T Nation

Need New Water Heater This Weekend

Hey guys, just realized part of my garage flooding is the damn water heater shitting the bed.

Any advice or preference on Rheem vs AO Smith? Alternative options?

Just looking for a 50g electric tank, somewhere between $500 & $800


As a 15 year commercial plumber buy the cheap one, the only thing you get with more money is more warranty. Brand is a moot point as well, 90% of them are all made in the same factory. (chevy vs GMC) The only way to spend more and get more is if you go with a high efficiency (90%+) gas model. I have access to anything made (at whole sale pricing) as far as water heaters go, and when I need one I just go get a cheap one at Lowes. Best of luck.


Mine bit the dust last weekend (20 year old water heater). I just installed the 9 year Rheem from Home Depot last weekend. Works as advertised. I paid $525 with veteran discount.

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That was my brothers (also a plumber) exact take on it when mine went.

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go with a tankless if you can. Then you never have to worry about flooding again. And they’re pretty efficient. And smaller. All the good things.

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Natural gas will likely have a much lower operating cost. Only applicable if you have natural gas though.

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I appreciate all the responses!

1: I do not have natural gas unfortunately, I’m outside of city limits by about half a mile.

2: I’m sure unfamiliar with tankless, and im not very crafty by nature, unfortunately. Maybe in the future.

3: I’ve also heard the same about the quality not necessarily being an issue. I’ll probably just go with what is cheap in that case. Ours is a 65G but we’ve literally never ran out of hot water (and at one point we tried) so I think we can stand to downgrade a hair and save a few hundred bucks.

Mine is 40 g and it works just fine for 2.

We have four in our house with two teenagers. We rarely run out of hot water with the 50 gallon.



So satisfying to see shiny new things

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Getting the old one out is usually where the fun is…lol

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It started with me and a friend carrying about 4’ to the drive way, then chucking it and kicking about 40’ around the house lol. Years of working out, foiled by a water heater!

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Once they get that sediment in there, they are nasty heavy.

This is actually not the case… I have a Rinnai tankless in my basement which was installed by the previous owner of my house. It ended up getting a pin hole in the heat exchanger. Didn’t flood the basement and luckily I caught it within a couple hours of it happening. Ended up getting a new heat exchanger under warranty for free, but it took 2 weeks to get here so I just installed a 50 gal in parallel. Once I find the time to reinstall the heat exchanger (took about 4 hours to get out) I’ll be able to use either or.

There isn’t any sort of auto shutoff to the main cold coming into the heater, or in the heater so once a leak starts the only thing stopping it is manually shutting the water off.

Edit: however, I believe Honeywell makes a cool alarm/sensor that you run around the base of any possible leak sites (ie evap coil on your furnace, water heater, dehumidifier) that will send alerts to your phone or computer if it senses water. Pretty awesome especially if your away on vacation for an extended period of time.

which part? Water can leak out of a tankless in the case of a catastrophic failure, but if you have an appropriate drain pan, it will be 100% contained because the leak rate is so slow, at about 1GPM. Sounds like yours was installed incorrectly if you had any flooding at all.

You said you caught your tankless leak 2 hours after it began to leak. Imagine what a tank would have done in that time.

I’m kinda surprised there isn’t some kind of solenoid valve/pressure sensor combo that could be arranged on those tankless systems.

I’m sure there’s a reason if there isn’t though (like cost).

Yeah probably a cost measure to add in an automatic shutoff. If I’m not mistaken they already sense flow through a turbine on the inlet, so I’m thinking at some point soon when smart homes become much more common, the faucets would be able to communicate and tell the heater no hot water taps are open.

As far as a poor installation, maybe it’s just different where I live @flipcollar. It is not code to have a drain pan installed unless it is at or above ground level. People can take that precaution and have one installed, but the fact of the matter is most water heaters, from my experience, are in basements or crawl spaces. To have a situation where a water heater would fail and still have the basement be dry would mean digging a sump pit.

Not trying to fight you on this man, but regardless of tankless or a conventional water heater, it doesn’t matter. Water pressure is water pressure and when an exchanger goes, regardless on the volume of water physically in the heater, it doesn’t matter. Tankless have the benefit of not holding a lot of water in the heater, and that’s where their efficiency comes from. High surface area exchanger+smaller volume of water= high temperature difference, but, that volume of water in the exchanger is always refreshing itself with water from the main cold line. If the exchanger went in the on demand, it’d be the same as conventional, or the same as snapping a 1/2" copper/pex line from your floor joists. Additionally, the seals in the tankless are rubber… over time the rubber hardens and cracks, which could also cause failure.

Not that a tankless wouldn’t be a good investment depending on current water usage and installation costs, but for the money I still think conventional water heaters are the way to go for 90% of homeowners

Not trying to be an asshole or anything, just want to give a heads up.

I mean, I’m not really talking about code, I’m talking about a really cheap thing that can save your house from flooding, lol. But I hear you.

Also, we don’t have basements, and very rarely crawl spaces, in Texas. our water heaters are generally in a closet in the house, or in the garage.

The Great Water Heater Debate of 2020


(joking, I know you guys are being civil)