dslreports logo
site
 
    All Forums Hot Topics Gallery
spc

spacer




how-to block ads


Search Topic:
uniqs
1937
share rss forum feed

tcope
Premium
join:2003-05-07
Sandy, UT
kudos:2

Water Heater Replacement

I know there is a prior water heater thread from a few days ago and I have read it. I woke up today and guess what... yup, no hot water. Talk about one thing in the house that you _cannot_ do without.

I've lived in the home for about 7 years. I should have taken pictures this morning (and will probably go home for lunch and take some). It's a Kenmore 40 gallon natural gas heater. It's got that swirl thing in (thought I suspect this does very little). It looks brand new... no signs of any wear. It's just me in the house. Twice a year I might have two other people in for a week.

Last year the pilot light would not stay lit. I finally took off the plastic screen at the bottom and it was fine after that. About a month ago I noticed when the gas heater turned on that it let off a crackle sound. I used the drain line and filled up a 1 gallon buck about 7 or 8 times. Each time about 1/4 cup of debris came out. It still makes the sound.

I tried to start the pilot this morning but it did nothing. I know nothing about repair possibilities but I'm kind of thinking it might be as simple as a thermocouple. But what is a service call going to run me? I'm guessing $50 for the part and $200 for the service? If the unit needs to be replaced I'm hoping that they would just charge me to install a new one and not for the service inspection? I'm the type of person that would _much_ rather do repairs myself. The issue is that the copper lines are soldered. I don't have a torch and no experience but I suspect this would not cost much. Other than that it's just a matter of screwing on to the vent and the gas line. It just kills me that I'd need to pay someone $250 for 30 minutes of work that I could probably do but if it can be repaired I'd rather pay $250 rather then $800-$900. Of course I also need to consider that the current heater has a 6 year warranty and is at least 7 years old (probably 8 years old).

So here is my situation... I _need_ to have a new water heater tomorrow (I'm not a polar bear). I would not be able to repair the unit myself so I'd need to call someone in. If I do that and it can't be repaired it might make financial sense to just pay them to install a new one. The other option is that I could buy a new one and try installing it myself. This is an option as I might end up replacing it in 3 years anyway.

I'll take some pictures in a few hours and post them.

Input? Recommendations? Thoughts?



dcurrey
Premium
join:2004-06-29
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·Cincinnati Bell
·ViaTalk

When I had to have my 15 month old Kenmore electric unit repaired it was like $126 for new thermostat. This included a new 1 year service contract. Think the bill would have been higher if I didn't do the contract go figure. Sears did the work. BTW

Given yours is much older that might not be an option.


garys_2k
Premium
join:2004-05-07
Farmington, MI
reply to tcope

Look on Angie's List or call some neighbors who have had plumbing work done to get a contractor. Have the contractor come in and ask for an estimate to repair (it may be a simple pilot thermocouple) and replace. Go from there.


tcope
Premium
join:2003-05-07
Sandy, UT
kudos:2

said by garys_2k:

Look on Angie's List or call some neighbors who have had plumbing work done to get a contractor. Have the contractor come in and ask for an estimate to repair (it may be a simple pilot thermocouple) and replace. Go from there.

Plumber coming out for free to tell me what needs to be done? I can't see that as a possiblity.

The situation I have is if I spend $250 (?) to have it repaired and if it can't be repaired, roll that into an $800 replacement or perhaps I just spend $600 on a new one and install it myself. I'm really starting to think I can install it myself without any issues. Only thing new to me with be soldering the solid pipes. But I really think I'd not have a problem with that.

If I call someone to look at it I'm for paying them for whatever needs to be done. I'd not mind this if it were a $250 repair but I really don't want to pay someone to install a new heater. I'm weighing this against that the heater should probably be replaced in 3 years or so anyway.


