Author Topic: Replacing Gas Water Heater in Attic  (Read 4755 times)

pbratt

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Replacing Gas Water Heater in Attic
« on: May 10, 2014, 11:43:41 AM »
Folks:

This board was very helpful with providing advice regarding some home energy efficiency projects, and I'm wondering if you all might be able to offer some advice for another potential project.

My friend and I were flushing out my Rheem Gas Short 50 Gallon water heater yesterday, something we do on an annual basis. The water heater has been fine, but my friend (who is a plumber), said that I might want to think about replacing the water heater with a new one down the road. Now, I've read the MMM boards, and my first question was whether I could just replace the anode rod. He mentioned that one normally could, but since the water heater is in the attic, we can't maneuver it to pull it out. The water heater is 46 inches (and stands on a three inch base), and the attic roof is 60 inches. So, I took his judgement-he was working for free, which was nice.

He mentioned that since the water heater was installed in May 2003, I might want to think about replacing it soon. He mentioned tankless water heaters (which could be installed on the exterior of my house), but he said that the cost does not bring much ROI, as in my house, the total cost would be around $4,000 for the water heater in installation. I'm willing to DIY on many things, but not plumbing.

My question is whether any MMM have come across any energy star rated water heaters that can fit in a smaller space in an attic? I've found one that Rheem makes, which is linked below:
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Rheem-Performance-Platinum-50-gal-Short-12-Year-40-000-BTU-Energy-Star-Natural-Gas-Water-Heater-XG50S12DM40U0/204321571?N=5yc1vZc1tzZ1z0tlzw

The product height is listed at 50 inches, and the assembled height is at 55 inches, which might be too close to the roof of the attic. has anyone found any small water heaters that are good on energy and good on the wallet?

Thanks! Peter

TomTX

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Re: Replacing Gas Water Heater in Attic
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2014, 01:13:40 PM »
Um, you might not be able to pull the anode with the water heater in place, but you can almost certainly pull the anode:

1) Shut off everything, drain tank.

2) Unhook connections

3) Tip water heater on its side.

4) Pull anode(s)

5) Replace anodes. Check your drain pan, valves, flex tube, etc. while you're there and fix/upgrade if needed.

6) Go to Home Depot for something.

7) Clean all the connections, add new teflon tape. Gas tape for any gas connections.

8) Replace water heater in normal position

9) Reconnect everything.

10) Refill, check for leaks and start using.

Easier than hauling the damn thing down from the attic and hauling a new one up.

Nords

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Re: Replacing Gas Water Heater in Attic
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2014, 10:48:47 PM »
My friend and I were flushing out my Rheem Gas Short 50 Gallon water heater yesterday, something we do on an annual basis. The water heater has been fine, but my friend (who is a plumber), said that I might want to think about replacing the water heater with a new one down the road. Now, I've read the MMM boards, and my first question was whether I could just replace the anode rod. He mentioned that one normally could, but since the water heater is in the attic, we can't maneuver it to pull it out. The water heater is 46 inches (and stands on a three inch base), and the attic roof is 60 inches. So, I took his judgement-he was working for free, which was nice.

He mentioned that since the water heater was installed in May 2003, I might want to think about replacing it soon. He mentioned tankless water heaters (which could be installed on the exterior of my house), but he said that the cost does not bring much ROI, as in my house, the total cost would be around $4,000 for the water heater in installation. I'm willing to DIY on many things, but not plumbing.
I hope this guy is a better friend than a plumber.

Tom has the answer (I've had to do that myself in small enclosures) but you can try a little exploratory surgery first.  If your anode rod is already 11 years old then I bet you really have an "anode hexagonal nut" or an "anode wire".  Before you start draining and tipping, take the time to unscrew the anode rod from the tank to see how much clearance you really need.  It might be "zero". 

Replacement anode rods come in a variety of choices, and you can buy them in segmented pieces connected by the wire core.  I've seen anode rods of 3-4 feet in segments of as little as one foot.  You probably have to seek out a specialty plumbing store instead of Home Depot, or you could go online:
http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Lightning-Magnesium-Flexible-Anode/dp/B007ZI385E/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1399783078&sr=1-2-fkmr0&keywords=segmented+%22anode+rod%22
Yeah, it costs more than a typical anode rod, but it's a lot cheaper than replacing a water heater every 10 years.

Your friend suggested a tankless water heater on the exterior of your house-- you could just as easily do that with a new water heater, with or without a weatherproof enclosure.  You could start at the EnergyStar.gov website:
https://www.energystar.gov/productfinder/product/certified-water-heaters/?scrollTo=0&search_text=&sort_by=energy_factor&sort_direction=desc&fuel_filter=Natural+Gas&type_filter=Gas+Storage&brand_name_isopen=&input_rate_thousand_btu_per_hour_isopen=&page_number=0&lastpage=0
You might also want to look at Bradford White.  I don't know how they're doing today, but our high-efficiency gas Bradford-White water heater is 17 years old and on its third anode rod.  No problems.

I realize that there are a lot of strange construction codes in the world, but for the life of me I cannot fathom why a homeowner could sleep at night knowing that they have a gas-fired water tank in their (flammable, water-absorbent) attic.  Maybe the water heater's noise keeps the squirrels & birds from nesting there?

TomTX

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Re: Replacing Gas Water Heater in Attic
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2014, 05:40:15 AM »
I realize that there are a lot of strange construction codes in the world, but for the life of me I cannot fathom why a homeowner could sleep at night knowing that they have a gas-fired water tank in their (flammable, water-absorbent) attic.  Maybe the water heater's noise keeps the squirrels & birds from nesting there?

My last house had a gas water heater in a 2nd story closet. It had a drain pain, with a drain line to outside.

Greg

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Re: Replacing Gas Water Heater in Attic
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2014, 10:54:06 AM »
You could also install a gas powered tankless in the same place in the attic.  The good ones usually have a coaxial vent, so you'd need to be on the roof as well to install the vent and roof jack.

You would likely need to have a 120V outlet nearby to power the brain of the heater.  If you don't already have it, it would be a good time to add a light and outlet if you go this route.