Time for new water heater (non-automotive)?

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6,614
Location
southeast US
This is about home natgas water heater. It's about 14-15 years old. Water started leaking through the overpressure valve. I put a bucket under it and it's about half of gallon per week. Time for a new heater? Thanks!
 
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778
Location
Southeast Michigan
I was about to suggest that if the valve is serviceable, to save your money. Then I remembered that the bottom of my water heater tank corroded through just last year. Yeah... if it's that old, I'd say to replace it.
 

friendly_jacek

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6,614
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southeast US
Originally Posted By: leeharvey418
Yeah... if it's that old, I'd say to replace it.
OK, I was afraid of that. I don't know what the life expectancy is on those things. My water heater is in garage, so leaking is not as catastrophic as when they are installed in attics. My friend had one failing in attic and raining water on his bedroom. Fortunately he was not at home. I'll ask him how old was his.
 
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778
Location
Southeast Michigan
I don't remember exactly how old mine was, but I know that the last owners of the house installed it, which would have made it less than 15 years old. I recall reading at the time that it had pretty much met its life expectancy.
 
Originally Posted By: friendly_jacek
This is about home natgas water heater. It's about 14-15 years old. Water started leaking through the overpressure valve. I put a bucket under it and it's about half of gallon per week. Time for a new heater? Thanks!
Is it a good quality heater? Have you changed the anode(s) in the past? Have you flushed the sediment out of the tank regularly? If YES to above, replace the valve.
 

friendly_jacek

Thread starter
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6,614
Location
southeast US
Originally Posted By: Papa Bear
Is it a good quality heater? Have you changed the anode(s) in the past? Have you flushed the sediment out of the tank regularly? If YES to above, replace the valve.
Not sure the quality, probably average (will look it up). No to the anode. Yes to the sediment. Actually I was impressed how there was never any sediment. Out tap water here is very low minerals. I could not see a difference vs distilled water using my digital ohmmeter. I also keep the temp setting fairly low, so that could help with longevity. What I have been not doing was the occasional testing/unseating of the overpressure valve. I just looked up the life expectancy and came up with this:
Quote:
According to NAIB 1997 and Freddie Mac 2002, they state average life span for an electric water heater is 10-15 years, and a gas one 15-18 years.
 
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258
Location
Western NY
Don't discount the possibility that the valve is actually functioning as intended and relieving excess pressure. If that's the case, you should be looking for a root cause of the over pressure. I'd start by just replacing it, sine it's cheap, and see what happens. If it still leaks, Terry Love's plumbing forum is a great resource for tracking down the reason and figuring out what's next.
 
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8,016
Location
MI
You might try to open and close the valve several times (the lever) to possibly clear debris off the seat and allow it to close tight. Be prepared for worse leakage! And as above, do preventive maintenance and keep an eye on it due to its age.
 
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1,327
Location
Washington for now
most water heaters i have help replace seem to start leaking at the bottom due to rusting out. if the leak is at the pressure relief valve, i would replace it and see what happens.
 
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1,227
Location
Columbus Nebraska
I would say as others have, to replace the valve. My natural gas water heater is in my kinda damp basement, and it was in the house when we bought it 18 years ago, and it was far from new then, so I am thinking it is at least 25+ years old, and still works just fine. Of course the older they are, probably the better they are, like most things. Not as efficient, but last longer.
 
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2,919
Location
Southeast
I'd change it. My water heater started acting funny and two weeks later the whole bottom blew out of the thing. Spent $1000 with the clean up company on top of a new water heater. Don't nurse it along, change it. You got your money's worth already.
 
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6,170
Location
North Coast
Originally Posted By: friendly_jacek
This is about home natgas water heater. It's about 14-15 years old. Water started leaking through the overpressure valve. I put a bucket under it and it's about half of gallon per week. Time for a new heater? Thanks!
New valve time. Plus do a tank partial drain every 6 months and work the valve at the same time. Easy. For an older tank like yours replace the valve. while the tank is empty hook up a garden hose to the drain valve and put it in the nearest drain or even outside. Leave the heater off and turn the cold water on. Go hose down your driveway or water your shrubs with the garden hose flowing through your hot water tank. You will get 90% of any sediment out. Then just run the drain valve every 6 months in a bucket to remove any stray buildup.
 
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2,360
Location
Virginia
Change the overpressure valve. Easy job, just wrap the threads of the new one in Teflon tape. Change the anode rod too, And put the tank in a tray/pan while your at it... I changed my overpressure valve, was still running ten years later when I sold the house...
 
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825
Location
Twin Cities MN USA
My gas water heater is at least 22 years old(as long as I have lived in this house). Both pressure relief valve and drain valve have been replaced- heater is still good. It only gets softened water, so no buildups to worry about.
 
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438
Location
USA - Southern California
Water heaters have sacrificial anodes (magnesium, usually) that need to be replaced roughly every 4 years or the steel starts rusting. No one ever does, though, and most plumbers don't even know about this (it's not worth paying a plumber to do this, actually... mine has a $150 minimum service call...). Most people get 6-10 years on a water heater, but it depends on use and the water. A water softener should lower the life of the water heater because softened water is more conductive, which accelerates the corrosion. 15 years w/o anode replacement... I'd replace the entire thing.
 
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