Gas water heater replacement

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156
Location
MN
Thread starter
Looking to replace a 20 year old gas water heater built by Rheem. No problems with it at the moment but would like to replace it as a preventative measure before there is a sudden need. My son can get a small price break on a AO Smith or Bradford White. Any thoughts on either one? It seems to be all over the place when checking on the web no matter what the brand.
 
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25,022
Location
ON, Canada eh?
I have a Bradford White. Happy with it. It's been in place 5 years, it replaced a 10 year old GSW that was here when I bought the house. I had a look at the rod and it was doing a good job sacrificing itself so I bought another to put in when this one is gone. I pre-filter my incoming water from sediment and chlorine before it hits the water heater. This will greatly extend the life and isn't expensive for replacement filters.
 
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4,824
Location
VA
I have AO Smith and my plumber told me they had switched to Bradford White. I'd get a Bradford Smith for that reason only.
 
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8,945
Location
MA
Originally Posted by twouvakind
Have you considered tankless? Our Takagi Jr. has long since paid for itself.
There's lots of problems with tankless. Usually the problem is that after 5-10 years, no one has the parts anymore and no one knows how to fix them. You also typically need a 3/4 gas line when most places around here just have 1/2 inch lines. And if you look at the fuel costs, gas hot water tanks don't actually use that gas, will take too long to recover you money over a tank unless you're getting a good rebate from your utility.
 
Messages
156
Location
MN
Thread starter
I thought about tank less at one time but when I talked to a local plumber he said he would not install one. Expense to consumer is high, yearly maintenance on the unit, cold ground water in MN. etc...He has some good points, but he may just not want to install them.
 
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43,638
Location
'Stralia
Originally Posted by Wolf359
There's lots of problems with tankless. Usually the problem is that after 5-10 years, no one has the parts anymore and no one knows how to fix them. You also typically need a 3/4 gas line when most places around here just have 1/2 inch lines. And if you look at the fuel costs, gas hot water tanks don't actually use that gas, will take too long to recover you money over a tank unless you're getting a good rebate from your utility.
Our old house we replaced the tank with tankless...gas line upgrade wasn't that hard (on THAT house, not on our current)...and it's far from "instant", taking many tens of seconds to get hot at the end, and thus that volume of wasted water. New house, replaced tank with the biggest tank that fit in that spot. (then put up with all the armchair critics telling me what I SHOULD have done...but I'm happy with my choice)
 
Messages
167
Location
NJ
You could replace the anode rod. Get a magnesium rod not Aluminum. $13 at supplyhouse .9 inch diameter. This will extend the life of the water heater.
 

JTK

Messages
12,956
Location
Buffalo, NY
I've seen various flavors of store bought US Craftmaster water heaters go 20yrs+ and professionally installed AO Smith's rust through in 6-8yrs. You really never know with these things. I guess if you're not installing it yourself anyway, go with what your pro recommends. Aside from swapping the anodes with something good, the best thing you can do to flush them is yank out the horrible nylon needle valve the heaters come with and replace it with a 3/4" ball valve.
 
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8,945
Location
MA
Oh yeah, I normally get this 4 pack, but if you just need one, maybe getting it on Amazon might be cheaper. https://www.comfortgurus.com/water-heater-parts/7434-rhe-sp11526c-4-pk.html Also if you look at the energy guide of a 40 gallon tank vs tankless, they're basically the same. Plus if you change the anode rod, you can get them to last 20 years or more on a hot water tank. Most tankless systems only have a 5-10 year warranty and that's only for parts, not labor. Good luck finding a plumber who knows how to service them. A hot water tank is pretty simple, either the thermocouple goes, the temperature control/probe, dip tube, or the burner assemble, all somewhat easy to replace and simple for most plumbers. You can easily also get a 12 year hot water tank, they basically have an extra anode rod, but they also cover labor for a longer period than a 6 year one.
 
