We have lived in this house 8-10 years. The natural gas water heater is the
same as when we moved in. One major benefit it has is it is pilot-light
enabled -- it doesn't require electricity. I have taken many hot showers by
candle light when the power has been off 2+ days here in Maryland USA.
What I DON'T want to have happen is come home one day to a flood of water
coming out of the utility room from the water heater after a catastrophic
Is it a "normal, good" practice to replace a water heater after a certain #
of years, whether or not it is still working fine?
With all due respect, I wouldn't count on this.
Unfortunately, water heaters sometimes fail catastrophically with no
warning. One of my neighbors across the street came home after a 3 hour
Xmas shopping trip to find the first floor of his house under 2 inches of
water due to the sudden failure of his water heater. It was a real drag
because he had just cashed out most of his equity in a refi to do about $50K
of refurbs and updates to his home (new hardwood flooring...the whole bit).
His homeowner's insurance covered the damage (less his $1500.00 deductible),
but he was expecting to have a lot of family come and stay over for the
holidays. Needless to say, this put a damper (no pun intended) on his
Christmas. He was not a happy camper.
I live in South Texas and we have a problem with lime and other hard water
deposits. As a result, water heaters don't last very long here, unless you
really stay on top of keeping them flushed and the anode(s) replaced as
I don't know the average life span of a water heater in Maryland. Your
water heater may be just fine, or it may be a ticking time bomb. IMHO, if
you have *any* doubts about it's condition, just replace it. The cost will
most likely be less than the deductible on your homeowner's policy - not to
mention the peace of mind of having dealt with it *before* it turned into an
FYI, here's one of my favorite sites regarding water heaters. Lots of good
Somewhere on the nameplate it should tell what year it was made.
It would be unusual to replace a heater simply because it is old; but if you
have the cash for it and want to avoid a problem, then there is no reason
I just replaced a 15 yo heater because the T&P valve had gone bad and I
figured it's time was about up.
My rule of thumb is keep it unless it isn't functioning. Remember that the
design of gas water heaters has changed now and they're more expensive.
Federal Law now requires a sealed combustion chamber as part of the design.
I don't think it is normal practice, but that is exactly what I'm about
to do now. My last hot water heater lasted 8 years, then one day I woke
up and my basement was flooded. It's now 8 years later, and I don't
want to go throught that mess again.
Biggest reason for being worth it:
Since lots of stuff was ruined, we called the insurance company who paid
the claim. My deductible was almost as much as a water heater would
cost, plus after they paid, they raised my rates, plus they only pay for
the damage. You still have to pay for a new water heater.
Overall, it's cheaper to replace every so many years. You decide when
it's convenient to replace, instead of having to replace it within a few
hours after it bursts, and dedicating the next few days to cleanup.
Of course, some people's water heaters just fail, don't bust and flood a
room, and last 15+ years, but with the quality of local water, it
differs for each person. I will say this, and that on my street where
all the houses were built within 8 months of each other, I saw a lot of
AO Smith (we all had these) water heaters left for trash pickup around
the same time. All our water heaters lasted about the same time.
Best of luck to you.
Opinions run the full spectrum. I work with a guy that believes
he should sell the house before the water heater needs replacement.
Richard Trethewey (the mechanical guy from this old house)
wrote in one of his books that the idea a heater heater should
only last 10 years is incorrect. He believes if you do three things
it will last 30 or more years. One, replace the anode every few years.
Two, flush it every 6 months to remove sediment. Three, change the cold
water dip tube (input tube) to one with a bend in it so it stirs the
sediment and reduces its build up.
The manual that came with my new heater suggested removing and
inspecting the anode every 3 years. And replace if it is more than
50% gone. Plus, flush the tank every 6 months.
The heater that came with my house lasted 12 years. The seconded
lasted 8. Go figure. I never replaced the anode on the second tank
because I could not find a plumbing store that new what an anode was.
I still have the old water heater and plan to check the anode before
I junk it. Bet it is completely gone. I did flush it once a year. Never
saw any noticable sediment.
Both heaters started with a slow leak. The first one I found within
a few days of when it started. The leak did not spread far. The second
one I think was leaking for a week or more. I noticed it when my stocking
foot got wet when I entered a room. Should have investigated that musty
smell when I first noticed it!
Its up to you. I am not sure I would replace one that is not leaking.
But my new one has a pan under it.
Sounds like good advice. Can you tell us what brand of water heater
you ended up buying? I am currently doing some research before replacing
my 9 year old water heater. I agree that from what I have learned so
far it seems that replacing the anode periodically is the best way to
make them last longer. However, I have seen some which makes this
maintenance harder by putting the anode in the pipes. Also, it seems
the magnesium rod is preferable to the aluminum type. I also will
try to get the plumber to install a ball valve (brass) drain to replace
whatever comes on a new one. I have found that the washers on the other
drain valves don't hold up over the years and I have had to screw a
brass cap over the drain to keep it from leaking.
Would be interested in what brand water heater you installed since it
apparently has an anode rod which can be replaced. Thanks.
derek firstname.lastname@example.org (Derek Toeppen) wrote in message
Thanks for the reply. I have a spec sheet from Lowe's on the Whirlpool
water heaters and I notice that that they specify certain models for
high altitude locations. I was wondering if perhaps you needed one of
these models if, in fact, your model was not a 'high altitude' model.
I am currently seriously considering the Lochinvar brand which my plumber
recommends. It has a large magnesium anode rod and a brass drain valve,
but the anode rod is in the water pipe, which I'm not too crazy about.
In any case, good luck with yours.
derek email@example.com (Derek Toeppen) wrote in message
I just installed a Whirlpool Gas Hot Water Heater 2 days ago.
I don't have the noise you have, and it sounds about the same as any
water heater I've owned, and I'm now on my 3rd in this house.
Everyone in the house thinks the water is hotter, even though the
thermostat on the water heater is set lower than the recommended setting.
I hve no complaints with it. I just got it from Lowe's and they had a
$99 installation, so it's price was about $150 less than Home Depot's or
Sears for the same size/type water heater.
All in all, I'm very satisfied. (As I said, it's only been 2 days, but
no complaints so far.)
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