Announcement

Announcement Module
Collapse

How To Post Images

Want to know the how to upload images to your posts? Image Posting Tutorial
See more
See less

Power Vent Water Heater - HELP!!

Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Power Vent Water Heater - HELP!!

    Since I have bought my home, (10 years ago) I have gone thru 2 power vent water heaters (ao smith) and am about to go on my third! At about $1500 a piece installed, I figured enough is enough. All the neighbors in my cul-de-sac have also encountered the same problem as well. Some already on their 3rd. Every other day or even more often, I have to take a tothbrush to some sensor my neighbor told me about to kick start the unit, or have to dump out a picther of water that is stationed under the relief vavle - this has literally gone on for 3 years and everyday is a crapshoot if we will wake up with hot water and have to reset the unit. Sometimes it take up to 10 times for the flame to stay on, otherwise, the fan keeps running, but no water is being cooked. Why do I have a "power vent" unit to begin with, especially since it is inefficient and a pia to use? Also, can I convert to just a regular old gas water heater? The one in my previous home lasted 13 years and is still kicking. Please give me some advice on this, otherwise I am converting to electric. Oh yeah, when the unit does start to cook the water, the "power vent" sounds like a plane taking off the entire time it runs - which makes sitting out back dreadful or if we are watching an Eagles game down my finished basement, I have to blare the TV to compensate for the noise. Please share any thoughts or opinions and alos if I can jsut go back to a regular gas heater and why the heck I have to use a power vent. Thanks to all.

  • #2
    Re: Power Vent Water Heater - HELP!!

    A.O. smith is nothing but problems on their powervents, nothing new to you.

    Powervents are slowly becoming the standard over draft vents.

    The main reason is CO hazard, many jursidictions are also requiring chimney liners to continue using draft vents...big bucks.

    Yours is a situation where I'd suggest researching a tankless.

    Tankless's are $3-$4k to install initially, but replacement down the road is substantially less.

    Comparing to a powervent which come with a max 6 year warranty, tankless's usually come with a 10 year.

    A tankless will generally shave 30% off your summer gas bill (barring cooking...which usually won't amount to very much)

    If your summer gas bill is $30, you can generally use $10 a month as guideline to what you'd save, or $120 a year.

    There WILL be other views on this, mainly on maintanance...but for the most part the only maintanance required on a tankless is flushing, which you can do as long as you DO NOT forget.

    DON'T let your plumber suggest Bosch or Aquastar (by Bosch), they are nothing but problems, these are what I believe are giving tankless a bad rap all around...they're also the cheapest on the market, you get what you pay for.

    An electric tank will always cost more to operate, a recent conversation I had with an electrical engineer that specializes in industrial power generation informed me that as much as 70% of the actual energy used to generate the power is lost via transmission and efficiency loss at the plant.

    You pay 100% of the fuel cost to generate that electricity.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Power Vent Water Heater - HELP!!

      Being a home owner versus a plumber, I would recommend sticking with natural gas. Gas is a lot cheaper. Yes, electric water heaters might be 95% efficient where natural gas units are 65% and up (depending on what you get), but due to the fact that natural gas is so much cheaper, you still end up with money in your pocket over electric. If you already have natural gas, I say stick with that.

      Being a recent tankless "convert" I can also speak for them a little.

      Each house however is so unique, how many bathrooms you have, how many people are in your home, what other water appliances you have (whirlpools, jetted tubs, etc).

      I recommend you do your homework. Google is your friend. Google:

      tankless
      Noritz
      Rinnai
      Takagi
      Rheem
      tankless reviews
      tank versus tankless

      ... to name a few

      You might also want to read this thread (I actually jump in on page 8). Yes, it is 22 pages long and sometimes goes off on tangents, but it paints both sides of the fence (tank versus tankless) I think pretty good.

      If you are going to spend $2500+ ... it is good to be informed.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Power Vent Water Heater - HELP!!

