Water heater question

Hi, lately it seems as though there's barely enough hot water to take a shower. I went downstairs to observe the hot water heater...
-There's no sign that the water heater has 'blown up' like seems to happen whenever my dad's water heater expires -The heater has the date 1990 on it, which I presume to be it's installation date. -The heater is natural gas. I didn't notice any smell... -The heater was warm to the touch -It hasn't been very cold here lately.
Do these things just fade away? Or do they always go out with a bang? How do I assess the situation?
Thanks Steve
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Open the yellow pages and pick up your phone with your other hand. You obviously dont have a clue, your water heater is 15 yrs old and you dont need to hurt yourself or anyone else. Call A Plumber,...........NOW! Bubba
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Well, if I had a clue, why would I be asking in USENET?
Is 15 years about how long these things last? I was hoping there was some 'corrosion buildup' or something simple that I could correct...
I will call a plumber first thing tomorrow, thanks...
wrote:

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I dont know. Why? :-) How long? Varies widely. I had one in my own home that lasted 7 yrs. Some last 10. Others over 12 and 15. Others Ive seen are making 25 yrs but that is very rare. Many condo's send out letters after 8 yrs requesting that the owners replace their working water heater to avoid it from bursting and causing a mess. Bottom line is, at 15 yrs, youve used all of its life. Do yourself a favor and replace it now, while you can do it at a convienent schedule for you instead of Sat night or some holiday when you get the overtime charge. Make sure you have your water pressure checked at the same time. If it is too high, get a pressure regulator installed on your incoming water line to your home. You'll want to have it adjusted to somewhere between 50 to 75psi. Part of that is your own preference in how much and how hard you want the water to hit you in the shower. It saves water and extends the life of your "water appliances". You'll also want to have an expansion tank installed on your water heater. Now, you're all set. Bubba

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Thanks again... I'm going to call first thing tomorrow. Would you recommend Home Depot installation services? Or should I just pick a plumber out of the book?
Home Depot installs these GE SmartWater heaters...
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SJP wrote:

Why don't you ask neighbors or friends who they use? The best bet is to call several places and tell them to give you a bid. But be sure you they all compare installation of the same size and quality of heater. I would bypass the Smart Water heater and get the cheaper (I think the Smart system costs $60 bucks more). Anyway, you probably have a 40 or 50 gallon heater so tell all the bidders which one you want and then tell them what efficiency. I wouldn't buy a water heater that doesn't have a pilot light (because the higher efficiency ones can be noisy and the pilot really costs very little in operation)(Also, if you have the electricity go out DO NOT get the higher efficiency heater which requires electricity to fire.
If you don't really understand the above, or are a little confused, go to HD and talk to a salesman about different water heaters and cost (BUT, do not buy at that time, still get bids).
On guarantees, the longer guaranteed heaters will cost more, but they may not be made any differently (or significantly differently), so the extra cost is just for the guarantee.
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I think you are being a bit harsh. These things are not rocket science; sometimes the repairs are pretty simple, and with a little help he might well be able to fix it himself. I have fixed my dishwasher and clothes dryer myself with help I got here; and if this were my water heater, I expect I could fix it if someone told me what to look for. (I installed my own water heater 2 years ago, it just isn't that difficult.)
Then again he might not be able to fix it himself; but you can give him the benefit of the doubt. Or it is possible that the heater must replaced now because the repair cannot be justified in a 15 yo heater. Sadly, I do not know enough about water heaters to offer any help.
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Thank you, now I understand that you were harsh because you are a jerk.
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Oh my! Pissed that you didnt get the free answer that you wanted? It must suck to be you. Bubba
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SJP wrote:

There are several possibilities. My first guess is the dip tube is gone. That is the right age to have the famous dip tube problem.
There are a number of other possibilities as well however and I would guess you are not really ready to do the testing.
Ask around your neighbors. See how long their water heaters tend to last. Local water conditions make a very big difference in how long those heaters last. I suspect you are close enough to the end of its life that you should not bother trying to have someone fix it when replacing it is not going to be that much more.
--
Joseph Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
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In general, gas water heaters do not fade away. While they do accumulate gunk on the bottom which makes it use a little more energy to heat the water, you usually can keep your heater until it starts to leak (and just hope that it starts as a little leak and not a catastrophic one. However, as Joseph Meehan points out, in the late 80's, early 90's there was a problem with the longevity of the plastic dip tube used in water heaters. This is the tube that bring the incoming cold water directly to the bottom of the heater. If the tube is broken, the replacement cold water comes in near the top of the heater and mixes with the exiting hot water, causing your problem. There is no reasonable way to replace the dip tube on a 15 year old heater, so it is probably time for a new one. Dip tubes are now made with a different plastic so you are unlikely to experience this problem in the future with a new heater. It will mostly likely eventually fail by leaking.
--
Peace,
BobJ


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I disagree. Usually tank corrosion kills them
While they do accumulate

Or you can be a little pro-active. If simple maintainance is done once in a while, you can get 25 years out of the 5 year warrantee heater.
However,

No way to replace a dip tube? They just slip in under the cold inlet.
Read about water heaters here:
http://waterheaterrescue.com /
This site will explain all about sediment, dip tubes, anodes, etc.
I am not affiliated with these folks in any way, but there information is top notch.
--

Roger Shoaf

About the time I had mastered getting the toothpaste back in the tube, then
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Reread the OP's message. What he meant by fade away is that it stops heating water as well as it get older. This is only very marginally true. The gradual corrosion you talk about does not show up until there is a leak which is equivilant to water heater death.

True, but it won't help after 15 years of non-maintenance.

After 15 years, it makes no sense to replace the dip tube, even if it were possible. The amount of corrosion at the connection to the cold inlet, would make it very difficult to remove it non-destructively to put in a new dip tube.
--
Peace,
BobJ




> Read about water heaters here:
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Have you been draining out the sediment regularly?....It could be that you are trying to heat water through a "big layer of sludge"...Hook a hose up to the drain valve and run it outside...see what comes out...who knows...you might get a few more years out of it....If you see any rust....get rid of it before it floods your home....good luck, Ross
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"Hi, lately it seems as though there's barely enough hot water to take a shower. I went downstairs to observe the hot water heater... -There's no sign that the water heater has 'blown up' like seems to happen whenever my dad's water heater expires -The heater has the date 1990 on it, which I presume to be it's installation date. -The heater is natural gas. I didn't notice any smell... -The heater was warm to the touch -It hasn't been very cold here lately. Do these things just fade away? Or do they always go out with a bang? How do I assess the situation? Thanks Steve"
Bear in mind that as the ground temperature becomes colder, so does the incoming cold water to the house. This takes the water heater alot longer to heat the water up to its desired setting. Further, if your hwh is a 1990...you can figure after 15 years of usage, that, there is alot of sediment in the bottom of the tank which is displacing water thus making your water heater of lower water holding capacity (IE : a 37 gallon tank instead of a 40 when it was new). Due to its age, it has reached the end of its life., and, you are wise in changing it out asap.
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Why do you want to heat hot water?
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