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Old 08-04-2013, 11:35 AM   #1
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Time to Replace Water Heater?

I'm trying to decide whether to replace my water heater before winter comes around. Although it works, the following facts about my current water heater are making me consider replacement:

- It is about 9 years old and has a 6 year tank/parts warranty.
- It has some kind of black gunk forming on top of it (see images).
- My wife complains that the water temperature can be uneven (I know this may have nothing to do with the heater).
- Hot water pressure throughout house is low compared to the cold water pressure (though again, this may not be the heater).
- It is located in the attic, so a sudden catastrophic failure has the potential to cause major water damage.

The last point sounds worse than it might actually be, since I've read that such failures are rare. I do have a drip pan under the heater (though whether it's operational is anyone's guess). I was thinking that I could have the installer check out the temperature and pressure problems while they were installing the new heater.

My current model is a gas-powered A.O. Smith GCV 50 100 (Promax) and was installed when the house was built in 2004/2005. I live in Greenville, NC, USA, if climate is a factor. Thank you.
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Old 08-04-2013, 12:12 PM   #2
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Being located in the attic, the black gunk could just be from animal urine, feces, etc., not the HWH.

I agree with you, from what you have stated it sounds like it may be time for a new one. Better to be a little premature than to have a mess on your hands.

Yes, the pro will make sure everything conforms to current code for your area.


Last edited by jmon; 08-04-2013 at 12:20 PM.
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Old 08-04-2013, 12:52 PM   #3
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That almost looks like someone set a coffee mug or something on it. I don't think the stain is from the water heater.

Have you flushed the unit on a regular basis and serviced its core? If not, this is may fix some of your inconsistency issues.

That said, my California house had terribly hard water even when softened a bit. I was lucky to get five years out of a tank water heater. I went tankless at the end but sold the house so cannot say for sure how that worked out.

It was nice to have instant hot water for a shower in the morning. The tank water heater had been 100 feet or so from the bathrooms.
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Old 08-04-2013, 01:31 PM   #4
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Sometimes structural lumber bleeds a resin, especially in attics with elevated temperatures, so look up to eliminate that possibility of the black gunk.
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Old 08-04-2013, 02:40 PM   #5
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As for the low water pressure, ball valves are notorious for collecting Lime & Calcium deposits from the water, causing low pressure. Start replacing both hot & cold valves in the house, and you will find the water pressure will return to normal levels.
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Old 08-04-2013, 02:52 PM   #6
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9 yrs= heater replacement time

Your low pressure is probably the check valve nipples in the heater- that's the main cause in my area.
Or it may be the angle stops at the fixtures, but if it's low at all locations, including tub/shower I'd suspect the heater not the stops.

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Old 08-04-2013, 09:06 PM   #7
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Thanks all for the replies. That’s interesting that the gunk may be a foreign substance…hadn’t considered that.

I moved into the house last year and from the looks of it the water heater probably has never been flushed or serviced. I will probably go ahead and have it replaced soon.


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