Replace 20-year-old WH?

The Tank Replace 20-year-old WH?

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    Hi there! Great site, I’ve learned an awful lot already. Thanks!

    My question is regarding the original electric water heater in my 1994 manufactured home. I have done some maintenance lately and found out as much as I could about its condition, and am now ready to either replace it or do more maintenance. Any advice on which is better?

    Like said, it’s about 21 years old. I have serious doubts about whether it has ever been maintained before I got the house. There is so much sludge-y buildup in the bottom that the bottom element is completely covered. I got some out with a shop vac but it was coming slowly. Thanks to this site and some of your links, I have an action plan for getting more sludge out, should it be adviseable.

    The T&P valve was misbehaving, but I replaced it and all seems good now.

    The thing still works fine! A decent bit of noise when the bottom element is on, but oh well.

    The anode was pretty well down to just a wire with a little bit of lumpy something along it. That doesn’t give me any warm fuzzies. (Thinner but lumpier than this … maybe halfway between the bottom two on this)

    There was a bit of corrosion on the copper hot water outlet pipe. I replaced it and the cold water inlet (with stainless steel flex hoses…was that a good choice?). Do I remember reading somewhere that the copper pipe generally corrodes before the tank lining? If so, that would make me feel a little better because the corrosion wasn’t bad. (Much less bad than this)

    So do I:
    –Replace the whole thing with a new one (and upgrade the new one’s elements and anodes)
    –Just replace the rest of the replaceable parts and keep it around
    –Something else??

    I guess my real question is, what’s the risk of keeping it around? If nothing worse than a slow leak is a likely failure mode, I can live with that and a moisture alarm. If, however, there’s much chance of catastrophic failure with flooding (or more entertainingly for YouTube but not for me, explosion)…well, I’ll put the couple hundred into a new one.

    In case it should matter:
    Rheem 40-gallon
    Dual element, one at a time / 4500W @ 240V
    Cold water pipe actually enters at the bottom – no dip tube

    Thanks much!

    Randy Schuyler

    First off, since you replaced the T&P valve, you don’t need to worry about it blowing up. Next, if you want to try keeping it, then get SKU8 or SKU10 (depending on how much clearance you have) from my product page, install it and wait a year. If the heater survives the year, you’re OK. Then it’s a question of how often you have to change the anode or if a powered one might not be better. I’ve seen heaters that had bare-wire anodes like yours subsequently consume one full anode per year.

    Randy Schuyler


    Hey, thanks for the reply!
    So if I’ve understood you correctly, you’re saying that faster-than-normal anode consumption would indicate some tank damage? But that it’s probably harmless as long as I keep a good anode in there…?
    Sounds fair enough. The only thing that makes me think twice is the new efficiency standards coming since (by reports I’ve read) they’re not making things any easier or cheaper…I’ll have to think about that.
    Thanks again for the advice!

    Randy Schuyler

    That’s pretty much it. If it can get through a year on one anode, but consumes it, then a powered one might be a better possibility, but you could easily get several years from one anode.

    Randy Schuyler

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