CylonRed
Premium,MVM
join:2000-07-06
Bloom County

It should not cost $250 to have someone look at it- they should be able to determine if it is fixable before they do any work.
--
Brian

"It drops into your stomach like a Abrams's tank.... driven by Rosanne Barr..." A. Bourdain


tcope
Premium
join:2003-05-07
Sandy, UT
kudos:2

said by CylonRed:

It should not cost $250 to have someone look at it- they should be able to determine if it is fixable before they do any work.

I'd think if anyone came out... I'd be billed for something regardless of what was done. I can't imagine I could have a plumber come out, tell me it needed to be replaced and me being able to send him on his way with no money in his pocket. If that is the case I'd either be on the hook for a repair bill (fine with me) or I'd be on the hook for a replacement bill (not so fine with this).


CylonRed
Premium,MVM
join:2000-07-06
Bloom County

I never said it would be free - though I would bet that if it was fixable they would not charge anything to come out a trouble shoot it.

I merely said it should not cost $250 to have someone to look at it and determine if it is fixable or not.

quote:
The situation I have is if I spend $250 (?) to have it repaired and if it can't be repaired,
From the above - it seems you are expecting a $250 charge to have someone look at it (and NOT determine if it was fixable) and then they try and fix it and it can't be.

When I had plumbers come out and look at my softener - we spent about an hour discussing the problem and I decided to replace it. I was not charged anything since I was replacing it.

The other point was that they should be able to determine if it was fixable before you commit to fixing it. If they are unsure - then you will know that ahead of time.

Generally - a fee to look at something is charged if no work is done - it is not fixed or replaced then expect a fee. The fee should be less than $100 for most places.

A friend of mine is a master plumber - he owns his own his own shop - and he does free estimates/troubleshooting all of the time.
--
Brian

"It drops into your stomach like a Abrams's tank.... driven by Rosanne Barr..." A. Bourdain

MrFixit1

join:1999-11-26
Madison, WI
reply to tcope

Just did a quick Google for water heater repairs in Sandy, UT .
Found more than a few companies advertizing free estimates .
Unless prices there are way out of whack from around here , you should be locking at around 20 to 50 max for the part , and a maximum of 1/2 hr to install .
There are other things that could cause the same problem , but if the tech has any skills at all it should not take him more than 15 to 30 min to determine the issue . Does not sound like you have one of the modern , ultra high efficiency , water heaters , so we are not looking at anything close to a complex device


tcope
Premium
join:2003-05-07
Sandy, UT
kudos:2
reply to tcope

I'm an IDIOT! A happy idiot but a BIG IDIOT!

I went home over lunch to take another look at the heater (and to get some photos). I turned the pilot light switch from off to pilot and then pressed down. No spark (yup, error). Tried a few more times and nothing. Read the directions again and something cause my eye. It stated to turn the pilot switch to pilot and then press the gas switch and watch for the spark.

Yes.... I thought depressing the pilot light switch created the spark. It's actually another button that is pressed! Pressing the pilot switch down just starts the flow of gas to the tube. I did it correctly and it started right up. I turned the gas dial up and the burner ignited! Everything is fine.

Arrggg, I'm soooo embarrassed!

I wanted to thank everyone that took their time to read my post and thank those that responded.

(I tried to upload a photo but it would not work)



Hall
Premium,MVM
join:2000-04-28
Germantown, OH
kudos:2

How did you re-light it a year ago ? You also have to determine why the pilot went out. We have a gas fireplace in the living room and if the ceiling fan is on high or it's real windy outside, someone leaving the front door open can cause it to blow out. Not sure if something like that could be the cause for your water heater.



tp0d
yabbazooie
Premium
join:2001-02-13
Carnegie, PA
kudos:5

Send some pics of yer current heater so we can see how old it is, and I can prolly tell you how to clean it so you dont have any more pilot outages.. The pilot is going out for a reason..

-j
--
if it aint broke, tweak it!!
currently on FiOS (kick aZZ!)



Hall
Premium,MVM
join:2000-04-28
Germantown, OH
kudos:2

My pilot isn't going out


tcope
Premium
join:2003-05-07
Sandy, UT
kudos:2
reply to Hall

said by Hall:

How did you re-light it a year ago ? You also have to determine why the pilot went out.

