water heaters

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by countrygrrrl, Jan 5, 2004.

  1. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    Is there any way to tell if a water heater should be replaced?

    I just went through my ancient washing machine exploding and flooding the place :rolleyes: . I'm replacing it and am trying to figure out if I should go ahead and replace the water heater, as well, in order to avoid future floods. :rolleyes:

    The water heater is 8 years old. It still heats well and looks good around the top. I have no idea what kind of maintenance it got until I bought this place (1 1/2 yrs ago), but most things here weren't particularly well taken care of, so I'm assuming it got little or no maintenance.

    Average life expectancy for this brand is 9-15 years, with the 15 being for well cared for water heaters. The only flaws I can visibly detect are some rust around the bottom (which rests of the floor) and dripping from that faucet thing.

    ??? Any way I can tell if I should ought to just go ahead and replace it? :confused:
     
  2. East Texas Pine Rooter

    East Texas Pine Rooter Well-Known Member

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    water heaters for the most part are maitenance free. building code in towns say it has to be in a pan with a drain connected to your sewer line, or at least out in the yard, which they all should do. when the water heater finally rusts thrue, water will start filling the pan. You will eventually notice the water, and thats the time to replace it. another sign is when you don't have enough water to take a long hot shower, or multiple showers for the family at bed time. The heater element (on electric models) needs replacing, are the tank has partially filled with minerals from the water that has become solids and settled in the bottom of the tank. Personally i have gone to the tankless gas models which is another story altogether. They free up a lot of space in the closet, because they just mount on the wall, pans are not necessary, cost wise they cost close to the same as a conventional model, when you consider labor.
     

  3. JWH123

    JWH123 Well-Known Member

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    If you want to avoid a future flood, you might think about replacing it. 8 years isn't bad, but who knows, you might be able to get another 5 years out of it? Otherwise, just wait till you start leaking water out the bottom of the tank. I believe they start dribbling before you get a real flood. How often do you see your water heater? Would you count on the likelyhood that you would see a dribble before it turns to a river? Do you think it will happen on the first day of your 7-day Mediterranean cruise? :)

    One thing that you can do to help the longevity of your tank, and also improve your efficiency, is to connect a garden hose to the drain on the bottom of the tank, and open up the drain valve. Leave the valves (if there are any) at the top of the tank as they are, and you can leave the power/gas on. You're not draining the tank and letting it fill with air, you're just drawing water off the bottom instead of the top. This process will help flush out 8 years worth of scale that is piled at the bottom of the tank. If the water stops flowing out the hose, unhook the hose and crack open the valve. If water still doesn't come out, you've got scale plugging up your drain valve. Otherwise, the scale has plugged up your garden hose, look at sharp bends or kinks to find the blockage. If the valve is now pluged, you'll need to either gently poke something up through the valve opening to push the scale back, or turn off the supply line to the tank, and connect a double-female end hose (take the one off your washing machine) to another source of water and 'back-flush' through the valve.

    You may get a surprising amount of crud out of the water heater. In my parents years ago, I dumped it all into a 5-gallon bucket, and there was probably one gallon worth of the scale.

    The dripping from the faucet thing, is this the valve at the bottom of the tank or the safety valve at the top of the tank? If the safety valve is dripping, you may want to replace the valve (it's called a T&P - temperature and pressure valve), and see if you need a small 'expansion tank' added to your piping. Water expands when it's heated, and sometimes it's just enough to pop off the safety and make it drip a bit.

    If/when you do replace your water heater, take the time and expense to add shut-off valves at both the hot and cold pipes. I like to use the braided steel-covered flexible lines to connect to the heater. You only need a 12 or 18-inch length, but then next time you change the heater, all you'll need to do it is a wrench, no soldering involved. Ditto for the gas line if you have a gas heater.

    If you have a floor drain in the basement, consider putting a drain pan under the water heater as well. Pipe it right to your drain.

    Also, while you're at it, get a pair of those braided steel washing machine hoses, is that what exploded on your washer to make the first flood?

    Good luck.
    John
     
  4. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    Okay, thanks John. That's kind of my thinking, that 8 years isn't bad BUT ...

    Exactly.

    And I could start the maintenance now, but is that really going to make up for 8 years of no maintenance?

    So (*gentle sobbing as I suffer yet more nickel and diming myself to death* ;) ) I think I'm going to replace. Start new and make sure I keep up the maintenance and go with real plumbing instead of these strange contraptions and gizmos used to install this thing. Holy moly! :confused: :eek: :confused:
     
  5. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    And as for the washer, I don't know what went wrong and I just don't EVEN want to know. It's old, I suspect it's gone through lots of *well, maybe if we put this here and that thing over there, we can get another two months out of it!* kind of maintenance. Not to mention, I found evidence of lots of previous floods from it.

    It's these kinds of things (and lots and lots of caffeine :) ) which help keep the grrrrrrr in countrygrrrrrrrrrr. :)
     
  6. BCR

    BCR Well-Known Member

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    I agree with the prevention route---I just replaced ours as a holiday gift. ;)

    Check out the discussion on the Staber washing machine here on the forum. We love ours and its been almost a year. BIG savings in water and electric.
     
  7. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    Thanks, BCR! It's been a worrisome issue for me - I've spent hundreds in the past month or so just on maintenance and precention and small repair stuff, and am fixing to plunk down a bundle either on: new septic or a new outbuilding. :confused:

    :rolleyes:

    I went with a Kenmore washer. Kenmores have always proven indestructible for me - my dryer is an ancient Kenmore which, granted, I use duct tape to close the door :rolleyes: , but that thing is the best dryer in the universe! Even with the duct tape!

    In any case, I've been eying water heaters for a few days now. I probably won't do it for a month or so (in order to give myself the illusion all the nickel and diming myself to death stuff is finally over :rolleyes: :D ), but once I get a list of prospective water heaters going, I'll be back on here for reviews!