I write the date of installation on the side of the metal tank with a black marks-a-lot.
 

Milspec

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Mine is at 22 years and will stay there until it starts to leak. I would not replace one unless it starts to leak.

Like a lot of things, it isn't the age that kills a water heater and it really isn't the hard water (it sure doesn't help though). What kills water heaters is running them out of hot water. When the tank has to fire hard to re-heat the whole tank, it puts a tremendous stress on the glass liner compared to just burning every now and then to maintain a temp. Never buy an undersized tank and you should get far greater than 20 years of service life.
 

Telekarster

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20 years is a long time for a heater man.... to answer your query, yes I do replace them proactively... especially when they get to be 10 years old or older. You'll thank yourself later ;)
 

Toto'sDad

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20 years is a long time for a heater man.... to answer your query, yes I do replace them proactively... especially when they get to be 10 years old or older. You'll thank yourself later ;)

The hot water heater at our house was not really giving any problems, but was fifteen years old. Then one day, I came home from the golf course, took a shower, and the hot water ran out before I was ready. My wife was gone shopping, I thought, I gotta do something quick. I called a guy I knew in the appliance business he steered me to a plumber.

The plumber picked up a hot water heater at a warehouse, installed it that day, I thanked and paid him. Then, that evening my wife took a nice hot shower before retiring. WORTH EVERY PENNY!
 

Telekarster

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The hot water heater at our house was not really giving any problems, but was fifteen years old. Then one day, I came home from the golf course, took a shower, and the hot water ran out before I was ready. My wife was gone shopping, I thought, I gotta do something quick. I called a guy I knew in the appliance business he steered me to a plumber.

The plumber picked up a hot water heater at a warehouse, installed it that day, I thanked and paid him. Then, that evening my wife took a nice hot shower before retiring. WORTH EVERY PENNY!

Exactly TD! I had nearly the same thing happen, twice, over the years! Once was pretty much as you say, the other time we were gone over the weekend and came back to a real friggin' mess! Yeah... that's the issue. You just never know what they're gonna do when they start gettin' old, and I like to sleep at night LOL!!! We just replaced ours a few years ago and I think the total bill was 400 for the tank, 200 to install. I could've installed it myself, done it before, but meh.... as I get older I'm less and less in the mood for that sort of business ;) Sometimes it pays to let someone else bust their knuckles LOL!
 

John Owen

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Mine is 20 years old. Replacing it has been near the top of my to-do list for about a year now but I keep finding other things to spend money on. The last couple of days I've been thinking about it quite a bit and then, coincidentally, this thread comes up...
OK! OK! I'll get to it! I wish you guys would quit nagging me and just get back to talking about switching to 9.5 strings and arguing the merits of directional cables and bacon and cargo shorts. Jeez Louise!
 

johmica

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Anytime a water heater just doesn't heat as well as it used to, it can be fixed super-cheap. Super-cheap. If it's electric, then it's elements and thermostats. Maybe a dip tube. If it's gas, and it's getting warm but not hot, then it's definitely a dip tube. If it stops heating completely, then it's the gas valve.

The only time you have to replace the entire tank is: 1) it's leaking, or 2) it's really old, and when it starts leaking, it's going to destroy the house.
 

itstooloudMike

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Man.... that would freak me out. And there's no way to relocate that thing somewhere else I gather?
I wish that were an option, but it would have been hugely expensive. It does sit in a drain pan, and I have installed a Simpli-safe water sensor in that pan. But replacing every 15 years isn’t really that costly.
 

Twofingerlou

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Replaced mine a couple years ago, it just crapped out but the tag on it said it was manufactured in 95 so it was about 25 years old. No hot water sucked for a bit no doubt. Was pretty easy to do being gas, I took the easy and more expensive route and used shark bites and ran some damn shut offs to it since it didn’t have any.
 

johmica

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I wish that were an option, but it would have been hugely expensive. It does sit in a drain pan, and I have installed a Simpli-safe water sensor in that pan. But replacing every 15 years isn’t really that costly.

Yeah, this is a worst-case scenario. I've seen so many ceilings just completely destroyed by attic water heaters. The problem with the water pan sensor is that when they leak, they don't always directly leak into the pan. There's maybe an inch and a half between the bottom of the water heater and the edge of the pan. Sometimes, when they bust, they spray. Gallons within minutes.

