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Thread: Replace Old Water Heater?

  1. #1
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    Default Replace Old Water Heater?

    I moved into a house that has a seventeen year old electric forty gallon American Water Heater. It still appears to provide plenty of hot water for two people. Should I replace it now or wait until it fails?

    I have no idea if the anode was ever replaced, but since it is part of the hot water pipe, I have no desire to attempt an anode replacement.

    If I replace the unit, anyone have a recommendation on a good manufacturer?

    Earnie
    Last edited by Earnie; 09-07-2009 at 02:59 PM.

  2. #2
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    If it starts leaking is it in a part of the house where it will cause any damage?

  3. #3
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default heater

    Manufacturer is almost irrelevent. Your anode rod is probably NOT part of the hot water outlet, but by now is also irrelevent. Change the heater when it starts leaking, unless you think it is out to get you.

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    Hi Guys,

    The water heater is not leaking. It is placed in a closet in the bottom floor bathroom. It sits in a round metal pan. The pan has an overflow tube through the floor into the crawl space. Only issue I need to correct is the overflow tube is not connected to a drain or to a pipe that goes outside. That should be a simple fix.

    So are you saying that all electric water heater manufacturers offer quality products?

    Earnie

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    DIY Member yngwie_69's Avatar
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    change the tank, thats way to old for a tank.

  6. #6
    Engineer Furd's Avatar
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    Seventeen years is not all that old for an electric water heater, my last electric went for eighteen years before it developed a pinhole leak. The leak was small enough that I was able to postpone replacement for at least a week.

    I also know of an electric water heater that has been going strong for more than 36 years. I first came upon this heater in 1973 and it wasn't new then, I have no idea just how old it may be.

    My current water heater is a Sears gas model and it passed the ten year mark last February. I know that it is on borrowed time but it may go for another year, or maybe several more years. When it goes I'll either have Terry replace it or I'll go to the HD which is only ten minutes away.

  7. #7
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Because it is in a pan there is no reason to change it until it leaks...If you wish to part with your $$$ before you need to then by all means install a new one...

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    Good point Cass. I'm also wondering how much electricity I'm wasting since the tank's R value is probably low and the heating elements are not what they were when new. I do have a jacket on the tank's exterior.

    Earnie

  9. #9
    Plumbing Designer FloridaOrange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Earnie View Post
    Hi Guys,

    The water heater is not leaking. It is placed in a closet in the bottom floor bathroom. It sits in a round metal pan. The pan has an overflow tube through the floor into the crawl space. Only issue I need to correct is the overflow tube is not connected to a drain or to a pipe that goes outside. That should be a simple fix.

    So are you saying that all electric water heater manufacturers offer quality products?

    Earnie
    Pan's won't hold the water from a ruptured tank.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cass View Post
    Because it is in a pan there is no reason to change it until it leaks...If you wish to part with your $$$ before you need to then by all means install a new one...

    See above.

    If it were in a garage or unfinished basement then I wouldn't worry about it until you had to, but if it's within living areas there is a possiblity to come home to quite a mess. Think 3/4" supply line just dumping into that closet.
    Matt
    Semi-professional plumbing designer
    Enjoying life in SW Florida

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    Good point Matt.

    Thanks,

    Earnie

  11. #11
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FloridaOrange View Post
    Pan's won't hold the water from a ruptured tank..
    Catiastrophic failures are extremely extremely rare...and happen at any time in a water heaters life...old heaters have no more than new ones...

    The water heater pan will handel 99.99% of the leaks...thats why they are required in areas where a leak can cause damage..

    I say leave it until it leaks...but it is your choice...
    Last edited by Cass; 09-11-2009 at 06:10 AM.

  12. #12
    Plumbing Designer FloridaOrange's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Cass;220436]Catiastrophic failures are extremely extremely rare...and happen at any time in a water heaters life...old heaters have no more than new ones...
    [QUOTE]

    I'm not a plumber but know of 3. One was a heater in the attic, talk about a real mess. Water pouring down to the first floor, around light fixtures and a/c diffusers.

    My opinion was given because obviously the OP was somewhat concerned. Maybe catastrophic failures are rare given the number of heaters installed but it sure sucks if it happens to you.
    Matt
    Semi-professional plumbing designer
    Enjoying life in SW Florida

  13. #13
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    [quote=FloridaOrange;220452
    I'm not a plumber but know of 3. One was a heater in the attic, talk about a real mess. Water pouring down to the first floor, around light fixtures and a/c diffusers.

    My opinion was given because obviously the OP was somewhat concerned. Maybe catastrophic failures are rare given the number of heaters installed but it sure sucks if it happens to you.[/quote]

    A tank in the attic should never be installed without good water containment - ideally, a two stage affair. Second, my best guess is that the tank was leaking for a long time before it finally let go, possibly overwhelming the containment it may have had. With anything, you need to monitor it occasionally, either electronically if out of sight, or by walking by it once in awhile.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  14. #14
    Homeowner Thatguy's Avatar
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    According to my gas heater lifetimes, if it were a gas heater you'd have a 50-50 chance of reaching 20 yrs.

    Scaling up for an elec. heater I'd say you have till 21 years.

    BTW, I have hardly any elec. water heater lifespan data, so if any knows of how long their elec. heater lasted I'd like to know. This info is useful in making repair/replace decisions.
    Last edited by Thatguy; 09-11-2009 at 02:56 PM.

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