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old water heater

montek
montek Member Posts: 13
Hello people-- I have an astonishing thing to ask you people--
We all know we buy things and hope they do not break and if they do we fix them And may times we do not buy the warranty because it is not worth it. Well we bought this home back in 1989 and the original owners the husband was a crane operator/contractor and right before they sold to us in 1989 they replaced all the appliances with top of the line appliance- the refrigerator, the furnace and the water heater and the stove. Believe it or not all those items are still in our home today. Now as for those items all is great- except someone today said that I have to be out of my mind to keep my water heater??? Now as I mentioned before- it is like out of sight out of mind- it is just there and it operates just fine- never had a problem with rust- and always gives hot water even when my daughter showers upstairs for 20 minutes or so- she never complains about loss of hot water. I also just drained it slightly last week - about 10 buckets or so(about 15 gallons and all that came out was mostly clear water-with an occasional brown burst but not much at all. it makes no noise except for an occasional percolating noise but not much at all.
Now I have read that most water heaters last 8 to 10 years and if one is really lucky they can last double that- but who really keeps their mind on this??? I mean does an alarm clock go off in our heads that says OH my its time to replace the water heater?? I also had an energy audit done in the spring of this year and he made a small hole in the top cap of the water heater and stuck a sensor in it- and his recommendation was this-- it is a standard water heater with no recommendations at this time BUT to look for an energy star one when replacing?? So my question is-- what do I do-- will I get some sort of warning that it is ready to go or what?? and what should I look for OR should I replace it now?? I e-mailed Rheem- which is the manufacturer- it is a Rheem-- Rheemglas- imperial plus model no 41X40- and a serial number of 0786A15650. 40000m gallon natural gas made in chicago illinois.
I am really confused as to what to do-- it works fine and looks brand new- I always dust the top etc etc--
What I am unsure of is - how often does a water heater just burst and flood or does it give some sort of warning so that when it has symptoms you can change it-- so do I wait or change it regardless of it showing no problems????? Please advise

Comments

  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 3,784
    You are doing the right thing by researching before you need to make a decision. I would let it ride. You must have very good water.
    JohnHeaters
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,606
    If it ain't broke, don't fix it! It will drip or leak or just quit long before it actually bursts... almost always... :smile:
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    JohnHeaters
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,685
    edited October 2016
    You could get a "wet floor" alarm device and put it near the tank. (Unless you walk by it every day).
    All the leakers I have seen give plenty of warning. You probably have a floor drain near by.
    It would be prudent for all home owners to remove the cover of the floor drain and be sure it will handle the full flow of a garden hose. Also exercise all water valves in the plumbing system to know that they will work when needed. Including the stops under sinks and toilets.

    PS: the fact that the drain valve worked and resealed is a good sign in itself.
    JohnHeaterskcoppZmandelta T
  • JohnHeaters
    JohnHeaters Member Posts: 2
    I agree with the previous posts, and I will add..."they don't make em' like they used to". I often see many older tanks lasting 20-30 years before failure, but don't expect this out of your new WH, modern tanks typically last 8-12 years.
    Water Heaters Only, Inc.
    Residential, Commercial and Tankless Water Heater Installation and Repair serving California, Phoenix AZ and Dallas TX.
    Email: [email protected]
    www.waterheatersonly.com
  • montek
    montek Member Posts: 13
    hello people-- I thank all of you for all of your well wishes and comments-- I truly thank you all- in the interim I went to a plumbing supply house and they were a little shocked about the age of the water heater BUT they did say also to leave it alone. and just wait and see. Then I called Rheem the manufacturer and spoke with tech support department and they also said they never heard of a heater exploding-- they said it will leak first as you all have said- so WHEW!! I feel a little better that the actual manufacturer did not seem worried at all. That is a very good thing. Then after all that I had a plumber stop by and he looked at the water heater and he said also to leave it alone-- he recommended that I do not drain it since I told him my water is almost never rusty or brown except for when the town does their water cleaning in the street or sewer pipes every year. he said that if i did drain it that i would upset all the possible rust or dirt etc and that would maybe cause a leak-- so he said to let it be and keep an eye on it as well. So there you have it-- I will wait and see and keep an eye on "old faithful"- I appreciate all the responses- thank you again.
    JohnHeaters
  • rlaggren
    rlaggren Member Posts: 160
    If you want to actually flush it: Hook a hose to the drain and open the drain fully and let it flush under city pressure. It will churn stuff up and get a lot more out than just letting it dribble out w/the supply shut off. Let it run a while, close the drain and expect it to take a day for the "dust" inside to all settle back to the bottom. Nothing is 100%.

