Is this "percolating", and if so, what are my options?

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Old 11-12-14, 07:53 AM
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Is this "percolating", and if so, what are my options?

40 gallon, gas water heater, installed in attic in 2002
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5GASwgKgEo

Moved into this house in July. Have been noticing this awful noise after every shower. Have attempted to drain on several occasions but have only seen small amounts of sediment each time. Home warranty says they don't cover "noises" so I'm wondering:

A) is this in fact "percolating" caused by sediment buildup?
B) if so, is it possible that with repeated flushing I can eventually alleviate the noise issue?
C) besides the noise, should this give me any other concerns?

I have 2nd identical unit that is not making any noise.

Thanks for your help!
Brian
 
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Old 11-12-14, 08:09 AM
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I don't know anything about the noise but if the heater was installed in 2002 it is now 12 years old. that already beats the 'average" life of a gas-fired water heater. I would suggest that you start saving money for replacing the heater. Flushing that thing now is as likely to cause it to leak as it is to fix the noise problem.

Water heaters should be flushed periodically, the period depending on the water quality. Twice a year is not too often.
 
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Old 11-12-14, 12:35 PM
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Thanks!

Thanks Furd. If I do decide to replace, any suggestions on what to consider? It does make me nervous having so much water in the attic, especially in a container that naturally degrades over time. I had a plumber already pitch me a tankless + water softener, but it seems like I could replace the water heaters many times over instead. Are there any specific brands or features I should aim for?
 
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Old 11-12-14, 12:40 PM
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I would only be considering another tank heater as the tankless heaters are a lot better on paper than they are in real life.
 
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Old 11-12-14, 01:11 PM
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Thanks Mitch. Would appreciate any thoughts you might have on what to look for in a tank heater. Pretty sure I'm not going tankless.
 
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Old 11-12-14, 01:25 PM
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Hang tight for Mike (lawrosa) to chime in; he's our expert in this field (though Furd knows what he's talking about if he wants to submit an opinion).
 
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Old 11-13-14, 01:23 AM
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Tankless water heaters are very good for a few specialized situations, most notably when there are long periods of no hot water use with other periods of continuous usage. For most residential situations tank-type have a distinct economic advantage.

From my reading of these forums it is common in Texas to have the water heater in the attic, although that would certainly not be my preferred location. I would insist upon a pan with no less than a one-inch drain to the outside of the area where it would be readily seen in case of a leak.

If you have hard water then a softener is always a good idea in my opinion.

As to the water heater itself, there are only minor differences among most models. Warranty length is mostly a sham, the higher costs are primarily your insurance premium for a longer warranty. ALL heaters have a one-year basic warranty for parts and most heaters have a pro-rated warranty after the first year which mainly pertains to leaks in the tank. ALL tanks are the same, only the insulation, the dip tube, anode rod and sometimes the drain valve are "upgraded" for the higher cost of the longer warranty.

Upgraded insulation will often get you a slightly higher efficiency ratio but an attic installation in Texas probably has little economic return over the life of the heater. It will mean nothing during the summer although add a bit in the winter.

Dip tube upgrade substitutes a curved tube for a straight one. The advantage is the curved tube stirs up the dirt and sediments on the tank bottom, holding them in suspension where they are more likely to exit with the water to flush the tank and plug the faucet aerators. A curved dip tube can be added to any heater after the fact.

A bigger (or sometimes a second) anode rod may help the tank last longer in areas that have corrosive (usually soft) water. Anode rods should be checked periodically, maybe after the first or second year of operation and the timetable adjusted to be able to change the anode rod before it is completely consumed. Doing so should add years of life to a heater using corrosive water. Secondary anode rods can be added to most water heaters.

Drain valves on almost all water heaters are a joke. The least expensive use a plastic valve that is, in my opinion, just plain junk. Higher cost heaters will often use a brass drain but of an angle pattern that will still trap crap and corruption (technical terms ) when you attempt to flush the heater. The best, and as far as I know, only seen when the owner changes it, is the brass ball valve. The original valve is removed and a brass nipple with a 3/4 inch ball valve is inserted instead. The ball valve has a garden hose thread adapter fitted to the out outlet and this allows a cleaning wire or rod to be run through the valve to inside the heater proper to break up any sediment if necessary. The garden hose adapter allows the use of a hose to assist in flushing the tank, an activity shat should happen at least once a year or more often with scaling water conditions.
 
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Old 11-14-14, 09:45 AM
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Furd, thanks for this detailed explanation! This makes alot of sense. My current heaters are in pans with drains (a recent, comforting discovery). It also looks like my units came with a 6 yr warranty (that they've outlived by 6 years).

Whatever I purchase, I'm guessing I need to focus particularly on having/adding a curved dip tube and the upgraded (functional) drain valve. I assume you'd advise me to replace the drain valve before I even do the initial fill of the new unit? The one I have now is exactly as you describe, with such a tiny opening that there's no chance of evacuating the mineral crystals in there that are much larger.

I don't know if it's improper to discuss brands and stores here, but if you have any instructions of what/where to avoid buying, I'm all ears.

I'm leaning towards something like this: Rheem Performance Plus 40 gal. Tall 9 Year 40,000 BTU High Efficiency Natural Gas Water Heater-XG40T09HE40U0 at The Home Depot
 
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Old 11-14-14, 10:54 AM
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I bought the fifty gallon model of the heater you linked to and I'm happy with it. I went with it rather than the less expensive 6 year warranty because it had additional insulation and the curved dip tube. Went with the 50 gallon model because I have a whirlpool tub and because i like long, hot showers.

Our resident plumber on this forum, Mike Lawrosa, recommends the A.O. Smith brand. He also admits that he was an A.O. Smith representative for several years. A.O. Smith got a poor reputation when they rushed to market the first generation of FVIR (Flammable Vapor Ignition Resistant) water heaters that had a difficult to clean air filter. A.O. Smith came out with a new design a few years ago that solved the problems of the earlier models so I would not hesitate to buy one these days. When Whirlpool came out with their version of FVIR they had so many problems that to this day Whirlpool has a very poor reputation.

Another brand that often gets rave reviews is the Bradford-White line.

Yes, you should probably replace the drain valve prior to putting the heater into service. I installed mine last March but only enough to get it operating as I hadn't had a hot shower in a week. [Our pioneer forebears that bathed in the rivers were a hardy lot.] I still need to do a proper install with the new drain valve and the seismic restraints, but I doubt I will get it done before next April or so. :NO NO NO:
 
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Old 11-14-14, 07:47 PM
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When Whirlpool came out with their version of FVIR they had so many problems that to this day Whirlpool has a very poor reputation
Actually, Whirlpool hasn't made a water heater in many many years. The Whirlpool water heaters are not made nor are they designed by Whirlpool, but just have the Whirlpool name that was bought to use on specific models manufactured by American Water Heater. As far as I know, the Whirlpool branded water heaters are only sold by Lowes. I prefer Bradford-White partially because of a distributor I know that sells them. I have also had good luck with them. As a FYI, AO Smith acquired American Water Heater a few years ago.
 
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