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Water Heater Promblem?

Old 02-24-08, 09:47 AM
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Water Heater Promblem?

I was in the basement today and saw the water under the heater was damp, not like running water, but some sort of drip.

I removed one of the cover plates and the bottom of the heater was damp and rusty, meaning it was all but guaranteed to be from the heater. The fittings at the top don't appear to be leaking.

So, where would this water be coming from? A pinhole leak in the tank? It appears to be heating water fine. I don't know if the situation calls for a plumber to come out and determine if it needs to be replaced. If there is a leak, can it be fixed?

The house was built in '98, so the heater is about 10 years old. What is the lifespan of a modern water heater? How much should I expect to pay for a new 50 gallon gas heater? I was thinking about a tankless system. Would this be a good thing or bad thing if we are going to be selling soon? Cost effective?
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Old 02-24-08, 09:50 AM
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Electric or Gas?

I've heard that tankless systems aren't as efficient as they claim to be. I'll wait for OldDude to come up with the science to back up or reject that statement.
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Old 02-24-08, 10:22 AM
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It is a nat. gas heater.

Looking around at various home improvement sites, and it appears the tankless is about twice the base cost of a standard 50 gallon. That is before installation. So I don't think there would be any benefit for me, as I will probably be (trying) to sell this year. Although filling the whirlpool tub would be easier, since I won't run out of hot water when filling.
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Old 02-24-08, 10:26 AM
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Have you ever done maintenance on the heater?

If the water heater springs a serious leak, it can flood your house with water before you get home from work. The inlet pipe will keep trying to fill the heater, and the water just keeps running out the hole. Get on the stick and replace that heater.

This website is incredibly helpful: http://www.waterheaterrescue.com/pag...er-heater.html

It also discusses tankless heaters.
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Old 02-24-08, 10:31 AM
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Same site: troubleshooting leaks.

http://www.waterheaterrescue.com/pag...ter-leaks.html
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Old 02-24-08, 12:21 PM
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10 years is about right.. just open the phone book and call someone to replace it. It should be somewhere between. you could fix it, but it will likely be a temporary fix, and you want to avoid a serious leak. Unless you are really mechanically inclined and can fix it yourself, repairing it would cost about 1/2 the price of getting it replaced. I wanna guess it was about $750 the last time I had it changed, but they had to add special siesmic strapping being that it was in an older house in CA.
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Old 02-24-08, 01:13 PM
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The lifespan for a water heater is 15 years. I just replaced mine right before Christmas - at 21 years.

Anyway, the cost for a new 40 gallon heater was about $350, plus another $50 for some new hoses / connections. I installed it myself. It's something you can do - there are only three connections; water in, water out, and natural gas. Just connect those three items and you're done, it's not rocket science and certainly not worth the hundreds that plumbers want to charge.

As far as the old water heater goes, be sure to turn it upside down in your driveway to completely drain it then take it to a metal recycler (a local one took mine at no charge to me).
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Old 02-24-08, 01:44 PM
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Yes, it is coming from a leak which will get worse. Replace ASAP. Some live more, some less, but 10 years is about where they go.
(Higher priced ones may have longer guarentees and service life)
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Old 02-24-08, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Heat
The lifespan for a water heater is 15 years. I just replaced mine right before Christmas - at 21 years.

Anyway, the cost for a new 40 gallon heater was about $350, plus another $50 for some new hoses / connections. I installed it myself. It's something you can do - there are only three connections; water in, water out, and natural gas. Just connect those three items and you're done, it's not rocket science and certainly not worth the hundreds that plumbers want to charge.

As far as the old water heater goes, be sure to turn it upside down in your driveway to completely drain it then take it to a metal recycler (a local one took mine at no charge to me).

I see from the site above, that the difference between a 6 year and a 12 year is the anodes. i may put in a 6, since I doubt i will be here that long.

I wasn't sure if I needed to solder the copper, or if flex tubes can be used, like a washing machine.

I can get a 6 year from HD for $320, and try and install. I mean I can solder, so sweating copper can't be too much different.
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Old 02-24-08, 06:59 PM
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Home Depot sells a Benz-o-Matic plumbing kit that has a torch, flux, leadless solder, emery cloth, and propane. The plumbers at work told me to get MAPP gas because it's hotter, and you're less likely to conduct as much heat away down the pipe.

I haven't tried it yet. But I want to install water shutoff valves on my water heater. Everyone assures me that sweating copper is easy. I'm still working up the nerve.
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Old 02-24-08, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by OldDude
Yes, it is coming from a leak which will get worse. Replace ASAP. Some live more, some less, but 10 years is about where they go.
(Higher priced ones may have longer guarentees and service life)
When I looked at them last summer, the higher priced ones also had much better insulation R-values. I plan to buy an expensive one just for the energy savings.
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Old 02-24-08, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Nick Danger
When I looked at them last summer, the higher priced ones also had much better insulation R-values. I plan to buy an expensive one just for the energy savings.
I looks like the 12 year is over 1.5" thicker than the 6 year, so that is over double the r value, for about $150 (or 50%) more money.

I may buy the 12 year, and try to install myself. Worst case, I muck things up and have to call a plumber.