Replacing it every 15 years is super-smart. Peeking in on it every now and then wouldn't hurt, either.
 

lowatter

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^^^^ worse installation option imaginable ^^^^. I've done plumbing, electrical and HVAC most of my life and any time I see one installed in an attic I always shake my head and ponder where else could it be sanely located. Even with a drain pan under it and a plumbed drain, you're still asking for trouble. I've abandoned old ones in place because it's just not worth the effort to remove one from an attic.
 
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johmica

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^^^^ worse installation option imaginable ^^^^. I've done plumbing, electrical and HVAC most of my life and any time I see one installed in an attic I always shake my head and ponder where else could it be sanely located. Even with a drain pan under it and a plumbed drain, you're still asking for trouble. I've abandoned old ones in place because it's just not worth the effort to remove one in an attic.
Yeah, I've changed a few in attics where there were two or three old ones standing next to the working one, because the plumbers didn't want to try to pack it down after replacing it.
 

Telekarster

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^^^^ worse installation option imaginable ^^^^. I've done plumbing, electrical and HVAC most of my life and any time I see one installed in an attic I always shake my head and ponder where else could it be sanely located. Even with a drain pan under it and a plumbed drain, you're still asking for trouble. I've abandoned old ones in place because it's just not worth the effort to remove one in an attic.

@johmica

We had a house once where the HVAC air handler was in the attic, and it always freaked me out because of the A coil condensation line etc. There was a pan under it but still.... I could never see it, get to it, etc. We had a small closet that we used but decided to sacrifice it for a new handler to go into it. It was darn expensive job, and I even had to help play carpenter to speed things along, but man... it was so worth every penny in the end. The HVAC guy literally took the old air handler apart, piece by piece, and took it outta the attic! Man... did that open up some room! When he did, he got to the pan... it was rusted through in spots and would've never held back the water! Whew! Dodged a bullet there! It was a good thing to do, regardless of the $ and effort.
 

Red Ryder

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Wow!

20 years is a pretty good run for a WH! Must live where the water aint so hard. When I was doing carpentry home remodels in So Cal 10 years was stretching it.

Of course if you have it where yo can see it daily it's not too bad....you can see the problems well before the failure with rust and HW deposits etc... Replace that sacrificial anode at least!
20 years would be a good run for a prophylactic.
 

johmica

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@johmica

We had a house once where the HVAC air handler was in the attic, and it always freaked me out because of the A coil condensation line etc. There was a pan under it but still.... I could never see it, get to it, etc. We had a small closet that we used but decided to sacrifice it for a new handler to go into it. It was darn expensive job, and I even had to help play carpenter to speed things along, but man... it was so worth every penny in the end. The HVAC guy literally took the old air handler apart, piece by piece, and took it outta the attic! Man... did that open up some room! When he did, he got to the pan... it was rusted through in spots and would've never held back the water! Whew! Dodged a bullet there! It was a good thing to do, regardless of the $ and effort.
This is completely a left-turn in the direction of the original topic, but I was changing a small, 30-gallon water heater in the attic of a pool house of this uber-wealthy client. No flooring down, so I was trying to work while balancing on the 2x8 beams. I lost my balance, and put my entire leg through the ceiling of a building that was worth 4x my annual salary at the time.
 

Telekarster

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This is completely a left-turn in the direction of the original topic, but I was changing a small, 30-gallon water heater in the attic of a pool house of this uber-wealthy client. No flooring down, so I was trying to work while balancing on the 2x8 beams. I lost my balance, and put my entire leg through the ceiling of a building that was worth 4x my annual salary at the time.

Oh crap!!!! Man..... yeah, didn't mean to derail the thread but glad you weren't hurt! Wow....
 

Toto'sDad

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Exactly TD! I had nearly the same thing happen, twice, over the years! Once was pretty much as you say, the other time we were gone over the weekend and came back to a real friggin' mess! Yeah... that's the issue. You just never know what they're gonna do when they start gettin' old, and I like to sleep at night LOL!!! We just replaced ours a few years ago and I think the total bill was 400 for the tank, 200 to install. I could've installed it myself, done it before, but meh.... as I get older I'm less and less in the mood for that sort of business ;) Sometimes it pays to let someone else bust their knuckles LOL!
My son got annoyed when I didn't call him up and have him come and help me put in the water heater. The way I figure it, he has almost zero time to do much of anything at this point in his life, besides work. I'd rather spend the day when he has any free time golfing with him, than putting in a water heater.
 




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