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Need friendly advice on which water heater technology

RVC7 Member Posts: 6
I purchased my home with an existing 40 gl gas water heater that's dated 1996. It still works but I have to intermittently turn the temp up because of cold water in the shower. Should I wait till it dies or replace soon? Of all the newer types of technology, which one is the most cost effective? Has anyone used the new GE or Rheem heat pump water heaters? I'm in the northeast (NJ). Thanks in advance.


  • Dave Yates (GrandPAH)
    Dave Yates (GrandPAH) Member Posts: 281
    playing with fire!

    Be careful playing with the thermostat's setting. More than 100,000 people in the US seek out medical attention for thermal scald burns each year & 35,000 of them are children & the elderly. Regulations governing tank-style water heaters allow the outlet temp to be 30F higher than the thermostat's setting. If you add an ASSE certified scald-guard thermostatic mixing valve you'll be able to crank up your storage temp and maintain safety, which as you've discovered gives you extended usage.

    The existing Federal Tax Credit of 30% up to a max of $1,500.00 (on water heaters that qualify) is set to expire 12/31/10.

    Tankless 82% & 98%, heat pump models and high-efficiency tank-style models can qualify.

    A separate 30% Federal Tax Credit and State incentives along with some utilities for solar can be found here: The great thing here is this is a separate tax credit that grants you 30% of the installed cost (Feds) along with nice incentives (2K in PA).

    I'd recommend solar with a tankless + ASSE scald-guard valve and strongly urge you to install a solar system that incorporates a sanitation mode to periodically pasteurize the tank's water.

    If you decide to stick with the lower efficiency (63%) tank-style with no tax credits, there are models available that now incorporate the scald-guard valve.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,837
    Before you throw the baby out with the luke warm bath water...

    A lot of the new shower valves have an anti scald feature on them that most plumbers do not want to touch for the same reasons they refuse to make comments on my carbon monoxide thread. Perceived extended liability.

    Tank type heaters are pretty simple. It's a can with a flame underneath it. It can have a plastic dip tube that will dissolve, and shorten the amount of hot water available due to dilution. It may also be limed up, but you'd know that because it would sound like a popcorn maker when the burner is on.

    Here's a test for you. When you THINK your running out of water in the shower, check the lavatory faucet. If it is still flowing hot water, then the problem is in your anti-scald shower valve, not your water heater.

    Another thing that will cause a roller coaster ride in the shower is the lack of a check valve on the circulation return line, if you have one.

    As for increases in technology, they don't always equate to a lower expenditure on a monthly basis. The air source heat pump has a COP of around 3:1. If you are paying $0.50/therm for natural gas, and your electric is $3.00 per therm, the new heat pump will deliver energy to your tub for around $1.00 per therm. It just depends on what your energy sources are.

    And although they are perceived as being "GREEN", the root source has a base efficiency of around 30% on a regular day, 40% on a good day.

    Proceed with caution and education.

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • bob eck
    bob eck Member Posts: 928
    water heater

    take a look at going tankless gas with noritz, navien, bosch ect. might have to run a larger size gas line most tankless gas water heaters are 140,000 to 199,900 btu input for residential use. most of the qualify for the federal tax credit.

    you should have soft water with a tankless gas water heater or tank type water heater. If you do not soften the water scale will build up in the heat exchanger or on the bottom of the tank and cause you to use more energy to make domestic hot water. you could install a 3M Cuno Aquapure AP430 filter that puts a protective coating in the pipe, water heater heater or heat exchanger and keeps lime scale from forming. cartridge needs to be replaced 3-6 months depending on how much hot water is used.

    take a look at A O Smith Vertex 50 gallon tank type gas water heaters one size is 76,000 btu input with 127 first hour gallons and 92 gph recovery at 90*F temp rise second one is 100,000 btu input with 164 first hour gallons and 129 gph recovery at 90*F temp rise. both qualify for federal tax credit and you might not need to install a larger size gas line.

    like the other person said make sure your shower faucet is working right
  • RVC7
    RVC7 Member Posts: 6
    edited March 2010
    Still wondering about shelf life of my heater

    Thanks all for the great input. Still wondering if we should wait till our 14 year old gas water heater dies or replace now.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,837

    I think you are running on borrowed time. The average life expectancy (lots of variable of course) is between 7 to 10 years....

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    Murphs Law

     Guaranteed it will go down when you need it the most, usually in the morning when everyone is getting ready for the day. Then its a scramble, and the Mrs. will most certainly light you up. I would update while the old one is still functioning....a planned event is something the Mrs. will tolerate.

  • EricAune
    EricAune Member Posts: 432
    Waiting for pending disaster

    The points brought up here as to why your water heater is not operating correctly are all very valid.  Most issues like this point back to the same problem; mineral deposit at the bottom of the tank.

    Annual maintenance is suggested for any mechanical equipment, water heaters are the first to be neglected.  If you do have a build up on the bottom of the heater you are most likely going to see the inevitable death of the heater in the form of a small leak onto the floor (hopefully small) that, if left unchecked could result in some pretty significant property damage.

    We never realize how much we depend on our water heaters everyday.  We all complain when it seems they are not performing properly, yet hardly ever take care of them like we should.  You air up the tires on your car, change the oil when needed and likely wouldn't send a graduate off to college cross country in a unreliable beater right?
    "If you don't like change, your going to like irrelevance even less"
  • tommyc
    tommyc Member Posts: 3
    don't wait...

    Changing anything befor it dies/leaks in the plumbing & heating world will save you money just by being a non-emergency and not causing any collateral damage.
  • RVC7
    RVC7 Member Posts: 6
    On my knees...

    Excellent info from all of you. Many will benefit from this thread. I feel very informed about the issue now. I will never neglect my water heater or it's maintenance ever again. On my knees, my sincerest apologies! LOL! Thanks guys!
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