Author Topic: Replacing water heater  (Read 4771 times)

JCfire

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Replacing water heater
« on: April 18, 2016, 07:05:26 AM »
My water heater has outlived its advertised effective life by 1 year.  It is in a semi-finished basement area that I rarely enter.  If it fails how my last water heater failed (slow drip through bottom valve), it will cause no damage.  However if there is a more rapid flow of water when it fails, it could cause some water damage before I notice the failure, potentially costing me about $1,000 at a slow water faucet rate of flow or $2500 at a more catastrophic rate of flow.  I have already done everything I can to minimize those numbers.

My question: I know very little about water heaters.  Given that mine is 1 year past its advertised life, how likely is it to fail within the next year?  Within the next two years?  And when it fails, how likely is that failure to involve significant water flow out of the heater at a rate faster than a drip? 

All of this is to help me make my decision about whether to pre-emptively replace the water heater, or try to milk every day of effective life out of my existing one before replacing.

Prospector

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Re: Replacing water heater
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2016, 07:08:05 AM »
Every failure I've seen has been due to burners burning out (electric) or sludge buildup (bad well water). Is there a floor drain nearby? Is the heater in a pan? If either of those conditions are met, I would just keep running the water heater. Likely the water chiller in a fridge presents a greater risk than your water heater, and we don't replace our fridge every 2 years when the warranty is up.
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JCfire

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Re: Replacing water heater
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2016, 10:27:45 AM »
Every failure I've seen has been due to burners burning out (electric) or sludge buildup (bad well water). Is there a floor drain nearby? Is the heater in a pan? If either of those conditions are met, I would just keep running the water heater. Likely the water chiller in a fridge presents a greater risk than your water heater, and we don't replace our fridge every 2 years when the warranty is up.

Unfortunately the header is not in a pan and there is no floor drain nearby, which is why I'm a bit anxious.

geekette

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Re: Replacing water heater
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2016, 11:06:31 AM »
What about one of these guys?  Water detector/alarms

JCfire

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Re: Replacing water heater
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2016, 12:20:13 PM »
What about one of these guys?  Water detector/alarms

Great suggestion!  This had not crossed my mind, seems like a cheap solution for my peace of mind.  Thank you.

Jack

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Re: Replacing water heater
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2016, 12:39:24 PM »
What about one of these guys?  Water detector/alarms

Here's one step better: automatic shutoff valves.

Also, don't forget to periodically replace the sacrificial anode (which is what limits that "advertised effective life" in the first place, because almost nobody actually replaces it). That reminds me, I need to figure out how to do mine...

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Replacing water heater
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2016, 03:14:49 PM »
I'm reworking a bunch of the copper lines in our basement.  This is a good reminder (and opportunity!) for me to check the anode on our 10-year-old water heater.  If I can replace that and extend the life of the water heater by another 5+ years, that would more than pay for the tools I'd need (big breaker bar, 1 1/16 socket) to buy in order to remove that anode rod.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IUNIUZz4Os

Jim2001

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Re: Replacing water heater
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2016, 07:49:33 PM »
JCFire,

  Why are you waiting until it fails?  Why not mitigate the risk of flood damage and just replace it now?

Cheers!

Jim

smartmoneymd

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Re: Replacing water heater
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2016, 08:30:33 PM »
Also, don't forget to periodically replace the sacrificial anode (which is what limits that "advertised effective life" in the first place, because almost nobody actually replaces it). That reminds me, I need to figure out how to do mine...

I second checking on the anode. I've never done well with muscle-power related handiwork, and I recall that the last time I tried taking out the anode, I couldn't break open the bolts holding it in. Mine was about 12+ years old. Good to slow down the rust formation.
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Fishindude

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Re: Replacing water heater
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2016, 06:37:51 AM »
Water heaters have a life span of about ten years average.  If it does go bad and the pop off valve activates you will have a whole bunch of water in a hurry which could cause some serious damage.  I'd replace it and have peace of mind.   Water heaters run $400 to $800 plus install costs.

GuitarStv

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Re: Replacing water heater
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2016, 06:51:11 AM »
My water heater is 24 years old, 14 years past it's expected life span.  The anode has never been replaced, water has never been flushed through it.  They're a bit tougher than you might think.  That said, our water heater is right next to the floor drain so there's little risk of water damage when it lets go.

Is there some way you can kinda sandbag it to limit any water damage if/when it fails?

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Re: Replacing water heater
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2016, 07:24:44 AM »
My water heater is 24 years old, 14 years past it's expected life span.  The anode has never been replaced, water has never been flushed through it.  They're a bit tougher than you might think.  That said, our water heater is right next to the floor drain so there's little risk of water damage when it lets go.

Is there some way you can kinda sandbag it to limit any water damage if/when it fails?

Actually, a floor pan is cheaper than sand bags. Run a length of plastic pipe from it to the floor drain, wherever that is (I would just use a scrap of garden hose, but I won't mention that here because someone will point out that they can be pinched off if something heavy is set on them).

$40 and an hour's effort and you're done. Call the insurance company to see if you qualify for a discount.

<EDIT> I priced doing it with sand bags... If you use actual sand bags, it would be around $18 in bags, plus sand, and the hassle of bagging it. But I guess you don't have to use proper sand bags, so maybe you could just buy 15 or so bags of sand and leave it in the bags. I'm guessing about 7 bags to ring the heater, stacked 2 high. I get $57.30 for that solution.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2016, 07:32:39 AM by Prospector »
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GuitarStv

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Re: Replacing water heater
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2016, 07:37:26 AM »
While I agree completely that the floor pan would make much more sense economically, it would be really cool to see a bunch of sandbags surrounding my water heater like a bunker every time I head into the basement.

Fishindude

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Re: Replacing water heater
« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2016, 09:54:19 AM »
If it's in a basement near a floor drain, probably not much to worry about, but a 24 year old water heater is on borrowed time.
Awesome that it has lasted so long, you must have really good quality water because it's usually the minerals; iron, sulfur, etc. that make them go bad.

I'd probably budget to have it replaced in the not too distant future.