Replace anode rod or replace 11 yr old water heater?


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Old 11-17-16, 02:37 PM
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Replace anode rod or replace 11 yr old water heater?

We bought a vacation condo a couple years ago. It is probably used about 4-5 months total per year. The rest of the time, the water heater and water supply are shut off, though we do not drain the heater.

The water heater is electric and about 11 years old. It is a 40-50 gallon low boy. We have had no issues with it.

I am wondering whether we should just bite the bullet and replace it before it fails or remove the anode rod to see if there is any magnesium left. If there were a fair amount left, I would put in a new rod and flush the heater.

What would you recommend? I would normally think to replace it, but it is only heating water 4-5 months per year.
Thank you
Dave
 
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Old 11-17-16, 03:34 PM
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Wow, close call. If it isn't giving problems, the rod may make a good economical decision. BUT you are approaching normal EOL of the water heater. That can be from 12 to 15 years or so, especially with stagnant sitting water for most of the year.
 
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Old 11-17-16, 04:23 PM
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Think about how much damage 40 or 50 gallons of water leaking out would do....if it has a tray underneath that is plumbed to a drain, then no big deal. If it would soak carpeting or other such items, with the possibility of sitting for months undetected, that would be bad. I suppose you could start draining it when you will be away for some time.

Also think about how big a pain it would be if it failed at an inopportune time and you had to be without hot water for a few days.

Looking at the anode will tell you more about your water than the internal condition of the water heater.

In the end, it's your call. Unfortunately, there's just no good way to tell when a heater is likely to fail.
 
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Old 11-19-16, 05:43 AM
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Thanks guys. It is in a drain pan, but if it really blew out, it could still cause damage. I ordered a new one. Since it is in such a tight space, I was going to use shark bite corrugated stainless hoses. Have you ever used them?
 
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Old 11-22-16, 05:42 AM
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I think replacing the water heater is a good idea. It took me a while to find but I found a Youtube of This Old House talking about why copper pipes corrode and leak. At the end of the video they talk about what happens when an anode is all used up. They mention that if the anode has never been replaced and the heater is over 10 years old... "don't bother". Just plan on replacing the heater.

I've used the Shark/Gator and any other critter Bite fittings and hoses. They are quite good (and expensive) and it is rare to have one leak. When I've had one leak it's been either a bad pipe (not the Shark Bite) or excessive strain on the fitting. So, if you squish the tubing when cutting or leave a jagged burr on the end it can cause leaking. Also, if you have to pull things into alignment to get things in place that sideways strain on the fitting can cause it to leak. But, if you've done things half way right they are usually good and trouble free.
 
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Old 11-22-16, 05:53 AM
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Thanks. I have ordered a new heater and will use Sharkbite corrugated stainless hoses. Will update when project is done.
 
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Old 11-28-16, 04:25 PM
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I just moved into a house where the Bradford White water heater was installed in 1994! I always put in a full port ball valve at the bottom drain and when I opened it up, there was very little junk on the bottom. I have well water too. So the heater MAY last a long time!

FYI, I see that the previous owners/plumbers also used sharkbites but if you look into the end of one, a 3/4" fitting only allows about a 1/2" hole in it ...look at one in the store and you'll see the incredible reduction. I try not to use them unless it's impossible to get water out for a solder.
 
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Old 11-30-16, 05:19 AM
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I decided to have a plumber come and do the work to replace water heater. Didn't want to risk a problem as it is in such a tight space. Got a good price too
 
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Old 12-09-16, 06:20 AM
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Just an update. I had plumber come to install the water heater. It took him/them over 3 hours as the space is so tight. I'm so glad I didn't try it myself. They also hard-piped it. (no flexible tubing). There is about 8 inches of space above the water heater, as our ac unit sits directly above it. There is no way to remove anode rod without first removing water heater. When we go away, (condo is not used for 2 months at a time), we turn off power to water heater and relieve pressure in the water lines by opening a faucet with water supply off. As I really have no way to remove anode rod, will our turning off water heater and relieveing pressure increase its life expectancy?
Would there be any tricks to replacing rod? I don't even think an artculated rod would fit....the space is so tight. Thanks
 
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Old 12-09-16, 06:28 AM
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Just an update. We had a plumber replace water heater. Thank God I did not do it myself. He was there for 3-4 hours, as the space above it is so incredibly tight (our ac sits directly above it). There is probably 8" of space to work in. He hard piped everything too.

Any tricks on anode rod replacement without having to remove the entire water heater? Even an articulated/flexible rod would not fit. The rod that is in place is not in the front, as the water heater had to be turned 45 degrees for the T&P valve piping. So a breaker bar would come in contact with the CPVC supply piping.

When we are not at the condo (1-2 months at a time), we turn off water supply and relieve hot and cold water pressure by temporarily opening faucets. We also turn off the electricity to the water heater. Will this prolong its life? I have to admit that the old one had very little corrosion even though it was 11-12 years old.

Thanks. Dave
 
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Old 12-09-16, 06:34 AM
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Just an update. We had a plumber replace water heater. Thank God I did not do it myself. He was there for 3-4 hours, as the space above it is so incredibly tight (our ac sits directly above it). There is probably 8" of space to work in. He hard piped everything too.

Any tricks on anode rod replacement without having to remove the entire water heater? Even an articulated/flexible rod would not fit. The rod that is in place is not in the front, as the water heater had to be turned 45 degrees for the T&P valve piping. So a breaker bar would come in contact with the CPVC supply piping.

When we are not at the condo (1-2 months at a time), we turn off water supply and relieve hot and cold water pressure by temporarily opening faucets. We also turn off the electricity to the water heater. Will this prolong its life? I have to admit that the old one had very little corrosion even though it was 11-12 years old.

Thanks. Dave
 
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Old 12-09-16, 06:40 AM
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Turning the heater off will slow corrosion a bit, as the temp will be lower. Just letting it sit as opposed to using the water actually helps because once the dissolved oxygen in the water is depleted corrosion will slow until more oxygen arrives in fresh water.

8" would be tight for replacement of the anode even for a segmented rod. But you may be able to angle the segments enough. I thought someone used to make chain anodes that actually resembled chain links, but a quick search didn't find a source.
 
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Old 12-09-16, 06:52 AM
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Thanks, Paul. With our current setup, when should I consider checking/replacing rod? I know Rheem makes one that has 11" segments, but I think even that would be very difficult to place, as there are pipes on either side too. Also, how flexible is the old rod? I know that if there is very little magnesium left, it is very bendable to remove. How about if there is at least 50% left? Is it relative easy to bend? Thanks again for everyone's advice.
 
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Old 12-09-16, 07:44 AM
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I highly recommend just changing the supply pipes to a stainless flex hose or a bendable copper line. They both have unique attachments similar to a garden hose - allowing any homeowner to remove the heater and change the anode rod. If you don't solder, you'll have to have a plumber do it.
 
 

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