Just what I needed for new year - Water Heater (possible dip tube) problem

Hi,
Our home was built in 1996, and we have a 75 gallon AO Smith water heater. In the last couple of weeks, we've noticed that we are getting less hot water pressure, so I started doing some research.
I understand that there was a class action suit about problems with dip tubes in water heaters disintegrating, and I suspect that's what we're seeing. We tried the "dissolve in vinegar" test, but to me at least, I couldn't tell if the white particle dissolved or not.
In any event, I understand that the end of the class action period was the end of 2000, so I guess we'd be out of luck on that anyway, plus AO Smith's warranty is 5 years on the tank and 1 year on parts, so that's gone by also.
I guess the question that I have at this point is:
What would should we do?
Should we just call a plumber to take a look at the problem and determine if it's a dip tube problem?
If we do that, should we find a plumber that's shown on AO Smith's website/search, or will any plumber do?
I'm wondering if those plumbers might be more familiar with what would need to be done if it turns out to be the dip tube problem?
Also, just to set my expectations (or dash my hopes), can anyone tell me their experience cost-wise:
1) If only the dip tube needs to be replaced and the plumbing needs to be flushed, and
2) If the water needs to be replaced?
Also, how likely is #1 vs. #2?
Here's some background:
Home: Finished in August 1996. Location: (Washington) DC Metro (Northern Virginia) area Heater: AO Smith 75 gallon natural gas
Finally, if someone could refer me (via email, remove the NO_SPAM) to a plumber that worked on their heater with similar problem that did a reasonable job, I'd really appreciate that.
Thanks in advance, Jim
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I had the infamous dissolving dip tube problem with my EverKleen/Monkey Ward water heater installed in 1995, too. Class-action suits are only good if you get lots of money and new stuff out of them. Generally speaking, this wasn't the case in this one if I recall right, so you didn't miss out on anything.

We have a plumber friend of the family and he showed us two ways to tell, so actually, you can see for yourself:
1) If your kitchen sink faucet has one of those little aerator screens on it, disassemble it and see if there are tiny white plastic bits in the screening. If so, bad dip tube.
2) Stick a pan under the drain valve of the heater and drain off some of the water. Let it settle for several minutes until the hot water cools, and if you see tiny white plastic bits on the bottom, bad dip tube. (If it is a bad dip tube, the whole tank should be drained to drain out as much of the not-quite-dissolved bad dip tube sediment that's now sitting an inch or so deep in the bottom of your tank.)

A dip tube's pretty much a dip tube. Any plumber will do.

A dip tube's pretty much a dip tube. Most certified plumbers know how to remedy the situation.

I don't remember exactly how much it was to replace ours, but I seem to recall parts and labor being a bit less than $75. Might have been closer to $50 since the job took less than an hour.

You just fill it up with more after you drain it. Actually, the tank will fill itself.

More #1 than #2. Just draining the tank and refilling with new water doesn't stop bad dip tubes from disintegrating further. That'd be like changing your car's oil but not putting on a new oil filter -- you just end up with 4 or 5 quarts of dirty oil a few minutes after you start the engine. Plus, your hot water will get progressively colder as the tube gets eaten down more and more to the nub. So you'll end up having to replace the dip anyway unless you find some way to like 60-degree hot water.
AJS
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AJScott wrote:

AJS,
Thanks.
For the above, #2, I really meant to say "2) If the water HEATER needs to be replaced?"!
Given this 'new' #2, what's the likelihood of #1 vs. #2?
Jim
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If you have had 7 or 8 years on a 5 year water heater and are having problems I'd suggest replacing it before it leaks. Just replacing the dip tube is at best a temporary fix and will still probably cost enough to get you a long way towards a new water heater.
It's not free (I replaced 2, 10 year old electric water heaters last month for $850, $425 each) but now I don't need to worry about them. Gas heaters may run a bit more but not much.
RB
Ohaya wrote:

