Why do gas water heaters fail?

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The lining is imperfect. See http://www.waterheaterrescue.com/pages/WHRpages/English/Inside-A-hot-water-heater.html

More and/or better anodes. You can also retrofit a tank before it's installed. http://www.waterheaterrescue.com/pages/WHRpages/English/water-heater-anodes.html
How much more

Rheem handles handles this with plastic. http://www.rheem.com/consumer/catalogRes_detail.asp?id 
The longevity champions these days are the tankless heaters.
P.S.: I think I spend way too much time worrying about water heaters, but the warranty on mine ran last year and . . .
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They fail due to failure of the glass lining. It fails due to the manufacture of the tank but more likely, the handling of the tank before or during installation. Bumps, hit, drops etc. effect the lining and then the water is against the steel. If the glass was intact all over the steel, the tank wouldn't fail from the inside out. Problem is, all lining will fail at some point if there is hard water in the tank and heat is applied under the resulting scale. Steam is created under and in the 'sediment' (hard water scale) and steam is very powerful. The resulting explosion causes a break in the lining and time is now the enemy to bare steel under water. Water of very varying quality as far as it being acidic or otherwise aggressive to bare steel. And of course the outside of oil and gas fired water heaters (the tank) is also bare steel with flame added every so often for various periods of time.
Anyway, here's a copy of a (false) statement I saw on one of the URLs in a post on down in the thread: "Water softeners can help reduce sediment, but anodes can corrode in as little as six months if the water is over-softened."
Question: How do you over soften water? Water softening is the removal of hardness from a water. All the water tests I've ever used states water as soft if not hard to some 'degree'; usually stated as grains per gallon or mg/l or ppm, of hardness. I know of and use a tincture soap water test that shows if the water is soft or hard but... maybe these water heater manufacturers and web site guys know something about water hardness that I don't? But I don't think so. Water is either soft or hard, and the amount of hardness is measurable but the softness, it is not measurable.
Gary Quality Water Associates www.qualitywaterassociates.com Gary Slusser's Help Forum www.qualitywaterassociates/phpBB2/
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Gary Slusser wrote:

Ain't life grand when everybody uses different terms, but I think this is a trick question. Of course you can't make water too soft, because soft in absolute terms means an absence of minerals, i.e., pure water. But water quality and water softner people (you?) talk about hardness which is the concentration of certain minerals and they consider softness the absence of just those specific minerals. I'll bet that what they meant wasn't "too soft" but too conductive by adding replacement ions. Now whether water softners really increase the concentration of ions to significantly the increases the corrosion of the anode, I don't know.
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I'm glad you agree, and there was no trick question. Speaking of different terms..... my industry isn't allowed to use the word "pure" unless we speak to microbiological content. And soft relates only to hardness content. Sorry, that's the way it is from residential to commercial to industrial water treatment. But take another stab at defining what was actually said; over-softened.
Ion exchange softening increases the TDS (total dissolved solids) of the water very little. And it's not corrosion of the anode rod that causes the glass lined steel tank to rust through.
Gary Quality Water Associates www.qualitywaterassociates.com Gary Slusser's Help Forum www.qualitywaterassociates/phpBB2/
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Gary Slusser wrote:

Various industries and disciplines do use terms differently but their spokesmen should know the difference. No ordinary person thinks pure water refers only to lack of biologics. Shoot, "Have some pure water son, sorry it full of DDT and every other insecticide. I suppose your industry doesn't concider acidity either, so here is my last gasp. Maybe over-softened means too basic, but I would think that rusting would be more associated with too acidic.
Over softened is sort of like over-stopped, except everyone know what stopped means, and few people really know what softened means and if they did they would say, "What the hell!" But to reduce corrosion to zero in drinkable water, you essentially have to use pure water. Well, the anode is there to prevent the tank from rusting through, preventing or lack of preventing is the cause of the rusting.
BTW, where does all that damn salt go?
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Are you saying I don't know the terms of my industry? The ordinary person of today pays little attention to correct terminologies and make up their own as they go. Who was it that said pure when we were speaking about oversoftening?
Using your definition of the word pure, or at least its usage today, the water that my industry can call pure is deionized water at 18 megohms.
To prevent corrosion, we look at the causes and if there are any in the water, we buffer the acidity, reduce the DO and CO2 content along with the chlorides and sulfate, H2S and go on. None of them have anything to do with purifying water BTW. Even in the terminologies applied by the common folks, they see purifying as filtering and then usually, that means removal of chlorine, anything floating in the water or otherwise smelly. They mostly don't mean the other A-Z thingies found in water because many don't know of them; that's usually due to them not reading and having attention spans measured in seconds. All due to their life style choices of making every penny they can so they can qualify for more credit and have more 'things' and simply not having enough time, or energy.
The vast majority of the 'salt' goes into the drain line and out to drain. 7.85 mg/l per each 10 gpg of compensated hardness exchanged is added to the water.
Gary Quality Water Associates www.qualitywaterassociates.com Gary Slusser's Help Forum www.qualitywaterassociates/phpBB2/
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Hey Gary,
Been watching this one for a while and just couldn't keep my hands off the keyboard any longer. ;-) I'll throw my 2 cents into the air and then revert to lurking again.
Oversoftening in my mind is bring the calcium content of a water to zero, i.e. exactly what an ion-exchange softener does. From my POV as a public utility water provider, this is similar to jumping out of the skillet of extreme hard water and into the fire of 'oversoftened' water. Both extremes create their own problems. If a customer *wants* soft*er* water (IMHO very few actually *need* soft water) they can install a diverter around the softener to meter some unsoftened water back into treated stream thus lowering the hardness to a manageable level without 'oversoftening'. Most systems even have the diverting plumbing already in place, lacking only the metering valve.
Really Gary, sometimes ya gotta think outside the box... or resin tank as the case may be. ;-)
(I'm not even going to touch where the salt goes... this time anyway. My folks still have rotting stumps where the beautiful blue spruce and shag-bark hickory use to grow.)
David Thomas Senior Analyst
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Thanks for the article, and thanks for the conversions. Grains per gallon has absolutely no meaning to me than acre-feet per hour has to most people. Considering that a can of Cambells soup may have nearly 900 mg of salt, the numbers you show for salt addition of softened water are indeed miniscule.
RB wrote:

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"George E. Cawthon" wrote:

Miniscule, perhaps George, but this source of sodium should still be made aware to a patient on a sodium restricted diet.

RB, I'm sorry but I never saw your original post and the attachment link in this response post does not exist for my Google newsgroup browser.
I'm not at all surprised the doctor was rusty on basic chemistry. He's been dealing with higher order biological reactions for so long, it's like the physicist who has to use a calculator to find the sum of two plus two. His mind is just operating on a different level. ;-)
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David Thomas wrote:

I agree, but RB's paper indicated about 76 mg/l of sodium for moderately hard water. Many of those patients would eat a can of soup that had ten times as much sodium and never give it a thought. Much like the person with a hole in his throat still smoking cigaretts. Besides, how many people drink a two liters of water a day?
I'm not convinced that following the maximum recommendation of salt will have much beneficial effect, especially compared to the potential bad side effect of low sodium.

Actually you give too much credence to doctor's original knowledge of basic chemistry. Many never understood it; but you are right most forgot it because it (especially physical chem) really has little to do with what they do.
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George E. Cawthon wrote:

According to the statistics, most everyone *consumes* the equivalent of two liters a day. ;-) This includes the moisture found in your bread, meat, etc. which obviously didn't come out of your water tap. However, the water used to reconstitue that can of soup, in that cup of coffee, etc. may very well have come from your tap. The volume of two liters is simply used as 'worst case' and levels the playing field.

The body has a great way of elementing excess sodium, I agree. I believe (though I may be wrong) that sodium restricted diets are an attempt to lower the bloop pressure by lowering the consumption of fluids, i.e. eating high sodium foods makes us thirsty as the body needs the fluids to rid itself of the excess sodium. My uncle was placed on such a diet and does monitor and attempt to minimize his sodium intact. I don't offhand remember what his daily allowed sodium intact is, but I'm pretty sure two liters of ion-exchange softened water would put a fair dent in it. A dent he might prefer to exchange for one salty french fry.

;-)
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David Thomas wrote:

Equivalent is different. And people that carry around 1 liter drinking bottles probably do drink at least 2 liters each day. But many people like me drink 2 cups of coffee, and maybe 2 glasses of water don't come close to 2 liters. Not saying what is in the wine, but worrying about a little salt is crazy compared to all the compounds found in wine.

Limiting salt intake isn't done to limit water consumption but to limit water retention which swells tissues and make it harder to pump blood, thus putting a strain on the heart. That's why doctors (at least those in the know) generally prescribe a diuretic in addition to other medicines for high blood pressure.

