When to replace water heater?

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I'm looking for some advice on when to replace a water heater. Obviously when it ruptures and water goes all over your basement is a good time, but prior to that, what is a good rule of thumb. The reason I'm asking is that our local gas company is offering a $200 rebate to customers for their purchase and installation of a new water heater. Our 50-gal water heater appears to be functioning just fine but it's 10 years old. From what I can tell it has a 5 year warranty from Rheem. I'm wondering if it would be wise, or overly cautious, to replace it at this point. Any advice? Thanks.
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tivo-guy wrote:

Avg life on gas heaters is 10 years. YMMV
Jim
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This $200 rebate, to qualify, do they say who you have to get the next one through? I feel an inflated installation charge/unit price coming. I imagine they will restrict you to buying a gas unit over electric so what other rules are in there?
If you can go to Sears/Lowes/HD and get a new one installed for $400 or less, and still get the rebate, then that might not be a bad deal.
Mines 26 years old and on its 3rd set of elements(electric). I drain it every two years and check the elements. Have you been draining it to remove any sediment build-up?
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My electric water heater is 27 years old and going strong. It seems foolish to replace something unless you have to.

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I agree. My WH has been delivering since '82. Why fix it if it aint broke? Joe
davefr wrote:

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You could check the anode and replace it if necessary. The anode is there to protect the glass. Once it dissolves the water starts on the glass.

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Protect the glass?
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Frank wrote:

Yes. Glass is soluble in water. Slightly.
Something else few people know: the only known solvent for carbon is liquid iron.
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Tivo you must live in Georgia! I am getting mine installed tomorrow. I am replacing a 14 year-old AO Smith. I decided to take the Home Depot route and bought the 12-year warranty GE 40 GAL. Just make sure a licenced plumber installs it or you won't get the rebate!
tivo-guy wrote:

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I am in GA. Roswell to be exact. So you're going to get the $200 AGL offer and the $50 gift card from HD for buying a heater there? Out of curiosity, how much will your installation cost? Did you go through HD? Thanks!

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Didn't know anything about a $50 gift card. Paying $280 for install because our home is 14 years old and we didn't have a recovery tank.
tivo-guy wrote:

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Go to www.homedepot.com and look under rebates.....
http://www.homedepot.com/prel80/HDUS/EN_US/diy_main/pg_diy.jsp?BV_SessionID=@@@@0826897417.1104412704@@@@&BV_EngineIDdjadddhgmmjdjcgelceffdfgidglo.0&CNTTYPE=PROD_META&CNTKEY=Promotions/Rebate%20Center&MID76&pos=n47

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Thanks Tivo! I would not have noticed that. I have to buy a chainsaw so this will help!
tivo-guy wrote:

http://www.homedepot.com/prel80/HDUS/EN_US/diy_main/pg_diy.jsp?BV_SessionID=@@@@0826897417.1104412704@@@@&BV_EngineIDdjadddhgmmjdjcgelceffdfgidglo.0&CNTTYPE=PROD_META&CNTKEY=Promotions/Rebate%20Center&MID76&pos=n47
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Just make sure a

A "licensed plumber" installed a new heater for my neighbor, a very anal type. The neighbor, not the plumber. The nice plumber only charged Dan $600. Dan, of course, got the heater on sale at Home Depot, so saved a lot there. And since it was done by a "licensed plumber", it is warrantied, as Dan explained. Well, the water heater is warrantied, and Dan would ONLY have to pay the labor to have it changed.
I, on the other hand, change my own. In the family, we have three residences, and four rental properties. When it starts goofing up, I shoot it and drag it to the curb. I buy another at HD. Of course, I save the $600 plumber's labor, and I figure that puts me two water heaters ahead each time I change one myself, thus giving me a "two water heater warranty." I like that better because I don't have to keep all those papers, and I won't go out of business in the next ten years (hopefully) and leave myself hanging on to a worthless warranty.
If I do go out of business (die) in the meantime, I ain't going to give a hoot about the water heater anyway. Warranties are like toilet paper. Good for wiping, and not much else.
Steve
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wrote

$600 to install a water heater in robbery IMO! It's like a 2 hour job if you take 2 coffee breaks.
Those utility company rebates almost always require that an overpriced 'professional' must do the installation which more than eliminates any saving.
I replaced mine for $150 and bought the model with the basic warranty 2-4 years IIRC. With an anode rod they produce almost no sediment.
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Locally a major part of the fee is disposal. A gas heater, with changes to the flue and gas piping needed to accomodate a newer heater might run $600 to install even at a reasonable rate.
Jeff
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Good for you!
SteveB wrote:

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Hot water heaters are not that hard to replace yourself. I did mine about 6 years ago - try to get one that is the same height as the existing one. cold water in, hot water out, connect the vent, light it up, that's it...
I think I bought mine at HD for about $325, it was the best 40g one they had. (I only have two people in my house.)
FWIW, my old one gave symptoms of going when it failed to keep up with hot water demands...that when I got rid of it.
When it starts to go, replace it, but that gas co. deal looks like a sucker bet.
Bluesman
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What do you mean - sucker bet?
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rip off. Telling you it is a great deal but if you combine the cost of the tank they want you to get and the installer they want you to use, you will end up spending more than you would have on your own.
I could be wrong- look into it, see what the restictions are, it may be a good deal.
Bluesman
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