Water heater questions

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It looks like our water heater might be on its last legs. before I order a new one, I thought I'd check out what the plumber told me.
What is the life expectancy of a good quality water heater?
What is a good quality water heater? Does the brand/model make that much difference?
The heater is installed in an unheated basement room in a mild climate (rarely under 40F and seldoim under 50F). Does having it wrapped in an insulating pad matter much?
Anything else I should know before deciding on a new heater?
Thanks so much
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Two, most of the time.
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On Wed, 07 Jan 2015 12:34:31 -0800, Jennifer Murphy

How good is your water? Gas or electric? In a place in the North East with a good city water system a water heater can go 15 or 20 years. Down here in Florida with bad well water I feel lucky to get 7 or 8 Gas usually lasts longer than electric but electric is easier to fix as long as the tank is good. Use dielectric fittings on the pipes and jumper around them. The steel tank will react to copper pipes. Some water heaters have them already.

It probably helps a little

Safest is to get it permitted and inspected. Some guys just throw them in without an inspection and you are really not sure what you are getting unless you know what to watch for.

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Gas
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On 1/7/2015 5:05 PM, Jennifer Murphy wrote:

Water source too. I'm on well water with electric heaters and am lucky to get 7 years.
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On Wed, 07 Jan 2015 16:17:09 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

The city water is pretty good, I think. The heater is gas.

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On Wednesday, January 7, 2015 5:06:26 PM UTC-5, Jennifer Murphy wrote:

Typical life of a gas one is 10 to 13 years, in my experience. As others have said, a lot depends on the water. Electric ones, typically 50%+ additional typical life.
IDK that it's worth it paying more for direct vent, higher efficiency, etc. In summer here, my gas bill is ~$17, which is for hot water and some small amount of gas grilling outside. Meaning, the WH isn't using all that much. Of course if you're on propane instead of NG, that could change things.

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Hi Jennifer,

I think the average is about 10-15 years, but there are a lot of variables that could affect it's life span (usage, water quality, electrolysis, etc.).

There's not much to a water heater, and you'll probably only have two or three brands to choose from. I would avoid the cheapest heaters, but don't buy more than you need either. For starters, look for lined tanks and good insulation.

Most water heaters these days are manufactured with good insulation already. You won't gain much by adding an external wrap.

Is it gas or electric?
Is your old heater leaking, or just not heating? You might be able to replace the heating element or thermostat at a lower cost than replacing the heater.
How big is your current heater? 40-50 gallons is typical, but if you have a large bath tub or several people in the home, you may want a larger tank.
How much space do you have for the heater? If you have low headroom you may need a short heater. If it fits in a closet or alcove, you might need to measure the available space and find a tank that fits.
You should use dielectric unions for the water connections. These help prevent corrosion caused by electrolysis (electrical differences in different types of metal).
You should have a drain pan to catch water if the tank develops a leak. Of course, the pan should drain somewhere safe, it won't hold 40+ gallons of water.
Make sure there is a new pressure relief valve on the water heater, and test it after installation to flush out any debris. Again, this should be plumbed to a safe drain somewhere.
You should also install a seismic strap to anchor the heater to a wall so it doesn't tip over if there is an earthquake.
If you currently have a gas water heater, you may want to consider tankless, on-demand water heaters. These are smaller units and only heat water when you use it, so you never run out of hot water.
If you have an electric heater, you may want to consider a heat pump water heater. These use a lot less electricity, but the heater will need to be located in a room with enough space to draw heat from. These extract heat from the air, so they may not function well in a tiny enclosed room.
Take care,
Anthony Watson www.mountainsoftware.com www.watsondiy.com
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On Wednesday, January 7, 2015 5:23:36 PM UTC-5, HerHusband wrote:

The dielectric union thing, I'm not convinced. If the old one had corrosion at the transition point, then I'd use them. I've had water heaters over many years, no DE unions, no corrosion issues. Code may require them though in some places.

Yes, good idea.

Every one I've seen comes with one.

If you're in an earthquake prone area.

When she does the math and finds out what they cost, including the many install issues, IMO it's a non-starter.

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On 01/07/2015 12:34 PM, Jennifer Murphy wrote:

If you want the best, you buy a Bradford-White and have it professionally installed. While it will cost significantly more than others, you won't have to worry about it for a very long time.
Jon
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On Wed, 07 Jan 2015 12:34:31 -0800, Jennifer Murphy

Gas or electric??? I've found it's generally worth while buying the higher waranty unit - the extra life is greater than the extra proportional cost due to more anodes and better lining, as well as brass drain valves instead of plastic and other details. My GSW lasted 20 years. 4 years in now on GE.
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On Wed, 07 Jan 2015 16:17:09 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Those that don't aren't really water heaters. They are just water-heater-ish pieces of junk.
A decent water heater has dialectric fittings and 2 anodes, as well as a brass sediment or drain valve. A good water heater also has a "turbulator" type inlet pipe that swirls the water around the tank as the water comes in. Generally any tank with those features is worth taking home. Any without, you may as well just leave at the store and go looking elsewhere.
The last couple of years the mid-high line Rheem Rudd manufactured units are pretty decent. GSW used to be real good, but since they closed the Fergus Ontario plant I don't see them up here any more.

