Our water heater is 14 years old - replace it?

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It's an A.O. Smith 40 gallon gas water heater.
We can get it replaced, no worries financially. Bradford White, $800 installed.
I just want to know how can you tell how long it will continue to last?
The HVAC guys that replaced our central air/heating system said we should consider getting it replaced. Our plumber agreed.
Of course, being Mr. Cynical that I am, they probably need the business.
Our basement is finished, so we can't really let it go for too long. So there's that too.
Our realtor says those things can last for a long time. Apparently longer than 14 years.
So she says one thing, the guys that get paid installing these things say another.
My wife is now worried that it will go any minute. I try to tell her to remain calm and tell her that's exactly what the HVAC and plumber want her to be - paranoid.
Just get 'er done?
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Replace the anode and it may last for many years.
The water where you are makes a big difference.
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ask neighbors how long theres lasted.
Ours is 8 years old and due for replacement, around here they always fail by 10.
new heater will be far more energy efficent.
you might consider installing a drip pan or other arrangement so future failure cant damage finiushed space.
a buddy built a low block wall, and added drain line to sewer to keep leak water visible but confined to non finished space,
of course his baSEMENT IS BELOW GROUND LEVEL
his tank leaked while he was on 2 week vacation, filled the basement with water that finally spilled out front door. drbris had floated over and clogged basement sewer drain.
did about 70 grand in damage, new furnace, main service and wiring, basement finished totalled, ruined hardwood floors upstairs, new kitchen cabinets, mold from all that moisture had started growing
his home looked awesome when complete, his family lived in hotel for 2 months while repairs went on. a exteded stay place.
really code shoul require heater catch basins, and ones for washing mnachines upstaIRS
homeowners insurance required and paid for the heater catch basin....
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Bob F gets my vote for best and most succinct response in the thread.
I installed my AO Smith 40-gal. gas FSG in '92. Just finished pulling anode, etc. Draining from tank shows nearly no sediment. Anode is pretty well pitted, but not at all trashed. After 16 years light use in St. Louis, MO, USA.
Now, if I could just find a replacement anode ... :-)
P
"Take Yo' Hand Out My Pocket (I Ain't Got Nothing What Belongs To You)!" - Rice Miller, who probably never even _heard_ of GW Bush, Paulson, etc
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Puddin' Man wrote:

I ordered mine from waterheaterrescue.com. Wasn't able to find a local source for anything larger than RV sized.
nate
--
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
http://members.cox.net/njnagel
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Thanks. I'll check 'em out.
P
"Take Yo' Hand Out My Pocket (I Ain't Got Nothing What Belongs To You)!" - Rice Miller, who probably never even _heard_ of GW Bush, Paulson, etc
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The anode? What does that do and who can repair that - plumber?
Water: we live in SouthEastern Pennsylvania, does that help?
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Water heaters have a sacrificial anode which is made of less noble metal, typically magnesium I think, so that it will slowly dissolve via electrolysis, instead of the metal tank. It's the same idea as putting zinc on the underwater metal of a boat. The anode is a long rod that screws into the tank from the top. It has a hex head, which I believe fits a 1 1/8" socket.
You can check the anode every few years and determine how fast it is being used up, then replace it when appropriate. I don't have actual enough experience, nor have I ever seen any test data to be able to tell you if it in fact it does extend the life of the tank significantly. Also, it helps protect against corrosion to some extent, but there are more than one failure mechanisms at work.
With a finished basement and a 14 year old gas heater, if it were me, I'd replace it.
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The anode? What does that do and who can repair that - plumber?
Water: we live in SouthEastern Pennsylvania, does that help?
********************************************************
http://www.waterheaterrescue.com/pages/WHRpages/English/Longevity/water-heater-anodes.html
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&rls=com.microsoft:en-us&q=replace+anode&start &sa=N
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Geek Dad wrote:

I'm in your general area and with my well water, electric water heaters only last 6-7 years. When mine have failed, they just start leaking but none catastrophically to flood basement. I would only replace if it fails but as others suggest, have some way to catch water if need be.
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Geek Dad wrote:

An anode is a metal road that extends into the water from the top of the tank. It can keep the inside of the tank from rusting. On some tanks they are easy for a homeowner to replace. It probably needs a good electrical bond to the tank. I don't know if that precludes using teflon tape to prevent leaks.
If I contemplated replacing an anode, I'd want to know if it was likely to be needed for people on my water system, how difficult the job would be with my tank, and what was the best way to seal the joint.
When I replaced a water heater on a wood floor, I put it in a plastic tub two inches deep. That way I was able to notice leaks before the floor got wet. It also keeps the floor dry during maintenance and repair procedures. I don't know if putting your tank into a shallow tub would be too much trouble.
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E Z Peaces wrote:

