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housenewbie 01-09-2011 12:03 AM

Have to replace 2 water heaters in house we're buying...help!
 
We're buying our first house, in CA. Very excited! It's a remodeled house built in 1962, and it has two water heaters: a 30 gallon one near the kitchen side of the house, and a 50 gallon one on the bathroom side (the Master Bath also has a jacuzzi tub, if that's relevant). They're both over 6 years old (the 50 gallon is 10 years), and it was suggested that we'd be wise to replace them, especially since there's no pressure relief valves and they're not vented properly either.

Obviously if we have to replace them, we want to find the best option for our tight budget (the bank account is getting depleted by the house purchase!) that will last us a while and be adequate for our needs. Energy efficiency would be great, too.

I've looked into tankless heaters, but my concern is that I seem to read a lot of reviews saying how the units constantly break, that they cost a lot to install, and that you get bursts of cold water randomly sometimes while showering (ugh...I hate that!). Has this been true in your cases, if anyone has one? Do you find that it's worth the extra cost?

What does everyone recommend? We know absolutely ZERO about water heaters, as we've only lived in apartments and never had to deal with them much! :D

nap 01-09-2011 12:25 AM

well, are the existing units gas or electric? Since you said they aren't vented properly, I suspect they are gas/

What do you mean by they aren't vented properly?

and if the budget is tight, tankless is not what you want to consider at this time. Regardless of how efficient they are, a quality tankless heater is not inexpensive. They also often require major infrastructure alterations due to the amount of gas or electricity they use. Those costs alone can be more than the heater, depending on what must be done.

handy man88 01-09-2011 01:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by housenewbie (Post 565868)
We're buying our first house, in CA. Very excited! It's a remodeled house built in 1962, and it has two water heaters: a 30 gallon one near the kitchen side of the house, and a 50 gallon one on the bathroom side (the Master Bath also has a jacuzzi tub, if that's relevant). They're both over 6 years old (the 50 gallon is 10 years), and it was suggested that we'd be wise to replace them, especially since there's no pressure relief valves and they're not vented properly either.

Obviously if we have to replace them, we want to find the best option for our tight budget (the bank account is getting depleted by the house purchase!) that will last us a while and be adequate for our needs. Energy efficiency would be great, too.

I've looked into tankless heaters, but my concern is that I seem to read a lot of reviews saying how the units constantly break, that they cost a lot to install, and that you get bursts of cold water randomly sometimes while showering (ugh...I hate that!). Has this been true in your cases, if anyone has one? Do you find that it's worth the extra cost?

What does everyone recommend? We know absolutely ZERO about water heaters, as we've only lived in apartments and never had to deal with them much! :D

Why don't you ask the seller to replace them? If they are not "vented properly," I assume your inspector pointed this out and you're not having the seller address this? Isn't it still a buyer's market?

Install of a tankless model by a licensed plumber can easily cost up to $2500 if not more.

housenewbie 01-09-2011 11:02 AM

By "not vented properly," I mean that the top vent pipe goes straight up into the roof eaves. They also have no pressure relief valve, or proper discharge pipes, which can be dangerous, so that's why we're thinking of simply replacing them rather than just buying the parts and hoping they last longer.
http://img831.imageshack.us/img831/3...10109at858.png
I wish the sellers would pay for it, but it's really not an option...it's an "As-Is" REO, and they're already giving us closing costs, so we can't push them for anything else. They made it clear there would be no more repairs. :(

concretemasonry 01-09-2011 11:20 AM

The PTRV is more of a safety item, since a good home inspector should not operate the valve as part of an inspection. If it is, there is no insurance it is seated and will perform properly later. He only verify there is a valve and if it is installed properly.

The discharge tune is required to prevent stem and scalding and should drain freely straight down and stop 6" from the floor and does not have threaded end. If you have hot water and stem everywhere if the valve releases for some reason. It is very important to have a straight discharge from the valve without any "cute and convenient" plumbing methods than can allow collection of minerals and plug the line and launch the heater. - The record altitude for a heater in a single level ranch is about 250' and 150' for one in a basement under a 2 story home.

Depending on the water and maintenance (annual draining) a water can have a surprisingly long life. I just replaced a 26 year old gas heater that worked well and appeared sound since it just seemed like it was about time to do it.

Dick

CplDevilDog 01-09-2011 11:28 AM

The bank wants that property off their books. If there are no other offers, they will give you cash at closing for this. EVERYTHING is negotiable, just don't fall in love with the house, so if you do push the bank to far and they walk, you won't feel crushed.

If I'm reading the photos correctly that water tank is venting gas exhaust into the basement. While heavier than air, it can build up and kill you or pets. I'm surprised anyone was able to get a Certificate of Occupancy for this home with that condition.

Bob999 01-09-2011 11:32 AM

From the photo it appears there is a pressure relief valve--but even if there were not they can be purchased for $20 or so. The discharge pipe is not installed but installing a discharge pipe is a simple procedure so why not just do it.

The venting fix is a bit more complicated but it would be a (small) part of the replacement of the existing heater--again why not just fix what is wrong. It will certainly be less costly and apparently can be done to be fully compliant to applicable codes.

CplDevilDog 01-09-2011 11:32 AM

Remember, if you are not working with a Buyer's Agent agreement, then the Real Estate Agent is not working for you. They are working for the seller! think "Used Car Salesman" and they will tell you all kinds of garbage to unload a dog.

Jackofall1 01-09-2011 11:49 AM

Fix the heaters, look at it this way, if you replace the heaters you will have to re-run the venting anyway, as this needs to be done. As for extending the pressure/temp relief no big deal.

Drain and flush the tanks, replace the anodes and they should be good for at least another 5 years.

Then save for a tankless unit large enough to replace both tanks.

Homerepairguy 01-09-2011 11:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by housenewbie (Post 565868)
We're buying our first house, in CA. Very excited! It's a remodeled house built in 1962, ...snip

Obviously if we have to replace them, we want to find the best option for our tight budget (the bank account is getting depleted by the house purchase!) that will last us a while and be adequate for our needs. Energy efficiency would be great, too.

I've looked into tankless heaters, but my concern is that I seem to read a lot of reviews saying how the units constantly break, that they cost a lot to install, and that you get bursts of cold water randomly sometimes while showering (ugh...I hate that!). Has this been true in your cases, if anyone has one? Do you find that it's worth the extra cost?

Since your home was built in 1962 and if you're thinking of electric tankless heaters, verify that the current capacity of your main input power line to your home can handle the current demands. Our home was built in 1971 and I found that the input power line had to be upgraded if we went tankless. Also, you will need to have separate power lines and circuit breakers installed for each tankless heater. --- For gas tankless, I've read that separate gas lines have to be run to each heater but have not verified that since we don't have gas service.

Verify both issues for your home as the upgrades to accommodate tankless plus the tankless units may cost way more than new water heaters and you're on a tight budget.

HRG


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