Natural Gas Pressure

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I posted a few days ago about my high gas bills and I still haven't had any luck tracking the cause. Since my main suspect is the water heater I contacted AO Smith and asked them how old the water heater was. They said it was made in 1973 so it's the original one installed in my house. I also sent them some pics of the water heater and the flame and they said that the flame looks too big and colorful. They suspect the gas pressure to be too high and that I should have the gas company come check it.
It will like pulling teeth to get them to come out so I'd like an opinion from the knowledgeable people here. Should I just replace the 30 year old water heater or pursue the pressure? It's got a glass tank so it will probably live for quite a while yet and if it is the pressure the new water heater will have the same problem. That is unless they're putting regulators in them now.
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I posted a few days ago about my high gas bills and I still haven't had any luck tracking the cause. Since my main suspect is the water heater I contacted AO Smith and asked them how old the water heater was. They said it was made in 1973 so it's the original one installed in my house. I also sent them some pics of the water heater and the flame and they said that the flame looks too big and colorful. They suspect the gas pressure to be too high and that I should have the gas company come check it.
It will like pulling teeth to get them to come out so I'd like an opinion from the knowledgeable people here. Should I just replace the 30 year old water heater or pursue the pressure? It's got a glass tank so it will probably live for quite a while yet and if it is the pressure the new water heater will have the same problem. That is unless they're putting regulators in them now.
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Pressure in residences where I live is about 11 ounces. Less than a pound of pressure. High pressure, I would go "all in" against that. Utilities are controlled by the state and they would have no reason to provide you more than the equipment is designed to handle. You mentioned before that the previous owner had the meter replaced? Not likely that the utility installed another one that is mis-calibrated.
1973 water heater, just replace it.
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I had the meter replaced as well however the regulator is separate and is much older. Would there be any reason to believe that it went bad?
I'm tending to agree that I should just replace the water heater and see what happens.
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No the regulators are pretty simple products.
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Well, with all the great stuff posted here I'm going to price a new water heater today. One thing I didn't know was that a water heater has a regulator built into it. Who's to say that's not what's bad.
As for checking pressure myself, I think an easier way would be to buy a fitting to attach to my dryer hose and checking the pressure there (no soldering).
Once I have the new WH installed, I'll watch the meter and see how fast it spins. I actually recorded the meter when the current WH was in a heat cycle so I have something to compare to.
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What you really should see is not a difference in consumption while it burns, but how short a period a new one takes before the water is hot.
AMUN
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Gas regulators internal diaphram can be damaged easier than you think. I have seen a few go bad, Not common but can happen.
Most of the time when they go bad is due to rupture when the gas service has been off and then the valve on the incoming line is turned on too quickly, should always open slowly to pervent rupture.

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....11 ounces is a pressure? :-)
Nick
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Yes Nick.
Normal burner pressure is 3.5 Inches Water Colunm or IWC (also called Inches Water Gauge or IWG). That is about 2 ounces per square inch. Th check the proper firing of the water heater, you want to measure the burner pressure, also called manifold pressure. There is a pressure regulator built into the water heater thermostat assembly. Your incoming pressure should be less than 1/2 PSI which is 14 Inches Water Column. Normally the incomming pressure should be between 7 and 14 Inches Water Column, but check the label on the water heater.
SQLit, 11 ounces sounds like too high incoming pressure. 11 Inches would be more correct.
Stretch
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I think he means 11 column-inches.
wrote:

of
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"o it will probably live for quite a while yet"
not necessarily, it depends on your water, hard, soft ect 33 yrs on a gas heater is enough....i have seen heaters, that old, have a problem in regards to the gas valve not shutting down the pilot if the pilot flame goes out. when it leaks, it might not drip, ive seen the glass liner go and wham, mess time.
the new heaters are more efficient
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Natural gas is mentioned in "inches of water column". Or, the pressure required to lift water. The actuall PSIG is rather low.
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Christopher A. Young
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This is Turtle.
After 30 years of service i would replace it and not play the hunting trip pressure game . There is a cotton mesh filter in most of these old gas hot water tank gas valves and when through the years sulpher builds up in it and the flame may become flawed and you would think there is a pressure problem.
TURTLE
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If your water heater is that old, it's about time it's buried.
IMO, I'd call a plumber or HVAC guy to check the pressure.

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You could call a plumber, but how much would that cost? and what could he tell you, pressure is low, pressure is right, pressure is too high? Anyone with the ability to connect two pipes together could go to a store and buy a gage plus necessary stuff to hook it up, go home, turn off the gas to the water heater, disconnect the water heater, connect the gage, turn the valve on, read the pressure. A lot cheaper and a lot faster than calling a plumber. This isn't high tech, it is barely one step above checking the pressure of your tires.
Heck, a little reading and some mechanical ability you can forgo buying a gage and make one in 5 minutes.
HeatMan wrote:

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I would keep that old water heater it's working right? You no if you change it, it will just lead to another problem. Besides what the big deal about a couple extra bucks month, there is nothing like the charm of an antique in the home

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If its possible, depending on your wiring, I'd consider an electric water heater. The cost of gas has risen past the point where it used to be cheaper than electric. Contact your electric utility and see what they have for energy usage comparisons for your area. Many have incentives for "going electric" "NG" is predicted to go up another 10-15% again this Winter.
R
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13. Rudy Sep 9, 1:36 am show options

If its possible, depending on your wiring, I'd consider an electric water heater. The cost of gas has risen past the point where it used to be cheaper than electric. Contact your electric utility and see what they have for energy usage comparisons for your area. Many have incentives for "going electric" "NG" is predicted to go up another 10-15% again this Winter.
Rudy, even with price increases, natural gas is still cheaper than electric for heating water in every area that I have heard of, if it is available. Faster too. Getting someone competent to check the water heater would be a good idea. BTW, not every contractor is competent.
Stretch
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Not here in BC. Our electric is .0605 cents Kwh CDN or about .051 cents Kwh USD. BC has the 3rd lowest electric rates in North America (the lowest 2 are other Cdn provinces) I'll admit that this isn't the case in the USA.
Here is a "calculator" that shows what the annual HW cost here is: https://ewb.bchydro.com/appcalc/pg1.asp?id=0
Gas: $ 213 while electric is $ 189 Electric turns out to be $ 24 or 11.25% cheaper
IIRC, Gas (which BC has a lot of also) has gone up something like 300% or more in the last 10 years and they're getting a 15% increase this Winter.
Electric went from around 4 cents to 6 cents in the same time
R
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