Monday, December 4, 2023

Replace Hallway Hot Water Heater

The water heater in the utility closet off the hallway started leaking on Friday.  We were sitting at breakfast and Linda complained of a high pitch noise.  She tracked it down to the hallway, and looking inside the utility closet found the "Watchdog Water Alarm, Model BWD-HWA" making noise.  It sits in the drip pan under the water heater, and the drip pan had water in it. 

Examining the label on the water heater, it was from 7/2004.  So 19 years old.  Probably time to get a new one.

But it's Friday.  I don't have a plumber on call, so I have to search around.  Google suggested Home Depot, which I figured had the water heaters, so I called them.  They use ARS/Rescue Rooter.  When I called them, they had to come out to see what the problem was.  So by mid-afternoon, he had come, and gave me an estimate of around $4000.  I thought that too high, so back to the Internet.

Several other plumbing companies also wanted to come out and look before providing even a rough ballpark for the cost, but finally I found Blue Ribbon Cooling, Heating, Plumbing and Electrical who asked that I text them a couple of photos of the heater, the vents, and the label on the heater.  Then they quoted me from $2950 to $3250, depending.  That sounded better so I took it.  They could be out on Monday to do the remove and install.

Over the weekend, I heard that Wilson Plumbing did this for my ex-wife for a much lower price.  And on NextDoor people were suggesting "Cold is On The Right".   Rapid Plumbing was quoted as charging $2150.  So we were paying more than necessary.

The plumbers showed up Monday morning, around 9:30; they were gone by 12:30.

They removed the old tank

And installed a new one.

The new tank is, like the old one, a 40 gallon, natural gas unit.  Manufactured by A. O. Smith.  Model GCR-40 250, Serial 2343136304504, manufactured 10/25/2023.

In addition to the basics, they added a short extension to the gas pipe, so that any condensation or debris in the gas will drop into the extension and not interfere with the pilot light.  Sort of an appendix for the gas line.

And they added an expansion tank above the tank, to allow space for the water to expand in the hot water line.

The main problem for a hot water heater, of course, is a leak.  There is a pan under the tank to catch a leak from the water heater.  But our previous pan was sealed off. They put in a new pan, and tied it into the drain for the Air Conditioning condensation.


This involved first drilling a hole in the platform under the utility closet and into the return air plenum.  Then the PVC pipe was routed over and into the drain line that drains off any A/C condensation.

A red-handled ball valve was installed to allow this line to be shut off -- the fear is that if the drain line becomes stopped up, then the A/C condensation could flow up and into the water heater pan.  That would, of course, set off the  Water Alarm and (hopefully) alert us that something needs to be done.

 Total cost was  $3,254.06.

And of course, we replaced the 9-volt battery in the Water Alarm, and put it back in place, in the new water heater tank pan (on the right of the gas heater apparatus in the picture below.