ELECTRIC HOT WATER HEATER---REPLACE ???

Hi all,
My 80 gallon electric hot water heater's lower heating element has burned out for the second time. It burned out about 8 years ago, and I replaced it then. The heater is about 18 years old now. I have well water, which is very hard and has a lot of calcium and lime in it. When I replaced that element 8 years ago, I looked into the heater thru the element hole and the bottom of the tank was packed with chunks of lime & calcuim. I vacuumed out as much as I could with my shop vac, but I would say that there was still about 3-4 inches of the stuff still in there. Now, it's 8 years later, and I would guess that the chunks probably are now above the element hole. I am also very leery about opening the drain valve (it's a plastic one), as I'm afraid if a piece of those chunks gets into the valve, I might not be able to close it. I'm also afraid that if I open it, nothing will come out due to the calcium and lime blocking the drain passageway. If I remember correctly, it took about 2 hours for it to drain 8 years ago.
Should I try to replace the element, or should I replace the heater ???
RON =======================================================Remove the ZZZ from my E-mail address to send me E-mail.
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On Jan 3, 11:55 am, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net (Ron in NY) wrote:

Replace the heater. You got 18 years out of it and for the cost of a new one, it's not worth screwing around.
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On 01/03/09 12:22 pm snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

And it sounds as though the OP should consider installing a water softener too.
Perce
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On Jan 3, 8:55 am, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net (Ron in NY) wrote:

Ron-
You could futz around with the old w/h ....the type of water chemistry you have lends itself to very long w/h life.
You have LOTS of sediment at this point, you could dissolve it with an industrial scale remover.
BUT at what cost? Your time & the chemicals to de-scale. PLUS the chance of subsequent failure.
Depending on where the w/h is and where the water from a leak goes, I might try to extend its life. My guess is that by cleaning it up you might get another 6 or 8 years. That plastic drain valve can be replaced with another style.
Given your water chemistry, expelling water / sediment on a more frequent basis would help extend the life of a new unit.
How lucky do you feel? Would you rather replace the w/h on your schedule or at the time of a random failure?
cheers Bob
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BobK207 wrote:

If you really have that much sediment... replacement is probably your best option.
You say you have a plastic drain valve. I agree that it probably will not close. If you want to try to salvage this water heater you need to replace that plastic spigot with a brass ball valve, period. Otherwise you are looking at replacement. Alternately you could just get a brass cap for a garden hose fitting and use that to cap off the spigot after you open it.
Have you ever inspected the anode? That will tell you how much life is left in the tank itself (in terms of corrosion, at least)
nate
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a brand new heater will save energy, with better insulation etc..
I would rather replace on my schedule than when it starts leaking.
christmas eve snowstorm with house guests coming:(
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If your budget can withstand the shock, I'd go for the heater. Install a full flow ball valve on the drain of the new WH, and use the drain twice a year, at least.
When I replaced my W.H., it was late in January, and sixteen inches snow on the ground. My WH is in a cabinet, outside my trailer, so I didn't do any of that fancy stuff.
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