Thread Number: 73474  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
hot water tank
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Post# 970239   11/27/2017 at 10:39 (358 days old) by washerboy (Little Rock Arkansas)        

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Over the holiday weekend I was in shower, glanced down and the water was a brownish color. First thought "what have I been doing to get this dirt". Then thought the fire department had flushed the lines and that often times causes me to have brownish water. Well...come to find out it's coming from the hot water tank, the cold tap runs clear. Anyone ever experience this? Any advice? my tank (natural gas) is about 19 years old but only been in service for about 16. Is this a sign that it's going out and I should go ahead and bite the bullet and have a new one installed?/tks!!!

Post# 970242 , Reply# 1   11/27/2017 at 11:02 (358 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        

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Yes your tank is starting to fail

Post# 970244 , Reply# 2   11/27/2017 at 11:20 (358 days old) by GusHerb (Chicago/NWI)        

It could be that sediment got in the tank and got stirred up and is coming out now. Only time I've ever seen brown water though is when I've had the main shut off working on something and turn it back on, jarring loose any sediment in the pipes. It's usually very brief.

I just replaced our water heater last week. The old one was 27 years old and the dip tube had broken off. Went from a 50 to a 75 gallon.

Post# 970396 , Reply# 3   11/28/2017 at 13:56 (357 days old) by washerboy (Little Rock Arkansas)        

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I was hopping all I needed to do was flush it out...guess I'll wish myself a Merry Christmas and buy something personal for myself...a new hot water tank. I'm not looking forward to the expense. From what I've been told I have to bring it up to code and looking at spending at least 1500.00...uggg!!!...thanks for the comments!!!

Post# 970419 , Reply# 4   11/28/2017 at 16:50 (357 days old) by MattL (Flushing, MI)        

Hmm, what exactly needs to be done to "bring it up to code"?  Seems kind of pricey.  Around here if you or your handyman does the install you do not need a permit.  I can't think of anyone I know that pulled a permit when swapping out the tank.  Technically you might but most just go to the store and buy the tank, 40 gallon gas $450ish, electric $290ish

Post# 970440 , Reply# 5   11/28/2017 at 18:32 (357 days old) by brisnat81 (Brisbane Australia)        

Over here we had to make a decision when we replaced Michael's mums tank recently. The original Install was 40 years old, the current tank was 19 years old.

The tank was installed in a cupboard in the Laundry on the ground floor and because the laundry is not lower than the rest of the ground floor (At least 2 inches) it needed to be upgraded to include a drain pan.

On top of that the old TPR drain drains into the Laundry tub, again this is no longer code and it would've had to have been extended to run out through the wall to a drain.

In the end we replaced the old split system solar with a roof mounted unit and replumbed the drains etc to modern code.

We got there in the end, but there was a lot of work to get there.

Post# 970473 , Reply# 6   11/28/2017 at 21:32 (357 days old) by whirlykenmore78 (Prior Lake MN (GMT-0700 CDT.))        
Put a fork in it:

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When they start coughing up rust that's it. I'm surprised it isn't leaking. Replace it before you have a flood and end up with an insurance claim. I'm just waiting for a wet floor in my utility room as mine is 13 YO.

Post# 970514 , Reply# 7   11/29/2017 at 01:58 (357 days old) by GusHerb (Chicago/NWI)        

I did not pull a permit, last I checked we do not need to pull a permit here as a DIY'er. I did not care to pull a permit nor did I care to bring it up to "code" which would involve installing a double check valve and expansion tank. I've heard those check valves sacrifice some volume, so I have no interest in using one unless I'm forced to. Our water pressure is already annoyingly low for my liking. Also just two more parts to go bad.

Post# 970536 , Reply# 8   11/29/2017 at 06:04 (357 days old) by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

In our county, if a water heater vents through the original brick and mortar chimney, they make you put a stainless steel flue the length of the chimney when you install a new WH, which ads at least $1500.00 to the job.

Post# 970589 , Reply# 9   11/29/2017 at 10:39 (356 days old) by GusHerb (Chicago/NWI)        

Does that include if it already has a clay liner? That's not a bad idea if it's an orphaned water heater or if the chimney is unlined.

Post# 970640 , Reply# 10   11/29/2017 at 15:16 (356 days old) by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
Code is a 6 inch chimney liner

here also. Even if you already have a 4 inch, which was code when condensing furnaces were installed which do not exhaust up the chimney.
Costs more than a new water heater, but not all plumbers or hvac contractors will charge the $600 to install one. Shop around. My sister got it done for $450.
Why were 3 or 4 inch water heater flues fine for 80 years? Either way you still need a hood up on the chimney so birds don't nest.

Post# 970722 , Reply# 11   11/30/2017 at 00:57 (356 days old) by neptunebob (Pittsburgh, PA)        
Sound like your water heater is shot....

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But the next water heater, you can make it last longer if maybe once a month, you empty a bucket of water from the valve on the bottom of the tank, it may run clear but doing so will remove whatever has accumulated, keeping the heater more efficient.

Yes, a WH can cost $1500. My sister's house has a "power vent" gas water heater that she just had to have replace. They have been through 4 of them in 15 years. This kind of WH is complex and tends to be unreliable and this past week she had no hot water and in a hurry, the plumber replaced it with another power vent, as it vents directly out the wall, close to the ground outside.

