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How hard is it to replace a gas fired storage tank domestic hot water heater

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Easy if your handy. If not hire someone

I would highly recommend tankless. I will never go back to a regular hot water heater again. Mine can support 3 showers and the washing machine on all at once.

 

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If done by yourself, you can get away for around $600, double it if you hire a plumber. tankless are over $2K, nice but costly. On a 1-10 scale of difficulty, about a 6-7 for the average homeowner.

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If you have a boiler and hot water heat, consider an indirect water heater added as a zone. It far longer life, lower standby losses and faster recover time.  As far as difficulty, if you've done basic plumbing and sweated copper pipe before, it's not hard at all. Moving the damn things around is the hard part.  One thing that might trip you is if the gas pipe isn't in the same location. I've never understood why around here boilers and heaters are all hard piped all the way, while out west earthquake code calls for flex connections. I never see flex connections by professionals here done on anything but ranges or dryers. Is it just making work for themselves, tradition, or what?

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It’s easy if you know the steps. Remember you’re dealing with natural gas, very hot water under pressure, and  carbon monoxide. A O Smith was tops for a while, Bradford or Rheem.

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I had someone replaced my water tank 3 times during my 10 year in this house.... I guess we just use it a lot. But all 3 times were replaced by the same person. I am handy, but I do not have all the equipment. The procedures are simple if you know the steps. I'll try to trace it here.

 

1. Drain the remaining water in the tank. (of course shut the water already)

2. Turn off the gas valve

3. remove the gas pipe that goes in the module.

4. Cut (I know) the cold and hot water pipe from the top just below the shutoff valves. 

5. Remove tank / Replace new tank (hopefully you have a similar model / type that will just fit right back into it)

6. Clean all the fitting/ adapters and solder them back to the new one. (that's where things get tricky if you have all the parts)

7. Install gas pipe back, turns on. 

8. Recheck all the fitting, open the valves to hot/cold water to fill.

9. check for leaks.

10. Re-light polite ,check temp, start

 

Again, the tools you need you might not have. My plumber just add a coupler and a pipe to resolder the cold/hot water to make it easier.  

Edited by foxfai

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Shouldn't bee too difficult if you're handy but also depends on what you're replacing it with (similar or tankless) and positioning of connections.

 

Currently have A.O. Smith at house we moved to a few years ago, when that goes, will replace with tankless.

Have Rheem direct vent tankless heater at another property and don't regret it 1 bit.

A family member also installed Rheem direct vent about 7 years ago and it's been working great as well.

 

Although the tankless units are more expensive, there may be some rebates available since they're energy efficient.

 

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6 hours ago, foxfai said:

I had someone replaced my water tank 3 times during my 10 year in this house.

:squid: That is pretty crazy. Doesn't matter how much it is "used", a water heater should last at least 8-10 years.

 

My only comment to the OP, if you don't know what you are doing with gas extremely well, have someone do it. Gas can go BOOM.................

 

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6 hours ago, foxfai said:

I had someone replaced my water tank 3 times during my 10 year in this house.... I guess we just use it a lot. But all 3 times were replaced by the same person. I am handy, but I do not have all the equipment. The procedures are simple if you know the steps. I'll try to trace it here.

 

1. Drain the remaining water in the tank. (of course shut the water already)

2. Turn off the gas valve

3. remove the gas pipe that goes in the module.

4. Cut (I know) the cold and hot water pipe from the top just below the shutoff valves. 

5. Remove tank / Replace new tank (hopefully you have a similar model / type that will just fit right back into it)

6. Clean all the fitting/ adapters and solder them back to the new one. (that's where things get tricky if you have all the parts)

7. Install gas pipe back, turns on. 

8. Recheck all the fitting, open the valves to hot/cold water to fill.

9. check for leaks.

10. Re-light polite ,check temp, start

 

 

Good list there, I would add...make up the nipples or male adapters REAL tight into the HWH.

Use soapy water or a bic lighter( that’s how the old timers did it) to check the gas connections.

   When filling open any hot water spigot or faucet (remove the aerator first) till the air stops and water comes out. Some flip the lever up on the T&P valve.

  When it’s firing run that Bic lighter all the way around the diverter on top to make sure the draft is good and there is no spilling of Monoxide back down the flue. The flame should be sucking up the flue 360 around the diverter. 8-10+ years is a normal lifespan, spend up for a longer warranty!

Edited by cheech

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Electric or gas, it's important to do some annual maintenance

Drain the sediment from the bottom from the bottom, check that the expansion tank is working (I had a bladder fail in one and the symptom was a dripping TPV), check the temp pressure valve, and make sure there's not evidence of any small drips.  Doesnt' take long.  And change out the anode maybe every 5 years.

 

Drained more than 1/2 gallon of sediment from my stepsons not maintained heater a few years back-  Was a chore as it kept clogging up the drain valve and I had to back flush.  Pail looked like milk and the sediment was like beach sand..

 

Replacing every few years sounds like some core issue-  maybe no expansion tank?

 

Edited by rathrbefishn

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3 hours ago, rathrbefishn said:

Replacing every few years sounds like some core issue-  maybe no expansion tank?

Expansion tanks are not usually required on a regular tank WH because they have a direct connection to the whole city water system to expand into, They're not a closed system boiler. If you're on a well, sure.

 

To all the comments about CO, you only get CO from an appliance when something is going wrong with it, it's a symptom of incomplete combustion. You don't get CO from a gas range or an unvented heater. When water heaters make CO, it's usually a blocked vent pipe, which prevents proper drafting and thus creates the incomplete combustion and CO.

 

As far as going BOOM, boy do you really have to screw up. A little leak from a dry pipe joint that you can barely sniff won't do it. I once had a leak I couldn't find for the life of me, I could smell it, but no soap would show it. Turned out to be a pinhole in brand new black iron elbow!

Edited by gellfex

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Thanks all for responding. What about using short sections of pex pipe and shark bite fittings  to go from existing hot and cold pipes to new water heater instead of soldering. I replaced a straight section of hot water copper pipe which developed pinhole leaks about five feet from the water heater with pex and shark bite fittings and it’s held up. How about flexible pipe for the gas hookup if the old hard pipe connection doesn’t fit. Anyone use flex pipe for cold water in or hot water out if fit is an issue?

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They do sell shot sections of braided flex line just for connecting water heaters-  compression fitting to connect to copper on one side and threaded on the other-  at least they used to- it's what I used when I did one 15 years ago and didn't feel like sweating pipe.

 

WRT the expansion tank-  Some municipalities now require backflow preventer and even if not you often need a pressure reducing valve-  water hits my house at > 100 psi.  I was told they are also more common when you have a large heater to support the big soaking tubs that are so poplar-  more water- more expansion- at least that's what the plumber told me

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14 hours ago, Steve in Mass said:

:squid: That is pretty crazy. Doesn't matter how much it is "used", a water heater should last at least 8-10 years.

 

My only comment to the OP, if you don't know what you are doing with gas extremely well, have someone do it. Gas can go BOOM.................

 

Home Depot has 3 year water heaters? 
should never put one in, it’s a waste of time .   Now they have 9 yr and 12 yr

before it was 10 yr ?    Always changing 

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