        Seems like I have heard a lot of negative comments about AO Smith water heaters of late . I instal a lot of Bradford White water heaters and rarely have I had any problems with them. I personally have a Rinnai tankless heater which I would reccommend strongly as long as you will be in your home long enough to recoup your initial investment. If you are planning on moving within the next five or so years I would stay with a power vented heater.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Power Vent Water Heater - HELP!!

          A toothbrush to the flame sensor: Thats a new one. Sandpaper or Emery cloth actually works. Call around to some plumbers to get quotes on new heaters. Explain to them you'd like to have the flame sensor cleaned to get you by for the time-being. If they dont know what you are talking about, find a plumber that does.

          I dont recommend doing it yourself as you will probably break the ignitor. Not to mention, to do it right the burner and manifold assembly need to be removed. Not a job for a DIY'er, IMO.

          Andy

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Power Vent Water Heater - HELP!!

            I would stick with a powervent if you can stand the noise. Far less maintenance than a tankless heater if your water quality is in question. I have always had service issues with A.O. Smith powervents. You may try Bradford White or Rheem. However, I have noticed they are now all using all of the same external parts (blower and gas valve), just different tanks.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Power Vent Water Heater - HELP!!

              Originally posted by plumbing101 View Post
              I would stick with a powervent if you can stand the noise. Far less maintenance than a tankless heater if your water quality is in question. I have always had service issues with A.O. Smith powervents. You may try Bradford White or Rheem. However, I have noticed they are now all using all of the same external parts (blower and gas valve), just different tanks.
              What maintanance issues have you come across with tankless?

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Power Vent Water Heater - HELP!!

                I personally do not deal with them. However after reading the discussion surrounding tankless it appears it is necessary to flush them on a regular basis with vinegar. As we all know many homeowners will not take the time to properly maintain it, only call for service when there is a problem.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Power Vent Water Heater - HELP!!

                  Originally posted by plumbing101 View Post
                  I personally do not deal with them. However after reading the discussion surrounding tankless it appears it is necessary to flush them on a regular basis with vinegar. As we all know many homeowners will not take the time to properly maintain it, only call for service when there is a problem.
                  I have only seen technical issues with Bosch..and I'm not about to argue with anyone who wants to say those units completely suck.

                  As for any other unit, I have yet to get a callback, but have been thinking of a call campaign to offer flushing if homwoners want.

                  Jack would be proud.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Power Vent Water Heater - HELP!!

                    There are lots of options, you just need a good licensed plumber.

                    You may not even have to put in a PowerVent heater. You could possibly put in a "regular" vent, direct vent, or even a tankless. Or a different model PowerVent heater. Just depends on the situation.

                    Get a good plumber there to look at your options.

                    J.C.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Power Vent Water Heater - HELP!!

                      I don't live in an area with natural gas or power vent water heaters, so take my comments with a grain of salt. I think DuckButter is steering you in the right direction with saying look at tankless water heaters. You've spent a lot of money on water heaters in a short amount of time. For a bit more money, you can get a good quality tankless and be done with it. I like the Rinnai units myself. (Propane in my area.)

                      Yes, you will always here people complain that you need to flush the units with vinegar on occasion to keep them working right. So what? Do these same people complain about having to change the filters in the air conditioner, or changing the oil in the cars? Expensive pieces of equipment require maintenance to keep them running properly.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Power Vent Water Heater - HELP!!

                        "I had with an electrical engineer that specializes in industrial power generation informed me that as much as 70% of the actual energy used to generate the power is lost via transmission and efficiency loss at the plant."

                        An interesting factoid that while approximately true has no relation to electric water heater efficiency.

                        Not that I am in favor of electric water heaters, I personally prefer oil or gas fired or an indirect HW heater for residential use. Still, there can be applications where electric makes sense over other fuels.

                        Scanning through all the responses I only see one or two which offer a hint of a suggestion as to what might be the problem with the current WH, the rest of the thread is the pros and cons of tankless.

