2017 electric water heater, Worth Repairing?

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Mr. Mud Maker

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I have a Bradford White 40 gallon electric. It is not producing as much hot water as it has since we moved into the house 6 months ago (can take one long shower then it runs out). It was manufactured in 2017. The reason I am asking if I should repair or replace is:

The previous owners did ZERO maintenance on anything in the house. The well system they had was HARD at over 104 grains per gallon.

Since moving in I've gotten a new well (Thanks Reach/Valveman/everyone for that help!) and all new everything with the only exception being the WH.

Current water is 0-1 grains per gallon due to softening system, it is run through a Spindown and KL system before it hits the water heater.

Water is VERY high in chlorides. (Water info at bottom of post if that matters between stainless or copper heating elements.)

So, do I pay my local trustworthy plumber to inspect/possibly repair or bite the bullet and purchase a new one since I can install myself (WH located in basement (I moved it from main floor) and it is near sump.

IF replace- who should I get? AO Smith Signature from Lowes? AO Smith Proline from Supplyhouse? Bradford White from Supply? so many choices. Goodness!

We have 6 kids and the wife and I in the family, however my oldest is only 8, youngest is an infant. I figure I can start saving now for a replumbing of the gas lines and put in a tankless down the road. so I think a 50gallon would work until the kids are older?

Thanks much!

Water info:
Chloride 569 mg/L
Hardness 1209 mg/L (softened to 17 mg/L)
Nitrate 21.8 mg/L
Calcium 353
Magnesium 79.60
Sodium 135
Sulfate 531
Iron less than 0.01
Manganese less than 0.01
Electrical Conductivity 2880 umhos/cm
TDS 2043 mg/L
 

Reach4

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I have a Bradford White 40 gallon electric. It is not producing as much hot water as it has since we moved into the house 6 months ago (can take one long shower then it runs out). It was manufactured in 2017.
Most likely cause of failure would be one of the elements burned out. Plus your WH may have accumulated a lot of sediment over the years.

If you will go with another electric, there are various opinions on whether a hybrid WH vs conventional electric makes sense. Hybrid costs more, but there may be program subsidy.

Any thoughts on anodes? Your sulfate level is pretty high, and SRB (sulfur reducing bacteria) are aided by the metals in sacrificial anodes in the production of H2S. Your old anode is long gone, but if you put in a new WH, you could start smelling H2S.

Sanitizing your well could rid you of SRB, or adding UV to kill the incoming bugs followed by sanitizing to kill the bugs already there could be ways to prevent that. I went with a Ceranode powered anode which protects like magnesium but does not help feed SRB.
 

WorthFlorida

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First check the thermostat settings. Both top and bottom should be set at 120 degree mark. Sometimes you need to tweak it a little hotter. If you're good with a volt meter it can be checked for a bad element. As reach suggest, one of the elements is burned out and easily replaced for about $20 in parts. A water heater only 4 years old is still pretty new, Electric WH live a long life. If it is a 6 year warranty unit, it should last 12 years unless you have really bad water that leaves a lot of sediment, since you have water softener that helps greatly.

My last home it was sold with 17 year old unit. My current house built in 2007 still has the same electric WH. If it is a 6 year warranty unit, it should last 12 years. Just the other day my elderly neighbor's electric water heater, same as mine when the home was built in 2006, finally started a slow leak. They're in the garage so no flooding concerns.
 

Mr. Mud Maker

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So if I'm understanding correctly it would be worth spending under a hundred to replace the heating elements.

Reach mentioned srb and smells. I just sanitized the well less than a month ago so that shouldn't be a problem if I get a new one right?

Last question and many thanks. Are all new heaters roughly the same or is there one I should get if this tank is too far gone. I should mention I'm on a tight budget and could only spend maybe 1200
 

LLigetfa

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First check the thermostat settings. Both top and bottom should be set at 120 degree mark. Sometimes you need to tweak it a little hotter. If you're good with a volt meter it can be checked for a bad element.
I agree that repair versus replace makes sense since the repair is pretty straight forward unless the plan is to install a larger unit for more hot water. Another option to a larger unit is to raise the temperature and add a thermostatic mixing valve.
https://www.watts.com/resources/references-tools/thermostatic-mixing-valves

It's been many decades since I had an electric water heater so I don't recall if they suffer from temperature stacking like my gas unit does. A mixing valves mitigates the stacking problem as well.
 

