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Thread: RIP 21 y.o. Rheem. What's next?

  1. #1
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    Default RIP 21 y.o. Rheem. What's next?

    My 1988 40 gallon Rheem water heater gave up the ghost last week and it's time for a new one.

    I'm open to all suggestions, short of a cow patty fired stove, due to lack of available cow patties in my neighborhood.

    The house will have 2 full baths + kitchen (dishwasher) + washing machine + hot/cold spigot outside.

    Right now, I am the only resident, but I would like to buy a WH that is sized so that it's not an issue if I sell the house to a family of 5.

    Also, my existing WH runs on natural gas and vents through a chimney. I had a long term goal of exposing the brick on that chimney in my kitchen and upstairs bath. I was advised that it would be unsafe to do so unless I installed a stainless steel liner in the chimney. IIRC, the cost to install that was $600.

    No other devices are using that chimney.

    With that in mind, I was leaning towards power vent or direct vent. The existing WH is in a basement on an outside wall, so the only real hangup is making a hole in the foundation for the pipe.

    To make this purchasing decision a little more complex, I will add that I'm away from my house 5 days a week and only need hot water on the weekends. (This is a temporary work arrangement, but I don't know when it will end.)

    Consensus seems to be that B-W and Rheem are the best brands for tank heaters.

    I would like to take advantage of the 30% tax credit, if feasible. It looks like the gas condensing models are ungodly expensive, and the only viable B-W tank is a commercial model.

    If tankless makes sense in my application, them I'm open to it. With the cost of the SS liner and the potential 30% credit, it may make the net cost closer to a power or direct vent model or atmospheric vent with liner.

    Advice?

  2. #2
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    I will say your best bet would be a power vent on a switch so it can be turned off when you leave for the week and flipped on when you get back at the end of the week...taking 45 Min. or so to heat the tank...

    I am interested in what others think...

  3. #3
    In the trades Dana's Avatar
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    I your heating system is hydronic (hot water baseboards/radiators/radiant floor) an indirect-fired tank running off the boiler also qualifies for a tax credit and will typically give better first-hour throughput & faster recovery than a standalone tank. They will out last a standard tank by decades (will likely outlast the boiler too), with comparable as-used efficiency to that of a standard-efficiency tankless, for something like half the installed price.

    A whole house tankless would likely be expensive to install- there's not enough tax subsidy to make up the difference, but in some neighborhoods that would be an added value a the point that you're selling the house. In many instances going with a condensing version is cost-neutral compared to a standard efficiency tankless due to the low cost of PVC vs. stainless venting- you pay more for the heater, but less for the vent. The difference in as-used efficiency won't be quite the same as the EF numbers imply though (the test favors the condensing unit slightly). But if it's not the sort of neighborhood where a tankless would add at least $1.5K to the selling price, fuggedaboudit- even if you stayed 5 years you won't make up the difference in cost with Cass' solution.

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    My heating system is not hydronic.

    I guess I must be vastly underestimating the cost of a tankless install. It's been a while since I looked into tankless, but my lack of warm showers has forced me to make a decision.

  5. #5
    In the trades Dana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pmoe View Post
    My heating system is not hydronic.

    I guess I must be vastly underestimating the cost of a tankless install. It's been a while since I looked into tankless, but my lack of warm showers has forced me to make a decision.
    A replacement tank costs half-a-grand plus labor- call it a large fraction of a grand.

    A decent tankless costs about a grand (still in the box), associated gas piping upgrades, electrical circuits, and special venting can add another grand or more, pretty soon you're pushing $2.5-3KUSD. DIY-ers can often get it under $2K (where that's even allowed), but under $1k is rare. Some of the bigger-deal tankless vendors won't warranty units installed by DIYers though.

    1-bathroom 1-3 person families can get by with a $600-700 atmospheric-vented tankless with non-electric flow-powered ignition, but they typically still involve gas line upgrades since they have 3-4x the burner of a typical tank unit. They also need promise one another not to turn on other loads while someone is in the shower, since the smaller tankless units won't typically support two simultaneous shower flows except in warm-water areas (or warm-water months), which could be a hard-sell to a family of 5 in a 2 bathroom house.

  6. #6
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    Thanks Dana.

    Assuming I'm in the ballpark on the SS liner, it sounds like power vent or direct vent is my best option.

  7. #7
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default heater

    AN unlined chimney is not the best option for a gas fired appliance whether the brick is exposed or not, especially if the interior of the chimney is big and the btu of the the heater is small. Use a power vent with the PVC pipe running up inside the chimney.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    AN unlined chimney is not the best option for a gas fired appliance whether the brick is exposed or not, especially if the interior of the chimney is big and the btu of the the heater is small. Use a power vent with the PVC pipe running up inside the chimney.
    Any reason not to just run the vent straight through the foundation to the outside world? That's what I was going to do if I went the PV route (which is looking likely).

  9. #9
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    I am now on my second power vent heater. I had a Richmond (Rheem) for 12 years and recently purchased a GE/Rheem replacement. I vent through the foundation with 4" ABS because the larger pipe size was required in 1996 for the original PV. Two inch pipe is no allowed with longer runs as well. I also have a Trane furnace that vents through the foundation with 4" ABS. I don't turn the heater off if I leave town for a few days, with no water usage they don't have to operate very often.

  10. #10
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Bump...........

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