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Hi,
We just got our 1st quotes :(:
$350 to replace dip tube
Replacement:
State - 6 yrs: $1225 Maytag - 8 yrs: $1395 Maytag - 10 yrs: $1795 Maytag - 12 yrs: $1950
I'm assuming the above is for a 75 gallon heater, which is what we have now, and I'm assuming that it includes backflushing the plumbing. I was at work when they came today.
Assuming the above, are the above reasonable costs, and recommendations? This is in the DC Metro area/Northern Virginia.
Thanks in advance!!!
RB wrote:

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I'd hope you get kissed when you get this done (you're being acrewed.) I paid $425 about three weeks ago to have a 6 year warranty replacement water heater installed.
RB
Ohaya wrote:

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Hi,
I kind of got that feeling :(. I found a 50 gallon Maytag online, and it was $799 including installation according to the website (http://www.gorb.net/maytag_bst_gas.html ). Unfortunately, they're in Cincinnati, and not the DC Metro area (I could probably pay for their airfare and still pay less :)!).
Can anyone refer me to someone who can do this reasonably??????
Thanks....
RB wrote:

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The cost of a 75 gallon heater is quite a bit more than that of a 50. Get your plumber's price for replacing a 50. If it is close to the $799 you found on the web, perhaps their prices are not so out of line. In any case, get a few quotes from different plumbers in your area.
--
Peace,
BobJ

"Ohaya" <ohaya@NO_SPAM_cox.net> wrote in message
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Home Depot generally installs the water heaters they sell by using plumbers that subcontract to them. What is HD's price? It usually isn't the lowest in the area but probably isn't obscene. Lowe's would be another place to get a price.
RB
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Hi All,
As I mentioned in my earlier post, I wasn't home when the service guy was here, but I called the company back today. This is a company that we've had servicing our heating/cooling for 20+ years, and I just couldn't understand how their prices could be so out-of-line.
Anyway, after speaking with one of their sales people, it turns out that the prices they quoted included extending the labor warranties to the full period of the manufacturer's warranty.
For example, the $1950 quote for the Maytag Series 12 includes:
- Maytag's 12-year tank warranty - Maytag's 12-year parts warranty - Maytag's 1 year labor warranty - another 11 years labor warranty from the service company
This seems (to me, at least) like a more reasonable price.
I just hate having to worry about these things, and this $1950 just seems like it'll give me 12 worry-free years, at least relative to the water heater. Plus, we're dealing with the same company (who have been relatively responsive for us) that we've been dealing with for the last 20+ years (including some pretty major repairs on our heater/ac).
Any thoughts on this, and on the Maytag Series 12 (gas)????
I'd really appreciate some quick responses, as we're kind of getting tired of taking cold showers :)!!!
Thanks again for all the previous responses!!
RB wrote:

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Sounds crazy to me if you are a do it yourself person. Why 80 gallon? Why not a 50 gallon, or if you insist two 40 gallons.
5 yr 40 gallon $275 x 2 = $550 Replace very 5 years $1950 gives you almost 20 years of warranty 5 yr 50 gallon $375 $195- Replace every 5 years gives you over 25 years of warranty.
Of course you have to do the work yourself, but you give the removed tank to your favorite local pickup charity.
Even installed this sound like a terrible rip off. But may be common back east.
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RB,
FYI, I called Lowes, and they carry Whirlpool, but the 75 gallon is a "special order" (they only stock the 50 gallons).
BTW, I don't know if this was just "sales talk", but the person that I spoke to "kind of said" that he was just asking about Maytag, and was told that Maytag was no longer making water heaters!!!
Anyone know if this is true?
I called Maytag's 800 number (http://www.maytagwaterheaters.com ), and I think I got a non-US call center :(, so I don't think that they knew much. Really strange.
RB wrote:

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P.S. I know that Maytag's water heaters are made by State Industries, but really, the impression from the Lowes person was that Maytag was just not in the business...
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