View Full Version : Replace 1982 Water Heater

10-10-2005, 06:22 PM
Hi All, I'm back ... :) I just got done replacing my furnace and then I looked at my 1982 (it's almost 24!) water heater. It's a Sutherland (Rheem?) 30G 40000BTU that is estimated at using 370CCF/Therm's per year! Burner looks clean, little 'gunk' comes out when draining,, hex top of anode rod looks new (relatively speaking).

So, is this thing a ticking time bomb or what? :eek:

I don't think I'm ready to put in a tankless heater yet (electric service too small, gas might be ok, flue isn't right, price is too high and it might break down pretty darn quick).

What should I be looking for when buying a new unit? The capacity seems ok for two people (one full bath, kitchen, washer). I'm debating between electric and gas. I know electric is more effecient and gas price is going WAY up, but how many amps does it draw? I have 100A service. Probably stick with the NG, no?

I'm looking to spend about $400 (give or take) or so for a rather effecient model. Only going to be here for maybe 5 years and would like to see ROI.

What to do?


10-11-2005, 02:11 PM
If you are going electric your 100 amp service is sufficiant, most 30 - 40 gallon electric HWT have 2 - 3000 watt elements that flip/flop so only one is on at a time, that is when the top heats up it flips to the bottom element until the bottom t-stat is satisfied then shuts off. A 3000 watt element will draw 12.5 amps at 240 volts.

10-11-2005, 04:17 PM
I don't know where you are located or if you are using 208 v. electricity, but in most areas of the country the heaters come with two 4500 watt elements, 5500 watts for the "better" lines..

master plumber mark
10-11-2005, 06:17 PM
if you look at the yellow energy guides on
both the gas and electric water heaters at the hardware stores,
in your area you might find that the electric
is at least double what the gas heater cost per year
to heat the water....

just ask the guy working at lowes
and see if he knows which is cheaper

maybe gas might spike for a year or so, and maybe it wont....
but over the long run , 24 years, the gas has been cheaper

and actually you have already saved quite a bit useing gas vs electric
over the last 24 years.... just do the math..

(at least according to the yellow energy guides on the sides of the units
in your area they are supposed to be an average for your region)

please correct me if I am wrong,

I have been feeding this
line to my customers for years..... it sounds pretty legit.

10-11-2005, 07:29 PM
Thanks for the replies. I did a little more research on my own and it would seem that gas is the way to go.

What are my options as far as a DIYer? Is Lowes a good place to buy a WH? They sell Whirlpool and some offbrand. Sears? They've got their Kenmore. Where else should I shop?


master plumber mark
10-12-2005, 04:56 AM
Th only water heater made by hardware stores
that I would advise you to buy is the RICHMOND

richmond is made by Rheem and seems to be a copy cat to the
name brand...

it is usually sold by *******....in this area

Lowes sells whirlpools

Whirlpool water heaters are total junk...

It looks like hotpoints are not too good either...

The Ge brand seems to be a sub-standard one too...

the best advice is to call a plumber and
get a Bradford white or a Rheem

at my web site I have listed most heaters
with my own personal grade by them
also a lot of links to complinats about different brands
of water heaters


10-12-2005, 06:59 AM
Th only water heater made by hardware stores
that I would advise you to buy is the RICHMOND

richmond is made by Rheem and seems to be a copy cat to the
name brand...
the best advice is to call a plumber and
get a Bradford white or a Rheem

I've noticed quite a few Rheem and Rudd water heaters in friends houses and I think my current unit is a 24yo Rheem so must be good. That and they're sold at the Big Orange Box so I might be making a trip soon. Closest ******* (whatever that is, never heard of it) is in Findlay, but there is also a Sutherlands near by. Thanks for the advice!


10-14-2005, 10:29 AM
I've decided on a Richmond 9Yr 40G Nat Gas tank. Richmond 9G40-40F I believe is the model number. Slightly larger than my current one, but it provides room for future growth (second bath, dishwasher, etc).

I'll do tankless when the big bucks start coming in (takes money to make money, no?)

Thanks for your help


Gary Swart
10-14-2005, 04:40 PM
You're going the right direction with the gas heater. Right now, we've seen a major increase in gas prices due to the hurricanes, but I belive (hope) prices will level out soon. Even with the increase, I think gas is the most economical fuel. I have a Richmond heater, it is a high effeciency power vent model that uses PVC/ABS to exhaust out the side of the house. You might try some of the plumbing supply houses to see what you can do there. I don't think any of the Big Box stores have the best quality water heaters.

10-14-2005, 06:57 PM
You sure wrote off the tankless in a hurry! What with all the discussion of energy costs on this thread maybe you should take a closer look?

I just installed one and so far so good.

10-14-2005, 07:22 PM
You sure wrote off the tankless in a hurry! What with all the discussion of energy costs on this thread maybe you should take a closer look?

I just installed one and so far so good.

I've actually been following and doing a little research on the tankless for a month or two now before I even decided to replace my old beast. I'm just not ready to take that leap yet. I love the idea, but I don't love it enough to be the guinea pig.

