View Full Version : Time To Replace Water Heater?

04-30-2011, 11:39 AM
We live in a home in TX constructed in 2006. There are 2 50-gallon AO Smith ProMax electric water heaters located side by side in the attic with a recirculation pump. We were on filtered well water the first two years (high iron content), and then we paid the money to get city water.

Yesterday, I was in the attic and noticed rust around the bottom of one of the heaters. Is it time to replace these?

If so, what brand would you recommend? Would you recommend something like the GE Geospring?

I figure it would be best to replace both at the same time, if replacement of one is needed.

One thing I never liked about our current setup is that we would get sediment/particles in our jacuzzi tub with hot water even after switching to city water. The faucet for the tub doesn't have a strainer, but I always wondered if it was our heaters or if it was related to buildup from when we did have well water.

Thanks for the help and recommendations!

Photos attached



Gary Swart
04-30-2011, 11:44 AM
Looks like it's game time for the heater. If one is bad, can the other be far behind? Smith is not a recommended by the pro on this forum. GE/Rheem and Bradford White are the most preferred. I don't know what the feelings are about the GE Geospring. You should get some feedback on it. I have no advice about the sediment problem.

04-30-2011, 11:59 AM
The rust from the faucet may be from the heaters. That's normally a first sign of the problem.
2003 and ones leaking? I would go with replacement. Water does a lot of damage. It's much cheaper to keep everything dry.

04-30-2011, 03:24 PM
When a heater leaks in an unfinished basement, it's no big deal. Not so true in an attic, where the potential for water damage is great.

I suspect the threads might be leaking from where the plumber installed that brass nipple into the drain port. In any case, you will want to consider replacement and in the meanwhile check with your insurance company to make sure you are well-covered if one day one of your heaters lets out it's magic.

05-01-2011, 01:38 PM

I appreciate the feedback. Tomorrow, I'm going to get bids on replacing both heaters from multiple plumbers in our area.

Also, since this attic area is off our garage, would it be worthwhile for us to get a price to put the new water heaters in the garage? I'm guessing the additional factors would be moving the electrical wiring, plus extending the plumbing from the current location to the wall in the garage. We used to have a water filtration system in our garage, so we have plenty of room to put two heaters in our garage. The cold line could be accessed directly on that wall in the garage, but the hot water line plus the recirculation lines would need to be extended to those points.

05-01-2011, 02:34 PM
If you move your water heater to the garage you will no longer have the space constraint of the attic, and you could have a single water heater. You might save enough to pay for the plumbing changes.

05-01-2011, 04:31 PM

We have 2 50 gallons now. Our house is 3,000 sq. ft. with 3 baths. The master bath has a Jetta Jacuzzi tub.

What size single heater would work?

05-01-2011, 07:46 PM
Does anyone have any experience with the Rheem Marathon line? I'm intrigued that the Marathon tank can't rust or leak. I'm wondering if that would be a good solution, whether we go with our attic or garage.

05-02-2011, 10:23 AM
2006? be sure to donate these to habitat for humanity or some poor folks, because very likely you simply have a seep from that replaced drain valve or a unnoticed seep from one of the top fittings.

Move those 2 out of the attic, change the anode, FLUSH out the sediment, add a filter on the inlet, and you can get 10 more years. Check and see if the elements are seeping and change them out for a few bucks.



I would learn more about water heaters before treating them as disposable items.


And if you do blow a wad on new heaters, be sure the lucky plumber insulates the lines correctly.

05-02-2011, 03:03 PM
I appreciate the feedback. I had a local plumber out today that handles AO Smith warranty issues and he said the tank is leaking, that it needs to be replaced, and that AO Smith will cover the replacement (new tank, not labor). He agreed I should replace both simultaneously. He is going to give me the price of doing the job in the attic and also the price of doing the new setup in our garage.

For safety, I'm going to get bids from 2 other plumbers and then depending on the price my wife and I will decide whether to keep everything in the attic or to move it to the garage.

I'm thinking putting everything in the garage would be the intelligent decision.

05-03-2011, 06:45 PM
Okay guys, met with several plumbers and here are the two options I'm looking at:

#1: Remove everything from attic, put new electric water heaters in garage with existing circulation pump (Taco model), extend hot water and recirc lines to the new point in the garage. There is already cold water access at the point in the garage where the install would take place. This job would require plumber, electrician, plus I would need to insulate the part of the attic where they would extend the hot water lines.

I should have prices on this option tomorrow.

#2: Plumber who came out today said since we already have a propane line about 5 ft away from the heaters in the attic, we should pull the electric water heaters from the attic, replace them with a Noritz 111. He said he would recommend upgrading the recirculation pump to one that could be turned off and on with a remote for when we wanted instant hot water. He said using our existing pump with the timer would still waste propane to fire the Noritz, if we weren't actually using hot water when the pump was running. They are supposed to email me a bid tomorrow. From what he said, it sounds like this option will come in at about $7k. It would include the fancy circulation pump, an alarm to shut the water off if a leak was detected, a filter for the Noritz etc.

My concern with option #2 is that I don't understand how it would work with our recirculation system. We have an actual circulation line with a pump. The circulation line runs into the first heater and then the plumbing runs from the first heater into the second heater. Further, my wife is wary about having to hit a button to get the system going, when now all we have to do is turn a faucet on.

Also, we have timers for both our current electric water heaters and circulation pump so it is all off every night from 10 pm - 5 am.


05-03-2011, 08:08 PM
I recommend you look into that further also, as most recirculation pumps do not move enough water to cause a tankless heater to turn on at all.

It should also be noted that if your water quality is not extremely good, the tankless will need regular maintenance to avoid problems with deposit build-up.

05-06-2011, 02:28 PM
Okay after a long process and several bids, settled on a plumber and a solution. We're going to replace our setup in the attic with a tankless gas water heater, keep our recirc line, and use a small electric heater to keep the recirc line hot. We're going to add an expansion tank plus a filter for the tankless unit. Also, since we've switched from our well to our city water our pressure has sometimes been a little too high and/or fluctuated, so we're also going to install a prv.

05-10-2011, 10:30 AM
7 grand for a pile of future trouble. I would have bought a nice used jeep and put in a bombproof system for a thousand. Lucky plumber!

He'll be sipping pina coladas on a mexican beach on your nickel for a week after that job.

05-10-2011, 11:17 AM
LOL, That is Funny... I Don't care who You are...

08-15-2012, 08:02 PM
Does anyone have any experience with the Rheem Marathon line? I'm intrigued that the Marathon tank can't rust or leak. I'm wondering if that would be a good solution, whether we go with our attic or garage.
Rheem Marathon water heaters (http://www.terryloveforums.com) are awesome. I have used them in my rental properties. You install them once and never have to mess with tank failures again. The only things that need to be replaced from time to time are the elements. They will burn out over time, but this can be 15-20 years into the future.

They do cost roughly double of a conventional water heater, but that's nothing given the peace of mind.

Gary Swart
08-15-2012, 09:11 PM
I agree that Rheem water heater are a very good heater, but let's be honest, any brand of water heater will eventually start to leak. Yes, replacing elements in an electric should be considered an occasional normal repair, but for a water heater to last 15 or more years will depend on the water supply and a fair amount of luck.

08-16-2012, 06:48 AM
"Lifetime" water heaters, regardless of who makes them DO NOT last forever. They just keep giving you new tanks when the old one fails. You still have to pay any "warranty fees" and installation costs. It is immaterial since you have made your decision, but with your installation, the right hand heater should fail first, and it should happen a couple of times before the left one goes bad.