Old gas heater, never maintained

The Tank Old gas heater, never maintained

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  • #21346
    leec
    Participant

    I’ve lived in my house for 16 years. It was only recently that I heard of about flushing water heaters yearly or replacing anodes, so absolutely no maintenance has ever been done in the time I’ve owned the house. A local plumber told me to just start flushing it, replace the anode, and don’t worry about it for the moment. A web article I read said don’t flush it because then it could start leaking. Not sure what to do.

    The heater makes some big thumping sounds when on, which I assume is water boiling out from accumulated sediment. I’ve inspected the bottom of the tank as well as I can. It has a few relatively minor rust patches and a ring of rusty filaments growing from the center flue at the bottom above the burner, but no obvious signs of wetness or water.

    I plan on upgrading my furnace later this year and the heater has to come out in order to replace the furnace. Wondering if you have any advice between the two choices of flushing/anode replacement and keeping the current heater, or just spending the money and putting a new one in when the furnace replacement happens.

    Many thanks!

    #21347
    Randy Schuyler
    Keymaster

    Gas or electric?

    Randy Schuyler

    #21348
    leec
    Participant

    Natural gas

    #21349
    Randy Schuyler
    Keymaster

    I was hoping you’d say that. Sixteen years is pre-FVIR, so you should have no trouble examining the combustion chamber. If you like, you can photograph it and send it to me at mail@waterheaterrescue.com. Be sure and say it’s from leec in the subject line. I’ll tell you what I think of the condition of the heater, and from that, you can decide whether to try to extend its life or replace it.

    What is he talking about? you might ask. On the left side of the Tank topics index, there are some links. Click on Water Heater Basics, and when you get to that page, click on Know-How. That will tell you how to inspect the combustion chamber.

    Randy Schuyler

    Randy Schuyler

    #21350
    leec
    Participant

    I’ll do my contortionist thing and get some pictures for you later this morning. I did go through the information on the site before asking here. Mine doesn’t look as good as the “good” example photo, but with no water effects evident I’m not sure how to interpret what I see.

    Many thanks for the resources on this site, and I’ll get those photos for you as soon as I can.

    Lee

    #21353
    Randy Schuyler
    Keymaster

    I’m answering here to sort of round out this string. The bottom looked good except for the flue, which looked very bad. I’ve never seen so much rust caked around the opening. I’d vote for a new heater.

    Randy Schuyler

    #21355
    leec
    Participant

    Thanks very much for your input Randy. I wasn’t sure what to make of the rust flakes since they seem to have grown there rather than being metal that rusted in place. Had to have come from somewhere though and I’m assuming it was condensation that ran down the flue pipe. I’d always rather not spend money, but the heater has to come out for the furnace replacement anyway, so it’s as good a time as any to do it.

    Thanks again.

    Lee

    #21356
    Randy Schuyler
    Keymaster

    You could be right, but on a heater that old, it could also be water from some failing weld running out. I’ve rarely seen so much rust in that spot.

    Randy Schuyler

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