Electric water heater slowly fading need advice...

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by S30trbo, Jan 24, 2010.

  1. S30trbo

    S30trbo New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Maryland
    it was meant to be my Montgomery Ward electric water heater is slowly dying. It all started when I decided to replace the heating elements as the original owner left me spares behind. There was a pice of duct tape stating cleaned and tested elements in 2003. Now the upper element looked good with some minor corrosion on the threads but the bottom one was completely covered with corrosion. Because I didn't have the right tool I called my neighbor (laid off plumber) and he came over with his trusty "heating element tool" slotted to put a bar or screw driver through and what happened next... nothing. He told me that if we kept trying it would probably ruin the water heater or damage the threads. I asked him if this tool comes like an impact socket made for an air compressor and he said the vibration from the impact gun would do even more damage. Great now what, well just out of curiosity I found a few sites to decode the serial number of the water heater and sure enough it's 32 years old. Seeing how I have been in this house for 5 years (built in '54) that not's bad. :p Any thoughts on replacement or just leave it be??

    Well I have been doing research for the past week while going down in the basement and talking and rubbing the water heater into hanging on for just a little while longer. From what I have read all over the Internet, on this site (this is why I joined and first post) and other sites like Weilhammer Plumbing to name a few I think I have narrowed it down to Rheem, Bradford White and AO Smith. I was very close to going to Lowe's and buying this Whirlpool 80-Gallon Energy Smart Tall Electric Water Heater Item #: 161857 | Model #: EE3Z80HD055V $599 but I didn't I am trying to hold out for tax returns.

    I read review upon reviews of all the other non-electric types of water heaters. I have read all the Consumer Reports, law suits, BBB on local plumbers you name it. I have a propane cooking stove, a wood burning stove in the basement next to the water heater and a wood burning fireplace insert on the first floor. The original owner was a plumber and everything is galvanized and cast iron, clean outs on every bend, the kitchen sink has its own run to a grease trap and still in great shape. The water heater has ¾ galvanized piping and unions that connect right on top and it measures 61 tall and 21 across. The house is 2600 square feet and there is only me and my girlfriend and four furry kids, one and half bath.

    I need to know what the "pros" recommend and what model specific would work for me. What to avoid etc.. Let me know if you need anything else.

    Thanks,
    Joe
  2. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,308
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    Most of the pros on this forum recommend the Bradford White or the Rheem. The Smith does not rate very highly among them, but the Whirlpool definitely is terrible. Galvanized pipes went out with the buggy whips and were hauls off by Reo trucks. You might want to look into repipeing with copper. you could also consider Pex. I assume natural gas is not available, but if it is, this would be a good time to convert. Gas is much more efficient and economical that electricity. Propane is good, but more expensive. I'd leave those cast iron drain alone.
  3. S30trbo

    S30trbo New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Maryland
    Guess I jinxed myself. The girlfriend just got out of the shower and it was a cold one. We no longer have hot water.

    Thanks for the advice, Gary. Unfortunately we do not have access to natural gas (we are fairly rural) and are looking at getting another electric heater. Guess we will be doing it alot sooner than I thought......

    Joe
  4. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2010
  5. S30trbo

    S30trbo New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Maryland
    Is there any difference between the BW High Efficiency and Energy Saver M-2-HE65R6DS model compared to the Energy Saver M-2-65R6DS model?

    Concerning the Rheem how is the polybutene tank on the Marathon? Is it really impervious to rust and corrosion as they say or more of a selling point? I have read to purchase a water heater with a stainless element, the Rheem Professional seems to only have a lower stainless heating element, the specs don't talk about an upper element. Do all tanks today come with 2 elements upper and lower? Finally, the Fury has this EverKleen self cleaning device... gimick? it isn't listed in the other 2 models ?

    Thanks,
    Joe
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,263
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    For all practical purposes ALL conventional electric water heaters are equal. THey all use the same 3800, 4500, or 5500 watt elements depending on the model. Therefore they all recover at the same rate. As far as longevity, it is a function of your water and your usage. ANY of them can last 15 years, and any of them could also last 15 days. There are variations in gas water heaters but the things that make one more desirable than the other do not apply to the electric ones.
  7. moisheh

    moisheh New Member

    Messages:
    42
    Location:
    Mexico and Canada
    HJ:

    THank you for an honest reply to the OP's questions.
  8. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,263
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    I DO carry that tool for INSTALLING the new elements. The socket and breaker bar, or my box wrench is used to remove them. BUT there are situations, such as when corrosion has bonded the element to the tank, where NOTHING except cutting the element out will work.
  9. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Check wity local codes before trying to change to gas. I am not sure you are allowed to put a propane WH in a basement. Anyone out there work with propane and have the answer to that? ( Around here, propane is for barbecues, and I am a charcoal guy, so I never worked with it!!!)
  10. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,263
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Propane gas systems, if they are not leaking, can go anywhere a natural gas one can. The tanks themselves are regulated as to where they can be placed.
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