Buying a new electric water heater

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Buying a new electric water heater

Postby Betsy » Mon Jul 11, 2011 12:26 pm

Naturally now that I've gone out on a limb and invested in a nice new range my water heater is beginning to die. It takes all night to heat up a tank now. I had a good experience with buying my range online from Lowes so I went back to look at their water heaters. I was surprised to see a special category for mobile home water heaters. My mobile home is a 2001 model. Can I buy a normal electric water heater or do I need to buy a mobile home water heater? Thank you in advance for your time and information.
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Re: Buying a new electric water heater

Postby Greg » Mon Jul 11, 2011 4:38 pm

For the most part Electric water heaters are electric water heaters. Size is the major factor as well as the connections. Check to see how much room you have and if you enough room to make the plumbing & electric connections. Most Mobile heaters use side connections for plumbing, but you can either add a little to the lines or there may even be enough extra to reach the top. You will notice a price difference between the standard & M.H. heaters.

If you are buying GAS water heaters they must be a Mobile Home approved model.

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Re: Buying a new electric water heater

Postby Betsy » Tue Jul 12, 2011 9:39 am

Thank you again Greg.
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Re: Buying a new electric water heater

Postby flcruising » Tue Jul 12, 2011 10:37 am

I recently went through a water heater issue as well as my lower heating element corroded. I have a RHEEM manufactured home model, and my investigating found that the primary difference in construction was the side connections like Greg mentioned, and a very small sacrificial anode. The anode is in place to corrode before the other components do, and the number and size of them has everything to do with the warranty differences between heaters.

Needless to say, I replaced the anode with one that is 80% larger, and will now yearly drain and clean the tank to make this thing last.

Betsy, if you know a handyman, then likely the element(s) need replacing, can be purchased for about $10 apiece, and are very simple to do. A 10yo heater likely needs a new anode as well, and I purchased mine online for about $25 shippped.
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Re: Buying a new electric water heater

Postby Betsy » Wed Jul 13, 2011 5:56 pm

Aaron you have given me great hope!! I do have a handyman and I will get him to take a look. Twenty five dollars - I can certainly handle that!!! Thank you!!
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Re: Buying a new electric water heater

Postby 150baker » Wed Jul 13, 2011 10:43 pm

You do not need to spend extra money on a water heater that states mobile home aproved.
There are no MHP (Mobile Home Police) running around your state. The only state that has such a position is Wa state.
First, currently all elec water heaters meet the UL standard that was established June 14 th of 1976.
This standard besides elec also had a requirement for insultion of the water heater jacket.
Regarding gas water heaters, if the water heater is accesable from the interior of the home you need a direct connect flue exhaust and combusiton air intake. These are kits you purchase when you buy the water heater. If accesed from the exterior of the home through a door you can get get by with out a direct connect as long as there are holes in the access door for the entrance of combustion air. Exhasust flue goes up through roof and sits on stand off jack on water heater.
Years back the code was changed. In fact the IRC,IMC and the IBC (current site built code standards) caught up to the HUD standards to address tigh construction. Make sure a pan is installed under water heater for either gas or elec water heater. Is code and saves problems down the read
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Re: Buying a new electric water heater

Postby flcruising » Thu Jul 14, 2011 10:53 am

150baker, she has an electric model. The information given is helpful, but you shouldn't overwhelm her with irrelevant information. Regarding the pan, yes she should make sure that is in place as well, and when the tank is emptied to perform the necessary work would be the perfect time to install one if it isn't currently present.

Betsy, glad to give you hope!
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Re: Buying a new electric water heater

Postby Betsy » Thu Jul 14, 2011 11:13 am

I'm happy to report that there is a pan in place so at least I have that going for me! I wonder if I could replace the elements myself? I'm thinking it must have two since it still heats but takes much longer. I guess there's no way to determine which element is bad and even so, it would be best to replace both, if there are two, while I'm at it. I'll research on the internet and find out what is involved, I'm pretty handy.
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Re: Buying a new electric water heater

Postby Linda » Thu Jul 14, 2011 12:18 pm

1. Turn electricity off to the water heater while you are working on it. Always. 2.Turn the water off coming into house. Drain water heater completely. There is a element at the top and bottom if there is two. The drain plug is at the bottom of the tank. There is a tool that you can buy when you purchase the elements, it looks like a skinny can with no top or bottom. It fits on the element and gives you some leverage to untighten them. I stick a screwdriver though the top of mine it has holes. When the elements come out there should be no water in the tank. I thought I had drained mine completely and was I surprised to get a bath in the middle of my laundry room floor. 3. After replacing the elements wait until the water heater is filled before turning electricity back on to the heater also there is a reset button on my heater so if you have one of those you will need to hit the reset. Hope that helps we had to buy new heater even after replacing the elements but at least I was able to do all of that by myself while my husband was on the road. Even after buying heater he only had to to put it in the closet and hook up the electricity I did the water hook ups. I think that is okay for a 61yr. old female.