Master Plumber Mark

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You can go to Lowes and buy a complete repair kit with 2
elements and the lower and upper thermostats for about 30 bucks..

Its only a 2017 so it should be easy to do if you have any skills with your hands.... .....

Just be sure to turn off the power and drain the heater before attempting to do this....

Now if can't figure it out, be sure to wait until about 7.30 tonight on a Sunday before calling
a plumber for help......:):)


That always makes my heart soar like an eagle..and I do backflips of joy..
 

Mr. Mud Maker

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I unfortunately wasn't raised to do things like common repairs so I had no idea it was that easy. I please generational ignorance. Headed to the store to get the kit and do it myself! If I totally Bork it then I'll get a new one. Lol. Thanks for the help everyone!
 

Fitter30

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Be sure to check wattage of elements if your going to replace them. Do not power up heater till all the air is flushed from system. Top element has a call for heat the bottom element doesn't come on till top element thermostat is satisfied. Take a picture of both thermostat and element wiring with your phone before starting. Element has one gasket old gasket like to stick on the heater and needs to be peeled off. Theres lots of videos on u tube. Buy a element tool for removal should be next to the elements.
 

Mr. Mud Maker

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Top element looks fine and shouldn't be a problem to pull out and replace. However the bottom one looks horrible (pictured below).

20211212_170953.jpg


Dare I attempt to remove it or would that be a large risk factor for a huge leak if it breaks off from the corrosion? (I can tell they've replaced at least the top element as the top one is a different brand.
 

jadnashua

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Without testing, it's hard to say if you have a bad element, but replacing them is fairly easy. One thing that affects how well the WH works and how much hot water it can produce, is how many mineral deposits are present in the base of the tank. Prior to adding the softener, you had very hard water, and a WH will cause some of those minerals to deposit on the bottom and elements of the WH. That by itself can, over time, decrease the available volume and insulate the heating elements from the water, slowing the recovery rate.

If the kit did not include a new anode, you should probably replace it as well, but you may need to borrow or rent an impact wrench to get it out. At the factory, they tend to overtorque them into the tank, and after a little use and corrosion, they can be a bear to get out without an impact wrench unless the tank is strapped down and you have a really long wrench handle!

Having a well, sometimes, you'll also end up with some sand in your water...that can accumulate in the bottom of the WH and mess with it just like precipitating minerals that were dissolved there. SO, a good flushing is in order. That can be hard with the stock drain valve unless it is a full-port ball valve that they tend not to use on a WH because they cost more. With a full-port valve, you can stick something like a coat hanger in and sort of poke the sediments to loosen them up some...but, it doesn't hurt to try to flush out any you can. When the lower element is out, you can look inside some and see if that's an issue and try to loosen some if present.
 

Mr. Mud Maker

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Very helpful answer! I took a chance and worked at it. Got both elements changed out.... The tank inside is disgusting. A mix of calcium and black sludge. The elements inside didn't look bad at all all considered but now there are no ones in so we shall see

I tried flushing for at least 30 minutes to get a lot of crap out. Was nasty.

This is the most helpful group of people ever. Thank you all!
 

Fitter30

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They made a stronger vinegar called cleaning.vinegar. Walmart carries on the cleaning isle. Pour 2-3 gallons in let sit flush after a few hours. Pull anode to pour in vinegar fill with water. To pull anode rod either a impac or socket cheater and a hammer 2-3 lb. With tension smack it hard at the base of the breaker bar or ratchet. Two people would help or look at u tube videos.
 

hj

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If you do not have ANY hot water, the upper element is burned out. If you have limited hot water the lower one is gone. Most "repair kits" have "high watt density elements which are almost useless in hard water situations since they will have a short life. Be sure to get low watt density elements for replacement.
 

Sarg

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A wet vac with a length of heater hose lets you suck out all the sediment through the lower element hole. A flashlight through the same hole lets you inspect the condition of the anode rod.
I service our electric heater at least once per year by vacuuming out the sediment & replacing both elements.
 

Reach4

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A wet vac with a length of heater hose
Like old car heater hose? I might be inclined to use a piece of 3/4 pex duct-taped to the vac hose, but then I have 3/4 pex handy.

