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Hot Water Heater - Repair, replace, Wait?


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I have an 11 year old 5W with an original Suburban 10 gal water heater - SW10DE. I had been noticing the water pump cycling occassionally with the water off. Not really a problem, but indicating some slow leak in the system. Looked around and no obvious leaks except the pressure relief valve on the HWH showed corrosion below the valve, so thought I would replace it. Bought a replacement valve, and also thought I would check the anode rode. Nuwa replaced the anode rod last year when we bought the unit. As I looked over pulling the anode, it would require buying a large socket to remove it (tight space), or removing the entire pilot and burner tube assembly to access it. Then I noticed the amount of corrosion surrounding the anode rod fitting and everything else. And I have paused this job to consider....

 

The heater is working fine for now. I would think at 11 years, it probably doesn't have long to last. I'm inclined to wait for it to fail, and then replace the whole unit. I hesitate to pull the anode rod, just due to nuisance value, buying the socket, and whether that will be the final straw for the corroded heater.

 

Thoughts? Costs of replacement, anyone?

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Just uploaded photos to photobucket at this link

http://s288.photobucket.com/user/chasjeanw/library/?view=recent&page=1

 

First is of the front of the heater with cover, pressure valve and vent ducting removed

Second is of the 1 year old anode plug and corroded surrounding fitting

Third is of the old and new pressure relief valve - new one doesn't have a long internal part - haven't replaced yet as I may return it

 

Hope this photobucket thing works, let me know.

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Do you by chance have an ice maker in your fridge? We also noticed the water pump occasionally cycling on and finally figured out it was the ice maker refilling the tray. Just looking at your pictures I'm not convinced the water heater is the source of your pressure loss. Have you actually seen water leaking from the anode plug? If not the leak could be other things like the commode, shower head, any faucet just as likely. All things considered I wouldn't do any repair or replace until I had proven the source of the pressure leak. If you do replace the anode be sure you wrap some teflon plumber's tape on the threads, I don't see any in the picture. It might solve the leak problem, Best Wishes, Jay

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While things do look pretty corroded in those pictures, I'm not sure that I wouldn't wait to replace it. The anode in a Suburban water heater should be replaced or at least checked every year if not more. It is also a good thing to flush out the tank at that time, using one of the flush wands that are readily available to remove any calcium deposits that do build up on the inside of a water heater. It is not possible to predict how long the tank will last before failure but 11 years is getting up there but I have seen them last 15 or so. If the entire 11 years has been in full-time use, then it is much more likely to be near failure than if it was mostly part-time use.

 

One thing that is of concern to me is the relief valve that you replaced. If you will notice, the original valve has a part that is not on the new one and that part is there to cause it to open under extreme temperatures as well as when pressures get too high. There is a disc on the top of both valves so I suggest that you check the data on both and make sure that they are the exact same type of valve. As far as I know, all proper relief valves for RV water heaters use that rod that extends down into the tank for temperature sensing, but it is possible that there is one such as yours.

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I hesitate to pull the anode rod, just due to nuisance value, buying the socket, and whether that will be the final straw for the corroded heater.

 

Thoughts? Costs of replacement, anyone?

The socket for the anode rod can be found at almost any hardware store and is usually quite inexpensive as they are made from heavy stamped sheet metal. As stated the anode rod should be checked annually and the tank flushed at the same time.

 

Rich

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When I'm faced with a similar dilemma, fix now or fix later, I tend to fix them now when I'm at home with all my tools and can price shop and buy the new unit from home, NOT on the road no tellin where at the mercy of dealers.

 

Pay me now or pay me later

 

John T

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The socket for the anode rod can be found at almost any hardware store and is usually quite inexpensive as they are made from heavy stamped sheet metal.

While that is true, I do not use one of those and suggest you spend a little bit more and get a socket of tool quality and if need be a breaker bar or ratchet to turn it with. It looks like yours will take some serious force to remove and those cheap ones sometimes stretch and slip and when that happens they damage the plug and make the problems worse. I would also apply some penetrating lubricant to the threads before attempting removal.

 

When I'm faced with a similar dilemma, fix now or fix later, I tend to fix them now when I'm at home with all my tools and can price shop and buy the new unit from home, NOT on the road no tellin where at the mercy of dealers.

I would probably lean in that direction as well.

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I have a three-year old suburban water heater and it shows the same amount of corrosion around the head of the anode rod as your pictures. For some reason that areas seems to rust quickly. I've replaced the anode rod annually and there is a lot of steel in that fitting, so I wouldn't worry about the surface corrosion.

 

I bought a "real" (not stamped metal) 1 1/16" socket off of Amazon for around $7 that works great. I figured that if I was going to replace the rod once a year I might as well get a good quality socket.

 

I have seen significant consumption of the anode rod each time I've replaced it, so I wouldn't wait to get it out and at least look at it. It also gives you an opportunity to flush out the water heater while you are at it. If everything is working right now, I'd try to keep it that way!!

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When hunting for a one off socket like you need, I would suggest looking around at a few pawnshops in your area. There will usually be one or two that will have buckets of quality,American made sockets that will be cheap because they are not part of a set ($1 to $2 each). You can often find breaker bars, ratchets and extensions at the same source made by good, solid companies like SK, Blackhawk (original ones made in the USA) and others. There will a premium for Craftsman if they have any but don't expect to find Snapon, Matco or Mac tools in the buckets.... Those have been picked over by pro mechanics to use.

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