                        Sounds like the burner fails to light and then goes into lockout keeping the vent fan running until manually reset which forces someone to visit the WH to find out whats wrong, which is the whole reason for the lockout behavior .

                        If as you say every one (or most anyway) are experiencing that same problem isn't it likely that the problem is something that is common to all locations? Maybe you all have the same WH to start with if that is what the builder used. But now that everyone and you have had to replace WHs a couple times, are you all still using the same brand/model? If no then what happened at the homes with different WHs? Did their problem go away? If no then the problem is something else. Only thing left is the gas supply. Has anyone checked or even thought to question the quality of the gas coming into your homes?

                        Maybe you should do some additional investigation with your neighbors and research some of the questions I have asked here, and whatever else you can put together in the way of maintenance history for each home. Then research the law in your state for new home warranty laws. Here in NJ it is 10 years. You might have a case against the developer of you cozy cul-de-sac.
                        Last edited by Bob D.; 09-13-2008, 12:46 AM. Reason: fixed a typo (don't want to anger the island spelling gods) :)
                        ---------------
                        Light is faster than sound. That's why some people seem really bright until you hear them speak.
                        ---------------
                        “If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber.” - Albert Einstein
                        ---------
                        "Its a table saw.... Do you know where your fingers are?"
                        ---------
                        sigpic http://www.helmetstohardhats.com/

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Power Vent Water Heater - HELP!!

                          Originally posted by Bob D. View Post
                          "I had with an electrical engineer that specializes in industrial power generation informed me that as much as 70% of the actual energy used to generate the power is lost via transmission and efficiency loss at the plant."

                          An interesting factoid that while approximately true has no relation to electric water heater efficiency.
                          None whatsoeverr.

                          An electric W/H will be as much as 98% efficient, that sounds FANTASTIC!

                          Until you realize that the "as much as 70%" part of the equation comes into play regarding the ACTUAL cost to heat water.

                          He'll pay twice the hypothetical $30 a month, but save $700 for the install on a 6 yr electric.

                          In 2 years he starts to lose that money on water heating.

                          As for the generalizations on the A.O. Smith, yup, they suck.

                          I'm not up to walking anyone through a trouble-shooting routine over the internet for any gas appliance.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Power Vent Water Heater - HELP!!

                            Originally posted by DuckButter View Post
                            None whatsoeverr.

                            An electric W/H will be as much as 98% efficient, that sounds FANTASTIC!

                            Until you realize that the "as much as 70%" part of the equation comes into play regarding the ACTUAL cost to heat water.

                            He'll pay twice the hypothetical $30 a month, but save $700 for the install on a 6 yr electric.

                            In 2 years he starts to lose that money on water heating.

                            As for the generalizations on the A.O. Smith, yup, they suck.

                            I'm not up to walking anyone through a trouble-shooting routine over the internet for any gas appliance.
                            I agree with most of what you say. But when you start talking costs you are moving out of pure efficiency comparisons and into the realm of ROI and operating expenses which I agree will be higher with electric once the installation savings (on equipment & labor) is burnt up.
                            ---------------
                            Light is faster than sound. That's why some people seem really bright until you hear them speak.
                            ---------------
                            “If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber.” - Albert Einstein
                            ---------
                            "Its a table saw.... Do you know where your fingers are?"
                            ---------
                            sigpic http://www.helmetstohardhats.com/

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Power Vent Water Heater - HELP!!

                              Originally posted by Bob D. View Post
                              I agree with most of what you say. But when you start talking costs you are moving out of pure efficiency comparisons and into the realm of ROI and operating expenses which I agree will be higher with electric once the installation savings (on equipment & labor) is burnt up.
                              My whole dialogue was fueled by this:

                              Originally posted by fwappy1@yahoo.com View Post
                              Since I have bought my home, (10 years ago) I have gone thru 2 power vent water heaters (ao smith) and am about to go on my third! At about $1500 a piece installed, I figured enough is enough.

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X