I see Home Depot has a line of GE/Rheem gas water heaters:
* 40 gallon, 6 year warranty, $488
* 38 gallon, 9 year warranty, self-cleaning, $498
* 40 gallon, 12 year warranty, self-cleaning, $578
Other specs seem the same.
My question is, what does this self-cleaning mean, and is it likely
that the extra bucks for the 12-year is a good investment?
(given that I'll also be paying to have them install it, which given
venting and access issues will at least double the cost, the extra $80
isn't a big deal, but I'm still curious about it)
Water heaters are prone to sediment buildup that slows flow and causes other
problems over time. The self cleaning eliminates the need for draining the
bottom to clear the sediment. Has to do with the way the water circulates
in the tank.
Does it make a difference? Worth the price? That depends on the quality of
your water and how much solids can separate into the tank.
Is the 12 year a better deal? If you assume the heater will last the
warranty period, the annual cost of ownership is a bit less.
You're welcome, I know a little bit about how stuff works.
There is some debate about whether or not the feature is
effective at reducing sediment.
That sounds like mine (not self-cleaning). Sediment was there, but no
sediment came out of the drain because the drain valve's water pathway
is too small and angular to allow the sediment to come out. :-)
(it seemed to be about 1/4" x 1/4" in places - so all it takes is for a
flake of scale larger than that to fall to the bottom of the tank, and
nothing will escape the drain valve except water - giving the impression
that there's no sediment in there)
The "self cleaning" means it has a "turbulator" inlet - basically the
inlet tube goes to the bottom of the tank and then makes an arc around
the outer circumference of the tank - water coming in agitates the
water in the bottom of the tank reducing sediment deposits.
As for the 9 vs 12 year warranty it's basically just a better
"insurance policy" - tank is in most respects the same. Might have an
additional anode in the 12 year tank. For less than $30 a year I'd be
REAL tempted to spring for the 12 year tank.
And none of them qualify for a tax credit. Doing some .gov clicking I
learned that standard storage tanks pretty much don't qualify. Gas, Oil
and Propane Water Heaters need to have an Energy Factor >= 0.82 or a
thermal efficiency of at least 90%. The 3 referenced are in the .6
And here's a list of a shitload (specific unit of measurement
back in VT) of storage water heaters. They're all in the .6 range.
Pretty handy for lots of comparisons besides EF too.
1) Storage tank
Most storage tank water heaters can not qualify for the tax credit
because they can not meet the Energy Factor requirement of .82. However,
there are some commercial storage tank water heaters that can qualify
for the tax credit because they have a thermal efficiency of greater
than 90%. These models are larger than what is typically considered a
residential unit and may not have the standard safety features of
In Southern Arizona, our water contains a high degree of "gypsum".
Leave a glass of water out overnight,
and there's a white sediment on the bottom.
In water heaters, this builds up to a "paste"
that can't be flushed out using the water heater drain.
In time, the water heater must be replaced.
A heater with a "swirl" would lift the sediment
so it'd go out with the hot water.
I suspect you can still back-flush it, or remove the lower element and
scrape it with something - it might not get it all, but if it's done
every once in a while (annually, say) it can probably be done well enough
to extend the life of the tank considerably - up until the point that
the tank outright fails, I suppose.
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