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skipjack 08-15-2008 10:50 AM

Water heater flue advice...
Okay.. noob to the forum. Hi everybody.

Here's my situation.. I've just bought a foreclosed house that needs a lot of work. The bank is nice enough to float me some cash for improvements.

Some of the things that need replacing are the roof, the furnace, and the water heater. I'm going with a high efficiency furnace which will vent out the side of the house via PVC.. and, I'd like to remove the chimney when I get the roof done since it needs repair and it'd be one less thing to maintain if I remove it.

That leaves me the water heater and where to vent it... if I go electric, I don't have to worry about it. However, electric is more expensive to operate than natural gas (is that still the case?). I could go high efficiency and just vent it out with PVC like the furnace. But HE water heaters are expensive and that would eat up a big chunk of my budget.

I guess my question is, if I go with a natural gas heater, can I just run the double-walled flue up the skeleton of what's left of the chimney and out through the roof? I'm not sure how I'd accomplish this connection in the confines of the chimney though.

Has anyone had a situation like this?

Piedmont 08-15-2008 01:31 PM

With electricity the power plants are only about 60% efficient turning the fuel into energy and they loose about 10% during transmission. Electricity coming into your house at best is about 50% efficient, you already know those gas or oil units are 90%+ efficient! But, are they really...

Here's what happened to someone at work, I suspect it's going to happen to me as well as I'm in the process of getting away from my fuel to an electric tank. He had an 90% efficient gas unit with the flue up the middle going to PVC to the outside heating his water for $80/month then he switched to an electric HW tank. He eliminated the $80 gas bill and his electric bill increased only $30/month. That's a net savings of $50/month how can that be electric is supposed to be worse! What he thinks, his gas tank has a flue running up the middle and when the burner is off that flue sucks cold air at the floor of his basement and goes up the flue cooling the unit right down which the burner has to kick back on to reheat. He said, what else would explain the fact that the tank is very well insulated but if I shut it off when the water has reached 140F it's cold in 5-6 hours. Somethings cooling it right down!? The electric tank he said has no flue it's a sealed unit and very insulated it loses practically nothing (his is R20). When he shuts off the power to it, his electric tank takes several days to cool down... it doesn't have a totally exposed flue in the middle sapping the heat out of the tank constantly.

I'm not up to date with the newest of todays units, but I have to say I am not impressed with how fast the units with the flue running up the middle cool down, it's like they heat fast being so efficient transferring the heat from the flue but also cool right down in the blink of an eye for exactly the same reasons.

So, an electric hot water tank I don't think is a bad idea and get a nice super insulated one (at least R15). Plus you don't need to get a heating person out yearly to clean/service it which around here costs $115. *EDIT* I was a big advocate no one should do electricity for hot water heating, but I have changed my ways. I switched to the electric hot water tank system because I've moved to solar hot water heating and it has electric backup but will say I too have been very surprised how fast my fuelled unit cools down.

YerDugliness 08-18-2008 05:25 PM

I had a similar experience when I switched from a gas-fired tank-type unit to an electric HWOD unit. My electric bill went up less than $10/month (it was just me in the house), and it allowed me to disconnect from the natural gas company, which enforced a $39/month minimum charge even if I didn't use a single cubic foot of their precious natural gas. Net savings for me=at least $29/month positive cash flow just for switching from gas to electrical, and probably more if you could compute the savings that having an HWOD unit provides over the tanked hot water heaters.

I just spoke to my electricity provider today, they are going to now offer me an "all electric rate" and that will save me about 30% after an initial usage of 750 kwh/mo of electricity. My total electrical usage for the month of June 24 to July 26 was only 349 kwh, so some months that "all electric" rate won't help, but during the winter months when I am heating the house electrically, I suspect I'll recognize some additional savings.

Now, could I have afforded a gas-fired HWOD unit, that would probably have been the least expensive option. For now, though, considering I spend only about 6 months per year in the home, I figure I'm recouping at least $350/year just by ditching the gas bill :thumbup: .

So, Skipjack, my only question to you would be have you considered the value offered by a gas-fired HWOD unit? You have the infrastructure, all you would need is a plumber to install might just do exactly what you want.....

Dugly :cool:

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