Messages
1,466
Location
Maryland USA
I have had 2 Bosch Tankless water heaters- my house runs on propane. The first Bosch unit was a 250sx , and it was a real pos. Non stop headaches, but I was too cheap to replace it. It had to be reset twice a day, endless calls to Bosch for tech support and was never able to get it working perfectly, but it "mostly" worked, so I suffered along with it for 10 years. Eventually I spoke to somebody at a big tankless dealer and mentioned what I currently had, and he immediately mentioned 2-3 problems with it and pronounced it a POS without any prompting from me. After a long conversation he said "the newer Bosch units are far superior, the factory has far better QA" yada yada, so I replaced it with a Bosch Integra 500. A big selling point for me is that it was a plug and play install. He had the 2 other popular brands as well and could easily have sold me those. The guy I spoke with really knew his stuff. Well, he was 100% correct- the Bosch 250sx was a lemon model- my Integra 500 worked the very first time, no adjustment needed, and has been flawless in the 2 years since I installed it. Pros: endless hot water, smaller space requirement, significant energy savings. Cons: higher price, higher install cost. I did my own installation which was typical plumbing work, but I had to cut a 4 " hole in brick for the exhaust which was a daunting task until I found you can rent equipment to do that job.
 
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734
Location
Under the hood
Last time I replaced a water heater, I did the rounds at some plumbing forums and ended up with a Bradford-White. Their FVIR system was simpler, and didn't rely on a glass vial that breaks and renders the unit useless if it's tripped. Also standard brass drain valve, not the plastic junk found on store bought units. Made in Michigan, not hecho en Mexico, if that kind of thing matters to you. All stuff that added up on paper, and the unit has been fine, in however many years (5+?) it's been in service. B-W only sells through distributors to installers though, but I'm sure a plumbing house would be happy to sell to anyone for self-install. Not sure how that would affect warranty coverage, though. Water quality is a big factor in how long they last. With good water, I've seen them last 20 years or more, even with neglected maintenance (sediment drain and anode replacement).
 
Messages
7,048
Location
The Midwest
I'd get a Bradford White myself which is made in Indiana I think. Rheem is made in Mexico and is constructed cheap. Years ago, a GF I was dating basement flooded. The flood broke the glass tube, shutting the air inlet and we couldn't relight the water heater. No one had the part locally. I ended up sticking a socket in it to wedge it open and it worked. She had it fixed properly but it took a few weeks.
 
Messages
3,651
Location
Chattanooga, TN
Had a NAvien tankless installed last year, primarily because my direct vent replacement was going to cost about the same as a tankless. Anyway, there is a cost savings however, if you pay someone to do the annual descaling you have lost any savings. I purchased a small sump pump and hoses and did it myself so in the future only the cost of vinegar. Yes the temp of the water intake has a bearing but it does on a tank too. I love it as to hot water and not running out, and would do it again, they have come a long way since the early models and will last beyond a typical hot water tank heater but you do need to descale them every year or so, again not a big job. Navien does not require a 3/4 inch line I believe. However, if you have a no direct vent now, regular heater the cost of a tankless will be much more. In my case there was less than a $500 difference. As mentioned by someone, the break even on a tankless is way too many years in the future and from that perspective not worth it. For lots of hot water, more space in the garage and if the cost is close to another replacement than it is an option.
 
Messages
1,999
Location
USA
We're on our second Bradford White Power vent. The first lasted 15 years and was replaced last year. On my model, you have to remove the water supply lines to get to the anode rods. Just insane IMHO.
 
Messages
24,807
Location
Upstate NY
Originally Posted by kwijibo
Looking to replace a 20 year old gas water heater built by Rheem. No problems with it at the moment but would like to replace it as a preventative measure before there is a sudden need. My son can get a small price break on a AO Smith or Bradford White. Any thoughts on either one? It seems to be all over the place when checking on the web no matter what the brand.
Plumber told me to go with on-demand whenever mine needs replacing.
 
Messages
2,922
Location
Chicago Area
Another vote for Bradford-White. Replaced the heater in Mom's house earlier this year and the plumber recommended that over anything else. Made in USA for one thing (Michigan, I think). In his opinion, it's the best brand on the market. Last month I noticed some dampness under the water heater in my house and the plumber I hired also recommended Bradford-White. In this case he was replacing an existing B-W heater that I managed to get 17 years out of. Probably would have gotten more if I was better about flushing it...
 
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