A year ago.... I lit it the correct way.

Got home today and it was out again. But I had placed the plastic screen back on. I took and left it off last time and also used a bottle brush to clean things out a little. That worked there but it appears the same issue might be starting up again.

tcope
Premium
join:2003-05-07
Sandy, UT
kudos:2
reply to tp0d

Thanks... as it appears I'm still having issues.



Hall
Premium,MVM
join:2000-04-28
Germantown, OH
kudos:2
reply to tcope

You mentioned fixing things yourself so if it's just the thermocouple that needs replaced, it's certainly a manageable job. The part is less than $10 (thermocouples are quite often universal nowadays).

It does sound like you're not getting enough air flow or fresh air since when you leave off the filter, it seems to work okay. Where is the water heater located ? It MIGHT be okay to leave that off.


tcope
Premium
join:2003-05-07
Sandy, UT
kudos:2

said by Hall:

You mentioned fixing things yourself so if it's just the thermocouple that needs replaced, it's certainly a manageable job. The part is less than $10 (thermocouples are quite often universal nowadays).

It does sound like you're not getting enough air flow or fresh air since when you leave off the filter, it seems to work okay. Where is the water heater located ? It MIGHT be okay to leave that off.

I've attempted to locate parts in the past and it was difficult. Also, I was fighting the clock this time. I could not be without hot water.

My images still don't want to upload from the computer I'm currently using to I've posted there here:

»plus.google.com/photos/100796696···82903889

If I had to guess I thing it might be one of two things. The pilot light assembly might just need to be replaced or I recall that the gas company changed it's mixture about a year ago. People were told that they should have their furnaced checked and adjusted. Perhaps this is causing me grief with the water heater pilot light.

I checked the heater when I got home and the pilot was out. I relit it. I checked it this morning and it was work. I checked it an hour later as I was leaving and it was out.

I'm no longer convinced it's an air flow issue. I had removed the plastic screen and also left the closet door open a little and it still went out.

MrFixit1

join:1999-11-26
Madison, WI

OK looks like you have a Sears 153.336401HA .
This is a link to the owners manual and parts list:
»www.managemylife.com/mmh/lis_pdf···4029.pdf

They are showing the pilot assembly as a complete assembly , and that might be best in this case .
Sears part number is 9003531
This is the same part number that is used on Reliance water heaters , and looks to be the same part .

The odds are Reliance made that water heater for Sears .



ropeguru
Premium
join:2001-01-25
Mechanicsville, VA
reply to tcope

MrFixIt posted the part number you need. I just looked it up at Sears Parts Direct and it is $62 for the entire assembly. I say just replace the whole thing and be done with it.


tcope
Premium
join:2003-05-07
Sandy, UT
kudos:2
reply to MrFixit1

Sweet! Thanks!

Since parts can be replaced, the assembly much be able to be removed. I'm going to work on that this weekend and clean it up. If that does not work, I'll order the piolot light (I only found the pilot for around $53 that applied in my case).

I feel much better now. My brother is coming in town in 3 weeks and I'd like to have the heater in good working order by then. I'll also drain some more water this weekend to make sure all of the crud is off the bottom.


tcope
Premium
join:2003-05-07
Sandy, UT
kudos:2
reply to tcope

I think I have the problem licked... at least for awhile. I checked the burner again before going to bed. Pilot was out. I tried restarting it. It would light while I was pressing the button but as soon as I let go it went out. I finally said to heck with it, disconnected it and removed the burner assembly. I figured the thermocoplar might have gone out so I looked it over. I then saw a small connection with some thin wires. One of them had become detached. So the thermocopler would not work. I soldered it back on and tried to light it again. No problems! So I'll check it in the morning but I have little doubt that this was the problem. The heat just finally melted away the soldered wires.




