Upgrading to High Effecency Water Heater


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Old 12-10-08, 11:12 AM
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Upgrading to High Effecency Water Heater

I'd like to upgrade my old water heater w/ one of these newer High effecency units. I am a little confused on what type is what and what my chimney requirements would be.

Are all power vent units "high effecency"?
Are all "high effecency" units power- vented?
What is supposed to be the "most effecent" type for the standard household?

The chimney has my newer boiler and my old hot water heater going into it. My best guess is it may be an unlined 8" brick chimney, with a rain cap on top. Do I need to reline to accept this new high effecency water heater? How can I determin the proper size considering both appliances?

Can I simply install type B gas vent pipe inside the chimney and make direct connections to both appliances and roof cap?

Thanks in advance-
 
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Old 12-10-08, 05:55 PM
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I assume you meant to write high efficiency.

I don't know what you might consider "high efficiency" but no "standard" gas (atmospheric burner with natural draft) water heater would be so classified in my book. On the other hand the mere presence of an induced draft fan (power vent) does not by itself make a water heater high efficiency.

There are only two tank-type gas water heaters that I would consider as high efficiency and they would be the A. O. Smith Vertex and the American Water Heaters Polaris. Unfortunately neither brand is highly regarded by professional plumbers and the Polaris is really too large for residential usage.
 
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Old 12-11-08, 04:10 AM
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And to add.........standard type heaters that are classified as more energy efficient are considerably more expensive than standard. If going to that expense, install a demand type instant unit. They are considerably more efficient than a standard unit, but expensive and installation is more involved.
 
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Old 12-11-08, 04:49 AM
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You guys really think tankless instantainous (sp?) is the better way to go? I think I'd be more comfortable with the old standard tank type- Mainly for ease of maintenance. I guess I'll research different units on how effecent they are. What should I be looking at to compare? BTU's or something like that? Is there a "gas consumption" rating on water heaters?


What about chimney condensation?
 
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Old 12-11-08, 03:50 PM
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Proper sizing of tankless units is critical. If undersized, you may never get enough hot water. If oversized, same problem. The units are considerably more expensive that a standard heater, as is the installation. And this is not a DIY job. A standard heater heats water whether or not there is demand, but the unit cost and installation is much less. They are also not as efficient as a tankless, but average the costs over the life of the heater. Not sure who wins, although the tankless guys say they win, hands down.

For a family of 4(no teenagers), a standard gas unit of 50 gal, or electric unit of 60 gal is usually safe.
 
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Old 12-12-08, 12:27 AM
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I am no fan of tankless water heaters. They are more expensive to purchase and more expensive to install than tank-type water heaters. They also require more regular servicing than does a tank-type heater and they are more prone to problems with low-quality (hard) water. Quite honestly, the increased capital costs plus increased maintenance can easily eat up any "savings" for the first ten years.

They also require certain lifestyle changes, maybe these changes won't be a big deal for you but they can be quite annoying to some people.

Chimney condensation will likely be less of a factor in the straight atmospheric burner (non-power) water heater than it would be in a power-vent heater. If you have a clay (tile) liner in your brick chimney it is probably okay for a standard water heater. If your brick chimney has no liner at all you will have problems.
 
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Old 12-12-08, 05:16 AM
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Not really sure about the liner yet. My fireplace chimney is currently an unlined brick chimney and fireplace, built in 1919. The gas chimney, on the oppasit side of the house, has a raincap on top that makes it impossible to see inside. If I open up what looks like a large cleanout panel at its base, maybe I can see up the chimney w/ a flashlight. Can I run a flexable gas exhaust up the chimney in lieu of re linining the chimney?

At any rate, I see my water heater was made in 1991, so it will be due very soon I imagine. I will be basically be swapping a standard 30 gal. unit with a standard 40 or 50 gal. unit. I will probably leave the chimney as it is for now.
 
 

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