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Electric Water Heater, Repare or Replace

hr Member Posts: 6,106
think about a replacement. Life expectancy depends on quality of the tank, amount of water flowed through 'er, and the water quality, and temperature somewhat.

I'm intrugued by the plastic composite tanks on the market under the Marathon label. Rheem/Rudd I believe. I see these offered in commercial, multi element sizes now also. Seem to be popular with the geo ground source guys for buffer and backup.

hot rod

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  • Mark_71
    Mark_71 Member Posts: 24
    Electric Water Heater, Repair or Replace

    I have a electric A.O. Smith water heater aprox 10 years old...maybe a little older. It stopped making hot water. I often see the elements in the hardware stores, and am wondering if I can just replace the elements (assuming that is the problem) and get many more years of trouble free service? Otherwise I should just replace the entire unit. Are the electric ones as prone to leaking all over the place, as the gass ones?

    It is in an unfinished walk-out basement, right next to the door, so any future leaks will just go right out the door, and not damage the house.

  • Mike T., Swampeast MO
    Mike T., Swampeast MO Member Posts: 6,928

    Electric water heaters have dual independent elements and it's unusual both elements to burn out at once (or both element controllers to fail). Make sure the breaker isn't tripped and with power OFF you can easily check elements with any ohm-meter. If you get infinite resistance the element is fried.

    Very common for sediment to accumulate around the lower element. This effectively insulates it causing it to overheat and burn out. When this happens, you'll still get hot water, but not much as only the top element will function and since hot water rises, the tank will never be fully heated.

    Elements can certainly be replaced, but be forewarned that they're usually very difficult to remove. They require a HUGE and rather deep socket wrench. The cheap "element wrenches" available aren't worth the thin, crappy metal they're stamped out of...

    If the bottom is filled with sediment--believe me--you'll be able to tell if you manage to remove the element--I'd suggest a so-called "sand hog" element. It has an offset and will stay significantly higher and it will take a long time for the sediment to accumulate to its level. Some serious flushing will sometimes remove much of the sediment, but depending on your water chemistry, it may be more like cement than sand... Again depending on your water chemistry there may be quite a large amount of [usually] nearly colorless "globs" about the size of a small pea. They have a strange odor, look disgusting in a pile (sometimes I swear I see it moving and think its some kind of alien being from outer space) and likely cause the same insulation and burnout problems as the sediment.

    If you do replace element(s), I'd suggest replacing (or at least examining) the sacrificial annode as well. The connection is on the top of the tank but unfortunately they're sometimes covered over by the tank cover. The annodes can be difficult to find--even some supply houses will ask "what" when you ask--and they're often even more difficult to break loose than the elements...

    To get the maximum life from today's crappy water heaters, I'd HIGHLY suggest buying Larry Weingarten's book The Water Heater Workbook available here at this site. If you follow his instructions for putting a new water heater in service (involving "breaking" the annode joint so it can be opened easily later and replacing the cheap plastic drain valve on mmost) and conduct some simple routine maintenance you'll probably get a much greater life from the heater.
  • laurence salvatore_2
    laurence salvatore_2 Member Posts: 86
    10 year old smith

    Don't waste your time. get a new one there is a reason the A.O. Smith's maximum warrenty is 10 years. As water heaters go A.O. Smith is the hands down best. In fact I like them so much I bought the company. Just not all of it (NYSE: AOS). Another reason to change it is the insulation is much better and it will cost you less to run. Most A.O. Smith water heaters our company removes are past their warrenty. If you want the Smith quality but not the price, they make GE (big box) and Kenmore (Sears) on the same assembly line in Ashland Tenn. When you get your new heater buy two dielectric unions for the water conections; a 4.5"X3/4" brass nipple, 3/4" brass coupling,and a 3/4" brass boiler drain to replace the plastic drain valve some of them come with.
  • Rich Kontny_4
    Rich Kontny_4 Member Posts: 73
    The Best?

    We have had probaly fifty to seventy-five A.O. Smith heaters fail in the past year (before their six or ten year warranties are up)

    There is no way they are the same quality they used to be and we have installed them for over 25 years. We have had serious discussions about dropping them for Bradford White.

    There is always the theory of planned obsolescence and I truly believe that this is a big part of the problem. We also service an area that has water quality issues,
  • jim lockard
    jim lockard Member Posts: 1,059
    here here

    Change her out do not waste your time.J. lockard
This discussion has been closed.