My terrible solder work


MrFixit1

join:1999-11-26
Madison, WI

That little device with the " thin wires " is there to prevent a fire in case the thermostat goes bad and the burner area overheats . It can also open if the burner area gets to hot from lack of airflow , or if there is some blockage leading to inadequate extraction of flue gases . As simple as the device is , it usually will not fail unless a unsafe condition exists .
Soldering it back together allows it to " work " but may have compromised it's safety purpose .
I would have to strongly recommend that you replace it as soon as possible ( it will come as part of the pilot assembly )

Also , congratulations on your start on the path to being a real DIY person As you continue you will find that it can save you a lot of money and give you a lot of personal satisfaction .


tcope
Premium
join:2003-05-07
Sandy, UT
kudos:2

Good advice. I'll order the pilot assembly and replace that.

I've done a lot of stuff in the course of owning two homes. Mainly because I just don't like paying someone else for something that I can do. However, most things I know nothing about and have to hope I did not misjudge the job. While I am not an expert in any repair field, I still think I tend to do a better job then most repair people as go the extra mile and spend the extra buck to make sure something is done well (in my case that usually means over-kill). For example, when installing a sprinkler system with 4 manifolds. I installed wire for 6. If I'm going to do the work, I might as well plan for the future.

I think my biggest project on my current house was moving a retaining wall and filling the yard in with about 60 yards of dirt. I also found out.... I suck at driving a Bob Cat.






tp0d
yabbazooie
Premium
join:2001-02-13
Carnegie, PA
kudos:5

2 edits

You have an AO Smith heater OEM'd by Sears.

I fix these all the time.

There is a spark arrestor behind the black plastic screen that is clogged with lint/dust/etc, and needs cleaned, otherwise the new part you install will quickly be overheated and trashed.

Unfortunately no actual document exists to instruct you how to clean the spark arrestor, so I will detail how I have done it..

1- get a good bright flashlight, and an inspection mirror. (a womans compact will work as well if nothing else).

2- Look thru the rectangular metal holes in the bottom of your heater, at an approx 20° angle up, and you will see an 8-10" round disc in the bottom of the heater. This is the spark arrestor. It is a ceramic disc, about 1" thick, with approx 10,000 needle sized holes. This stops the spark/flame from getting out and igniting gas,thinner,stain, etc if the situation should arise.

3- Your arrestor most definitely will appear fuzzy or hairy, as anything in the room will be sucked in and stick to the arrestor. This is what you're cleaning.

4- I use a small shop vac and a 24" piece of 1/2" copper pipe with an elbow crimped onto the end, so it doesnt fall off. Duct tape the pipe to the shop vac hose for max suckage. You can duct tape the elbow to the pipe as well.

5- Lay the flashlight on the floor shining into the air intake hole, use one hand for the mirror, one hand for the pipe, and guide the elbow onto the spark arrestor so it makes a seal against the arrestor, to pull air/dirt down thru it. Move the pipe+elbow in a pattern around the arrestor to clean all the surface. Make sure to hold the elbow tight to the arrestor, or you will not clean it well, and it will burn up the pilot again.

6- Last thing, take a pair of needlenose and shake the flue baffle at the top of the heater, to make sure there isnt any scale buildup on the baffle. Ive seen a few heaters with this problem as well.

The new pilot assy you need is here:

»www.waterheaterparts.com/Advance···=%20&SN=

Or, I stock these pilots on my truck, I`ll sell ya one for 20$ shipped. PM me..

-j
--
if it aint broke, tweak it!!
currently on FiOS (kick aZZ!)


tberg

join:2001-08-23
Greenville, SC
reply to tcope

Whoever installed your water heater did you a favor. It has dielectric unions right off the nipples. If you can find the same height water heater, you can just unscrew everything, put it on the new one, and screw it back together.
Most water heaters are standard height and distance between nipples.
If you can't find the same size, go with stainless steel braided hoses with 3/4 threads on the water heater end and shark bite on the other end to just slip onto your existing pipes.


tcope
Premium
join:2003-05-07
Sandy, UT
kudos:2
reply to tp0d

said by tp0d:

There is a spark arrestor behind the black plastic screen that is clogged with lint/dust/etc, and needs cleaned, otherwise the new part you install will quickly be overheated and trashed.

