Water Heater questions

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Did you ever consider a tankless water heater? They are not alot ($ up front) more than a good tank style heater but alot less maintenance as well as a heck of alot cheeper to run. No tank draining, No TPR valve, No tank to rot out, No anode to change. All around a better deal. In europe Tank style heaters are considered antque. almost all houses there are built new with tankless heaters. Just something to think about.
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Sorry, they are considerably more expensive than a storage tank heater. Especially in a retrofit situation, but even in new construction.

How often exactly to you drain your storage heater? Excluding vacation homes (where all the plumbing would need to be drained) the only time I've ever done it is when I replaced a 20 year old unit.

I've never had to replace one.

Modern storage tank heaters are glass lined and self cleaning. If you don't get a minimum of 20 years use out of one, you aren't trying.

WTF???? If you are changing anodes on a residential water heater, you have far more problems with the rest of your household plumbing that you need to be worrying about.

You don't really have any experience with tankless heaters, do you?

No, in Europe they have a lot of older housing stock with construction that makes it difficult to run insulated hot water lines. There are other factors that come into play as well.
Most of the new residential housing I've seen in the UK uses storage tanks. Here's an example:
<http://www.primelocation.com/new-homes/browse/all/uk/england/essex/chelmsford/BIca213721/
Go down to the plumbing section and note the words: "Each apartment includes an insulated hot water cylinder, with electric emersion heater back-up." A Google search on "hot water cylinder" will yield many other references.

And if you would like some factual information, you can download this study:
http://www.stateind.com/new/Tankless_WhitePaper.pdf
State builds both types of heaters, so they have no particular reason to favor one type over another.
The bottom line is that except for a few specific circumstances, storage tank heaters are cheaper to install and operate over a given period of time than tankless.
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On Fri, 06 May 2005 16:59:15 -0600, someone wrote:

And that makes a LOT of sense in general principle. To get tankless to work, you are installing a HUGE capacity heater, that will only run for minutes a day. Waster capacity. And then it is way oversized for low flow situations.
OTOH, using a tank, you run a much smaller heating element, just for longer periods. And you store the warmed water. The relevant balance would be between the cost of the storage loss, and the cost of the huge capacity heater unit. In "normal" use where hot water is used at various times of each day, apparently a storage tank does pretty well.
BTW, in Europe, often energy costs are higher due to tax structure, and people are apparently willing to put up with more (living with the limitations of a tankless unit's performance characteritics) for economy. Hey, in Europe, manual transmission in cars are much more common. In the US we tend to have relatively luxurious housing, even of our total incomes are no longer the envy of the world.
Reply to NG only - this e.mail address goes to a kill file.
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"Stacia" wrote

About 15 years, sorry to say.

Mine has a little spigot at the bottom. We just shut the water off to the inlet, unplug it, and drain, then plug it back in and refill. Don has to relight the pilot then but he knows how (I do not).

Enjoy! Expect wierd bills but after a time, it's cheaper than renting if you were smart enough to get a fixed rate mortgage. If not, refinance as soon as you can.
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Yes, we got a fixed rate (6%). Since it was a relatively new house (14 years old) we thought most appliances would last for a few years, but we've already replaced the dishwasher and, of course, the water heater. I can't wait to see what else will break.
Stacia
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On Jan 8, 3:40�am, snipped-for-privacy@xmission.com (Stacia) wrote:

time for a new one, if you run short on water sometimes invest in a better unit, most 40 gallon tanks are under 40,000 BTUs.
upgrade to a 50 gallon 75,000 BTU tank and enjoy near endless hot water. better tanks cost a bit more but are better built with things like brass drain valves. larger tanks get less thermal shock since they are larger, keep temp kinda low for longer life and energy savings.
on a brite note the new tank will be much better insulated saving you energy
congrats to the new home owner!
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We have run our two homes since 1960 with a 30 US gallon electric hot water heater/tanks. This included doing some business catering from the home. Our average lifespan has been 8 to 9 years; this in an area where most suppliers now will not honour the manufacturers six year warranties! This is due to the type of local water which tends to be acid due to soil type and acid rain (Thanks to central North American air pollution?) affecting both well water and municipal water supplies. Average cost of replacements, doing the work ourselves, over some 45 years has been around $150 to $200. Each heater has two 3000 watt elements each with its thermostat arranged flip-flop (that is the upper element heats first and when that part of tank is hot it flips over to the bottom element until whole tank is hot). On one or two occasions with visitors it has been possible to move one wire to enable both upper and lower elements (each with its thermostat) to heat water simultaneously (faster recovery).
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Thanks! Yes, the new tank is 2 inches wider, because of insulation, so hopefully this will be a good thing.
Stacia
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Stacia,
How long the heater lasts depends on the water and other things. It's not a question that we can answer except in the most general of ways but 15 yrs is a good life expectancy. Your heater should have a faucet near the bottom for draining. Though some folks do drain tanks annually others just flush out a few gallons in the hopes of getting some of the settled crud out. Sometimes the crud can block the drain faucet so don't be surprised if you need to replace the faucet after the drain/flush procedure. Cheap plastic faucets seem especially prone to this. Your local library will have books on home maintenance and repair.
Dave M.
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Stacia wrote:

Usually leaking at the bottom means you should replace the unit. Your first leak sounds like a deteriorated over pressure valve.
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wrote:

In my locale, the tap water is basically undrinkable "canal water". I've had my current house for two years, and I believe the WH was replaced not long before the sale.
Are there any maintenance recomendations for areas where the water is extremely hard?
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AZ Nomad wrote:

You could consider a water softener. Calcium is exchanged for sodium so if you are on a low salt diet, this is not good. My plumber tried to talk me into one but I did not think analysis supported it, it would not improve pH and my well water has always tasted good. I don't think hard water tastes bad and there are charcoal filters and the like you can put on drinking water taps to remove off flavor. A lot, maybe most, municipal water is chlorinated to remove bacteria but some chlorinated materials like trace phenols can make water taste awful. Charcoal filter could be good for you. I do have a sediment filter and as other posters suggest, drain some water from bottom of water heater occasionally.
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wrote:

I don't really have room for the equipment as it is a townhouse. I'm considering an undersink unit to avoid trips to the water store, but a fullhouse unit is out of the question. I could stick a cheap filter unit on the water heater's inlet, but even that might be overkill as we'll most likely be living somewhere else in ten years.
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AZ Nomad wrote:

For drinking, a tap cartridge filter or pitcher with a filter would probably do you. I would not worry about water heater. Guy that just put in my newest suggested turning off cold water inlet, opening a hot water tap and draining off a couple of gallons from the bottom water heater outlet every couple of months or so to remove sediment.
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wrote:

We have one but it doesn't do nearly as good a job as what we get from the water store. We only use it for boiling food and when we run out of store water. I'm considering an undersink filter because my wife and I are getting a little tired of making weekly trips to the water store.
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AZ Nomad wrote:

sense as we are in the same aquifer and water tastes fine. Have not been in his house but with the 5 gallon bottles, he must have a water cooler ;)
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snipped-for-privacy@xmission.com (Stacia) wrote:

That's about the expected lifetime, especially for a gas heater.

Yep, definitely time. The good news is that you shouldn't have to pay for an "emergency" replacement. Just find someone that will do it within a day or so. It can be a diy job, but based on what you said below, you are probably better off with a Lowes, Sears or HD install.

There should be a small, faucet like valve near the gas valve. You attach a garden hose to a drain or the garage entrance and open the valve. Some newer heaters require a flat screwdriver to open the valve.

Crud in the bottom of the tank is taken care of by flushing once a year. Corrosion on the copper pipes on top will be taken care of by replacing those with the heater. You probably won't be there in another 15 years.

Enjoy!
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We have a local plumber out here now, and get this: the water heater is too big to be removed from its closet! Apparently the walls were built up around the water heater and furnace. My husband had to cut out part of the wall and they're wrestling with removing it right now. The plumber hates us.

Thanks. I think we're going to try to move before the furnace needs replacing ;)
Stacia
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Until it dies. It can die from lots of things, each individual and varies in your area. Mostly the water. But the water heater can make a difference, too. Some are built better than others. Yours is the equivalent of a 90 year old person. It might make it for a while, but the odds are against it.
We have one (40-gallon, gas) which is original to the house, so

GIT R DONE before you got 40 gallons of water everywhere it can get and you're trying to get it dried out in cold weather.

Read up on it and visit local shops in your area, mostly water softener shops. Take a water sample to see how good/bad your water actually is. Take the same sample to a pool store, and see if the results are the same. They'll try to sell you overpriced systems, but you can ask questions about water heater electrodes and such while there. Maybe even get lucky and actually find someone at Lowe's or Home Depot that knows something.
VERY IMPORTANT: When you put in your new one, be absolutely certain to put a pan under it unless it sits next to a floor drain or somewhere you could shoot it with a shotgun and the water would run out safely without messing up a bunch of carpet and drywall and stuff. It's real simple to do it at that time, and impossible with the heater full of water. It's also cheap cheap cheap compared to a catastrophic cleanup.
Water heaters ALWAYS fail at 2AM local time. I wonder why that is.
HTH
Steve
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sounds like it is time to get moving and get a new one! BEFORE your end up with a lake in your basement.
we remodeled a couple years ago, and had a new 80 gal tank put in......................a new "energy efficient" kind...................SOUNDS like a damn space ship when it is on.............................. i hate it!
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