20 YR OLD Water Heaters (2) - Replace or Can I Keep Waiting?

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Hogan

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Hi all

I have 2x 50 gallon gas power vent water heaters in basement, hooked up in Series. They are 20 YRS OLD. I assume builder did this because our 3000 sqft home has 4 full baths including a jetted tub in the master (which we use probably twice a year at most haha). Master shower also includes side jets and a rain head in addition to the wand, and again we only ever use the wand. Kids sometimes take a bath in the other normal tub (not jacuzzi tub)

FIRST QUESTION is Should I PROACTIVELY replace these units? No sign of leaking, no weird noises. They are Richmond 6yr warranty units. All of a sudden a few nights ago I just started thinking that I am on borrowed time from everything I read, BUT if they are still working fine should I just keep watching them? New units especially as I need to get 2 units, are not "cheap". It's not like I am gonna pay back thru energy savings either....my gas bill in summer is like 40 bucks total.

How do units "fail" (I know, leak, but will it first start with some light dripping where I can catch it if I am checking periodically, or does it go from fine to major water leaking in literally days or even hours?

For some reason does the water in Chicago area coat the inside of the tanks with lime where they don't "rust" or something? I am just (happily) surprised that my relatively basic Richmonds are lasting this long, and wonder if it is possible they last another 5 years? 10 years? Would feel dumb spending thousands to yank out heaters that would last more and then put in current ones that might break down more quickly.

Any thoughts appreciated. If choose to watch and wait...I guess I should shut off when going on vacation and turn off the inlet ball valve too just in case they sprung a leak while we aren't here. And buy some sort of water alarm too.
 

Sylvan

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When I suggest people replace a water heater over 15 years old they ask "why"

I ask them how many cars did they own in the last 15 years?

Very seldom does anyone service their heating systems or their water heaters .

Cars are serviced about 5,000 miles and inspected yearly.

Personally, I buy a new car every 2 -3 year or 40,000 miles whichever comes first.

Peace of mind is important.
 

Reach4

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I am not a pro.
WH leaks usually are slow for a good while.

Chicago water is 7.5 grains of hardness. It does indeed coat stuff, assuming you do not have a water softener.

Basement--- if you got a leak, what damage? I would get a water alarm, myself. I like the Basement Watchdog, but you have to replace the battery periodically -- maybe annually.
 

Fitter30

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Heaters piped in series the first heater collects most of the minerals in the water. Parallel heaters piped reverse return will have more capacity than series and the minerals are spread evenly between the two. Your on borrowed time because they always seem to fail in the worst time.
 

Jeff H Young

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Id saythats smart to have alarm and shut water off . And Id also say that changing a 20 year old water heater that dosent leak might not be the CHEAPEST way to deal with it , nor the dumbest.
Im a risk taker and Im cheap so I might not do the smartest things of cource my heaters spring leaks at 6 to 8 years came home from vacation to swap out my last tank on our home LOL!
 

Sylvan

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I am curious how many times was the T&P tested and replaced?
 

Master Plumber Mark

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I am curious how many times was the T&P tested and replaced?

No body checks the pressure releif valves on heaters..... very rarely is that done...
maybe if you sell maintaince plans and you see it as a way to get your foot in the door again

if the heater is 15 years old then you are probably heating a ton of sediment in the bottom of
the unit and it is costing you double or more per year to heat the water......



On another side note... how are you doing in beautiful NYC??
I hear its getting pretty fulll of immigrants and the mayor is at his wits end..
Being a sanctuary city, how many immigrants
have you taken in or hired this year ?? Are you doing you part???
 

Sylvan

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NYC is indeed the asphalt "JUNGLE."

Stealing is now the NYC past time as well as throwing good food in the garbage and molesting women and rioting as how their $500 night hotel accommodations are not good enough.

The best part of the looting and destroying the hotels that paying guests were thrown out of is my company was paid a fortune to make the rooms livable and now they are in dire need of fixing again.

Citty needs to increase taxes for the invaders can live the ?"American dream" not to work and earning money and steal as much as one can carry out in their arms.



NYC needs to build new luxury hotels for the invaders /terrorists that invaded the USA

 

Master Plumber Mark

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NYC is indeed the asphalt "JUNGLE."

Stealing is now the NYC past time as well as throwing good food in the garbage and molesting women and rioting as how their $500 night hotel accommodations are not good enough.

The best part of the looting and destroying the hotels that paying guests were thrown out of is my company was paid a fortune to make the rooms livable and now they are in dire need of fixing again.

