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Thread: Direct Vent Water Heater Advice Wanted

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    DIY Junior Member kc27's Avatar
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    Default Direct Vent Water Heater Advice Wanted

    I want to replace my 40 gallon AO Smith natural gas powered vent gas water heater with a direct vent water heater in order to eliminate the fan on the power vent. The current water heater is installed in an unfinished basement next to an exterior wall. Bradford White seems to be a well liked brand among plumbing professionals. Are there any other brands that I should consider?

    Four weeks ago I gave a plumber the go ahead to install a Bradford White direct vent water heater. He told me that the plumbing supply house did not stock the direct vent models, it would need to be ordered, and would take 1 to 3 weeks to arrive. Knowing that the three weeks had elapsed, I contacted him a couple of days ago to schedule an appointment to have the water heater installed. Yesterday one of his associates contacted me with the news that the heater would take longer to arrive (now a 5 week delivery estimate), and that the soonest it could be installed would be the first or second week in April. That's putting me at 2 months without hot water in the house. The associate did state expedited shipping was available for $150, in which case the heater could be delivered in a week or ten days. At this point, even ordering a heater with the expedited shipping would probably mean it would arrive about the same time as the first ordered water heater.

    Is there any other brand that has high quality but is more accessible than Bradford White? Or is this just a result of powered vent units being the standard for water heaters today, and that a direct vent water heater is going to be hard to get with any brand.

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    I install a lot of Rheem water heaters too.

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    DIY Junior Member kc27's Avatar
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    Thanks, I'll check them out. Is the majority of your tank water heaters installations power vent models? Do you have an opinion on direct vent water heaters?

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    DIY Junior Member kc27's Avatar
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    Update: The plumbing company called me back a couple of days after I had made my original post with a revised installation date of within that week instead of 3 or 4 weeks later. The 50 gallon Bradford White direct vent heater cost $1400 plus installation, hundreds of dollars more than a 50 gallon power vent unit. However, my advice to anyone else who is tired of the noise of the fan on a power vent water heater is to make the switch if you can stomach the higher cost of the direct vent water heater. The elimination of the noisy fan is worth it, at least it is to me.

    The exterior vent on the side of the house is larger with a direct vent heater, and it is much hotter to the touch when the unit is heating water, so those are a couple of things to take into consideration.

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