Last edited by jonw9; 02-24-08 at 08:16 PM.
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Old 02-24-08, 08:20 PM
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How does your water heater vent out the gases? Most standard gas water heaters have a exhaust vent that is located at the center of the unit on the top.

I had something similar happen to our water heater. A puddle of water and rust, plus our pilot light would always blow out whenever it rained. I thought it was the wind... turns out, a hardly noticeable small trickle of water was running down the side of the exhaust vent right through the center of the unit and ended up putting out the pilot light at the bottom. I "MacGyvered" a way to divert the trickle of water... and we haven't had a blown out pilot light since.
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Old 03-03-08, 08:33 AM
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I finished shopping for models. I am down to a 50 gallon, 12 year Richmond from Menards for $415, or a 60 gal. high demand GE from HD for $550.

I don't know if the extra 10 gallons are really necessary. On one hand it would come in handy filling the big whirlpool tub. On the other hand, we never use the tub so it is a non-issue for us. I don't think it would really be a "selling" point other than "new water heater"

HD wants $250 to install a heater, so obviously I will do it myself. The only think I saw at the store was flex lines, but my heater is hard piped. I was thinking about cutting off the hard lines and adding connectors in order to install the flex lines. Does this sound OK?

Last edited by jonw9; 03-03-08 at 10:05 AM. Reason: Poor spelling and nonsense
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Old 03-03-08, 09:29 AM
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go with the 50 if you don't plan on staying there long..
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Old 03-03-08, 09:51 AM
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Did you do any research on tankless? I was surprised how negative that site was on them. I'd be curious of any findings you came up with while shopping.
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Old 03-03-08, 10:04 AM
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I did look into tankless. Basically the cost is roughly twice for the heater. Then I think I would need large gas and vent lines as well. So now a ~$500 DIY project will come to over $2000 requiring a professional. Yeah the tankless may last 20 years (??) and possibly save money, but if I sell, then none of it would be a benefit for me.

I think I will go with the 9 or 12 year Richmond (12 year may be a 3 week special order) since the both have good first our output. Both (GE and Richmond) are made by Rheem, so that really isn't an issue.
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Old 03-03-08, 10:08 AM
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Do you do any numbers to figure out the return/savings for the tankless? 10 year break even point, etc.?
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Old 03-03-08, 10:15 AM
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Tankless is almost useless in the northeast imo. All these tankless companies like to use a baseline of 60 degree for the cold water but no way in hell the cold water is at 60 degree in the winter. The last time I check my cold water when the outside temp is 40 degree, my water was 48 degree. So if I need 100 degree hot water, it will need to rise 52 degree. What if I need 140 degree for my dish washer? That is a 92 degree rise requirement. Totally kills the GPM.
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Old 03-03-08, 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by zuffy
Tankless is almost useless in the northeast imo. All these tankless companies like to use a baseline of 60 degree for the cold water but no way in hell the cold water is at 60 degree in the winter. The last time I check my cold water when the outside temp is 40 degree, my water was 48 degree. So if I need 100 degree hot water, it will need to rise 52 degree. What if I need 140 degree for my dish washer? That is a 92 degree rise requirement. Totally kills the GPM.
Thats the biggest problem with tankless. For your area they recommend installing 2 of them. They would be connected in series. I imagine there is some cost savings as the hot water is only heated on demand. The other nice feature of the tankless is the endless supply of hot water. That in itself is worth installing one...
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Old 03-03-08, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Superman07
Do you do any numbers to figure out the return/savings for the tankless? 10 year break even point, etc.?
Based on data compiled by Home Depot from U.S. Department of Energy test methods, a typical household using 64.3 gallons of hot water a day heated to a 77-degree temperature rise spends $214 per year on a natural gas tank water heater. Operating a tankless gas model would cost the same family only $150 annually. With an electric tankless water heater, the household would spend $438 a year on water heating, which is $50 less than a standard electric water heater.
http://www.housingzone.com/article/CA502061.html

So a savings of (214 - 150) = $64 a year.
Conservatively saying that the installs are $500 for standard and $2000 for a tankless system, then additional cost is $1500.

1500/64 = 23.438 years!
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Old 03-03-08, 10:52 AM
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There's no reason you couldn't install the tankless yourself. I've see tankless for about $900-$1200.00. but it still takes 11 years to recover the cost. If you need 2 of them then it would be $2000.00 and the 24 years to recover. I doubt the tankless would last 23 years.

I think the real reason to go tankless is the endless supply of hot water, not the savings.. Cities should mandate the use of tankless in mutlistory buildings to prevent the tanks from leaking and causing damage..
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Old 03-03-08, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by ANDREMIKE
Thats the biggest problem with tankless. For your area they recommend installing 2 of them. They would be connected in series. I imagine there is some cost savings as the hot water is only heated on demand. The other nice feature of the tankless is the endless supply of hot water. That in itself is worth installing one...
If there is a saving, it will probably be wasted by showering longer. My water bill and gas bill will increase.
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Old 03-03-08, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Heat
The lifespan for a water heater is 15 years.
Holy shit! The one in my house has to be at least 40 years old.
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Old 03-03-08, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Numanoid
Holy shit! The one in my house has to be at least 40 years old.
That is because yours is 40 years old.

The post should say, the lifespan for a modern water heater is 12 years.
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