Looking for hot water heater suggestions

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by mckeand13, Jul 3, 2008.

  1. mckeand13

    mckeand13 Engineer

    Messages:
    68
    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    I'm currently looking to replace my old hot water heater just due to the fact that it is old and I don't want to be replacing it when there is a problem.

    Two bathroom house. Myself and wife, no kids just yet but hopefully a couple of them soon. With 40gal we have never run out of hot water even when a bunch of people are visiting. We are either efficient, or the current softener recovers very quickly.

    Current hot water heater is an AO Smith 40 gallon gas. It was installed in 1993, making it 15yrs old. It's not leaking or doing anything bad, just want to be preventative. I actually have the temp. dial down really low which makes me think it's not all full of minerals inside. It currently gets softened water but I don't know that it always has. I have no idea what preventative maintenance (flush, anode) has ever been done. I haven't done any just for the fact that I don't want to disturb anything at this point.

    I would say that a new 40gal would be fine, but a 50gal would be ok as an upgrade with the idea that there will hopefully be more people in the house at some point.

    It seems like the tankless heaters are still very expensive, not only in product cost, but also installation. For that reason I'm looking for suggestions on tank style brands and models.

    The current heater is vented into the chimney along with the furnace. Does it make more sense or offer improvements in any way to direct vent?

    I'd like to install it myself, but is it possible to buy a quality heater without install by a dealer? I'm not all too impressed by the idea/look of the good,better,best heaters at Home Depot and the like. Where does one get a quality unit?

    Thanks
  2. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,358
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    You're wise to stay away from the tankless for the reasons you have given and more. The GE/Rheem is a good choice in water heaters, and I'd stay with the vent system you currently have. I have a power vent and it is great, but I removed the chimney that had been used for venting an older heater and now I am committed to a power vent or direct vent forever...which is fine except they are quite expensive. If you are doing a basic remove and replace and don't have to move the gas line, there isn't that much to installing a water heater except for handle the beasts. Some plumber hard plumb the water lines, but those I know around here use 3/4" flexible copper which makes connections a breeze, just don't kink them. As far as size is concerned, since you are anticipating a family in the near future, a 50 gallon might be a good idea. A 40 gallon might be OK, but with that additional 10 gallons, you would have a reserve supply.
  3. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    As far as sizing, kids in the future means the bathtub gets a workout!
    Definitely upgrade to a 50.

    With a gas water heater there are only 2 brands I would consider. With the years that have gone by since your last unit there has been a safety upgrade to FVIR. This prevents flammable vapors from igniting when they are present in the area where the water heater is. Only 2 companies have their stuff together as far as this technology goes. Those companies are Bradford White & Rheem. Read the tale of woe for the Whirlpool owners on this forum! AO Smith is only a whisker better!
  4. mckeand13

    mckeand13 Engineer

    Messages:
    68
    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Is it possible to purchase the Rheem units at a big box store?

    Thanks for the advise so far!
  5. mckeand13

    mckeand13 Engineer

    Messages:
    68
    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Oops. Advice. :rolleyes:
  6. mckeand13

    mckeand13 Engineer

    Messages:
    68
    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Any comments/suggestions on using the flex tubing for the water in/out and gas connections?

    Water is currently hard plumbed in copper and gas is hard plumbed in black pipe.
  7. MikeA

    MikeA New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Maybe you shouldn't rule out the tankless heaters. I recently had an indirect Takagi gas water heater installed and we've been happy with it so far. The specks show that I'm supposed to make up the additional cost in a relatively short period of time. It went right on the wall and saved a lot of space. We never run out of hot water. And we're not heating water during the daytime or vacations when no one is using hot water. It has it's own seperate exhaust, not dependent on chimney. The insides are made of stainless steel, thus no rust water (minerals) sitting in the bottom of the tank - less maintenance. We'll see if this year we get the High efficiency Federal & State Tax Incentives and Utility rebate (National Grid). So far the only downside was that initially it took some time to get the hot water to the main and second levels although the basement water was hot immediately. The plumber believes that it was the distance being a problem - having to get through the pipes. He cleaned a screen in the unit a couple of times, it still had the same situation. At present the problem has sort itself out on it's own.
    If you're interested I can look up the model # and other information, just PM me.

    I'm interested in knowing what the other downside was besides cost that the other poster was mentioning.
  8. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Why don't you just search tankless here and get informed?
    A lot of your satisfaction can be due to the coldest incoming water temperature you experience in the winter. Where are you located?
  9. Last edited: Jul 4, 2008
  10. tototalitarian

    tototalitarian New Member

    Messages:
    49
    Location:
    California
    youve got private mail

    Youve got private mail
  11. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,358
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    GE/Rheem heaters are sold by Home Depot. Bradford White is supposed to be sold only to licensed plumbers although I have heard of some suppliers that will sell to the general public I don't know how widespread that is. The GE/Rheem is one of the few plumbing products sold by HD that are decent quality.
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