Gas Hot Water Tank

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I have not had a single problem with my Sears Power Miser 10 that was installed 13 years ago but friends are telling me that a gas hot water tank should be replaced every 10 years. Another friend said that a gas hot water tank lasts as long as the first day a person has a problem, whether that's 2 years or 20 years.
I would really like to know if there are other things that should be considered when trying to decide the timing for replacement. Thank you.
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I'd say 13 years is a typical life expectancy of a gas water heater. A lot depends on the water, so you could ask neighbors what their experience has been with gas ones. Electric tend to last signifcantly longer.
One key issue is what happens if it fails suddenly and starts leaking? If it's located in an unfinished basement, 5 ft from the sump pit and the water is going to run in that direction, that's one end of the spectrum. If it's located in some part of the living space and there is no adequate drain to deal with a major leak, then that's another case.
Even in the basement, mine began leaking and even though it was 2 ft from a french perimeter drain, the water was flowing the other way, toward piles of stuff I had on the basement floor. I got lucky, I woke up in the middle of the night hearing a faint buzzing kind of sound. It took me a while to figure out what it was, but it was the water causing vibration in the pipes as it leaked from the water heater. I caught it before the water had any time to do damage and fortunately the leak was still very small at the time.
So, both of your friends are right. A gas water heater can last 2 yrs or 20 yrs, but the older it gets, the higher the odds of it failing. Which is why some choose to be conservative and replace them at 10-13 years. Mine lasted about 16 years BTW.
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wrote:

I was wondering the same thing about mine. Now it's just started leaking and I have to do something quickly which is never good.
Have you taken good care of it, changed the anion thing, drained the water? I didn't know about those things before now and maybe that would have prolonged its life. I didn't. So it goes. And it had better go soon, like tomorrow.
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On Mon, 22 Oct 2007 15:01:36 -0400, Joy wrote:

My Power Miser is 17 years old. Still makes lots of hot water, is quiet and looks like new.
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Around here 8 years is doing good. Much depends on the water.
Besides draining and anode replacement how hot you keep your heater matters.
Set to HOT then drain completely thermal shock leads to earlier failure espically if constantly repeated. larger tanks help minimize this
Outside appearnace is completely meaningless, cheap outer shell just holds the insulation in place.
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Do you have the gas tank on your car replaced, before it leaks? Do you replace your kitchen sink drains before they rust out?
the water heater is good until it begins to leak someplace other than the T&P valve. Don't worry about it.
s

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ahh personally I prefer to pick my units replacement date after a big leak with houseguests over a christmas holiday.
sure we got the tank replaced but it cost a lot more and was a PIA:(
worse there was a bad snowstorm just for fun...........
you can wait till your feet are wet, I replace mine on my schedule
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they give plenty of notice. No need to waste useful years of the tank .
s

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No, but gas tanks don't have a history of leak problems and generally last the life of a car. I've never replaced a gas tank in a car. A water heater is much different.
How about radiator hoses and timing belts? Do you wait until they fail or do you change them out at 10 years or 100K miles or so?

No, but a leaking sink drain, is almost always found before major damage has occurred, because water starts showing up in the cabinet under the sink or on the floor where you stand in front of the sink. I've never heard of anyone coming home and finding their basement flooded because of a sink drain leaking.
Do you wait until you have leaks to replace your roof? Or do you realize it's now 25 years old, take a look at it, realize it's nearing the end of it's life and replace it before it's leaking?

Even if it's located in an attic, living space, or finished basement?

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No, but gas tanks don't have a history of leak problems and generally last the life of a car. I've never replaced a gas tank in a car. A water heater is much different.
How about radiator hoses and timing belts? Do you wait until they fail or do you change them out at 10 years or 100K miles or so?

No, but a leaking sink drain, is almost always found before major damage has occurred, because water starts showing up in the cabinet under the sink or on the floor where you stand in front of the sink. I've never heard of anyone coming home and finding their basement flooded because of a sink drain leaking.
Do you wait until you have leaks to replace your roof? Or do you realize it's now 25 years old, take a look at it, realize it's nearing the end of it's life and replace it before it's leaking?

Even if it's located in an attic, living space, or finished basement?

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I've only replace 1 water heater in 35 years of owning multiple homes. I've replaced 4 automotive gas tanks that rusted out. And that's just my own.

Wait 'till failure. I'm a certified mechanic and am tired of working on cars. I only touch my own when absolutely necessary.

Wait 'till the hailstorm when the insurance co. pays for it.

Wouldn't have one in those locations.

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Episode of Ask This Old House...
The expert plumber, Rich something, talked about replacing the Anode, that sacrificial metal pipe in the hot water tank. Replacing that metal rod every 10 years they claimed add lots and lots of years to glass lined tanks. Looked real easy to change. Water dissolves rod, not tank or copper pipes.
Has anyone ever replaced that metal rod?
Thanks
Phil
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wrote:

you will likely find it impossible to remve the old rod and be prepared to just replace the tank. disturbing a old tank can geterate a leak, either immediately or shortly after messing with it.
I look at it like this.
cost of new DIY tank with fitting well under 500 bucks, average life 10 years, annual cost 50 bucks less than a single candy bar a week. most new DIY tanks cheaper:)
Its worth it to ME to save a mess at a inconvenient time, but then again I replace car batteries every 5 years no matter how great they seem
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Yes, quite easy. Have to get a big socket and apply some torque (very carefully) to the 1/2inch drive, via a pipe. Anode in my tank was mostly consumed after 6 years.
Make sure you have clearance above the tank, to fit a new anode. Otherwise, you'll have to "unhook" all the pipes. Not a big deal, but take longer. Also good idea to put some chlorine in the tank, deodorize, while you're doing that. Look for info on the net.
RichK

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Darn good point. Never gave that clearance bit a thought. Thanks.
Phil
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And when you replace the anode, put teflon tape or anti-seize compound on the new one, makes removing it much easier next time. Same goes for the T&P valve and the hot/cold connections (mine are threaded so I don't need to bother with a torch.)
If your flue goes directly up for about 4 feet, you could run the new anode up the flue then down into the tank if clearance is an issue.
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If you want to make it last, replace the anode, which keeps it from corroding.
Life is very dependent on water and usage. Keep an eye out for slow leaks, which generally preceed major ones.
Bob
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Also, for the overhead clearance problem, they make replacement anodes that are in 3 sections, so it takes minimal overhead clearance. I can get a regular one in and out in my basement without any problem. After about 6 years, when I last checked it was about 1/2 gone. Very east to check, it just takes a socket (1 1/8" I think or else 1 1/16)/
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Unfortunately, some have the anodes hidden under sheet metal and/or insulation. I check for accessability before I buy a heater.
Bob
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well the newer foam insulated tanks cost less to operate, and being new arent filled with sludge.
replacing anodes may keep the tank in service longer but not really save money:(
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