My question to the plumber was, would it be possible to install a metal chimney on the outside of the house, I believe it would be Type B, and then have a regular gas water heater? He misunderstood, something about "the walls are all plastered" and was also against replacing with electric (with that loud "Oooooouh" tradesmen use, too expensive a bill, he said). But would the chimney have been possible?

I just noticed, this post is an even 1500 for me!

Post# 970747 , Reply# 12   11/30/2017 at 08:19 (356 days old) by dermacie (my forever home (Glenshaw, PA))        

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I recently had mine replaced last November and it was over $1000. They claimed that the expansion tank was bad which was only two years old and pressure regulator on the water meter.

I had the work done by Mr Waterheater (not sure if they are a national company). The new tanks are shorter and fatter than the previous ones.

Post# 970892 , Reply# 13   12/1/2017 at 06:16 (355 days old) by polkanut (Wausau, WI )        

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Just a suggestion here.  We have a natural gas Ruud water heater w/ power vent that has given us great service since it was installed in July, 1998.  The only time we've run out of hot water was due to my fault.  I decided to wash a load of laundry, run the dishwasher, and take a shower, all at the same time (stupid).  There's no way a 40 gallon heater can keep up with all of that, DUH!



This post was last edited 12/01/2017 at 15:24
Post# 970919 , Reply# 14   12/1/2017 at 09:39 (354 days old) by washerboy (Little Rock Arkansas)        

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info. I talked to our maintenance guy at the office and he said he would come by next week and change out my tank. He said he would bring it up to code but I plan on living my last days in the house so I don't plan on selling anytime in the next 20 years. I'm seeing this electronic ignition..I've read where that has to be connected to a power supply and then I've read other stories about using batteries. But then when I'm looking at tanks on the internet I'm getting impression that batteries and electricity is not that true?. Currently my tank has a pilot light...I think it's going out once in 17 years...I had left the back door open on a warm winter day to air out the house and a wind gust came through and blew the flame out.

Post# 970922 , Reply# 15   12/1/2017 at 09:52 (354 days old) by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        

they are self re igniting, and not sure, but may have a d.c. power supply via a transformer, but not a/c directly.
I seem to recall my sisters plumber telling me it generated the current on it's own via thermo couple.

Post# 970927 , Reply# 16   12/1/2017 at 10:07 (354 days old) by PassatDoc (Orange County, California)        

I have a 15 year old 40 gallon gas heater, Bradford-White brand. Still works well, but to have my ducks in a row, I check out current models online, in case I need to make a quick decision. This is the third WH in 30 years and has lasted longer than the first two combined. I'm thinking it may be more cost effective to replace early than to wait for a flood.

My WH has a pilot light, which I understand is no longer allowed. I checked out Ruud 40 gallon gas units at and they all appear to have electronic ignition AND require a 110V power source. Not an issue for me, as there are plenty of outlets nearby, but could be problematic for an old gas install not near an AC source.

Some of the higher end machines are billed as "low NOX" which I presume mean low emissions. Any downside to these machines? Also some are 37-38 gallons instead of 40 gallons---is this the result of a rapid recovery heating feature (so that the capacity can drop 10%?)??

Post# 970936 , Reply# 17   12/1/2017 at 11:36 (354 days old) by Yogitunes (New Jersey)        

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depends on where you go, and who installs it....on whether you need a permit or not....

Lowes or HomeDepot installer needed a permit if I wanted them to do it......

called the guy who originally put in the first one, no permit needed....

this new one has a pilot, but also has a push button igniter for the pilot....

I installed a powervent at the new house.....piece of cake, used shark bite connectors.....less than an hour, had hot water again....

Post# 970941 , Reply# 18   12/1/2017 at 12:01 (354 days old) by Iheartmaytag (Wichita, Kansas)        
Pulling permit also depends on your location

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Where I live, If you are within the city limits, you are supposed to pull a permit. (because the city wants the permit fees). Rarely, but sometimes a building inspector will follow up.

If you are in the un-incorporated areas of the county, you don't need a permit.

I had a licensed plumber install my last hot water tank, he did it as a side job and did not pull a permit. The tricky part is if there is ever a casualty your insurance could deny a claim, or there could be some added liability if occupants are injured. Landlords DIY on rental houses have to be very careful. They can DIY but should pull a permit and have inspections, due to the liability of a tenant being injured or killed from CO, explosion, scald etc.

Post# 970994 , Reply# 19   12/1/2017 at 16:42 (354 days old) by GusHerb (Chicago/NWI)        

Standing pilot water heaters are still allowed. I just installed one the other week, 75 gallon atmospheric vent Bradford White with a 76,000 BTU burner. It takes ALOT to run it out and it heats from lukewarm (run out) to 130 in 30 minutes.
The new tank has the ICON control made by Honeywell. They had issues with them early on but haven't heard any complaints in the last few years. I like how quickly it turns the burner on, within a few minutes of turning on the hot water. They're powered by a thermopile in place of a thermocouple which generates millivolt power for the ICON control.

In California they require them to be low nox or ultra low nox emissions. The smaller tank sizes are more likely due to them trying to meet energy usage regulations by adding more insulation but not wanting to increase exterior dimensions too much.

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This post was last edited 12/02/2017 at 00:51

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