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Thread: Need some advice about an old water heater

  1. #1

    Default Need some advice about an old water heater

    I just bought a new 40 gal gas hot water heater that was still in the box (staples still sealed, unopened). I couldn't see any date on the outside of the box, but it did tell me that it was a Sears Power Miser 8. I got the tank home, and looked at the warranty posted on the side of the tank--to my surprise, the hot water heater is a 1979 model, #153.335841. It also says "Prop" on the side of the tank. Does this mean it will only run on propane? Will it run on natural gas (which is what I have)? If it can be hooked up to natural gas, what would your advice be about using this lovely "new" 27 year old dinosaur? I would really appreciate some help/advice on this. Many thanks!

  2. #2
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Sounds like it. You will need to change the orifice, if it is possible. Natural gas has a larger one than propane. It may be hard to find one for it. Good luck with it. What did you pay for it?
    Last edited by Cass; 05-26-2006 at 05:52 PM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Need some advice about an old water heater

    Thanks, Cass-- I paid $80 for the oldest living new hot water heater on earth.
    If I can convert it, is that a normal safe thing-- converting from propane to NG? Any other advice on this? I'm not out much dough on this, so I want be safe, certainly. Maybe I could sell it to a hot water heater museum...
    Many thanks, Lisa

  4. #4
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Propane heaters are more expensive than NG heaters. See if you can sell it for the price of a new NG heater then buy a new one. How did you end up with it? If you can find a orifice that will fit it go for it. What is the MFGR. name on the valve? They may be able to help also.
    Last edited by Cass; 05-26-2006 at 06:19 PM.

  5. #5

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    I bought it on Craig's List-- I needed to replace my old 40 gal NG hot water heater, and I thought I had scored-- I laughed out loud when I saw the year, and that the warranty was up in 1990! Ah, well... I'll follow up and see if I can find an orifice that fits-- if not, I'll try to sell it to somebody else on Craigs List! Thanks for your help, I really appreciate it. Lisa

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    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Now that I think about it I'm not sure but you may need a different burner. I have never attempted a transition from one to the other.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default heater

    Propane to natural is an easier conversion, although Sears might not recommend doing it. You have to convert the burner orifice and the pilot burner. The propane heater should have a cast iron burner so it is probably okay.

  8. #8
    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    Warranty or not, I'll bet Sears would be happy to convert it for you, probably for not much more than the cost of a new WH.

  9. #9
    Plumber plumber1's Avatar
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    Default w/h

    Check with a propane dealer near you and also check with a natural gas supplier. Last time I checked they both were helpful is supplying a conversion kit. You need to know the model and serial numbers.

  10. #10
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default wh

    Some manufacturers are adamant about not converting a water heater from propane to natural, or vice versa. There are differences between the two, one of them being the valve's pressure regulator. LP is set at about 12" and natural is 6". As long as the utility's regulator works properly there is no problem, but if it were to increase the house pressure, then the water heater would go into "dangerous" mode.

  11. #11
    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking setting your house on fire...

    if you do this and someday it sets your house on fire.

    remember your insurance company will take a very dim view

    of the situation if they discover what you have done....

    in fact, they probably will not cover the fire....

    it just is not worth the time or risk.....


    I am pretty sure you are going to have to get the right
    gas thermostat control too..... the propane control is not
    the right one for converting to natrual gas.....

    so its another $75 bucks for the right gas thermostat valve.
    plus the burner assembly.....

    NO, you cant break down that propane valve and convert it to natrual gas... they are made in a way that it cant be tampered with...

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    I wont convert one over either because

    its just not worth my liability to do some "penny pinching guy"
    the favor....that could likely come back and bite me some day....


    you are really gambling over someting you
    should just put behind you... 80 bucks is not a great loss here.

    go buy the right heater and just forget about it....

    Have a garage sale and selll it or junk it and move on..



    just something to think about...
    Last edited by master plumber mark; 05-28-2006 at 05:49 AM.

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