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It was/is a .doc file attachment of an article he wrote concerning the subject of sodium in softened water.
Gary Quality Water Associates www.qualitywaterassociates.com Gary Slusser's Bulletin Board www.qualitywaterassociates/phpBB2/

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Spoken just as I would expect from a long term water company employee where the water you're selling the once unsuspecting public is very hard. All the while saying it's good for them and they shouldn't complain.
As I told you a few years ago. If the discharge from any water treatment is directed at vegetation, expect it to not do well, and die. If the vegetation is wanted, the direction of the water should be redirected to another location, minus any wanted vegetation of course.
You're welcome to return to lurk mode now.
Gary Quality Water Associates www.qualitywaterassociates.com Gary Slusser's Bulletin Board www.qualitywaterassociates/phpBB2/
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Sorry to post a follow-up so quickly but thought of this just as I hit the 'Post' button.
Did a quick search and came-up with the following "Hardness" table. (Saw several but just closed my eyes and grabbed one.)
0 to < 70 PPM (Very soft water) 70 to < 140 PPM    (Soft Water) 140 to < 210 PPM (Medium Hard) 210 to < 320 PPM (Fairly Hard) 320 to < 540 PPM (Hard) 540 PPM and above (Very hard)
According to this, my water ranges between 'Soft Water' and 'Medium Hard' i.e. 120-175 ppm Total Hardness as CaCO3.
Interesting that your industry, Gary, only has one definition for 'Soft Water' while everyone else uses ranges... but then everyone else isn't trying to sell softeners. [$cha-ching$] ;-)
David Thomas Senior Analyst
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You oughta be.

Why don't you tell us what industry and association publishes and uses that chart. It certainly isn't commercial or industria type folks or the water treatment industry. Actually it isn't anyne that needs quality water for whatever thier intended use.

Name us other industries that use your chart and would agree with your personal preferrence for hard water when they need to improve their water quality.

Gary Quality Water Associates www.qualitywaterassociates.com Gary Slusser's Bulletin Board www.qualitywaterassociates/phpBB2/
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Gary Slusser wrote:

I didn't say that about terms, I said every industry has their own terms. Yep, the ordinary person doesn't know much. I didn't say that.

Not my definition of pure. Pure water is what you have when you triple glass distill water. Like the term Chemically Pure (CP)

I agree, most people don't know about all the a-z thingies but they assume that filtering removes all the harmful stuff.

That's not a lot but how does that compute in ppm of sodium for a fairly hard water?

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I see where I have a typo above concerning the 7.85 mg/l sodium added per each 10 gpg.... it should say 7.85 per each 1 gpg. Sorry about that. Skim milk has 530 mg/l per 8 oz glass. Those under sodium restricted diets count their sodium intake and know how to keep it under their personally acceptable levels per day. Many common foods and beverages have much more sodium than say 20 gpg water that has been softened by ion exchange water softening. Also, getting much sodium into the blood stream by drinking water containing sodium is at best very questionable.
Distillation is not commercially viable as a solution to treating water to "pure" quality water, and without carbon filtration, certain things found in supposedly potable water will not be removed by distillation; such as gasses and volatile chemicals.
Gary Quality Water Associates www.qualitywaterassociates.com Gary Slusser's Bulletin Board www.qualitywaterassociates/phpBB2/
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Gary Slusser wrote:

Yes, I know, prepared foods often have lots of sodium. Not sure what you mean about sodium into the blood stream from salt water. Sodium goes very fast directly into the blood stream. People that run out of sodium can go into a "fit" where the muscles all contract. Pouring highly salted water into the clamped shut mouth can make the body relax in seconds. But if you just drink salty water you are likely to barf. Having worked in a smelter in front of bottle furnaces for separating zinc from lead and then helped pour silver, I am familiar with salt loss. We often took 4-6 salt tablets per day and still the sweat would pouring off you would be absent any salt taste. At that point you knew to take more salt pills so you wouldn't have severe leg cramps.
I don't know about commercially now, but it was the standard at one time for certain uses and remains the standard for scientific work. Yes there are some chemicals that can only be removed by other measures as they will move over with the water, but still design makes a large difference. Distilled water from copper stills is often not acceptable for biologic work because the very minute traces of copper will interfere.
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Humm, I think you dropped a decimal there Gary. That or 'compensated hardness' isn't measured as CaCO3.
Molcular weight of CaCO3 is 100 while Sodium is 23. Two Sodiums are exchanged for every Calcium so the exchange ratio is 46/100 or 0.46. 10 gpg multiplied by 17.1 ((mg/L)/gpg) gives a 'compensated hardness' of 171 mg/L, multiplied by our exchange ratio of 0.46 gives 78.7 mg/L of Sodium added to the water, not 7.8. You missed the correct answer by a factor of ten.
I sure hope you don't do that on your invoices. ;-)
David Thomas Senior Analyst
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