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Re: Buying a new electric water heater

Postby Betsy » Thu Jul 14, 2011 1:20 pm

Linda - how nice to hear from a kindred spirit. Thanks for your helpful instructions!!
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Re: Buying a new electric water heater

Postby flcruising » Thu Jul 14, 2011 4:31 pm

Yes, good instructions Linda.

I wouldn't replace the elements without also replacing the anode since your tank is 10yo. Typically, when an element fails, it's because the anode's life is over and the replacement element(s) will fail much sooner. Definitely follow Linda's instructions to replace the elements, but I advocate having a man replace the anode as it will take quite some strength and leverage to remove the old one. Shut off water and power to the heater when you do, but only drain maybe a gallon or so from the tank because you will need the help of the extra weight to hold the tank as he unscrews it. The elements on the otherhand aren't very tight.
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Re: Buying a new electric water heater

Postby JD » Thu Jul 14, 2011 10:10 pm

A lot of good info here. 150baker's info is good stuff, but I would only recommend installing a mobile home approved gas water heater as it is code and when selling your home, a home inspector could throw that up. Also, if there is ever an insurance related WH fire issue, the insurance company may not cover the damage if it is not an approved water heater. Not sure on that, but that is what I have heard. That code does not apply to electric water heaters, only gas WHs and furnaces.

Enforcement could be a regional thing. Inspectors here used to approve non MH gas water heaters, but not any more. But if you pull a permit, I would think they would say it has to be MH approved. JMO
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Re: Buying a new electric water heater

Postby Betsy » Mon Jul 18, 2011 12:46 pm

I'm getting more and more familiar with this water heater of mine. In reading the label on the heater I believe it has only one element since there is no data for an upper element. Also there is no pan like I thought. Just some sort of particle board, the good kind I hope. So since there is only one element and since the heater was heating up water, albeit way slower than it used it, I wonder - do the elements go bad slowly? Then I began to think (generally that leads to disaster) that if I just flushed the tank it might help the element get back to normal function. So I read several informative articles and watched a video about flushing a water heater tank. And this morning that is what I did and am happy to report that nothing broke, my bedroom floor is still dry, and I was not injured during the process. When the tank first began to drain I had the hose in a whitish-clearish Rubbermaid storage box so I could see what was coming out. What was coming out was disappointingly clean and clear. A few minutes into the draining I opened the pressure valve (that thankfully has its own white drain pipe going through the floor) and let the tank drain until nothing was coming from the hose. Then I'd turn the water supply back on (this I had to do at the meter since my WH has no shutoff of its own) and let more water run into the tank, I'd leave the pressure valve open for a bit then I'd close it for a bit. The water looked orange for these "water supply on" drainings. Then the water looked clear and I decided I had done enough and put everything back together. Came in the house and could not hear the tank filling which I thouhgt I would. Turned on the three hot water taps inside the house and they spit and sputtered rusty water until the air was out of the lines. When I open the pressure relief valve all I hear is water rushing out the pipe it's attached to. Now I'm waiting to be sure the tank is full of water before I flip the circuit breaker switch back on. How do I know the tank is full when I can't hear anything? The hot water taps inside the house have plenty of pressure - would that be a good indication that the tank is full? I figure I'll wait one hour and then flip the switch. But what about that rusty colored water coming out at my sinks when they were spitting and sputtering? That tells me I did not do a good job of flushing out my tank. But why was the water coming out of the draining hose not rust colored? I don't know, I have a feeling all I've accomplished is to waste a morning and a lot of water.
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Re: Buying a new electric water heater

Postby 1987Commodore » Mon Jul 18, 2011 1:50 pm

If the faucets are running without sputtering, the tank is full. Don't open the pressure relief valve often, as it may easily stick open, and require replacement. Just open a faucet to allow back flow when draining. How large is your tank?
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Re: Buying a new electric water heater

Postby Betsy » Mon Jul 18, 2011 2:02 pm

I'm so afraid it will fall off in my hand, as seems to happen with things mobile home, that I plan to not touch the pressure valve again. My water heater is a thirty gallon, made by Rheem.
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