I replaced my WH drain valve with a nipple and a full port valve, thinking that some day I would stick a thin-enough electric pressure washer wand in there. Hasn't happened yet.

My WH is gas, and I sure got a bunch of junk out when I cleaned the old WH.
 

Sarg

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If the hose used is flexible you are able to reach the circumference around the bottom of the tank. The heater hose I use just wedges into the vac end.
Changing the drain valve is a great idea ..... especially when you drain the unit ......... cuts the time by 2/3rds.
And my personal experience has made me realize the factory "compression" valves will not pass any large sediment. Before I changed mine I spent half a day trying to stop a leak when sediment got stuck in the compression valve. Another lesson learned the hard way ........ like most of my lessons.

DRAIN.jpg
 
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Reach4

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I replaced my plastic drain valve with several parts: nipple, full flow ball valve, GHT adapter. There is now available a brass full flow drain valve, which I would have used instead.
Rheem AP12231C-1 Overall Length (in.): 6-1/8
ap12231c-1-2.jpg

Rheem SP12231B Overall Length (in.): 3-3/4
sp12231b-2.jpg
 

Sanbernardelec

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Regular maintenance of both elements is necessary. Make it a practice to vacuum the accumulated sediments by using a wet vacuum with the smaller hose that can penetrate the bottom area to suck all sediments.
 

Valor Plumber

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I have a Bradford White 40 gallon electric. It is not producing as much hot water as it has since we moved into the house 6 months ago (can take one long shower then it runs out). It was manufactured in 2017. The reason I am asking if I should repair or replace is:

The previous owners did ZERO maintenance on anything in the house. The well system they had was HARD at over 104 grains per gallon.

Since moving in I've gotten a new well (Thanks Reach/Valveman/everyone for that help!) and all new everything with the only exception being the WH.

Current water is 0-1 grains per gallon due to softening system, it is run through a Spindown and KL system before it hits the water heater.

Water is VERY high in chlorides. (Water info at bottom of post if that matters between stainless or copper heating elements.)

So, do I pay my local trustworthy plumber to inspect/possibly repair or bite the bullet and purchase a new one since I can install myself (WH located in basement (I moved it from main floor) and it is near sump.

IF replace- who should I get? AO Smith Signature from Lowes? AO Smith Proline from Supplyhouse? Bradford White from Supply? so many choices. Goodness!

We have 6 kids and the wife and I in the family, however my oldest is only 8, youngest is an infant. I figure I can start saving now for a replumbing of the gas lines and put in a tankless down the road. so I think a 50gallon would work until the kids are older?

Thanks much!

Water info:
Chloride 569 mg/L
Hardness 1209 mg/L (softened to 17 mg/L)
Nitrate 21.8 mg/L
Calcium 353
Magnesium 79.60
Sodium 135
Sulfate 531
Iron less than 0.01
Manganese less than 0.01
Electrical Conductivity 2880 umhos/cm
TDS 2043 mg/L
I’ve found double the life of the warranty. I think Bradford whites is 6. So if the manufacturers in a lab setting (not on a well with hard water) only recommend 6. And you can get double that. Your good. I have an electric water heater and I flush it. And change the elements works like new.
2017+6 =2023. Your tank is around half life.
When I flush my water heater I actually unthread the factory provided drain and put a 6 inch brass nipple and a three-quarter ball valve with a hose adapter allows me to get out more large calcium deposits. You might’ve just had a dry fire or element issue or even the thermostat not quite working but you could replace everything for 40 bucks versus calling a plumber out at 100+ an hour
If it’s not enough hot water just might be a simple as a thermostat. On my electric water heater I have a mixing valve so I know it shortens the water heater’s life but I run it at a higher temperature giving me more volume for the waterheater to survive all the kids showers and leave me some hot water
It’s hard to think that you’ll get the money savings and replacing the electric but the gas and just the offset cost of insulation electric water heaters are initially cheaper lot easier to install.
I would like to check to see if you’re having thermal safety shut down?
I see this a lot where somebody with kids like myself turns up the water heater to extreme hot and the water heater while everyone sleeping gets to extreme temperatures then shuts itself off during the day runs out of hot water then turns it back on at night. And creates this vicious cycle that can really throw the homeowner for confusion.
 
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