Citty needs to increase taxes for the invaders can live the ?"American dream" not to work and earning money and steal as much as one can carry out in their arms.



NYC needs to build new luxury hotels for the invaders /terrorists that invaded the USA



WE need to find a way to blame Donald Trump for this mess....
somehow, some way... we got to blame him and not the Democrats that are bringing
them into the city.....

Somehow its got to be his fault.....:D:D:D
 

Hogan

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Well thanks for the advice and the sidetrack to politics too

What I am doing is proactively investigating quotes on either a tanked replacement or potentially tankless Navien.

While I guess I could just keep waiting and maybe get lucky for a few more years, the potential cost and hassle of a major leak isn't worth it. Plus, I may end up paying a lot more for a quote when the system is leaking on a Friday night and the contractors can add in some extra "just because he needs it" into the quote. Both of those potentials will outweigh the likely savings for deferring this job for another year or two or three.
 

Tuttles Revenge

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Your risk tolerance is what I consider the biggest item here. The t&p valves likely work, but the water quality in your area may play into that. I've never seen a water heater burst that hadn't been leaking for a very long time un-noticed. If it did leak, what would be at risk.. hardwoods? - replace now. Garage stuff? - I'd say to wait til they do leak.

If you did decide to leak, you could install a battery powered leak detector with a glue down water dam around the tanks that would alert you when its time to make that call. Get your quotes now and you'll have a good ballpark for when you need it.

And.. yeah.. some people like to bring their politics into everything. Not sure how it benefited anyone tho.
 

Hogan

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Your risk tolerance is what I consider the biggest item here. The t&p valves likely work, but the water quality in your area may play into that. I've never seen a water heater burst that hadn't been leaking for a very long time un-noticed. If it did leak, what would be at risk.. hardwoods? - replace now. Garage stuff? - I'd say to wait til they do leak.

If you did decide to leak, you could install a battery powered leak detector with a glue down water dam around the tanks that would alert you when its time to make that call. Get your quotes now and you'll have a good ballpark for when you need it.

And.. yeah.. some people like to bring their politics into everything. Not sure how it benefited anyone tho.

That's good advice. I was wondering about the lack of catch pans but I never thought of a glue down "levee" that I could surround the two tanks with

No I haven't tested those pressure valves in 10 yrs at least. I remember I did all this way back when, when my dad and I had the great idea to replace anode rods. I didn't have an impact wrench at the time and we struck out on getting those things loose so I gave up and just said we will see how long the heaters go. And they are still going

Yes I guess I can get the quotes now and then could theoretically wait. If I knew that these tanks could go another 5 or 10 years then maybe but if I knew they are going to have problems within the next year or two then I'm not saving a whole lot by waiting vs just making the switch now. And making the switch now ensures I don't have any major leak issue to deal with. They are in a tiled utility room but in a carpeted finished basement.

And I am leaning to going to a tankless here, but the other option is one 75 gal. Makes zero sense to me to buy 2 50gal Powervents again especially if these new ones only last 6-12 years or whatever. It would cost more than converting to a Navien 240A2 and then future changes to replace a tankless unit with another tankless would be even simpler and cheaper.
 

Hogan

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Or just reading another thread on here....using a tankbooster mixing valve where you keep the tank higher at 140 or whatever and then the mixing valve basically lets you bring in some cold water when it leaves the tank so you use less of the hot.

Efficiency of that setup vs Navien tankless? Would be lower initial cost yet probably higher running cost each year especially as you dial up the heat in the tank it takes more energy to get it there and also more thermal losses so more energy to keep it there. So maybe tankless still just wins for multiple reasons?
 

Tuttles Revenge

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What is the driver / necessity of the 100gal of tank storage? If its a big soaking tub with a big GPM filler.. the tankless will throttle back to likely under 5gpm when the incoming water is really cold in order to maintain temperature.
 

Sylvan

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Your risk tolerance is what I consider the biggest item here. The t&p valves likely work, but the water quality in your area may play into that. I've never seen a water heater burst that hadn't been leaking for a very long time un-noticed. If it did leak, what would be at risk.. hardwoods? - replace now. Garage stuff? - I'd say to wait til they do leak.

If you did decide to leak, you could install a battery powered leak detector with a glue down water dam around the tanks that would alert you when its time to make that call. Get your quotes now and you'll have a good ballpark for when you need it.

And.. yeah.. some people like to bring their politics into everything. Not sure how it benefited anyone tho.

Regarding "T&P valves likely work" I would think about that for a while.


