I just found my household water heater has been leaking, and the whole downstairs is flooded. Started last night some time. I gather that with this type of tank (American - mine is GE) it's common, and in the States they let go periodically as well. I'm told that because of that there are building regulations up there about how these things have to be positioned - which obviously aren't observed in Belize!
I have never known or even heard of a tank letting go like this in Britain, and it's normal for hot water tanks to be located in cupboards where clothes are also stored ("airing cupboards"). Clearly tanks are made there of a material that can't corrode in this way. Copper I think. The only ones I've ever seen here are made from mild steel, which obviously is a very bad material to use. Plastic could also be used, as after all hot water pipes here are made from plastic. Yet the shops I've called all only stock steel tanks.
Does anyone know of a better alternative to mild steel?
Peter As you know nothing lasts on the Island. Ours lasted about about 5 years before the bottom rusted and we had about 2 inches of water in our old condo...not nice. They will last longer if you have air flow underneath the water heater rather than just positioning the heater directly on a tile..no air flow will make it rust much quicker.
We looked extensively at a tankless system for our new condo but decided against it because you cannot guarantee a certain flow of water into the tankless system.
Apparently the instant heat water heaters have a copper tank, but I've found that all the normal hot water tanks here are steel. A crazy material to make a water container from.....
Champion - it's not the heater element burning out that concerns me. That's also happened and you can buy those. It's the tank itself corroding through, which I don't think COULD happen if the tank were made of copper.
Incidentally, for the same make (brand) of tank and the same size, different shops here in SP have quoted me prices ranging from (Bz)$500 to $975. You expect a bit of variation, but that's insane!
Europe uses mainly the tankless type hot water heater which are basically a copper coil to which heat is applied either with gas or electric. The States on the other hand uses a tank type heater with the liner made from steel. Typically in the States the life expectancy is 7 to 10 years. Planned obsolescence, keeps the wheels of industry working. Belize, from what I've seen uses the US model. On a guess, you might get longer life out of the heater if you shut it off and drained the water. Of course then you'd have to turn it back on when it was needed. This would work for seasonal people not an option for fulltime residents. A small Paloma hot water heater cost about $700 in the US. In Europe they might be cheaper. Installation is fairly simple for an electric model. Gas is more complicated since you have to make sure there is proper venting for the gas burner.
The tankless hot water heaters must be sized correctly for the uses you put them through. The flow thru is a specific gallons pre minute. As you add fixtures and their use the size of the unit needs to be larger. When I was sizing one for my house in the States, I would have had to go up to a unit that cost about $1500. If you have one shower and only wash hand basins the small unit should work. 2 showers, and a dish washer and clothes washer and a couple of sinks mean bigger unit.
Here at home, my hot water heater tank finally let go at 17 years of age. Quite remarkable really. The bad part of that for me, was that I'd spent the whole previous year thinking that I should just replace it before it let go, cuz the poor thing was already living on more than borrowed time. But no, I kept putting it off and putting it off and that neglect cost me significantly more than had I replaced it prior.
A fish and a bird can fall in love, but where will they build their nest?
I don't know about the rest of Europe, but other than for new apartment-type buildings Britain almost exclusively uses gas or oil boilers with water stored in a tank. They're (virtually?) always made from copper and I have never heard of one failing. They last indefinitely, though in hard water areas they are replaced every 20-or-so years because of the build-up of calcium deposits. NEVER because they fail structurally.
I have abandoned hope of finding anything here other than the American or Mexican mild steel ones, which have a very limited life. The one that just failed catastrophically has lasted about 4 years from new. I am frankly astonished that people put up with this, when a copper one would last permanently.