It's an A.O. Smith 40 gallon gas water heater.
We can get it replaced, no worries financially. Bradford White, $800
I just want to know how can you tell how long it will continue to
The HVAC guys that replaced our central air/heating system said we
should consider getting it replaced. Our plumber agreed.
Of course, being Mr. Cynical that I am, they probably need the
Our basement is finished, so we can't really let it go for too long.
So there's that too.
Our realtor says those things can last for a long time. Apparently
longer than 14 years.
So she says one thing, the guys that get paid installing these things
My wife is now worried that it will go any minute. I try to tell her
to remain calm and tell her that's exactly what the HVAC and plumber
want her to be - paranoid.
Just get 'er done?
ask neighbors how long theres lasted.
Ours is 8 years old and due for replacement, around here they always
fail by 10.
new heater will be far more energy efficent.
you might consider installing a drip pan or other arrangement so
future failure cant damage finiushed space.
a buddy built a low block wall, and added drain line to sewer to keep
leak water visible but confined to non finished space,
of course his baSEMENT IS BELOW GROUND LEVEL
his tank leaked while he was on 2 week vacation, filled the basement
with water that finally spilled out front door. drbris had floated
over and clogged basement sewer drain.
did about 70 grand in damage, new furnace, main service and wiring,
basement finished totalled, ruined hardwood floors upstairs, new
kitchen cabinets, mold from all that moisture had started growing
his home looked awesome when complete, his family lived in hotel for
2 months while repairs went on. a exteded stay place.
really code shoul require heater catch basins, and ones for washing
homeowners insurance required and paid for the heater catch basin....
Bob F gets my vote for best and most succinct response in the
I installed my AO Smith 40-gal. gas FSG in '92. Just finished
pulling anode, etc. Draining from tank shows nearly no sediment.
Anode is pretty well pitted, but not at all trashed. After
16 years light use in St. Louis, MO, USA.
Now, if I could just find a replacement anode ... :-)
"Take Yo' Hand Out My Pocket (I Ain't Got Nothing What Belongs To You)!"
- Rice Miller, who probably never even _heard_ of GW Bush, Paulson, etc
Water heaters have a sacrificial anode which is made of less noble
metal, typically magnesium I think, so that it will slowly dissolve
via electrolysis, instead of the metal tank. It's the same idea as
putting zinc on the underwater metal of a boat. The anode is a long
rod that screws into the tank from the top. It has a hex head, which
I believe fits a 1 1/8" socket.
You can check the anode every few years and determine how fast it is
being used up, then replace it when appropriate. I don't have
actual enough experience, nor have I ever seen any test data to be
able to tell you if it in fact it does extend the life of the tank
significantly. Also, it helps protect against corrosion to some
extent, but there are more than one failure mechanisms at work.
With a finished basement and a 14 year old gas heater, if it were me,
I'd replace it.
The anode? What does that do and who can repair that - plumber?
Water: we live in SouthEastern Pennsylvania, does that help?
I'm in your general area and with my well water, electric water heaters
only last 6-7 years. When mine have failed, they just start leaking but
none catastrophically to flood basement. I would only replace if it
fails but as others suggest, have some way to catch water if need be.
An anode is a metal road that extends into the water from the top of the
tank. It can keep the inside of the tank from rusting. On some tanks
they are easy for a homeowner to replace. It probably needs a good
electrical bond to the tank. I don't know if that precludes using
teflon tape to prevent leaks.
If I contemplated replacing an anode, I'd want to know if it was likely
to be needed for people on my water system, how difficult the job would
be with my tank, and what was the best way to seal the joint.
When I replaced a water heater on a wood floor, I put it in a plastic
tub two inches deep. That way I was able to notice leaks before the
floor got wet. It also keeps the floor dry during maintenance and
repair procedures. I don't know if putting your tank into a shallow tub
would be too much trouble.
An anode is a sacrificial metal element, usually a rod or chain that is
made of a metal that is electrochemically more active than the water
heater tank (aluminum or magnesium alloys). The anode corrodes instead
of the water heater tank. The rod must connect electrically to the tank
so Teflon tape is not a good idea.
Most often the initial failure is a slow leak, not a violent rupture so
placing the water heater in a shallow pan, even if it isn't connected to
a drain is adequate if you also put a leak detector which is connected
to an alarm in the pan.
Rod anodes are difficult to remove or install unless you have high
ceilings. Chain anodes are best for replacements.
I've read that if there's not enough head room, you can bend an anode as
you withdraw it.