 

Hogan

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What is the driver / necessity of the 100gal of tank storage? If its a big soaking tub with a big GPM filler.. the tankless will throttle back to likely under 5gpm when the incoming water is really cold in order to maintain temperature.

I don't know for sure why the builder did it this way (2 50gal in series.....)

Yes there is a pretty large jetted tub. Also the master shower has a grohe wand which is all we actually use but it also has a rain shower head and a couple of those side jets on the wall too (one of the plumbers I talked to called them car wash showers). Again WE don't ever use those. We do use the Jacuzzi tub maybe once or twice a year. I was told that the Navien could still get around 5gpm in the winter here and probably 8 to 11 in summer. I would think that Jacuzzi even with its waterfall spigot wouldn't be doing MORE than 5gpm? Or could it

I have 2 more guys going to come out to my house and have a look too. While I might lean to tankless I do want to make sure I never get a situation where wife says the water isn't hot. I guess it might have trouble keeping up if someone wanted to use all 3 parts of the shower in the winter in terms of GPM.


If not tankless then I was thinking more economical to go one 75 gal vs the extra money for 2 50s. The 75 gal would be like 120 first hour rating.

What actual "hot water amount" can I really draw on 2 50s right now? I assume it is the full 50 from Tank 1 and also maybe 30 from tank 2? (Because tank 2 feeds its hot water into tank 1).
 

Reach4

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Testing a T&P valve is incredibly easy. Operate the lever. Both of these things have to happen.
1. The valve opens and spews water when you hold the lever.
2. The valve closes, and water stops when you release the lever.

I suggest that you pick a time where replacing the valve will not be a hardship if it fails.

I tested my valve a few years ago, and it passed. I tested again maybe a year ago, and it would not open.
 

Jeff H Young

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2 50s were pretty cheap 20 plus years ago but you are talking power vented so I dont know ? I found that to be popular back in the late 80s and 90s . Its good to figure out the best option today.
Like Someone mentioned you never run out of hot with a tankless but the volume of water coming out could be reduced . put a bucket in your tub to guage what 5 gallons a minute is, usually you are putting a mix of cold in and not only hot. once or twice a year is more than never so only you ( or the Mrs) has to like it. I dont know how much hot you get out of one or 2, 50 gallon heaters in real life (in series or paraell for that matter), a 75 or 100 either for that matter. I wouldnt totally rely on what someone says
If you do the switch be sure to let us know how it worked out in cost and satisfaction Im assuming you were totally happy with the 2 50s on how everything worked ?
 

Hogan

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2 50s were pretty cheap 20 plus years ago but you are talking power vented so I dont know ? I found that to be popular back in the late 80s and 90s . Its good to figure out the best option today.
Like Someone mentioned you never run out of hot with a tankless but the volume of water coming out could be reduced . put a bucket in your tub to guage what 5 gallons a minute is, usually you are putting a mix of cold in and not only hot. once or twice a year is more than never so only you ( or the Mrs) has to like it. I dont know how much hot you get out of one or 2, 50 gallon heaters in real life (in series or paraell for that matter), a 75 or 100 either for that matter. I wouldnt totally rely on what someone says
If you do the switch be sure to let us know how it worked out in cost and satisfaction Im assuming you were totally happy with the 2 50s on how everything worked ?

Yes we never had any issues with hot water on the 2 50s.

After speaking with another guy last night I have now better understanding of the tankless system and I am leaning very heavily in that direction. What I learned (which is probably obvious to you all) is that the Navien will limit the flow as necessary for the temp rise. I know they quote the flow rates for different temps and I saw all that but what clicked in my head last night is the following.....if I am filling that tub, the water WILL be hot but the flow may be adjusted a bit. Let's say my giant waterfall spout into the tub is a 7 gpm faucet (I am just making up numbers). For some reason before I was thinking that if the Navien could only deliver 5gpm of hot, then my water could be just warm at all times coming to the tub. But actually what happens is that faucet will just be water falling at a 5gpm rate. So it's not like I can't get the heat of the water I need to fill the tub, it's just that it might take a little longer. Again probably obvious to you guys but for me I was thinking that if the Navien can't deliver the flow then the resulting water is cooler.....like the Navien just has water flowing through it at a given speed and if the water is too cold then it can't get the full temp rise while the water is in the heat exchanger before it leaves. What happens is the Navien slows the flow to a level where it knows it can get the temp to the right amount.


So I see no downside now to the Navien.

Yeah 50 gal Powervents are expensive now! So buying 2 of them seems dumb at this point, especially if my next set doesn't last 20 yrs like my first set did.
 
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