Home>Discussions>PLUMBING>Time to replace hot water heater?
6 posts / 0 new
Last post
Time to replace hot water heater?

Hi, we have a gas hot water heater (50 gallon) that is nine years old. Recently, we have had a problem where we suddenly have hot water trickling out of all of our faucets. This has happened twice in the last three weeks. Cold water is fine (good pressure and amount).

We have had KeySpan (our local gas provider who we have a service plan with for hot water/heat) out both times this has happened and they claim the hot water heater is fine, that it must be sediment in our pipe. We've tried opening and closing the hot water valve and nothing is working. The last two times the hot water suddenly returned on its own after 15 hours or so.

Tonight we ran out of hot water for the third time! I'm so frustrated!! I need reliable hot water! One other thing -- we've noticed this happening twice after we ran a load of laundry. Any correlation? We also have hard water (we live on Long Island). Could it have corroded the hot water heater? Any suggestions appreciated! Thanks in advance!

Re: Time to replace hot water heater?

The cheapest trouble shooting would be to start looking at the aerators at each sink spout and then examine the valve seats at each faucet. If you have hard water or sludge/sediment it could have been dislodged from the water heater and passed through to the faucets.

Just trying to sound optimistic above...

But.... after nine years of probably no maintenance(I'm guessing) and hard water. It's probably not going to be as cheap or simple as replacing a simple valve seat at the faucet. Look into the tankless water heaters. ASC is right, I think. Post back with an update and let us know.

Re: Time to replace hot water heater?

I think tankless water heaters are the way to go. I like and have used and have installed Rheem, Takagi, Rinnai. Go to a local plumbing supply store that sells them and ask for a referal.

This is sizing and suggestions: 1-2 bth/4-5.5 gal 2-3 bth/5.5-7.4 gal 3 bth/7 gal. Propane (or Natural Gas) is better than Elec. Also, Rheem RTG-74 $850 5.5 gal+ Rheem RTG-53 $660 3.9-5.5 gal. Also go to http://www.tanklesswaters.com/ for info.

I really do belive for the extra $200-300 you will pay for the unit (over a replacement water heater) you will make up for in fuel costs. The only problem is people might take longer showers!

Also, if you say you have hard water there you should get first a water filter (for the sediment) and then second a water softener(for the hardness). I haven't worked up my buisness pitch for that yet so I can't give you any advise of cost or manufactor. But, I do belive you will REALLY like the water softner and what it will do for you. Good luck. Process of elimination.

Re: Time to replace hot water heater?


Here's what I'm thinking......

The thermostat (aquastat) on the heater is ailing to some degree for some reason. Frequently, these aquastats will develop a "flat spot" and when they do......they will not respond properly. Might not turn off whenthey should.....or might not turn on when they should. Or maybe both.

I'm thinking that yours may be suffering in both manners......and that your T&P valve is also malfunctioning. Reason being that the dripping water from all those faucets could very well be the result of very high pressure in the lines......which should have caused the T&P to trip/blow off. Evidently it hasn't as you haven't mentioned anything about water escaping/expelling from it. If I'm right about this all, that's a very dangerous situation. The T&P should be replaced with a new one.

When the aquastat fails to start the burner when it should (flat spot).....you then run out of hot water.

Sometimes/frequently this erractic behavior from an aquastat can be remedied by changing the temp setting on it for a couple/few weeks. If there's any hope of that working, you'll know soon enough after you change the setting. (Move it a fair amount, not just a tad.) If changing the setting changes the heating behavior so that heating is normalized, then there's hope that the previous setting can be resumed after several weeks. If altering the setting does nothing for the behavior, then total replacement of the gas valve would be in order. Whether it's worth the cost of a new gas valve is a judgment call on a heater that's 9 years old. How long do WHs normally last in your locale? If you don't know, you can ask a local plumber or call a local plumbing supply house as they will also know. (Makes a huge difference in our locale whether you are on city or well water. City water = 6 years. Well water = 30 years.....or more. In some locales around the country...those figures would be reversed. In others, it won't make any difference at all. )

If you had/have enough sediment in the bottom of a gas WH tank to seriously interfere with the efficient distribution of heat to the water...........you would almost certainly hear sounds reminiscent of popping corn when the burner first fires up....or maybe even throughout the entire heating cycle.

There is also the possibility that you have a failed dip-tube and that is what's responsible for the lack of hot water on occasion. The dip tubes are made of plastic and if yours was comprised by overheating of the water when the aquastat allowed overheating, it might have cracked off near the top of the water tank. When that happens, the cold water is dumped into the top of tank instead of into the bottom of the tank where it belongs. This substantially dilutes the exiting hot water leaving you with luke warm water (or cold) in relatively short order.

Try changing the aquastat setting first and see what happens is what I would do....and recommend. (Turn it down, not up, of course) Further diagnosis & decisions would be based upon the result of that.

Re: Time to replace hot water heater?

Hey bubs,

Are you saying that the hot water volume is diminishing as well as the temperature or just the temp?

If your water heater was corroded then you would know it by the puddle it would be creating. Lots of good stuff here too i'd try goldhillers advice first but I'd still be looking into the softer system. Letus know what happen You may become the formost L.I. water authority on the board.

Sponsored Stories

TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.