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Thread: Replace dinosaur electric with electric, power or direct vent?

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    Default Replace dinosaur electric with electric, power or direct vent?

    We have a 26yo rheem electric water heater that keeps on ticking. I have no idea what repairs have been made since we've only owned the house for 2 years. We've recently finished our basement and added a whirlpool tub. I'm nervous regarding the ancient water heater failing and flooding the new carpet so I'm researching replacement options. Their is no flu on that side of the house but their is a gas line so my options are another electric or a direct or power vent, correct? I'm not entirely sure what the difference is between the direct and power vent. The current water heater is on an outside wall - we would have to go through the brick to vent it outside if we go the gas route. I guess I am interested in looking into gas because we live in the Chicago area and our electric rates are really high. I have looked into tankless - but can't justify the expense with our cold water. I also have 3 little girls and see long showers in our future Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks,
    Kinsey

  2. #2
    DIY Member Squ1rrel's Avatar
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    Direct vent often refers to a unit that uses 2 pipes (unless the model has concentric piping):1 for the intake, 1 for the exhaust. Power vent units by contrast usually only need 1 pipe, for the exhaust, and take in their air from the surrounding area. Direct vent units are useful if it is a small enclosure that you want to put the water heater in, or there isn't alot of air flow to where it is located. Either way, you will be drilling holes for a flue, even if it is through the wall.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    As I understand it, a power vent is nearly a normal gas WH, but has a fan to force the exhaust where you want it...it still draws combustion air from inside.

    A direct vent is usually a closed combustion - it either uses two vents, or a concentric vent and draws the combustion air from outside while forcing the exhaust outside.

    A direct vent will be quieter, a power vent can be somewhat noisey.

    If you use hot water for your heat, you could use an indirectly fired WH...this becomes essentially a new zone for the boiler.

    You can install a drain pan under the WH which, assuming you have a place to drain it to, should eliminate the carpet damage. Also look at a device called WATS if you go with gas, as it will both shut the water and gas off if it detects a leak.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    Senior Robin Hood Guy Ian Gills's Avatar
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    I would stay with electric. They are so much simpler, and gas prices are only going to climb too. A new electric one might be much more effcient than your old one. I hate to think what the lime buildup on the heating elements are doing to its performance after all of these years.

    Normally the constraint is the other way round. Moving from gas to electric is often a challenge because the house requires enough juice. I doubt my 100 amp panel could take an electric water heater. Maybe one day I'll get one.

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    DIY Member Squ1rrel's Avatar
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    I'd stick with a gas unit if long showers are in the future...they generally have a quicker recovery rate. Bradford rates it's electric 40 Gallons for 56-58 gallon first hour recovery, and it's direct vent model at 71. Also, unless you have alternate fuel electricity, chances are as gas prices climb, so will your electric bill. I know down here in Texas, a large majority of our electricity comes from natural gas...it kinda cuts out the middleman to have gas-based water heaters

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    Senior Robin Hood Guy Ian Gills's Avatar
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    But think of all that CO an CO2 a gas heater pumps into our poor atmosphere. I wish I could go electric or nuclear.

    Do they do a uranium powered WH?

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    DIY Member Squ1rrel's Avatar
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    Very True. though alot of those direct vent and power vent units put out alot less CO and NOX than standard water heaters, depending on the design...certainly less than the electricity plants probably put out as they do their thing.

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    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    I have a Rheem power vent and it is great. This is an older unit and requires 4" PVC or ABS venting, but new ones use smaller pipe and can run longer distances. Stay with gas. Heats faster so you don't need as large of a tank as with electric.

  9. #9
    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Gills View Post
    Do they do a uranium powered WH?
    If you could lay your hands on a used nuclear submarine (jimbo?) you might be able to adapt it somehow .

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    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking bradford white 75 gallon power vent for 3 girls....

    if you have the whirlpool tub installed

    and you have 3 GIRLS in the home ,
    you are screwed ....only an 80 gal electric would suffice... for about 1000 installed


    as the girls grow up they are going to destroy an electric heater..... with longer and longer showers...


    just get the 75 gallon power vent with a 10year tank warranty ...it will be around 2200. installed.

    the saveings will eventually catch up and pass the electric heater...


    it will keep up with the demand and if it were to go out
    in 9 1/2 years, it would still have a warranty....

    you wont get that with a tankless.


    dont worry about the environmnet
    we are already past the point of no return.
    China is killing it as we speak.......

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    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by master plumber mark View Post
    just get the 75 gallon power vent with a 10year tank warranty ...in 9 1/2 years, it would still have a warranty....
    You advocate purchasing the add on 4 year insurance policy AKA 10 year warranty? Its the same heater as the 6 year warranty which will probably last 10 years average life just a higher cost.

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    Senior Robin Hood Guy Ian Gills's Avatar
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    I'd still go with the electric. Can you not give one up for adoption and marry another off?

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    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    Hmmm Electric... Around here we just had a 40-50% increase in electric rates... They have several plants here known as the dirty dozen that buy emission credits from other companies that have cleaned up their acts and then we always have ole 3 domes with the fish in the bay that have a strange glow with almost weekly releases.... I don't know how you could find that clean and economical!

    Go Gas!
    Last edited by Redwood; 05-01-2008 at 03:50 PM.

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    DIY Senior Member taysan's Avatar
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    Definitely gas. If you don't already have one, soon enough you'll have a smart meter on your house which will send the electric company your usage every 5 seconds. This allows them to bill you different rates at different times of the day.

    Your daytime rate will triple, your night rate will be a third. Seeing as all your hot water use will be during the day....

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    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking 75 powwer vent

    Quote Originally Posted by Redwood View Post
    You advocate purchasing the add on 4 year insurance policy AKA 10 year warranty? Its the same heater as the 6 year warranty which will probably last 10 years average life just a higher cost.

    Its just like buying insurance if you can get it on the 75 gallon units ..
    .you are paying at least close to 2000 for the unit either way.
    and if it were to go ou tin 6 1/2 years then you wish you wold have done it.....

    its their money and their gamble......

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