    Pop the T&P (Temperature/Pressure) relief valve once or twice a year to be sure it will open. If it refuses to close fully and dribbles, pop it a few more times and if that doesn't do it, replace it. Get a new one, turn off the supply, open a hot water valve for a couple seconds to relieve pressure, close it, teflon tape and pipe dope on the threads of the new one, remove the old one (after removing the drain tube), and quick-like-a-bunny screw in the new one. Tighten it firmly (aimed the right way). Replace the drain tube. Done. Oh - turn on supply.

    Appliances like the same-'ol same-'ol. So keep it hot and don't be tempted to "move it to a better location". If you do turn it off and let it cool down it may leak when heated up again. Give it a few days to decide. It might settle back, seal up and keep on doing it's job.

    Rufus
    disclaimer - I'm a plumber, not a heating pro.
  • montek
    montek Member Posts: 13
    Just one more thing- as for the response to the above person-rlaggren-- as stated I am not going to touch the unit- as the plumber said- if I have not flushed it in all these years - now is not the time to start- to leave well enough alone-p-
    Now on another point-- if I were to replace this heater- does anyone recommend a tankless water heater?? The plumber does not recommend it for the following reason- he said that the units MUST be flushed every 6 months to clean out the fins?? he said that a maintenance record must be kept of such flushing and if you cannot prove the maintenance that it voids the warranty??? is this true- and when the time comes should i just replace it with another water heater and if so can you recommend a good brand with good efficiency and reliability(I am leaning toward RHEEM again in the future seeing how long my RHEEM unit has lasted thus far)
  • montek
    montek Member Posts: 13
    I guess what I am asking is how do I get ahead of the curve here and get an objective search for the best water heater out there or do I just go with the recommendation of the plumber??? I really want to get the low down on a GREAT replacement when it comes time .

  • Brewbeer
    Brewbeer Member Posts: 616
    edited October 2016
    @montek watch this video:
    Hydronics inspired homeowner with self-designed high efficiency low temperature baseboard system and professionally installed mod-con boiler with indirect DHW. My system design thread: http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/154385
    System Photo: https://us.v-cdn.net/5021738/uploads/FileUpload/79/451e1f19a1e5b345e0951fbe1ff6ca.jpg
    kcoppdelta TRomanGK_26986764589
  • montek
    montek Member Posts: 13
    Ha ha ----- thank you for that :D
    laura_3
  • montek
    montek Member Posts: 13
    Now any idea which brand of tank water heater-- I love my Rheem- as you know
    RomanGK_26986764589
  • JohnHeaters
    JohnHeaters Member Posts: 2
    The last say 5 years we've been installing Rheem and Bradford White pretty much exclusively for residential applications. Though recently we have dropped Rheem for the fact that about 30% of our installs have had trouble with the pilot assembly and required warranty work. We now only install Bradford White... American made, contractor grade and very reliable.
    Water Heaters Only, Inc.
    Residential, Commercial and Tankless Water Heater Installation and Repair serving California, Phoenix AZ and Dallas TX.
    Email: [email protected]
    www.waterheatersonly.com
  • montek
    montek Member Posts: 13
    Schucks on that news about Rheem-- very disturbing-- will look at the Bradford White as well thank you
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,247
    Hello: The single most important thing you can do to keep your heater going is to periodically replace the sacrificial anode rod. Use magnesium. I've gotten heaters to last over fifty years doing this. Have a look at "water heater rescue" for a lot more info. B)

    Yours, Larry
  • montek
    montek Member Posts: 13
    hello larry-- is this something that can be done instead of replacing the water heater - or just preventative.. Like I said my heater is 30 years old and I do not want to mess with it at all- until something happens- but if something starts to leak or something - can the repair be done then as you say or change the whole thing?? 50 years???
  • rlaggren
    rlaggren Member Posts: 160
    edited October 2016
    > replace WH anode

    It's not a new water heater, if that's what you mean by "instead of replacing the water heater"?

