Homemade hot water heater

shiftless

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I've been shopping for a hot water heater for my house, and have been disgusted to find that 99% of them are shit these days, judging by the horrible online reviews. Models that used to last for 15-20 years now only give a few years at best before causing problems. A few that are said to be higher quality also have a bunch of electronics, which I don't want. I'm thinking about getting a 55 gallon drum and just building my own hot water heater out of it, and install the best thermocouple/burner/analog controller parts I can find to ensure reliable operation for many years. Can any of you give me some tips or pointers as to how you would approach this? Or if you know of any company that still manufactures a quality, simple hot water heater, I'm all ears. :listen:
 

76FleetBrougham

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Hell, that's all a water heater is. You could even use a radiator fan switch (cut in/cut out) to run it. 55 gallon steel drum (epoxy lined), a shitton of insulation, a couple of electric water heater elements and you'd have something better than 90% of the crap out there.

Have you ever thought about solar pre-heaters too? My sister has a couple panels on her roof in Boise and says it's amazing how warm the water gets coming out of there.


EDIT: Some hippy by her was making them, but it essentially looks like this. Manifold, a bunch of tubes, reflective sheet of metal behind it. I dont think she even used an auxillary pump to get it up there. Once it's full it siphons itself back to the basement water heater. They're so cheap now that the Chinese are cranking them out. This is just an example:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/10-Evac ... b657&tpp=1


Hell, you could easily make it with some copper or aluminum pipe inside an enclosed box to keep in the heat.
 

8ad-f85

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In your part of the country the DIY solar methods are more than adequate for the modestly consuming home.
You can tie that into whatever you use and it will nearly replace it with the exception of something like 4-6 people all taking showers consecutively and obvious things like that.
Lost with my saved links was a blog article from a college professor in VT(?) that data logged his system to study it's contributions and it covered his family's needs. The winter months with low sun exposure handled all water heater use but didn't collect enough sun to contribute heat to the home. The spring and fall months eliminated his furnace use FWIR.

A neighbor here in MN coiled up some 1"(?) black irrigation line on top his shed and it heats his massive swimming pool entirely. It gravity feeds/circulates. Silly, living next to a lake, lol.
 

Ted in Olympia

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What disappoints me is that due to new regulations the costs of new water heaters doubled in the last couple of years. They have to meet a certain insulation code and are limited to only 50 gallons. This makes the cheapest ones just as efficient as the the more expensive ones. The problem is it only saves about 5% over the old codes.

But I guess I have too much money because I'm not going to go through the trouble of building one. If I really wanted to save money I would try to find a good used one.

Ted
 

Doc Zinger

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Ted so right, if you haven't priced one in few years it's like WTF are the cheap ones, they look at you like these are the cheap ones.
 

MIHELA

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Do a quick Google search for exploding water heaters, and then see if it's worth it to make your own out of a drum.
 

kzhurley

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MIHELA said:
Do a quick Google search for exploding water heaters, and then see if it's worth it to make your own out of a drum.
I watched mythbusters turn them into rockets by plugging all the safety valves.
 

MIHELA

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It's amazing how much force is behind it. That's what blew the lid off Chernobyl, superheated steam. They'll fly right through the roof of a two story house, from the basement.
 

pila78

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My hot water heater must have been a good one, since I bought it in the early 80s. Really surprised that it has worked this long !
 

shiftless

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MIHELA said:
Do a quick Google search for exploding water heaters, and then see if it's worth it to make your own out of a drum.
I'm not driven by fear and paranoia like some of y'all are, so this argument that makes so much sense to you, is just ridiculous to me. So a thick steel drum is going to burst but a thin, cheap piece of shit made in China tank is safe?

I'm not spending $500-$1000 for some Chinese piece of shit that's going to fail in a few years. Period. If anything I might buy a quality old water heater just to get the controls from it. Anyone who doesn't think they could successfully build their own water heater (a very simple device) probably has no business installing a Cad engine into anything either. There is no rocket science involved here.
 

MIHELA

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Well, you are going to need a stainless drum, stainless flue, turbolator, safety valves, gas valve, sacrificial anode, inlet and outlet fittings and couplers, a drain, a burner assembly, and insulation. That drum would presumably be used, and it had better not have had any toxic or corrosive chemicals in it. I think you are going to easily exceed the cost of a new heater. It won't be anywhere near as efficient as a store bought heater, which will cost you real money. It won't have any sort of warranty. It won't be designed to handle the several pounds of pressure it will see in normal use. I bet it will fail within a year or two, probably violently.
 

Monzallac 425

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I would just like to add to this discussion, would a stainless steel drum hold up to just being a solar water heater? We don't have hot water still after over 4 + years and were considering a on demand tankless electric but since we get hot water from our pipes when they heat up in the in the sun, I was thinking about that. I read online that with only 30 - 40 lbs of pressure,the drum ends start to bulge.

I have yet to test our water pressure ( which is pretty the highest considering where we have lived over the last 38 years) Water companies well is just up the hill from our house.

I know they make adjustable pressure valves and seen 30 lbs ones on EBay.

Any input would be appreciated.

Doug in P.R. :quoties:
 

DavesDeville

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There is no rocket science involved here.
The rocket science only comes in if you screw it up.

Keep your pressure as close to ambient air pressure as possible and you won't need your roof patched. City water pressure here is 80psi, 55gal volume at that pressure can be quite dangerous before you put heat energy into it.
 
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