What are some of the drawbacks of switching over from gas WH to Electric?

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by vtxdude, Dec 10, 2009.

  1. vtxdude

    vtxdude New Member

    Messages:
    127
    Location:
    NH
    Since my issue with venting of my gas water heater does not seem to be able to be solved by plumbers who have looked at it I am thinking seriously of switching over from gas to electric. Other than the obvious rise in my electric bill, is there any drawbacks? Can I swap a 40 gallon gas with a 40 gallon electric? Does the water stay warmer in a gas WH?


    Anything you can think of???


    Peace of mind is important to me right now for my families safety and the fumes I get from the gas water heater are not good....I'm afraid of spending a lot of money on trying to "maybe" fix things and I know an electric one takes all the venting right out of the equation



    Is one brand of electric water heater better than others?


    Thanks
  2. FloridaOrange

    FloridaOrange Plumbing Designer

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    1,317
    Location:
    SW Florida
    1. Gas has a bettery recovery rate.
  3. curlysir

    curlysir New Member

    Messages:
    23
    Location:
    Texas
    I would go up one size because of the slower recover rate.

    Will cost more to heat the water.

    Is your house wired for the additional electrical load? If not that could be a major cost, might be more then the heater cost.

    Can the water heater be relocated somewhere close and get the proper venting. That would probably be the cheapest.
  4. Cass

    Cass Plumber

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    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    how many people live in the home...
  5. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    Location:
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    Another way of saying it is that the first hour delivery rate of a gas unit will be higher than electric. Once the tank is up to temp, you can get about 70% of that out before it mixes enough and the water starts to noticably cool off. With a gas unit, it has more heat available to maintain the temp than an electric unit does. So, if you start with a bigger tank, you get that extra out of it. 10-more gallons at a 2gpm shower rate is 5-minute longer shower before it starts to cool off than the smaller gas unit.
  6. vtxdude

    vtxdude New Member

    Messages:
    127
    Location:
    NH
    Thanks for the replies guys

    Family of 4 2 teenage boys who take showers in the morning before school..generally not more than 10 minutes long

    Wife is currently deployed so just 3 of us right now....

    Talked to a plumber tonight who installs Bradford Whites...said he could install a 50 gallon electric for 700 dollars which sounds reasonable to me. Currently at a 40 gallon


    He said my electric bill would probably go up maybe 40-50 bucks a month....we have a dishwasher also.


    His first reaction was that Sears should come out and make this water heater right but after dealing with the nincompoops they have sent out so far my confidence in them is shattered..I do not feel like rolling the Sears dice again


    I explained how the fumes are coming out when it was running and how I was getting some soot on the draft hood and he thought the water heater was just messed up..is it possible to get 2 junk water heaters in a row?


    I have 2 open spots in my breaker box..I was told that was all I'd need......I think I am set with an electrician, I think he is just waiting on the word


    I know that this might not be a move that a lot of people agree with but for whatever reason this AO Smith/State/Kenmore gas water heater is not functioning correctly and I'm worried sick over my families safety..the electric water heater seems to solve all problems here except it will come with an added hit to the wallet monthly.....

    Is it worth peace of mind sleeping soundly? I think so ...but...
  7. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,316
    Location:
    New England
    See if you can get a powervent to work out the sidewall. Retain the efficency of gas, and sealed flue.
  8. vtxdude

    vtxdude New Member

    Messages:
    127
    Location:
    NH
    Costwise I'm not sure if I can afford the powervent..those are quite expensive arent they?
  9. Dana

    Dana In the trades

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    Not expensive compared to the difference in cost of a few year's worth of electric vs. gas hot water for a family of 4 in most markets.

    How much are you paying for electricity per kwh, and how much for gas per therm/ccf/decatherm, whatever?
  10. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,316
    Location:
    New England
    NH has nasty electric rates, some of the highest in the US. Gas would end up being cheaper. Depends on how they can run the vent as to the installation costs. Those have very specific maximum distances, and number of elbows, etc. that are allowed. You might be able to use part of the existing vent and go out the roof, or a shorter route out the sidewall with all new...depends on exactly what's there now, where it is located, window and door openings, and probably other considerations. They generally are more efficient, though. Neither a power vent nor an electric will work during a power outage, where you current gas unit will if that is a consideration. The big thing is the vent is sealed to the outside, so it should not leak combustion gasses, which is your main worry with what you have now. I'm just down the street, and my last bill was for 502KwHr - something like $82 or so.
  11. vtxdude

    vtxdude New Member

    Messages:
    127
    Location:
    NH
    Well a powervent is out of the question as my association said I could switch to electric as it does not alter the outside of the building.....in other words I am not allowed to put an extra exhaust outside

    I'm going to go with the 50 gallon Bradford White Electric...it seems to have great efficiency at .92...we just will be judicious with our shower lengths...one stepson going into the Air Force in June and the other spends his summers with his Dad so that will cut back on consumption quite a bit


    In a perfect scenario I would love to get a gas water heater working correctly but with the fumes and nobody being able to solve it this seems to be a problem eliminator. Peace of mind knowing my family can sleep safely at night goes a long way

    Gas hookup will still be there so if I ever decide to try again or the next owner wants to convert back to gas it won't be that difficult




    I will never ever purchase a water heater etc from Sears or a box store...only through a plumber I trust and someone who takes pride in their work as I can tell the plumbers here do
  12. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,316
    Location:
    New England
    You'd have to read the installation info (or talk to an knowledgable plumber - not me!) - you might be able to use the existing flue with a powervent. If it is the right size and isn't too long a run, and within the limits of the number of elbows (each elbow adds an equivalent length to the equation).

