To go w/New or Not?

The Tank To go w/New or Not?

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  • #5732

    I recently purchased a two-flat where one of the units’ 30 gallon gas water heater is heavily corroded on the top of the heater. There are some rust marks on the exterior, but it is also a relatively new tank (2002 or so, haven’t checked the serial number however). The top of the heater is covered completely with at least an 1/8 to 1/4 inch of calcium. I live in the far western suburbs of Chicago where we typically have a lot of iron and calcium in our water, to my knowledge (most homeowners have softeners, this property does not).

    Would you replace the tank, or let it continue to rot until it goes? I don’t believe the last owner was big on maintenance, and I’m a half hour drive away from the place, so I’d rather not risk a big leak. However, it certainly affects my cashflow for the year, so I would of course love to hear that this kind of corrosion is normal and to leave it for another few years.

    Thanks for any advice you may have to offer!

    –Alex Goldie

    Baird & Warner Residential Real Estate, Inc.

    St. Charles, IL

    Randy Schuyler

    I’m presuming you’ve fixed the external leak that caused the big mess. If not, do that at once.

    And sorry, that kind of corrosion is NOT normal. It’s usually caused by piping above leaking down and it can wreck water heaters because the only rust protection they have is the painted sheetmetal outer shell.

    Beyond that, although you might curse me if the tank breaks suddenly, I’d be inclined to leave it. If it’s not already leaking, it might not for years to come. And a 30-gallon will generally last a much longer time than a 40-gallon because the anode inside protects a smaller interior surface area. This is off the top of my head, but I believe a new 30-gallon would cost more than a new 40.

    Oh, and by the way, don’t be too fond of softeners. They can wear out heaters mighty fast because they potentially increase the conductivity of the water and speed the consumption of the anode. A leak is to blame here, not the hardness of the water. The calcium gunk is just a side effect.

    Randy Schuyler

    Larry Weingarten

    Hello: One more thought, question. Is the heater on a drain pan? If it leaks, what damage could it do?

    Yours, Larry

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