May 18th, 2011
|03:14 am - Not so joys of home ownership|
One useful aftermath of my parent's visit is they asked some questions about the house, including what the warranty on the hot water heater was. According to them, and what I've heard other places, once they go out of warranty, hot water heater tanks not infrequently fail spectacularly, and in a finished basement like ours, that would be rather horrible. From what I'd read, hot water heaters typically have 6-12 year warranties, and I expected ours to have a 6 year warranty.
A bit of googling of model numbers turned up an interesting fact – we have a 3 year hot water heater. We moved in in March 2009, but renovations were finished in August 2008 – ie almost three years ago, so it's definitely time to get a new one. I was also not all that surprised to find out that the lifespan of a hot water heater is typically on the heater, but there's clear evidence of some sort of sticker having been scraped off of our hot water heater. We're considering a tankless heater to avoid any chance of catastrophic flooding in the future, but at minimum will get one with a 9 year warranty. Definite skeeziness on the part of the two people who renovated these houses – they did an excellent job on most things, but clearly not here. Ick. It seems wasteful to replace what seems to be a perfectly good hot water heater, but the alternative is rather dire and also overly moist.
Current Mood: annoyed
By my understanding, it's not the length of warranty that really determines length of life in a water heater -- it's the hardness of the local water. However, I note that even this isn't a good predictor. When we bought our house, the water heater had been installed only a few years earlier, and in general, water heater life is a max of 5 years in Massachusetts because our water destroys water heaters. So we were keeping an eye on it, and it wasn't surprising when it popped off (our basement is not finished, so dumping 30 or so gallons of water down there wasn't a tragedy) 3 years later. The fascinating thing was that the plumber who replaced it pointed out the serial number on it, and explained that a certain set of numbers constituted the year of manufacture. Our water heater was actually 24 years old, a utility company rental unit that the previous owners had bought cheap when it was decommissioned from lease.
Not to mention rot, mold, and possible loss of stuff, plus thousands of dollars spent in repairs to the foundation, etc.
That is, if the water heater floods...
Our water heater was 25 years old when it stopped working and I am quite sure that the previous owners and residents of this house did not do the recommended annual or biannual drain.
This easy bit of maintenance helps to prevent the build-up of mineral sediment that decreases the efficiency and lifespan of the heater and reduces the hot water supply in your home. http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/how-to-drain-a-water-heater/index.html
I should warn you that tankless water heaters are very pricey and retrofitting them can be very tricky (read $$$$). This is a pretty good summary of what I found when I was doing my research:http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/appliances/heating-cooling-and-air/water-heaters/tankless-water-heaters/overview/tankless-water-heaters-ov.htm
To prevent damage from a water heater leak or flood, you need either:
A Drain Pan
A drain pan is a round aluminum pan that is installed under an existing or new water heater. This pan has an opening on the side of it into which we attach one end of an 1 ¼” sump pump hose. The other end of this hose then terminates at the floor drain or sump pit.
With a drain pan installed, if the water heater, drain valve or relief valve were to leak, the water would be caught in the pan, it would exit through the hose and drain into the floor drain or sump pit. This will save the basement from becoming flood damaged and potentially ruining your valuable possessions.
A FloodMaster Valve
A FloodMaster valve is a great option for whenever a drain pan installation is not feasible. (The hose from a drain pan may be in a high traffic area, it may have to run uphill or a floor drain or sump pit may not be available, such as in an apartment or condo installation) A FloodMaster valve is an electrically operated device that is installed on the cold water line of a water heater in addition to a drain pan underneath the water heater. The drain pan opening is plugged in these installations and a sensor from the FloodMaster valve is placed into the drain pan. Now, if the tank, relief valve or drain valve start to leak, the water is caught in the drain pan. Once the drain pan has about a half inch of water in it, the sensor activates the valve which closes the incoming cold water, stops the leaking and prevents flood damage.