Not to start a tank/tankless war, but in a nutshell, I don't want to increase my flue size and gas pipe size or go the other route and increase electric service. I don't want to have to worry about hard water deposits and premature failing of the unit. Next time, next time. :)

10-14-2005, 11:03 PM
I hear you about the flu size. I installed a high efficiency furnace at the same time so I gained my old chimney for the tankless. A guy could go with the direct vent but man that exhaust vent is pricey.
It will be interesting over the long haul to see how it works out.

master plumber mark
10-15-2005, 05:45 AM
no offence meant here, but the idea is so
similar to little kids wanting to have what the
other boy on the block has...whatever that might be.

Tankless water heaters are basically the new rage , like a new toy
that we all just have to have......

when I was a kid I wanted Mag Wheels on my car in highschool
just like the other guys had ---to look cool,
but it still didnt get me better gas mileage or any dates....

though I tried to convince myself that they would
I remember those days well.....LOL

10-15-2005, 09:45 AM
Tankless is big in California. The selling point there is that real estate is so expensive, that the homeowner doesn't have to give up any sq. footage of floor space. The tankless is mounted on a wall. They are also big in Australia. They will be big in the midwest in a few more years. I figure I better get knowledgable about the installation, because if I don't some other plumber will.

Peace out,


master plumber mark
10-15-2005, 12:04 PM
you can have my share of this business

we recently installed an A.O.Smith unit in a 450k
brand new home here in Indy. The unit cost me 1300.

It took about 4 weeks for the unit to be special
shipped into town... they saw it on the internet and
jsut HAD to have it... Well they got it now.

I basically tried to talk the homeowner out of the unit
and made them sign a DISCLAIMER in BLOOD.

I told them that if it were to fail in the first year,
that they were on their own and would have to get someone
from A.O.Smith warraanty service in our area to work on it...

how long that would take was unknown to me

My reasoning was .. for one thing, I dont know what I am doing when
it comes to reapiring one of them and I dont care to take a crash
course ,,,,,ie liability and all... just for one unit...

and also if the unit took three
weeks to get, how long will repair parts take
to ever show up???? HMMMMMM???

it has been about two years now, no problems yet,
but the homeowner has made mentioni that it does have its
limitations to me already. the clock is ticking.

peace, love and warm fuzzies to all

10-15-2005, 12:04 PM
Just had my submersible pump replaced in our well. Pump was put in back in 1960. Bet they don't make them like they used to. Looking at the old water heater now, been using it more than 30 years, and wondering about it. Which is how I stumbled in here. Going to replace it with another electric and here's why. I know gas is supposed to be cheaper and more efficient but last year I quit using the gas furnace and switched to those cheapie DeLonghi oil filled electric radiators. House was more comfortable and the electric bill went up of course but the electric bill for any month last winter was at least $100 less than when I was paying electric and gas and it was a colder winter. If I can find a local supplier for the baseboard oil filled electric radiators I'm going that way. Don't know why the electric would be cheaper but it was and I hate paying the gas prices. These Rheem water heaters sound like good heaters, hope they come in electric. ******* is a good store, wish they had them in Missouri.


10-15-2005, 01:01 PM
Those DeLonghi electric oil filled radiiators are nice. I have one too. They're 100% effecient too. With NG one has to take effeciency into consideration. I bet you're also only heating a small portion of your home with those heaters too, even if they cost more to operate you'll pay less. That's ok if it works for you.

1CCF = 1.024Therm
1KW = 3413BTU
1Therm = 100000BTU

Electric: 1MBTU*(1KW/3413BTU) = 293kW @ 9cents/KwH = $26.37
Gas @ 80%AFUE: 1MBTU*(1/.8)*(1Therm/100000BTU)*(1CCF/1.024Therm)=12.207CCF @ $1.26/CCF = $15.38

Just to break even you'd need to have a 46% AFUE furnace or gas prices would have to almost double.The prices above are what I think I pay right now w/o looking at the bills.


10-15-2005, 08:40 PM
I'm heating more rooms more comfortably than with the gas furnace but paying only 7 cents per kwh. Propane during the winter here was $1.29, don't know what it's going to go to this winter. Maybe my furnace wasn't very efficient, but the gas man said the newer furnaces would only save me 10% on efficiency. I've seen all the data where gas should be cheaper, but in real life, the electric has saved me money.


10-16-2005, 07:13 AM
Propane is more expensive than NG. Maybe old LP furnance IS more than Electric. I could believe that...


10-16-2005, 07:32 AM
If 7 cents per kwh is your true cost { did you include ALL the fees and charges? } , then you may be in the ballpark. Down here (San Diego) we pay 16 cents per kwh, so gas is hands down cheaper. We are expecting a gas price increase, of course, but then it's not that cold here!

10-16-2005, 08:35 AM
That's the only thing I pay. We're on a cooperative so my monthly usage is all there is. We used to have a farm light but we took that out when the cost went up to $8 a month. If I were to use enough electric the price would go to just over a nickle. But then around here wages aren't so good. $12 an hour is good pay. But now I have a little better idea why I've been able to save with the electric heat. Thanks.