water heater

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Old 01-14-09, 12:13 PM
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water heater

Hello,

I currently have a 30 gallon water heater from 1987 that supplies hot water to a 1 bedroom 1 bath condo. There is a dishwasher; clothes dryer is on gas; the stove and heater are electric.

The problem is that the water heater does not supply hot water for more than 10 minutes in the shower (during the winter months). This has been going on since I purchased the unit. I sent a complaint to the builder when I first purchased the unit (in 2004) and when they came out, they said it is because the size of the unit is too small. Recently, I had someone come out to give me an estimate on installing a tankless water heater. The technician said it is due to the age of the unit and that sediment is building up at the bottom of the tank. He recommended replacing with another 30 gallon tank water heater.

My questions are as follows:
1) What seems to be a more reasonable explanation? Is the water heater not supplying enough hot water because it is too small or because it is too old? Could it be both?

2) What would you recommend, a tankless or tank water heater? The technician seemed to be recommending a tank water heater. The cost difference is $400-700 more for the tankless water heater. The cost seems minimal because I get a $300 credit on my taxes plus the little bit of energy savings per year. However, I heard that some people are experiencing fluctuating water temperature with their tankless water heaters.

3) What type of water heater would you recommend? That is, if you recommend a tank water heater, do you think I should upgrade to a 40 gallon just in case (the cost is almost exactly the same)? Is there a brand that you recommend?

If you recommend a tankless water heater, what kind do you recommend? I was thinking about the Stiebel Eltron Tempra 24. I was reading that the Stiebel Eltron has a microprocessor that would remedy the fluctuating water temperature problem. I was thinking the Tempra 24 because the cost difference between the Tempra 20 and Tempra 24 is minimal. What are your thoughts?

I know these are a lot of questions but any information from experienced users or technicians would be very valuable! Thank you very much.
 
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Old 01-14-09, 12:38 PM
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Is the water heater gas-fired?

In my opinion a 30 gallon tank type water heater is ridiculously small. A tank type water heater will generally give about 70% of its volume before a noticeable drop in temperature. If you have a standard shower head rated at 2.5 gallons per minute (GPM) then that means about eight or nine minutes of hot water IF the temperature on the tank is set at about 120 degrees. Of course this will be a bit worse in the winter because the incoming water will be at a lower temperature. If you raise the temperature setting on the water heater to about 140 degrees you will have to blend in a fair amount of cold water and that will lessen the "draw" on the water heater allowing for a longer shower. The higher temperature is also beneficial to the dishwasher.

However, running higher temperatures from the water heater can also be quite hazardous as the 140 degree water can cause severe burns in a very short time, mere seconds or less.

So to answer your questions:

1. Both are reasonable explanations although I would lean towards the size being the bigger problem.

2. I never recommend tankless heaters. They cost considerably more to buy and the installation is often as much as the cost of the water heater itself. Despite advertising to the contrary the payback time on the system is often more than ten years, sometimes there is no payback until ten years after installing the second tankless heater.

Tankless heaters REQUIRE more maintenance than do tank-type heaters. Depending on your water quality it may be necessary to "descale" a tankless unit as often as twice a year.

Tankless heaters usually require electricity to operate which leaves you with no hot water if the power goes out.

3. Professional plumbers often recommend the Bradford White brand as being the best. Ruud and Rheem are also highly rated. The GE brand sold by Home Depot gets good ratings as it is made by either Ruud or Rheem (which, I think, is the same company). The Whirlpool brand are almost universally rated poorly. I personally would never have anything less than a forty gallon tank type and prefer a fifty gallon.
 
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Old 01-14-09, 02:17 PM
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Agree with Furd

If it is an electric heater, 22 yrs is very old. I have rental duplex built in 1977 w/elec water heaters and both sides now have their 3rd heater. If it is a gas heater 22 yrs is beyond description. Get a bigger one-not tankless.
 
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Old 01-14-09, 06:52 PM
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Pretty hard to add anything to what has been said by furd and 663. Covered all the points.
 
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Old 01-14-09, 07:12 PM
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I know 30 gallon water heater is small but there is only one person (me) living in the condo. I don't use multiple appliances or shower at once. Wouldn't a 30 gallon be enough unless there is a sediment problem?

And yes it is a gas water heater. Mine is 22yrs old and my parents is 18yrs old... go figure.
 
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Old 01-15-09, 04:47 AM
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Why fight the idea of a 40 gallon tank? The cost is relatively minimal between the 30 and 40, and that 10 gallons will give you a longer shower. Running 40 gallons at one showering is a bit much, though. You are also chancing (at 22 years) a failure. Are you ready for that?
 
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Old 01-15-09, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by chandler View Post
Why fight the idea of a 40 gallon tank? The cost is relatively minimal between the 30 and 40, and that 10 gallons will give you a longer shower. Running 40 gallons at one showering is a bit much, though. You are also chancing (at 22 years) a failure. Are you ready for that?
I just want to nail down what the exact problem is.
 
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Old 01-24-09, 02:37 PM
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OK, so I had my water heater replaced with a 40 gallon tank water heater. The plumber did a good job. One thing that concerns me: the water heater is in a storage closet, outside. When he was draining the old unit, some water came out in the closet. The bottom of the closet is this clay like material (sheet-rock?). It has been 2 days since replacing the water heater and the bottom of the closet is still wet. It has been cloudy and rainy these past few days and won't get warm and sunny until next weekend. Would being wet for this long be a problem (ie mold starts to grow)? Also, we had to put the water heater up on some wood to get it up to code. That clay material (sheet-rock?) is wet under the wood too. Hopefully it will all dry when it gets warm again.
 
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Old 01-24-09, 03:52 PM
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You mean the floor of the closet is sheetrock???? Why?
 
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