An anode is a sacrificial metal element, usually a rod or chain that is made of a metal that is electrochemically more active than the water heater tank (aluminum or magnesium alloys). The anode corrodes instead of the water heater tank. The rod must connect electrically to the tank so Teflon tape is not a good idea.
Most often the initial failure is a slow leak, not a violent rupture so placing the water heater in a shallow pan, even if it isn't connected to a drain is adequate if you also put a leak detector which is connected to an alarm in the pan.
Rod anodes are difficult to remove or install unless you have high ceilings. Chain anodes are best for replacements.
Boden
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Boden wrote:

I've read that if there's not enough head room, you can bend an anode as you withdraw it.
How about flushing a couple of gallons from the bottom every year or so? It would remove sediment. Wouldn't increased rust be a warning to replace the anode?
The water heater with the pan is in a utility room with lots of traffic. The leaks I detected with it were at the threaded and soldered connections at the top of the tank. Because of evaporation, it might have taken months for the tub to overflow from the drippy leaks. Without the tub I would have had damage to the wood before I noticed.
I don't remember any catastrophic leaks where I have lived. Maybe it's because water pressure has been about 40 PSI. Online, I've found that some water systems specify 80 PSI while others require regulators if it's above 50.
I wonder if keeping pressure down to 40 or 50 would extend the life of plumbing and make catastrophic leaks less likely.
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DONT MESS WITH ANODE ON SUCH A OLD TANK, IT CAN CAUSE LEAK
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On 11/18/08 11:35 am snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

As a first-time homeowner in the USA, I had not realized that water heaters typically have such a short life. My home in Australia had a 25-yr warranty unit.
Here we have a Ruud gas water heater which looked new enough when we moved in 5 years ago that I thought no more of it.
Now you have me worried. I looked up this unit and found that it had only a 6-year warranty which expired 6 years ago already. I knew nothing about checking the anode until reading these messages, so I'll do that ASAP.
And I see that manufacturers state that life is related to water pressure. What is considered reasonable? The last time I checked ours at an outdoor spigot it showed 80psi.
I assume that a new one is going to have to be installed by a professional? Typical cost?
Perce
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wrote:

If you can do routine plumbing, doing it yourself is not a big deal.
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Bob F wrote:

Some building codes require pressure regulators. I think the default setting is 50 PSI. Some codes require valves to keep water from the house from flowing back into the mains. In this case, an expansion tank can protect a water heater by reducing peak pressure.
According to the University of Illinois, water heaters last 13 years on average. Since many last only 6 or 8, many must last a lot longer. One plumber says they can easily last 20 years if routinely flushed.
I get a white bucket and connect a length of garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the water heater. I shut off the water heater and its cold-water supply. Then I put the end of the hose into the bucket and open the drain valve.
There are two reasons I shut off the cold-water supply. First, I don't want a mess if I have trouble with the drain valve. Second, shutting off the supply valve occasionally can keep it in working order.
I turn on the supply valve to flush water from the bottom of the tank into the bucket. If it's not running clean by the time the bucket is full, I dump it and flush again. If it had much rust I'd replace the tank's anode.
Some modern water heaters don't need flushing.
Where water is hard, a water softener can make a water heater last longer.
The last time I replaced a water heater, I had to call a plumber because I didn't have a crimper or expertise for working with polybutylene pipe. He charged $100 to make a couple of connections. He was disappointed that I'd already bought the new water heater. Records show that he was the one who installed polybutylene in this house, and it was after widespread problems had come to light. I'm glad I didn't have him supply the new water heater.
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wrote:

Many new heaters have a "turbulator" that prevents or greatly reduces sediment buildup. Mine is at least 15 years old - I installed it to replace the original that was something like 18 years old one Christmas Eve when it decided to go FUBAR. I flushed it just for the heck of it yesterday and the water was barely cloudy with no signs of rust. Standard GSW gas heater.
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E Z Peaces wrote:

Your plumber did nothing wrong by installing polybutylene pipe. The massive problems with polybutylene was because of improper installation, not defective material. Many plumbers first action was to throw away the installation instructions...they knew every thing already. Improper assembly and crimping of the connectors was the problem.
I continue to use polybutylene in my home and have NO problems...but I did take time to read and understand the instructions that came with the connectors and crimper.
You may have one of the brighter plumbers.
Boden
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Boden wrote:

I didn't say he wasn't smart. Every customer with PB has to call him for every repair because he's the one with the crimpers. Cash cow.
Shell was sued for faulty materials and installation. With a billion dollars at stake, why didn't they demonstrate that plumbers had failed to follow instructions?
Why haven't other countries had problems? Is it only in America that some plumbers don't follow instructions? Why does the Plumbing Claims Group insist that PB is reliable yet use only C-PVC?
The PB manufacturers group hired HDR Engineering of Bellevue WA to see if chlorine compounds found in drinking water attack the plastics used in PB fittings. Steve Reiber of HDR says yes.
Plumbing contractor Tom Sagau defends PB. He says the problem is that crimpers must constantly be calibrated because if a crimp is too tight, the pipe will split later. So the customer has a time bomb if the plumber makes a small error.
Wayne Bryant, a marketing representative for the Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 741, says they had their doubts about PB in the 1970s and they still do. He says it's buyer beware.
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