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CoconutPete 09-05-2012 03:01 PM

Replacing 40Gallon Natural Gas water heater....
My water heater is manufactured in 1969 - yep 1969. We have a little excess cash sitting around and before we do something dumb w/it or tuck it too far away we figured we'd look into replacing the old beast. The back of it looks rather rusty and I haven't touched it in the 3 years I've lived in the house.

I don't touch this thing - it just sits there, how do I know what features I want? I was browsing them on and I realized I don't even know how to pick a brand. Where do I start? It's a 1.5 bath house and it's just 3 of us (one us being 4 moths old) so water usage will go up over the years.

I was looking at something like this:


bob22 09-05-2012 03:48 PM

Assume you have a gas heater?
Higher efficiency units available with power vented units.
Bradford White has been good for us. Check their site out; has sizing info.

beenthere 09-05-2012 04:48 PM

Gas fired water heater. The simpler, the better. JMO

how 09-05-2012 05:20 PM

I used to be able to throw in an atmospheric Hot Water Tank and forget about it for 11 years untill the next replacement was needed.
Now HWT parts breakdowns (unrelated to tank leakage) are getting so common that I stock replacement parts that are more reliable than the OEM parts, just to keep my client's happy.
If your tank is over a drain that will prevent accidental water damage, you might want to consider leaving well enough alone, until you have to get a replacement tank. The possible labour costs of having someone like me, repair your next HWT will definately throw a wrench into those saving calculations.
If your tank drainage system will not handle a leaking tank... it's time to change that oldie.

Everyone has their favourite brands but my continuing search for reliability has not yet convinced me that one is very much superior to another.

concretemasonry 09-05-2012 05:35 PM

There is an unwritten rule that a water dies after 3PM Saturday and just after you go to work on Monday. Then you have no selection and have to install it immediately.

That happened to me with my 30 year old heater and I had to have one put in when I was at work on Monday and had little choice and had to rely on what the plumber had available in his warehouse. I knew it was coming, but I waited a little to long.

I ended up with good brand, but was not high efficiency. The efficiency was not a big factor (2 of us) since a recent summer gas bill showed the monthly connection/service charge ($8.00) to be more than my usage ($7.00). In the winter, the gas heating usage use makes it difficult to split out the gas for the water heater.


Marty S. 09-05-2012 05:48 PM

Our gas usage is about the same Dick but our provider is closer to $20 in charges per month. For the $5-6 a month it takes to heat water I buy whatever is cheapest at the box store. Currant one is a 40 gallon Richmond that's been in for 12 years, think it was around $200 at the time. Probably should replace it soon since there is no floor drain in there.

CoconutPete 09-05-2012 07:10 PM

No drain and the wife and I both travel for work from time to time. I was thinking I would put the new one on a drain pan and run a hose from the pan to my floor drain about 15 feet away.

So no brand loyalty it sounds like. Are we jus on our way to "buy whatever is on sale at lowes?"

oh'mike 09-05-2012 07:34 PM

Just a tip----The new heaters have some fancy sensors that can fail----so buy from a local plumbing supply house that stocks parts.

I've replaced several perfectly good heaters for people who could not wait the 3 to 4 days needed to get parts in the mail---

Just a thought-----

allthumbsdiy 09-05-2012 07:41 PM


Originally Posted by CoconutPete (Post 1004004)
No drain and the wife and I both travel for work from time to time. I was thinking I would put the new one on a drain pan and run a hose from the pan to my floor drain about 15 feet away.

So no brand loyalty it sounds like. Are we jus on our way to "buy whatever is on sale at lowes?"

I installed mine about 3 years ago. For something like, I like to visit a plumbing supply store and ask whole bunch of questions.

I ended up getting a Bradford White as well.

Few things to keep in mind if you are doing the work yourself:

1. You need a permit

2. You can downsize the tank, but cannot up-size the tank without a whole bunch of paperwork (at least in my town)

3. Get yourself a hand truck so you don't kill your back. After draining, you may even want to cut that thing in half with 40+ years of sediment.

4. Check to make sure that the nipple on the new tank can be mated to whatever pipe you have (google "dielectric union)

how 09-05-2012 08:49 PM

Check if that floor slopes towards that drain from the HWT. You may want to put the new HWT and pan up on some pavers if it's not.

CoconutPete 09-05-2012 09:26 PM

I guess the other question is quickly becoming:

If they all break somewhat soon these days anyway, is there a reason to buy the $576 unit from plumbersurplus over this $374 unit from Lowe's? y_sales_dollar|1

By the way the floor is somewhat flat, there's a slight slope towards the drain but there's a bunch of stuff in between.

beenthere 09-05-2012 09:41 PM

No real reason to get the most expensive. Unless you just want to get the most expensive.

how 09-06-2012 12:37 AM

If you are going to use a pan, choose a legless HWT that doesn't have a bottom mount air supply. The pan can block access to the air intake screen.

CoconutPete 09-06-2012 07:59 AM

Can you explain how that works? I mean ... the floor is flat .... the bottom of the pan is flat. How does the pan block airflow?

how 09-06-2012 10:21 AM

The Airflow is not restricted but one needs access to the recessed air screen that some tanks with legs have under the hot water tank.
The sides of a pan restrict direct access to these type of HWT fresh air grills. GSW/ John Wood are examples of this style.
Tanks without legs (with side air supply) do not have this problem.

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