Prophylactic Water Heater Replacement?

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by JerryR, May 9, 2012.

  1. JerryR

    JerryR Member

    Messages:
    251
    Location:
    Florida
    PRE-Failure Water Heater Replacement?

    What is the consensus about DIY replacement of a 12 year old, 6 year Water heater.

    House is a single story Florida house on a concrete slab . *The heater is in the Garage at the same level as main house floor. *So far there are no signs of rusting at base of unit.*

    Would it be imprudent to replace now or should one just wait until there are signs of external rusting or failure?

    The reason I bring this up is a friend who lives on the 8th floor of a condo just had a failure which caused lots of damage to the unit below his. My brother-in-law also had a recent failure which caused drywall and carpet damage in his 1st floor condo. As we know, all bad things happen in 3s. ;)
    Last edited: May 9, 2012
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,130
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    I read this too fast and didn't see that it was in the garage. Most garages have some slope to them, and a leaking water heater isn't that much of an issue.

    If the water heater was inside the home, then what I said below may make some sense.

    Many condo associations require replacement at ten years for just that reason. Trying to squeeze a year or two out of a dying heater doesn't make much economic sense. Not when it can cause damage to the units below, and to the carpets in your home.

    There will be no signs to look for when it will fail. Your heater is covered with insulation that is wrapped in a metal covering. The failure will come from the tank inside of that shell.
    Last edited: May 9, 2012
  3. Dana

    Dana In the trades

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    You could pull the sacrificial anode and see what's left, but unless it looks really good the thing is just a time bomb.

    If you swap anodes on a rigorous schedule and never let them run thin it's possible to get 20 years or more out of it. The rate at which they need to be swapped varies with water quality and use volume but once every 5 years isn't too soon.

    Since it's in the garage it's likely that the down side of waiting for it to leak may not be too expensive compared to the condo situation. It depends what might be damaged if you let it go. Most won't fail in a catastrophic flood, but when the first drips or puddles appear don't just put it off until the weekend.
  4. JerryR

    JerryR Member

    Messages:
    251
    Location:
    Florida
    Being I had a $100 Home Depot gift card and Disabled veteran 10% discount I just finished replacing the water heater for only $133 + tax, my cost. Better safe than sorry.

    Since this was a GE/Rheem 50 gallon to GE/Rheem 50 Gallon, same form factor, it only took about 15 minutes to replace. I hooked up the hose to drain the tank before going to HD to get the new water heater. When I came back The tank was almost empty so i slid out the old one and installed the new one. Friday is bulk trash pickup so the used tank will be gone by the weekend.

    I love when things go well. I wish all things in life were this easy..... :)

    Jerry
    Last edited: May 10, 2012
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
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    quote; You could pull the sacrificial anode and see what's left, but unless it looks really good the thing is just a time bomb.

    The ONLY anode rods that "look really good", are new original ones or replacements. If it is doing its job, the original one will deteriorate fairly quickly. You balance the chance of waer damage against the life and cost of a new water heater. Your heater in a garage on a slab is NOTHING like a water heater in a high rise unit when it starts to leak.
  6. Dana

    Dana In the trades

    Messages:
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    Location:
    01609
    I should have described "really good" more appropriately.

    Really good == It has a some amount of sacrificial metal left over most of it's length.

    Not so good == Mostly bare wire core, possibly rusted through with only a stub left, indicating that the protection has been gone for a long period of time.
  7. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,153
    Location:
    New England
    If you think about it, sacrificial anodes are used on many things, maybe one of the bigger ones is boats, but bouys, bridges, and anything that sits in the water that you want to last has them. The key is to maintain them. Much cheaper to replace an anode than the main structure, but once the anode is gone, the water attacks the tank.
  8. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,835
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; but once the anode is gone, the water attacks the tank.

    The tanks in today's water heaters are ALL glass lined. THe anode rod's purpose is to coat any metal which the lining missed. Once that metal is coated, the anode rod has accomplished its purpose. I have NEVER replaced the anode rods in any of my water heaters, and the only reason I remove them from other people's heaters is because of odor problems, and then I replace it with a 3/4" brass plug. So far, none of those heaters have failed prematurely, even though I have replaced hundreds of leaking heaters which are only a few, (and sometimes less than one), years old which still have the factory anode rod in them..
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