Or, I stock these pilots on my truck, I`ll sell ya one for 20$ shipped. PM me..

That is what I call a BOAT LOAD of help! Yup... now I remember what I did a few years ago and why I left that bottle brush next to the heater. I'm going to do what you suggest as now that you mention it, this is exactly what happen last time it went out.

I'll also need to send you a PM. I cannot thank you enough.


tp0d
yabbazooie
Premium
join:2001-02-13
Carnegie, PA
kudos:5

np



Heater

@optonline.net
reply to tp0d

said by tp0d:

You have an AO Smith heater OEM'd by Sears.

I fix these all the time.

That's a bad sign.

said by tp0d:

2- Look thru the rectangular metal holes in the bottom of your heater, at an approx 20° angle up, and you will see an 8-10" round disc in the bottom of the heater. This is the spark arrestor. It is a ceramic disc, about 1" thick, with approx 10,000 needle sized holes. This stops the spark/flame from getting out and igniting gas,thinner,stain, etc if the situation should arise.

3- Your arrestor most definitely will appear fuzzy or hairy, as anything in the room will be sucked in and stick to the arrestor. This is what you're cleaning.

My plumber refuses to install AO Smith water heaters because "they clog up all the time". Now I know what he was talking about.


magicjimmy

join:2006-03-23
Tucson, AZ

+1



tp0d
yabbazooie
Premium
join:2001-02-13
Carnegie, PA
kudos:5
reply to Heater

said by Heater :

said by tp0d:

You have an AO Smith heater OEM'd by Sears.

I fix these all the time.

That's a bad sign.

said by tp0d:

2- Look thru the rectangular metal holes in the bottom of your heater, at an approx 20° angle up, and you will see an 8-10" round disc in the bottom of the heater. This is the spark arrestor. It is a ceramic disc, about 1" thick, with approx 10,000 needle sized holes. This stops the spark/flame from getting out and igniting gas,thinner,stain, etc if the situation should arise.

3- Your arrestor most definitely will appear fuzzy or hairy, as anything in the room will be sucked in and stick to the arrestor. This is what you're cleaning.

My plumber refuses to install AO Smith water heaters because "they clog up all the time". Now I know what he was talking about.

I am a warranty agent for AO Smith, State, Bradford white (tanks) among others for tankless. I fix all product, yet I choose to install Smith.

Smith has a new design that does not have this problem. It was introduced in mid 2008.

All 40/50gal heaters post 2003 must have a federally mandated spark arrestor. Any spark arrestor is victim to lint/pet hair/dust/construction dirt. Smith's design is cleanable. Rheem and Bradford white's is not accessible, and only can be cleaned from inside the combustion chamber with compressed air, which doesnt remove the contaminate. And rheem's older design has a glass overheat vessel, which if it overheats, you must change the entire water heater.

Dont post if you only bash.

-j
--
if it aint broke, tweak it!!
currently on FiOS (kick aZZ!)

tcope
Premium
join:2003-05-07
Sandy, UT
kudos:2
reply to tcope

I mentioned this to tp0d but now I recall what I was doing about a year ago and why I left a bottle brush next to the heater. I was cleaning off the ceramic filter. It worked then but it's not working now. This time I took tp0d's advice and I used some small PVC pipe with a 90 degree elbow. I cleaned the filter several times for several minutes. The pilot light lights up and stays lit just fine. I can turn the burner on/off several times and the pilot stays lit. But if I leave it and come back several hours later, it's out. It's been a real pain as I need to get up 30 minutes early and relight the heater. I ordered the pilot assemby from tp0d (thanks!) and I'm hoping this will take care of the problem. I'm betting it's the heat that is affecting the thermocouplar connection and not the air flow (as the burner will stay on for at least 10 minutes no problem.

I drained about 10 gallons of water out of the heater and got about 1/4 cup of grain material. It stopped coming out after a few gallons.