Unless the flood it will cause when it fails is a problem, it's probably not
But if you've got 25 years out of it, it doesn't owe you anything. I'd do a
pre-emptive replacement. The main reason is so you can do it on your terms
and time table and shop around for a good one and a good installer-- not
rely on some plumber you frantically call on a Sunday when it fails...
I have no idea if it's dangerous, but in my experience when
water heaters go, they don't just stop making hot water, they
spew water all over the place. That may not be true with newer
If it was up to me, I'd replace the thing before I had a big water
cleanup on my hands. Other people might have a different
It's definitely earned its keep -- time to get a replacement. BUT --
what sort of furnace do you have? Is it old, too? Are they vented out
the same chimney? This may make a difference -- I've learned the
painful way that the new water heaters require more combustible air
(which they pull from the room they're in unless they are direct vent)
-- and, if like me, your furnace is old, too -- they will compete with
each other. And if the water heater is vented out/up its own chimney
-- and that chimney is on an outside wall -- it could spell trouble in
the form of poor draft and condensation.
Just think about going away for the day while the water is pouring onto your
floor starting 5 min after you leave. Look at the warranty that you get
with a new gas water heater today---7-10 years (and you have to be on the
threshold of a failure with one 25 yrs old). I've had two heaters fail,
fortunately I was home both times. The first time I went outside because I
thought someone turned on my outside faucet the because running water noise
was so loud.
I was told that when they leaked it usually started slow, but in my
case I thought it was the AC condensate which had already leaked on
the floor, and I thought it was taking days to dry, so I didn't
recognize it as a WH problem.
When you get a new one, put a pan under it and connect the pan to a
drain so you don't have to worry about this the next time, and in
addition you can keep the wh until it breaks.
I don't see that causing a frantic rush. You can decide in advance
who you want to deal with and pretty much what you want to buy, and
anyone can go a couple days or more without hot water. One can wash
somewhere else or take a spongebath with water heated on the stove.
How are we ever going to fight Al Queda if we can't go a few days
without hot water?
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