We’re in Hot Water, Pt. 2: Replacing the Hot Water Tank

So if you’ve been following lately, you know that we desperately needed a new Hot Water Tank (HWT).  From day one or two of home ownership, our HWT began to hemorrhage water like molasses in January.  It wasn’t an obscene amount of water (i.e., we were still able to function taking showers, running the washer, etc.), but it definitely made us a little nervous that it was a ticking time bomb just waiting to blow up (been there, done that!).  The picture below shows you what the ground around our HWT has been looking like these past few months:

Appetizing, huh?  I mean, if this were a Rorschach Test, then we could have some fun but this is a major appliance for crying out loud!!!  We’re talking straight lines and a tight drum!  You mean I have to waste time on my bloggy-blog-in-stein talking about leaky HWTs?  Le sigh….it’s true…let’s just say that something in our HWT corroded, no doubt as a result of the house being foreclosed and sitting vacant for over seven months and, more than likely, they didn’t empty the tank, the water sat in there, and then the combination of hard water and other “junk in the trunk” just corroded the drum and caused this lovely debacle right here:

Yum!  Oh, and it’s sitting flush on the concrete….that just doesn’t seem right.  Not that we know what the HWT code is in the great state of Oregon, but something tells us that it should have a little bit more insulation between it and the floor – just a thought!  Let’s get this leaking, stinking HWT tank outta here!!!!

So normally this is where I would do a complete step-by-step run down of how to replace your HWT but no matter how hard I try, writing a step-by-step tutorial is just about as interesting as watching grass grow.  Therefore, I’ll point you to this link for a pretty extensive step-by-step explanation of how to do it for a straight tank-to-tank replacement.  And while the write up makes you think that just about anybody could replace a HWT, be forewarned that playing with gas (or electricity and water together) can be a wery wery dangerous sport and should only be undertaken if you cross your ts, dot your is, eat your peas, and mind your qs.  Just be sure you know what you’re doing and ask a professional if you’re not 100% sure.  Luckily, Dr. J has replaced a HWT before, so we felt pretty good about tackling this project on our own.  Mind you, I think my breast bone is still recovering by being the canter to Dr. J’s lever when we hoisted the new HWT into place, but that’s another story…

Everybody’s experience is a little different and here was how ours differed from the normal replacement.  After we turned everything off, unhooked it, drained it, and swept aside all of the water, we found a pretty ugly spot of black mold behind where the tank was sitting:

Yikes!  Everybody knows what a hazardous thing black mold is!  If you don’t, then you can read up on black mold here.  It can condemn a house and/or kill its occupants, so don’t mess around with it!  Not only was it a good thing that we removed our HWT and replaced it because of the leaking, but we were also able to see what was going on behind that tank!  We quickly cut the piece out of the wall (it was pretty small and only on the surface of the wall), threw it away, and then we filled a spray bottle with a bleach solution and sprayed it on there to kill any leftover black mold.  It’s not a permanent solution, but provided we can keep the area dry, we shouldn’t have too many more problems with it.

The black mold problem did bring up another issue with our HWT that we fixed which is that our tank was sitting flush on the ground!  So we purchased a cheap HWT stand to lift it off the ground so any further black mold issues will be easier to treat and also easier to keep the area dry.  But when we raised up the tank, we had to move it forward a few inches away from the wall to avoid hitting the water lines, which will also help to circulate the air a little bit better and hopefully prevent any mold from creeping into nooks and crannies that we can’t see (which is precisely what happened before!).  So we took some 2x4s, attached them to the wall, and then attached the stand and the HWT to those (with the help of our handy-dandy earthquake strips).

Then because we raised everything up off of the floor, we unfortunately had to buy longer hoses for the water and remove the main ventilation pipe and replace it with a shorter one….sheesh!  We just don’t know *how* to make things easy on ourselves, do we?  Luckily, it was just a matter of taking the old pipes off, taking them to Lowe’s and finding a good counterpart hose that would work:

Then the last part was simply following the secret trail of bread crumbs by re-hooking everything up again before turning on the main lines, filling up the tank, and then turning the pilot light on to get it back to full-on hot showerin’ time!  Awhhh…look….it’s cute….

But before we could close the book on the HWT Extravaganza 2010, we did install one of those super-stylish HWT Blankets that take a HWT from streamlined drummin’ to Stay-Puft Marshamallow Man stylin’!  All the kids are wearin’ ’em these days and they’re super easy to install, but don’t forget to use gloves and long sleeves or you’ll get all itchy and scratchy.

So then it was a quick clean’er up and the HWT in our garage is fully replaced, functional, and hot, hot, hot!  Our garage is a little….cluttered, we know.  There is a Spring/Summer organization project on our To Do list this year….wow, can’t wait for *that* one…




3 thoughts on “We’re in Hot Water, Pt. 2: Replacing the Hot Water Tank

  1. Congrats on the new hot water heater! I’ve never seen one off of the floor that’s interesting…but then again I’ve never seen one in a garage before either (I’ve heard of it but our climate is way to cold to do that). It’s a good thing you found that mold but I’d say it’s from the water leak you had not because the tank was on the floor. Either way it’s nice to know you don’t have to worry about waking up to a cold shower for a long time! Yay!

      • Robin we live in Sacramento and all the hot water heaters are kept in the garage and 99% of them are built on pedestals off the ground like the one above.

        Congrats guys on your new home – I really like your water heater and wrapping it in that blanket is a must.

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