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On Wed, 7 Jan 2015 22:23:05 +0000 (UTC), HerHusband

Inless your old one was too small, replace with the same size/style as you now have. Tall-boy or shorty, etc.

Don't even CONSIDER a tankless. They do NOT save you gas, they may require a larger gas service, and they are MONEY PITS - maintenance ie ridiculous on most of them

And in most cases a TOTAL waste of money. K.I.S.S.
Keep it simple stupid. A water heater should not be rocket science, and should not require stationary engineers papers to operate it.

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Jennifer Murphy wrote:

Hi, Our 9 year warrantied Kenmore WH is in it's 13th year. Never had any trouble since new. Our water is hard, we have softener.
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On Wed, 07 Jan 2015 12:34:31 -0800, Jennifer Murphy

The plumber just left. It was one of those odd combinations of events that I am sure was cooked up by some god I offended somewhere along the line.
The main problem was a failing heat sensor -- a coil of copper wires that watches for overheating. It apparently thought it was hotter than it really was, so it kept shutting the thing off after the water got lukewarm.
Coincidentally, and total unrelated, the drain value developed a leaking gasket, which made it look like the tank was leaking. Either one by themselves would have been easier to diagnose -- at least for a layperson. The plumber had no problem with it.
I should have hot water shortly.
Thank you all for your suggestions.
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On Wednesday, January 7, 2015 6:36:18 PM UTC-5, Jennifer Murphy wrote:

The drain valve ALWAYS leaks after the first annual sediment flush as a chu nk of sediment will inevitably get stuck in the washer/seat interface. I r eplace boiler drain type valves (especially the cheezy plastic ones that se em to come on many new water heaters) as a matter of course with a ball val ve. Usual setup would be a 3/4" NPT nipple to a 3/4" FPT ball valve and fi nally a 3/4" NPT to GHT fitting. I also put a brass GHT cap over the end s o that if someone kicks the lever of the ball valve when not intending to d rain the tank there's not a geyser of hot water shooting across the basemen t floor.
I also try to always have at least one or two GHT caps in my junk box becau se a quick fix for a leaking drain valve is to just cap it off until it can be repaired "properly" (or if it's on borrowed time, just left that way in definitely.)
nate
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I think our water heater came with the dielectric unions. Still, they are a minor expense for a little added insurance.
Our water is rather acidic and tends to be corrosive anyway. I used the dielectric unions just to be safe, even though the majority of our plumbing is PVC.

Yep, same here, but it's worth verifying and testing. You're supposed to test them regularly, but who does that... :)
Have you ever seen the episode of Mythbusters where they disabled the relief valve and thermostats on a water heater? It made a nice missle up through the roof! :)

Yep, the straps were a code requirement here in Washington state.
Anthony Watson www.mountainsoftware.com www.watsondiy.com
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Generally good advice, though there's no guarantee the original heater was properly sized. If the previous owners had a bigger family or enjoyed long showers, they may have installed an oversized tank. Or, maybe they found a good deal on a shorty heater, when a standard tank would work just as well.
It's at least worth seeing what you have, and seeing what is recommended.

They have their place and are standard equipment in many parts of the world. They work especially well when the water usage is sporadic, such as a vacation rental or summer home. Why pay to heat water when no one is using it.
That said, I have "used" a lot of tankless heaters, but never "owned" one myself to know what maintenance or longevity issues they may have.

They can be cheaper to operate than resistive electric heating, but they have limits. The heat has to come from somewhere, which is generally heat loss from other rooms.
It wouldn't make sense to use an electric heater to warm up the room for the heat pump to extract.

How about a geo-thermal heat pump with solar assist? A few hundred feet of pipe, pumps, heat converters, and expansion tanks. Maybe throw in some kind of computerized tracking mechanism to maximize exposure on the solar panels. :)
Anthony
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On Wed, 07 Jan 2015 15:37:13 -0800, Jennifer Murphy

It sounds like you got an honest guy there. He could have easily sold you a new water heater.
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On Wed, 07 Jan 2015 19:49:45 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

We've used this company for 20 years, so they would not benefit from cheating us. We also have a very active neighborhood community, which, since the Internet, is online and very dynamic. Any shenanigans wohild quickly spread through the community with severe consequences. This company is well respected.
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