Your opinion on a used WH, please

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by leejosepho, Sep 4, 2012.

  1. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    I have a used electric water heater I had replaced for my wife's aunt after it quit working. I suspect it needs either an element or a new control. Before doing anything else, I pulled the anode rod to try to assess the tank's condition, and only about a foot of 1/8" wire was left on the rod. I have a new rod I can put in this heater.

    Question: Does the condition of the rod I pulled tend to indicate the tank might already be damaged?
  2. johnjh2o1

    johnjh2o1 Plumbing Contractor for 49 years

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    To assess the heater I would be looking at it's age. Life span 7-10 years.

    John
  3. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Understood, John, and it looks to me like this heater came from a location with some tough water.

    We presently have a 20-year-old gas water heater, and will ultimately be replacing it with an electric one.

    Question 2: Should I bother with putting the new anode in the gas heater to help keep it going as long as possible?
  4. Dana

    Dana In the trades

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    I'm not sure why you'd be replacing the gas-fired unit with an electric tank (especially a used one). The cost of heating water with gas is usually SUBSTANTIALLY cheaper than heating with electricity.

    If it's 2 decades and counting, apply the anode money to the new hot water heater.

    If it's not leaking the electric tank with a totally-spent anode may still be OK, but don't put it back in service without a fresh anode.
  5. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    My in-laws had purchased the gas-fired unit used about 20 years ago, and my initial thought had been to replace it now before it begins leaking or whatever. I had already purchased the new anode with thoughts of having the used electric heater standing by, but now I am thinking about replacing the anode in the gas-fired heater and doing nothing more for as long as that heater still works.

    Switching to electric is just a preference of mine, and the circuit is already in place.

    I still might get the electric unit ready for service since I am concerned about using an impact wrench on top of the old gas-fired unit and damaging it while trying to install the new anode.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2012
  6. BobL43

    BobL43 DIY Senior Member

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    Pardon my English, but I would not install an old water heater any sooner than use a recycled condom:p.

    If it leaks or whatever, than all your efforts and labor are wasted. 400 bucks or so is not an insignifigant amount of money, but I'd rather buy the new one and hopefully be done with it.

    It was bought "used" 20 years ago, and you are considering installing it? LOL. then again, that's just my $.02

    OK, I mixed up the 2 water heaters. I was too busy wiping away the tears from laughter to see clearly. My opinion remains anyway
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2012
  7. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    In most cases, the original anode rod is the only "useful" one. By the time is is gone, it should have coated any exposed metal surfaces in the tank. So far, I have NEVER replaced an anode rod in any of my heaters, and have not replaced any because they were leaking either.
  8. Cookie

    Cookie .

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    I commend you Lee for being so kind as to help your wife's aunt. Not many people would take the time or effort to do so. Your wife is a lucky lady.
  9. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    "Clean and undefiled religion before the Elohim and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction ..." (James 1:27)

    "Aunt Ann" is six years older than me and quite a lady who lost her husband quite unexpectedly about three years ago.

    This is the first I have heard of the anode coating a tank. Like on a boat, I had always thought it was just sacrificial to keep the tank from being eaten.

    Before doing anything more here, I will find out what the used electric unit needs to get it working again and then decide from there. Some people who had once moved it to install some new flooring had powered it dry and burned an element, but I do not know why it had quit working the second time around. Including the cost of the new anode I already have, my limit here would be around $100.00 before I just go get a new heater.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2012
  10. Dana

    Dana In the trades

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    Methinks your understanding of how sacrificial anodes work is correct.

    Many/most electric tanks are glass lined, and as long as the liner is intact the anode isn't doing much even if it's slowly giving up it's mass to the water. It's protecting the exposed areas where the electrodes & plumbing of-necessity pass through. Once it's gone there is still time (several months to a few years, or even several years, depending on the volume of water used and the water chemistry) before rust-through is likely. The fact that you got the old one out without a lot of trouble and it wasn't rusted-on is a good sign, but not a guarantee that it doesn't have an imminent rust-through risk.

    But the fact that they also burned it up by dry-powering it in combination with the 100% used up anode puts it in the "please don't bother" column- it's not worth fixing.

    In my area it's pretty easy to find "retired-working" electric water heaters from other peoples' rehab/remodel projects for under $50 on the the usual used-goods bulletin boards, if cash is tight. If it fits, drop the new anode into one that actually works. Since the gas heater hasn't failed yet, you have time to look around. If cash isn't that tight, wait for a sale on something new.

    But note: In most areas the cost of operation of an electric tank is ~3x that of gas, and the gas unit more than pays for the difference in upfront cost many times over it's lifecycle. On the same bulletin boards you can often find new "6-year" warranty replacement units for the same money as a sale-priced retail electric tank.
  11. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    It took more from an electric impact wrench than I would have expected to get the old anode out.

    The dry-power situation was quite some time ago and I do not know why the heater quit this second time just before I replaced it ... but I agree. A new element or control could get it working again, but I think it best to just go after a new heater.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2012
  12. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Oops, double post
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2012
  13. BobL43

    BobL43 DIY Senior Member

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    Ah that's more like it. Now you are thinking clearly again:)
  14. wassermeister

    wassermeister New Member

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    If you want to swap to an electric water heater you should consider getting a heat pump water heater. Operating costs are similar to a gas water heater. Manufacturers such as GE, AirGenerate, and AO Smith make decent models. Stay away from the Rheem HP50. It's garbage.

    If you want to replace your gas water heater with a gas model I would look into the Rheem XR90. It is a 29 gallon tank with 83 gallons first hour rating. It can keep up with a household of 6-7 people easy. It is only slightly more expensive than a dumb standard gas water heater.
  15. wassermeister

    wassermeister New Member

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    If you want to swap to an electric water heater you should consider getting a heat pump water heater. Operating costs are similar to a gas water heater. Manufacturers such as GE, AirGenerate, and AO Smith make decent models. Stay away from the Rheem HP50. It's garbage.

    If you want to replace your gas water heater with a gas model I would look into the Rheem XR90. It is a 29 gallon tank with 83 gallons first hour rating. It can keep up with a household of 6-7 people easy. It is only slightly more expensive than a dumb standard gas water heater.
  16. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Our WH sits in a 24" closet in the carport, so that might be a good option!
  17. wassermeister

    wassermeister New Member

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    In German the same idiom is used except we say "two idiots - one thought". Haha. :)
  18. BobL43

    BobL43 DIY Senior Member

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    Ouch! that's gotta leave a mark.
  19. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Nah, logic does not always lead to truth anyway ...

    "God is love.
    "Love is blind.
    "Ray Charles was blind.
    "Ray Charles was God?"

    Loved his music, though! :cool:
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2012
  20. BobL43

    BobL43 DIY Senior Member

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    Me too; still do.
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