Time for a non-metallic tank?

The Tank Time for a non-metallic tank?

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    First off: Let me extend a warm thank you to Randy and Larry for creating the Water Heater Rescue page! Water heaters are quite simple and yet I knew nothing about them until reading your articles. That antique Ruud is cool!

    My old water heater is out of the garage as of yesterday. I’m afraid I have been a typical home owner: never serviced it, ignored it when the hot water would only last for 10 minutes, and didn’t really give it a good look until there was no hot water at all. Luckifully the builder installed it correctly and none of the leaking water flooded my garage!

    Now I have a choice between a cheap standard model or the new Marathon plastic tank heater. I love the idea of a plastic well-insulated tank, but it has been flagged with complaints against its electronics on Google. Many of these failures are reported to be out of the box and persistent. They also report getting the run around, even for DOA parts. On the other hand, water heaters are looking awefully similar these days. I suspect that they’re all sourced from the same suppliers and as noted on this page, many are manufactured at the same plant anyway.

    So I’m asking for help: Should I spend $800 for the Marathon 50 gallon, buy a used-one-year-old Bradford White at $300 from someone who is remodeling to a tankless system, or go with a new 6 year warranty unit (GE, Whirlpool, Kenmore) for around $500? I would, of course, apply the tips on this page to any standard water heater I might buy.

    If the Marathon was built with electronics from Japan, US, or Germany I would not hestitate, but unfortunately like everything else these days – I would have to draw from the Chinese lottery for quality parts. You know, where 1 out of every 10,000 is a winner))

    The choice might also be easier if I could buy the Marathon and swap out its crappy thermostats and heater elements with high quality parts, but I don’t know if this is possible. I would also have to wonder if it’s worth $800 if I have to replace components right out of the box. The price could go beyond my comfort zone. Ultimately I want reliability. I want a unit that will last for 20 or 30 years and I’m willing to perform some maintenance to get that.

    OK, now this is getting long, but one more item to consider is whether or not a plastic tank will burst before leaking? At 300 psi, the burst pressure is very low compared to just about any other type of tank, but still if this could burst 10 or 20 years down the road and spray hot water all over the place – it’s worth considering. Relief valve maintenance and life would be of great concern.

    Thanks for the help,


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