    Every association is different, but a hard/fast rule on this seems a little rigid. Often, the new vent is similar to a dryer vent. Mine for my boiler is hidden by some shrubs, and except for the steam in the winter, you'd never notice it.
  13. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,251
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    heater

    I am about as far from your location as it is possible to get, otherwise I would LOVE to check it out. You are trying to cure a problem by eliminating the symptoms, but there is absolutely NO REASON why your problem cannot be cured without the Draconian step of going electric. I do not know what kind of plumbers you have in NH, but any good plumber with diagnostic skills should be able to fix it.
  14. vtxdude

    vtxdude New Member

    Messages:
    127
    Location:
    NH
    I wish you were a lot closer to HJ because I know it probably could be fixed. I have had this ongoing saga for over a month and it is wearing on me...I have missed so much time at work it is not even funny...I have had the HVAC guys out here, they have eliminated the negative air pressure issue, reworked the flue and it has a lot more pitch than it did before and I still have the combustion smell issue....one of the symptoms I read in the manual is not enough secondary air..ok so i tried running it with my cellar door to the outside wide open with tons of air flowing in......still get combustion smell...I don't get it.....

    My next step is to contact Sears and fight like hell to get them to take this out of here...you guys have seen my pics and I have documented all the missteps the "plumbers" they have sent out here plus the Sears service tech who pretty much had no idea. They have had 2 water heaters, 2 different plumbers and the tech...the first guy had no idea why it wasn't venting right so decided "bad" heater and installed another one with probably the messiest/worst soldering job you guys have ever seen...called Sears and complained that no resolution with 2nd heater.....they send out another contractor who says "Oh you need 4 inch venting, 3 inch is too small to handle all this air" Who am I to disagree? I'm just some schmuck who wants his 1000 dollar installed water heater to work properly. So they put the venting in and you guys saw the pictures of how they attached it to the "Tee" I would have had no idea except for the HVAC guy coming out going "who the bleep hooked this up???"

    So my beef with Sears is I paid to have a gas water heater professionally installed and to be in functioning order...they failed on both accounts.....you guys hit it on the head with comments on how they hooked up that 4" pipe to the Tee...absolutely absurd...I am gonna try to recoup as much money as I can out of this..I'm sure it will be an uphill battle but i'm gonna do my best

    Sorry for the rant and I really appreciate everyone's input...it is truly a great place to learn ...one major thing i have learned is to never use a big store for plumbing needs again...I will use an independent professional plumber such as the peeps here and make sure the job is done right the first time
  15. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,251
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Sears

    Call Sears and insist on speaking to someone with authority, not just some telemarketing person, and tell HIM what you have told us, and INSIST that he get a competent, qualified technician or you will be contacting the city building department so they can see what your problem is and THEY, or your contractor registration department, should be able to get it done.
  16. Runs with bison

    Runs with bison Member

    Messages:
    897
    Location:
    Midwest
    I find it very unlikely that a homeowners's association could successfully block this. In fact, I would tell them to stuff it and do it anyway. This is not a reasonable restriction on a required utility for residency and therefore I suspect their objection is null and void for that reason alone.
  17. vtxdude

    vtxdude New Member

    Messages:
    127
    Location:
    NH

    And there is where the problem lies

    Soot on the draft hood..the 1st water heater had soot on the baffles in the middle..loud flame....it is not a crisp blue flame..it has blue but does look a bit lazy and had yellow in it...as I said even with door to outside open it still burns this way??? Is that not enough secondary air? Draft seems good..I can cup hand around and not have to move...although draft at very front does not draw as well as sides and back...does that make any sense? Gas suppy goes for 3/4 black iron to 1/2 OD copper tubing (so whats that 3/8 ID?) back to 3/4 black pipe where it connects to water heater.... been told that a fire Marshall would red line the heater just for that...think maybe one of the Sears plumbers may have said something?

    And what cause combustions smells.......I am smelling something..I think any adhesive from the meatl tape the pulled off pipe must have burned off by now? They did put the read fire caulk on the connections but that shouldn't smell I would think...if you get on step stool and stand right above where first elbow comes up (HVAC guy called it something else) you can feel the heat rising and the smell..it is almost like a metal burning smell..can the pipe actually cook? I dunno I'm grasping at straws now...and since HVAC put that new 12x12 grate in the living room I now get that smell in my living area not cool at all...not their fault...the builder used sheet metal on the joists to use as a cold air return..and not the most air tight system thats for sure
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2009
  18. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

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    7,395
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    I'll put in my 2 cents worth for the power vent. I'm pretty sure that you could run the vent up through the existing flue. The new power vents can be vented through smaller pipe and for long distances than the older ones. I would do anything legal to avoid changing to electricity. Gas water heaters are by far the most economical and heat water so much faster than electricity. There has to be a plumbing contractor in your area that can deal with this, just keep looking.
  19. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,251
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    installation

    Sheet metal on the joists for a return duct is a common practice, since that is a "suction" system not a pressure one. FEELING for draft is not a valid test. You have to use a smoking piece of paper to see if the smoke goes into the draft diverter, or is pushed away from it. Metal does not burn, and I do not know why they would use a fireproofing on the joints. It was completely unnecessary, and since it could be an ablative material when it gets hot, THAT could create some odors.
  20. vtxdude

    vtxdude New Member

    Messages:
    127
    Location:
    NH
    If it wasn't drafting correctly wouldn't I be getting spillage of CO in my basement? 2 detectors within 6 feet of it and nothing

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