Hard water and electric water heaters


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Old 11-20-06, 03:27 PM
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Hard water and electric water heaters

We have hard water here. I'm thinking of replacing my gas water heater with electric to save money on the cheaper rates but heard that hard water eats the elements up quickly in electric units. Some say I should stay with gas. Anybody know about this?

Thanks
 
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Old 11-21-06, 12:21 PM
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Electric heaters will eventually lime up the elements with hard water deposits, although newer design electric heaters have elements that resist lime buildup. The advantage of an electric water heater is that the elements can be replaced, when they fail. With a gas water heater, you have to replace the whole heater when the bottom finally burns through. My grandparents both had electric water heaters on fairly hard well water, and the basic heaters lasted 40 years or so. The elements had to be replaced a few times, but the tanks themselves never needed replaced. Those old heaters from the early '50's might still be in service, I don't know. I lost track about 1990 or so when the grandparents died off and the houses were sold.

I have a gas water heater, and I can't get more than nine years out of them before they leak. I'd switch except for the hassle of running new wiring through finished walls.
 
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Old 11-21-06, 12:37 PM
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With the electric hotwater heater and hard water . It will help to flush the tank now and then. This will help keep the build up that will short out the bottom element and make it last longer.
Now on a gas hot water heater. It takes about one man to move them or put one in. I have taken out old gas heaters that had hard water. It would take about 3 guys to just move the tank. The lime and calcium junk builds up along that center flue pipe in them . Just like a rock
So just how good is a gas heater HA


ED
 
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Old 11-21-06, 01:22 PM
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Thanks for the help Beachboy, Ed.

My gas heater is over 12 years old so I'm expecting it to go out at any time. Will probably replace it with electric if I can put in a 220 line.

About flushing water heaters. A "tv plumber" on a home improvement show I saw warned against flushing old water heaters that had never been flushed out before. He said that flushing out that sediment after years of buildup would often cause them to start leaking at the bottom. Does that sound reasonable?
I've been in this house about a year and I'm almost sure the previous owner never flushed the water heater. I was going to flush the heater but decided against it after watching the tv plumber show. Just going to wait and see what happens with this old heater.

Thanks again.
 
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Old 11-21-06, 01:23 PM
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"Just how good is a gas heater?"

I have often asked that same question. The newer gas heaters with the new "fvir" technology seem to have more than their fair share of problems. Although some brands have done rather well in that department, others have not. Also, so it seems, gas water heaters tend to have a shorter tank life. I would speculate that this may be the result of the higher temperatures on the bottom and through the flue pipe that runs straight up the middle of the tank. The welds often rust heavily and this is where the trouble begins. I have noticed some brands seem to rust faster than others. Although to be really scientific, we would have to examine thousands upon thousands of tanks. I'll pass on that job, but I have been cutting old tanks in half, just out of curiosity.

Overall, I would say electric units do have advantages, such as low up-front cost, easy low cost repair (stats and elements are cheap and last a good long time), no flue to rot or worry about. Electrics are completely insulated and have lower standby losses. Gas units have higher standby losses as the flue is not insulated.

Gas units may have an advantage if you live in an area of very high electric rates and/or you have very high hot water consumption. However, if you are unlucky and get one that only lasts a few years, it will reduce your possible savings.

I haven't even talked about the power vent types. But they are very expensive up front and seem to need frequent expensive service. Perhaps others have had different experiences. If so, let us know.
 
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Old 11-21-06, 02:55 PM
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Flushing causes leaks? Well, not exactly. My theory is that flushing exposes existing leaks. Sediment is a great leak stopper. Ever try to drain a water heater full of sediment? If you did, you probably had a difficult time getting any water out of the drain valve. If sediment can stop up a valve, it can certainly seal a pinhole leak. But don't let the great powers of sediment provide you with a false sense of security. Eventually those weld seams will become so weak that a sudden flood may occur. I have seen cases where the bottom of the heater separated. Weld failures due to corrosion are not limited to the bottom either, leaks on top are just as likely if not more so. Since sediment settles to the bottom, the top is left without the benefits of this built in leak stopper.
 
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Old 11-21-06, 03:20 PM
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Either way you will still get the scale build-up as long as you have hard water. When hard water is heated, scale is formed. This is due to:
(1) the breakdown of calcium and magnesium bicarbonates,
(2) their reversion to the highly insoluble carbonate forms,
(3) their precipitation from the water, and
(4) their concentration on the interior surfaces of the water heater.

So if you change to electric it won't solve your scale problems because you are still heating up the water. Imagine your water heating always heating up 40 lbs of rocks everyday before it heats up your water. Thats what causes the your heating element to prematurely break down and there goes about 25% of your energy bill too.

Why not just invest in a water softener and that can extend the life of all your appliances 33-50%? Is also causing problems you don't see water-using appliances, such as dishwashers, washing machines, automatic ice makers, air conditioners and water heaters. There are many advantages of having a soft water system too.

I did some research and also looking for a water softener.
 
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Old 11-21-06, 03:27 PM
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Here is a great article from the department of energy

http://www.energy.gov/waterheating.htm

that can help you choose the right water heater for you.
 
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Old 11-23-06, 07:24 AM
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Thanks for the help Jim, RW. Sounds reasonable to me. That govt. website has some interesting ideas.
 
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Old 11-23-06, 08:12 AM
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water heater

just a warning from a recent experience. last feb. i installed a new electric hot water heater. i had a water softener system in service, little did i know the service guy wasn't doing the proper maintenance on it. anyways, a few months after installing the new tank, i noticed a much stronger rotten egg smell from my hot water. i looked into a kinetico water softener and when the lady was here to show me their product, she discovered my hot water heater had an anode rod in it. when you have hard water, it is to eat out this anode rod before it destroys your elements in your tank. her recommendation was to remove the anode rod and i would lose much of the rotten egg smell i was getting, saving me money from having to add another additional softener to the system. that worked. i had the softener put in and now i have no nasty smell at all. another bit of advice she gave me was when she saw my dishwasher, it was almost a burnt orange color from the hard water over time. she told me to run tang through it after i had the new sytem installed and it would remove the color from the dishwasher, i had to do it a few times, but today, it looks like a brand new dishwasher i was amazed. another problem i had was the toilet tank had discoloration in it also, a cleaner called THE WORKS, purchased at Dollar General or wal mart works wonders also. sorry about the run on , but just wanted to let you know a few of my experiences with bad water. may be of some use to you. good luck.
 
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Old 11-23-06, 08:35 AM
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Do they still make tang?

Thanks for the help 72. Is tang the orange drink? Didn't know they still made that.
 
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Old 11-23-06, 03:39 PM
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tang

yes it is, i thought "Yeah Right" when she told me that but it worked wonders, the citric acid in the tang i guess is what really does the job. but try it if you have those stains. let me know how you make out with your water heater.
 
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Old 11-24-06, 10:05 AM
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Home Depot has Rust Away get it.It will work much faster than Tang will
 
 

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