replace hot water heater prophylactically?

trapdoor2

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Water heater here is in the laundry room, I see it regularly. Installer put a date of install tag on it (filled out with a Sharpie). Yup, I'll replace it when it gets 10 yrs old...unless it starts giving off warning signs before that.

My mother had her HVAC condenser in the attic, which was typical for new home builds in the North Alabama area circa 1983. What she didn't know was that the contractor had filled the drain pan with insulation when it was blown in. When the condenser drain line got plugged by wasps one year, the insulation soaked up the excess and the pan collapsed when it got heavy enough. Full ceiling replacement for two bedrooms and a bath, repaint, etc.
 

Texicaster

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Yeah I get that, but I don't normally look at my hot water heater unless there is a problem. In other words if the reminder is on the heater it's worthless to me.

Haha!

It's not a reminder when to replace, it's a reminder of how old it is!

When you hit that 10 year mark you should start paying closer attention.
 

Greg70

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I lived in my house near Chicago for 15 years and never replaced the gas-fired heater. There was one point where it seemed to not be recovering as well. I closed off the water supply and opened the drain valve, then stuck a coat hanger up it and scraped back and forth across the bottom of it for several minutes. Then I cracked the water valve open and a ton of scale flushed out. It worked much better after that. I sold the house with the same heater in it.
 

Ted Keane

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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.
Can you please explain what you mean by "tank has to fire hard to re-heat the whole tank"?.You don't empty the tank of hot water,the thermostat turns the valve on when the hot water is used.It doesn't wait until the tank is empty.And there is only 1 flame setting on gas heaters.Same with electric heater elements.
 
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chris m.

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My tank is at about 13 years. I live in SoCal with very hard water. Our electric kettle has a ton of scale in it, built up over the same time period. It's probably time to switch it out. Luckily it's installed in the garage and even if it were to catastrophically leak I don't think it would be too bad in terms of damage. But maybe I should at least turn off the supply valve to it when we go on vacations, etc.
 

nojazzhere

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Can you please explain what you mean by "tank has to fire hard to re-heat the whole tank"?.You don't empty the tank of hot water,the thermostat turns the valve on when the hot water is used.It doesn't wait until the tank is empty.And there is only 1 flame setting on gas heaters.Same with electric heater elements.
I wondered about that as well.....water heaters are either "on" or "off", like an oven.....what varies is the duration of the "burn". Maybe he was thinking a longer duration puts stress on a tank? Obviously, I prefer a larger capacity to prevent running out of hot water, but don't see how that affects life of the unit. Of course, there could be factors I'm not aware of. ;)
 

Telekarster

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Ironically, a buddy of mine just called me this morning. In the conversation he stated that his 6 year old water heater is leaking! LOL!!! What timing considering this thread etc. :lol:
 

Ted Keane

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And when you replace the water heater,don't forget to bring it up to code.New positive shut off(ball valve),new expansion tank,earthquake straps,and a pan underneath.You can get a more energy efficent one with more insulation,but it is alittle bigger.And a recirculating pump will give you hot water at the faucets right away.Saves running the water until it's hot.Water is our only non-renewable resorce.
 

Lou Tencodpees

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Most of the homes here in my area have the water heater and HVAC in the attic. Back in Florida the water heater was in the garage and am glad it was when it started leaking. I'd replace ours now if it was over my studio, but its over my wife's closet, so...😄

I really do need to start thinking about a new one.
 

Milspec

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I wondered about that as well.....water heaters are either "on" or "off", like an oven.....what varies is the duration of the "burn". Maybe he was thinking a longer duration puts stress on a tank? Obviously, I prefer a larger capacity to prevent running out of hot water, but don't see how that affects life of the unit. Of course, there could be factors I'm not aware of. ;)

I should have chosen my words more carefully, but yes, I am talking about duration here.

I ran propane water heaters in all of my carpet cleaning trucks and the colder the inlet water, the longer it had to fire to heat to set temperature. When the hot water usage exceeds the capacity, the burner is playing catch up and will burn solid until the hot water usage is reduced. If the heater isn't tasked heavily, it only has to heat an already warm / hot water so the flame time is far less.

My first truck didn't have much reserve capacity to the tank and was pretty much always fired to try and maintain the temp setting....it also didn't last very long. I then installed high capacity reserve tanks and went years without problems.
 

Ted Keane

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I should have chosen my words more carefully, but yes, I am talking about duration here.

I ran propane water heaters in all of my carpet cleaning trucks and the colder the inlet water, the longer it had to fire to heat to set temperature. When the hot water usage exceeds the capacity, the burner is playing catch up and will burn solid until the hot water usage is reduced. If the heater isn't tasked heavily, it only has to heat an already warm / hot water so the flame time is far less.

My first truck didn't have much reserve capacity to the tank and was pretty much always fired to try and maintain the temp setting....it also didn't last very long. I then installed high capacity reserve tanks and went years without problems.
Thanks.Now I understand what you were saying.
 

drumtime

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We've had 2 tankless water heaters going for about 20 years now, one for heating domestic water, and one for heating the house. I've had to disassemble and clean both a couple of times, and replaced a part or 2 over the years, but they work fine, and we have pretty hard water here. Worth a look if you're replacing, and be sure your plumber is very familiar with them - there are a few installation tricks I wish I had known back then.
 

boris bubbanov

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If it ain't broke don't fix it.

Yes.

Unless it is in a location where, when it fails, lots of things below will be damaged or destroyed.

And if that's the case, when you replace it, relocate the darned thing. And if this can only be done by going tankless, go for it.

Nothing wrong with cleaning out these tanks. Drain all the contents of the tank and check for scale and etc. If your water supply is low in minerals and sediment, I suspect some of these heaters could last twice as long as they'll go if the water supply is loaded with "stuff" or has a bad pH.
 

KevinB

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Mine is only 3 years old, but it's in the attic with no way to relocate it. I do have a moisture sensor in the pan that will send an alert to my phone, but I'm sure I'll be proactive and (hopefully) replace the heater well before it's end-of-life date.
 

nojazzhere

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Mine is only 3 years old, but it's in the attic with no way to relocate it. I do have a moisture sensor in the pan that will send an alert to my phone, but I'm sure I'll be proactive and (hopefully) replace the heater well before it's end-of-life date.
My mom's condo had no drain to the outside from the pan underneath the water heater. What Ft Worth code requires in that case is a sensor that doesn't just sound an alarm if a leak is detected, but one that automatically shuts off the water supply to the tank. You may still have the forty or fifty gallons in the tank leak into your house, but at least it's not a continuous, never ending flow until you manually shut off water to the tank. Does your pan in attic have a drain line to outside? If not, I'd sure try to install one.
 

GoldDeluxe5E3

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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.
You could start a thread about prophylactically placing plywood on the rafters.
 

harleytech

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What are the pros and cons of a tankless water heater and a conventional one?
I have a conventional 40 gal.gas water heater about 16yrs. old and it runs fine.
Is tankless worth it, or just stick with what I got if and when I need a new one.
 
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KevinB

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What are the pros and cons of a tankless water heater and a conventional one?
I have a conventional 40 gal.gas water heater about 16yrs. old and it runs fine.
Is tankless worth it, or just stick with what I got if and when I need a new one.
Tankless guarantee a constant supply of hot water and are more economical in the long run. Also there’s no tank to leak but they are more expensive and typically more difficult to install. Your gas or electric supply better be up to the demands of tankless too.
 




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