How about flushing a couple of gallons from the bottom every year or so?
It would remove sediment. Wouldn't increased rust be a warning to
replace the anode?
The water heater with the pan is in a utility room with lots of traffic.
The leaks I detected with it were at the threaded and soldered
connections at the top of the tank. Because of evaporation, it might
have taken months for the tub to overflow from the drippy leaks.
Without the tub I would have had damage to the wood before I noticed.
I don't remember any catastrophic leaks where I have lived. Maybe it's
because water pressure has been about 40 PSI. Online, I've found that
some water systems specify 80 PSI while others require regulators if
it's above 50.
I wonder if keeping pressure down to 40 or 50 would extend the life of
plumbing and make catastrophic leaks less likely.
On 11/18/08 11:35 am firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
As a first-time homeowner in the USA, I had not realized that water
heaters typically have such a short life. My home in Australia had a
25-yr warranty unit.
Here we have a Ruud gas water heater which looked new enough when we
moved in 5 years ago that I thought no more of it.
Now you have me worried. I looked up this unit and found that it had
only a 6-year warranty which expired 6 years ago already. I knew nothing
about checking the anode until reading these messages, so I'll do that ASAP.
And I see that manufacturers state that life is related to water
pressure. What is considered reasonable? The last time I checked ours at
an outdoor spigot it showed 80psi.
I assume that a new one is going to have to be installed by a
professional? Typical cost?
Some building codes require pressure regulators. I think the default
setting is 50 PSI. Some codes require valves to keep water from the
house from flowing back into the mains. In this case, an expansion tank
can protect a water heater by reducing peak pressure.
According to the University of Illinois, water heaters last 13 years on
average. Since many last only 6 or 8, many must last a lot longer. One
plumber says they can easily last 20 years if routinely flushed.
I get a white bucket and connect a length of garden hose to the drain
valve at the bottom of the water heater. I shut off the water heater
and its cold-water supply. Then I put the end of the hose into the
bucket and open the drain valve.
There are two reasons I shut off the cold-water supply. First, I don't
want a mess if I have trouble with the drain valve. Second, shutting
off the supply valve occasionally can keep it in working order.
I turn on the supply valve to flush water from the bottom of the tank
into the bucket. If it's not running clean by the time the bucket is
full, I dump it and flush again. If it had much rust I'd replace the
Some modern water heaters don't need flushing.
Where water is hard, a water softener can make a water heater last longer.
The last time I replaced a water heater, I had to call a plumber because
I didn't have a crimper or expertise for working with polybutylene pipe.
He charged $100 to make a couple of connections. He was
disappointed that I'd already bought the new water heater. Records show
that he was the one who installed polybutylene in this house, and it was
after widespread problems had come to light. I'm glad I didn't have him
supply the new water heater.
Many new heaters have a "turbulator" that prevents or greatly reduces
sediment buildup. Mine is at least 15 years old - I installed it to
replace the original that was something like 18 years old one
Christmas Eve when it decided to go FUBAR. I flushed it just for the
heck of it yesterday and the water was barely cloudy with no signs of
rust. Standard GSW gas heater.
Your plumber did nothing wrong by installing polybutylene pipe. The
massive problems with polybutylene was because of improper installation,
not defective material. Many plumbers first action was to throw away
the installation instructions...they knew every thing already. Improper
assembly and crimping of the connectors was the problem.
I continue to use polybutylene in my home and have NO problems...but I
did take time to read and understand the instructions that came with the
connectors and crimper.
You may have one of the brighter plumbers.
I didn't say he wasn't smart. Every customer with PB has to call him
for every repair because he's the one with the crimpers. Cash cow.
Shell was sued for faulty materials and installation. With a billion
dollars at stake, why didn't they demonstrate that plumbers had failed
to follow instructions?
Why haven't other countries had problems? Is it only in America that
some plumbers don't follow instructions? Why does the Plumbing Claims
Group insist that PB is reliable yet use only C-PVC?
The PB manufacturers group hired HDR Engineering of Bellevue WA to see
if chlorine compounds found in drinking water attack the plastics used
in PB fittings. Steve Reiber of HDR says yes.
Plumbing contractor Tom Sagau defends PB. He says the problem is that
crimpers must constantly be calibrated because if a crimp is too tight,
the pipe will split later. So the customer has a time bomb if the
plumber makes a small error.
Wayne Bryant, a marketing representative for the Plumbers & Steamfitters
Local 741, says they had their doubts about PB in the 1970s and they
still do. He says it's buyer beware.
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