When do you need to replace a water heater

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by richard8, Oct 20, 2008.

  1. richard8

    richard8 New Member

    Messages:
    27
    Location:
    Washington
    Hello,

    When do you need to replace a water heater. I had spoken to plumber and he mentioned after 16 years. He said some water heaters last as long as 30 but others fail after six (6) years. What do I need to look for, i.e. failure signs, or other visual things to look for.

    I currently have a bradford white 50 gallon tank, I believe it is 15 years old.

    The recommendation for maintaining this water heater is remove two gallons of water 6 -8 times a year.

    I keep hearing bradford white and Rheem are the way to go with a new heater.

    Is there any other Home depot or Lowe's brands that are good. Or is this better to go with a licensed plumber.

    Thanks in advance for any advice.
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,153
    Location:
    New England
    Sometimes they just start leaking with no previous warning signs. Depends on if you want to deal with it when you want to, or just wait, then it's sort of an emergency. If it happens on a weekend or holiday and you want it fixed, it will cost a premium. If you can wait until the following normal workday, and live with the inconvenience, it's not.

    Draining the crud out periodically is a good idea. If there are flakes of rust when you do this, it is time.

    The anode rod is probably all used up but getting one that old out might be tough, and might break something else in the process. Depending on the water where you live, replacing that periodically may help prolong the WH's life.

    The WH sold at HD are made by Rheme, so if you wish to pick up your own, are not a bad choice. A plumber may not cost more if he supplies one, and then you could get the Bradford White.
  3. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,835
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    heater

    You replace it when it starts to leak. Obviously those that started to leak after 5 years never made it to the 14 year mark, and those that are 15 or over have passed it so that number, or any one, is useless.
  4. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,360
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    Stay away from Whirlpool. Very poor quality. As far as you old heater is concerned, it is rare for a heater to to have a sudden and catastrophic failure. Usually they begin to leak. This may be a nuisance, but it does give you some time to act before the bottom falls out. I would suggest the Rheem if you are going to DIY or the Bradford White if you are going to have your plumber install it.
  5. The G.E. heaters made by Rheem and supplied thru Home Depot are NOT built to the same specs as Rheem and Ruud heaters. I had a lot of them fail during a 2 or 3 week period last year and got concerned, called Rheem, who told me they are built on a seperate line to Home Depots price points and specs and are in no way the same quality as a pro-grade heater that plumbers get at the supply house.
    That being said...our local supplier dropped the Ruud line because of excessive leaks within the warranty period and we've been using A.O. Smith ProMax heaters instead for the last 2 years without a single problem from any of them. Bradford-White is a great choice too but if not available, I'd recommend an A.O. Smith anyday.
  6. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,130
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    I hear from many Condo Associations that require replacement at ten years if the heater is located in the living area.
    Water heaters in garages that would allow for little if any damage, I don't think they worry so much.
    I don't see many heaters going twenty years, but it does happen. But I've also seen catastrophic insurance jobs when they fail within a living space.
    Everybody likes saving a buck, it depends on your gambling instincts.

    The heater below is 15 years old.
    It had been installed over a drain pan and had been leaking for months.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Feb 7, 2011
  7. Drivesme

    Drivesme New Member

    Messages:
    33
    Location:
    Washington state
    I have a couple of related questions,
    Do gas heaters have anode rods? And if so how often do you replace them?
    Flushing or draining the heater to remove the 'crud', is this done with the water supply shut off or left on?
    How often should this be done with 'normal' water conditions?

    Stupid questions I know but for clarification proposes.
    Thanks.
  8. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,835
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Gas heaters do have anode rods. As far as I am concerned when the original anode rod is depeleted it has done its job, so I remove it and plug the opening. You flush the heater with the pressure on, but since it only flushes material at the drain valve opening, its value is overrated. Someday, I may flush my 12 year old gas water heater for the first time.
  9. Drivesme

    Drivesme New Member

    Messages:
    33
    Location:
    Washington state
    So water heater 'maintenance' is not needed?
  10. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    Water heater maintenance should double or triple its life. If the anode remains fresh, the tank cannot rust, or at a miniscule rate. Ships would sink daily without HUGE anodes on the hull. Europeans use electric anodes which are forever until the transformer dies.

    There simply is no culture or recent histroy of water heater maintenance in this disposable world. My 6 ear reliance is now a twelve year reliance because I took out the pathetic 24" aluminum rod designed for 3 years and replaced it with a resistorized .90 magnesium rod that is 45" long. Added a real valve to flush it out. 13$ for rod and 4$ for valve.

    Removing and sealing a anode port is like stopping treatment for a diabetic.

    Here are some links for maintenance and its benefits:

    http://www.inspectapedia.com/plumbing/Hot_Water.htm

    http://www.waterheaterrescue.com/pages/WHRpages/English/Longevity/what-kills-water-heaters.html

    Rods are available from "Fiery Chili" hvac supply on line. Good, branded and cheap.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2011
  11. Drivesme

    Drivesme New Member

    Messages:
    33
    Location:
    Washington state
    Excellent! Thank you for information!
  12. ilya

    ilya In the Trades

    Messages:
    105
    Location:
    Akron Ohio
    Why would you fail to replace an anode rod upon removal of the spent one? My bald tire did it's job too-but I'm not driving on the rim. I'm with ballvalve on Waterheaterrescue.com. LOTS of edcation and parts to be found there.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2011
  13. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,153
    Location:
    New England
    They don't just remove the bolts on the spent anodes on ships, bouys, etc. when they wear out for a reason...a new one will continue to help protect the device. Now, if it was totally spent, the damage done after it was gone may mean there's too much damage to help, but if it is replaced before it is exhausted, it will continue to help protect the unit. Now, if you can't do it yourself, and have to pay a plumber to come in and do it, it's probably best to just leave sleeping dogs lie...wait for it to start leaking, then replace the tank.
  14. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    True, but the guy that gets a reliance 6 year job, with the .6" 24" anode that should have been 54" practically gets a free water heater if he spends 13$ for a new magnesium .9 anode. and the new ones come out easy. Mine had enough pipe dope on the threads and the rod to plumb one house.
  15. Hairyhosebib

    Hairyhosebib New Member

    Messages:
    173
    Location:
    Arizona
    Don't buy a GE from the Home depot! I had one six months and two holes formed in the tank.
  16. Drivesme

    Drivesme New Member

    Messages:
    33
    Location:
    Washington state
    I have a Bradford White and it looks like the dip tube acts as the anode, is that correct?
    If so how do I know when to replace it and what do I replace it with?
  17. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    I think the outlet is where they put secondary anodes. It must have a primary with the 1-1/16 hex cap. Check out water heater rescue, he talks about finding the secondary anode
  18. Drivesme

    Drivesme New Member

    Messages:
    33
    Location:
    Washington state
    Nothing on top other than the inlet and outlet connections.
    Is BW a good brand? I know I paid a pretty good price for it, even though they claimed it was 'deal' when buying it and the new furnace at the same time.
    It was a new gas hook up so I had to switch to at least 3 gas appliances to keep the hook up few down.
  19. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,153
    Location:
    New England
    Bradford-WHite is a good brand. On some models, the anode rod is apparantly 'hung' from the inlet or outlet fitting, and not in a dedicated plug hole. I suppose this helps, as there's one less hole in the tank that could corrode and leak. Don't know that for sure.
  20. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    A good weater heater has 2 anodes, or more.
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