    It can (potentially) extend the corrosion resistance of the water heater you have; results vary. It requires removing a "plug" on the top of the heater that in most cases won't want to be removed. There needs to be room above the heater to install the new anode; they come as 4' rods or, for a little more $$, as "chains" which require less head room to install. Some plumbers do it regularly; because of the possible difficulties removing the old plug, most homeowners would find it challenging.

    As I said, previously, a WH likes a quiet, sedate, boring life. Every time you mess w/the existing situation you risk causing other problems. There is always a trade off that way when repairing or maintaining old things. There is some reason to expect benefit (from, say, a new anode); and it comes w/a risk of other problems and no guarantees.

    And to address your next Q: I have worked on dozens of water heaters (at least). If I were standing looking at yours in person, and assuming there was good access and no obvious "issues", I still would NOT give you any promise what would result from changing (or trying to) that anode. If there were a history of changing it out every 5 years, that would be indicate it might be a good idea. Absent that proven history of "success", on an old heater, it's just a roll of the dice.

    Rufus
    disclaimer - I'm a plumber, not a heating pro.
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,247
    Hi: Rufus is correct, maintenance is not a promise of long life. However, if it's done regularly, with a heater that shows no signs of damage, I've had very good success in keeping thousands of heaters going well beyond the expected ten year lifetime.

    Also, do look into the combustion chamber and around fittings to make sure there is no evidence of leaks. B)

    Yours, Larry
  • I also have Rheem tank water heater. It's been working since 1993! (knock on wood). I have moderately hard water at around 9gpg.
  • montek
    montek Member Posts: 13
    wow-- like I said-- I have not done ANYTHING to this water heater since we bought the house in 1989. I dust the top- it looks absolutely spic and span on the outside- no rust anywhere and I mean anywhere-- I saw my mother in laws water heater and it had rust all over the connections-- NOT MINE??
    So like I said I called the manufacturer- Rheem- and they said to leave it alone- and that when it is ready to go- it will just start leaking- no full out explosion -- so I am keeping a close eye on it-- I exercise in the basement every day- and the water heater is there with me- so i always check it
    Not sure if i did mention this- but about 3 years ago- I was exercising near it and a bar hit the plastic spigot valve at the bottom of the heater and the water came squirting out like a fire hose- I turned off the main and called my co-workers husband who is an ex marine from Vietnam and he is quite the handy man- he was able to take out the left over pieces of the old spigot- and replace it with a brass spigot he had in his house and it fit and has held tight since he put it in- no leaks - so again even with this fiasco that I caused- the water heater is holding its own-- absolutely amazing- like they say never look a gift horse in the mouth HAHA
  • Koan
    Koan Member Posts: 436
    edited November 2016
    @montek The HWH gods have smiled upon you. Great that you have a nicer brass drain valve now! I agree strongly that there is one very important thing that should be done above all: test the T&P relief valve. This is the protection against catastrophic failure. Flip it open - hot water should come out freely. Let it go, the flow should stop completely.

    This valve insures the HWH will not explode. If temperature and or pressure get too high it opens to relieve the pressure. Sediment and scale can build up preventing it from functioning.
    Not to say that valve's failure alone will cause a rupture, but it is an important safety feature in case the burner doesn't shut off and it overheats.

    Be prepared that you will do this and the valve will not seal shut. That has happened to me and it is frustrating without a replacement at hand. Learn from my mistake and have a replacement handy, particularly since the valve is that old. You can get one at the Big Box store and return it if not needed.

    Amazon has the part as well: Rheem SP12574 Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve - I think that is the one for a Rheem 41x40, but they specify a Watts 100XL as a generic

    here is the Rheem parts guide: rheemparts.com/parts/WaterHeaterPartsGuide.pdf

    Your neighbor can easily walk you through the testing and replacement, it will be just like replacing the other valve except much less water needs to be drained. And please thank him for his service to our country.
  • Koan
    Koan Member Posts: 436
    edited November 2016
    @montek That all said, also look occasionally for signs of any leakage and congrats!