Hot water heater problems - fix or buy new?

jlj48March 18, 2011

I hope that someone can help. When we purchased this 10 year old home 5 years ago, it came with an A.O. SMITH natural gas power vent hot water heater with a 6 year warranty. It began having problems a few months ago in that after two showers, you had no more hot water unless you flipped the blower switch off and on. We had the dip tube replaced and the sensor cleaned and that bought us a few more months. Now it's up to the same old tricks so we need to either fix it or replace it. After doing some research, the part "likely" needed is a new flame sense rod and that part is $100.00. The parts guy said that hot water heaters generally last about 10 years then need replaced. My question: Should we take our chances and have this part replaced or purchase a new heater, and if so, which one do you recommend? Of course we want the best price we can get and a decent water heater. But this isn't our forever house, we look to be here 5 - 10 more years before moving. Any advice? Thank You!

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A 15 year old tank heater should definately be replaced. What you choose to replace it with will depend on if you choose to keep it power vented and what size you may need. I personally wouldn't keep it power vented unless there was no other way to vent, simply because of the noise it generates as well as the expense compared to a conventionally vented water heater. If you have issues with venting locations, then I might consider replacing it with a tankless power vented model. At least then, the vent wouldn't fire up except when you were actually using hot water. The cost differential between a power vented conventional heater and a tankless would be virtually non existant, but the install price of the tankless would be quite a bit higher. With the efficiency differences, you might be able to recoup the additional install costs in the 10 years you plan to stay in the home.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 5:11PM
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Thanks live wire. The water heater is actually 10 years old, I probably wasn't clear. Do you still feel the same?
Also, it's in the basement storage room with sump pump and furnace, so I believe it is the only way to vent it.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 10:41PM
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