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Thread: How to choose a gas hot water heater? (Slightly different)

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member coconutpete's Avatar
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    Default How to choose a gas hot water heater? (Slightly different)

    My water heater is manufactured in 1969. It still makes hot water very well, but there's rust around the overflow valve and god knows the last time this thing saw maintenance. I'll admit I haven't touched it since I moved in 3 years ago.

    I want to replace it with another 40 gallon natural gas water heater.

    My problem is ... how do I pick one? There are TONS of reading material out there but it's all about picking a style of water heater. Natural gas vs. electric. Tank vs. tankless etc. I already know what I want, I just don't know how to pick one.

    Water heaters seem to have become a "disposable" item like so many other things - I can pretty much forget about getting 40 years out of another one. You pretty much replace them every 5-10 years so ...... is it just go to Lowe's and pick one or do you spend extra coin on a "fancier" one? Do I buy the $400 Lowe's one, or the $800 one ?



    Side question: My Furnace guy keeps telling me my current one is probably made of copper and probably worth some money - how do I determine what it's worth doing with this thing?
    Last edited by Terry; 09-11-2012 at 10:43 AM.

  2. #2
    DIY Junior Member coconutpete's Avatar
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    OK, so more reading .......

    The only thing I can find that EVERYBODY seem to be 10% unanimous on is don't guy a Whirlpool water heater haha.

  3. #3
    In the trades Dana's Avatar
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    In almost all instances natural gas will be cheaper to operate, but if you don't have the gas lines/flues already in place the installation cost would be substantially more than swapping in an electric for another electric. (At CT utility rates heating water with electricity is more than 3x as expensive.)

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    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    No question about gas being more economical than electricity for heating water. It also is much faster. I would suggest either a GE/Rheem or Bradford White. Yes, there will be some expense for installation. You might want to consider a power vent as these do not use a vent out of the roof. They vent with PVC through the side of the house. Tankless require a much larger gas service than is normally in a residence, so this would add a great deal to the installation.

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    DIY Junior Member coconutpete's Avatar
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    Tankless isn't even an option. Too many variables in the next few years.

    Electric i DEFINITELY not an option. I have a gas water heater there now, going to electric would be backwards evoluion as far as I'm concerned.

    What I'm torn on is ... since water heaters have "de-evolved" from the one that's in my basement now which has lasted 43 years to something that lasts 10 years - does it even matter if you spend $800 on the Bradford White one or half that on the one at the big box store?

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    TROJAN WORLDWIDE SALES RP MACPLUMB 777's Avatar
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    What people are missing is the simple direct answer
    since 2003 all gas water heaters are made to resets gas explosions
    These new systems is all still being worked on,
    right now the best of these seems to be bradford white, with rheem/ruud running a close second,
    lowes is noted as being the top seller of whirlpool !

    I hope this answers your question
    Last edited by MACPLUMB 777; 09-12-2012 at 11:39 AM.

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    DIY Junior Member coconutpete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MACPLUMB 777 View Post
    since 2003 all gas water heaters are made to resets gas explosions
    Can you explain what this means?

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    It means that there have been some "rocket scientists" who used, or stored, gasoline around their water heater and demolished the house and themselves in the process. The new heaters have an FVIR system which immediately shuts the heater off before the explosion could occur. The original Whirlpool, American, and a few other heaters had a "one time" unit that could not be reset if this occurred and required replacing the water heater. Now they all are resettable, so that is no longer a factor in your decision. EVERY make and model water heater has failures so no matter which one you buy you could get 2 years of service or 25 from it, and it is all the luck of the draw. Do not spend too much time agonizing over the decision. The $800 water heater is usually just the $400 one with an extended warranty.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  9. #9
    DIY Junior Member coconutpete's Avatar
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    That makes sense - thanks.

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    DIY Member piezomot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    The $800 water heater is usually just the $400 one with an extended warranty.
    Three days ago rubber pipe was disconnected inside of my dishwasher, and I reconnected it. Today it happened again, and I noticed my gas water heater started to release water over pressure release valve...

    I am thinking about on-demand tankless water heater:

    http://www.rona.ca/en/gas-water-heater-41355003--1




    Any thoughts?
    Last edited by piezomot; 03-26-2013 at 07:29 AM.

  11. #11
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    A WH from 1969 is NOT copper. The only copper ones I have seen are very early 50's or pre-WWII

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    To go tankless, often involves upgrading the gas service line(s) and possibly the meter, and maybe even all the way to the street. It can be quite expensive, and depending on where you live, may not work well unless you lower your expectations or get a large unit or maybe need multiple ones...it's all about flow rates and temperature rise. Run your hand through a candle, and it may not get warm. RUn it through a blowtorch and it might. Depending on how fast (volume) of water you ask for at any one time, it can take a VERY big flame to heat it sufficiently to be useful. Course, if your max volume is low, smaller may work, or if your incoming water never gets below 50-degrees or so in the winter, it may be fine, too. A tankless generally will use more, sometimes lots more, gas than a furnace or boiler. This is the reason it needs a significant gas service. While an electric WH will have lower standby losses, depending on where the thing is and how good it is, it isn't a huge amount of money. They tend to have much better insulation than those from 10-20 years ago, and you can get a much more efficient burner design, which may not pay for itself over time depending on use and the future price of NG. With the minimum flow turn-on and wintertime issues, I prefer a typical tank WH - you can fill a tub at max flow without issues as well as get warm water at the vanity. Things that may not work out with a tankless unless you modify your expectations and procedures. A tank-type WH can survive without maintenance, a tankless will degrade, sometimes significantly, without annual service to remove mineral buildup.
    Jim DeBruycker
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  13. #13
    In the trades Dana's Avatar
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    On-demand tankless heaters make some sense if you have some monster-tub to fill (like the 140 gallon spa in the master-bath), but have little rationale for most other applications.

    A showering (rather than tub-bathing) family would get better efficiency out of a standard gas heater (or a condensing tank) + drainwater heat recovery heat exchanger. A tub-bathing family with a standard sized tub would get better efficiency out of a 50 gallon condensing tank heater, with none of the tankless HW heater "personality problems" and with fewer maintenance issues.

    In tiny houses/apartments where space is at a premium there is sometimes a ratinale for hanging a tankless over the clothes washer or something to gain back 5 square feet of floor space, but that's an expensive 5 square feet.

  14. #14
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote: three days ago rubber pipe was disconnected inside of my dishwasher, and I reconnected it. Today it happened again, and I noticed my gas water heater started to release water over pressure release valve.

    1. You should have reconnected it properly
    2. The T&P discharge has NOTHING to do with the pipe in the dishwasher disconnecting., but an excess of pressure could cause BOTH things to happen
    3. Do you also trade in your car when the ashtray gets full, because changing to a tankless heater is about the same thing, if you don't want to cure the problem but just want to get rid of the symptoms.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  15. #15
    In the trades Dana's Avatar
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    I personally DO trade in the car when the ashtray gets full, since it's an indication some unhealthy bum has been camping out in it! :-)

    But I'm glad somebody actually addressed the pressure problem, even though it wasn't what was being asked- thanks hj!

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