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Thread: What is the lifespan of a typical gas heater?

  1. #1
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    What is the lifespan of a typical gas heater?

    I recently bought a house that came with a Pentair MiniMax 300DV propane gas heater for a 15k gal pool/spa combo. It's not working currently, I just get a general "error" on the front panel and plan to have it looked at and fixed. But the unit itself looks pretty rusty on top. It's probably 7-8 years old. What is the lifespan of these things? What typically breaks first, the electronics or some other hardware?

    I'd like to replace it with an electric heat pump since propane costs almost $5/gal in my area, plus I live in Orlando where it's warm enough year round for the HP to work efficiently, but I'd rather not spend the $4k converting to electric right now. I want to see what kind of propane bills I wind up with (I know it's going to be high). In any case, I'm sure the unit is out of warranty, but still wondering about how long they should last.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Re: What is the lifespan of a typical gas heater?

    Don't know about expected life in Florida; however most heaters are repairable as long as the burner tray is not rotten and the heat exchanger is sound.

    You can get the age of the heater from the rating plate. It should be behind the front panel.
    In the industry, CSP (Certified Service Professional) by the NSPI and it's successor the APSP. My company services over 600 pools every year. I think the practices regularly espoused on this forum (especially the BBB method) are outstanding; however my comments will be often oriented towards the goal of getting it done, and getting it done right now!

  3. #3
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    Re: What is the lifespan of a typical gas heater?

    Manufactures are quoting these days an average life span of 5 to 7 years.

    What usually breaks? It's all depends on many factors. If you are interested in seeing if it worth fixing, find someone that specializes in gas pool heaters and heave them come out to look it over.

    Did you have a home inspection on the house when you bought it? Unless it was banked own, usually when the inspection comes back, unless it's an as-is house, and something is broke it usually gets repaired/replaced before the house is closed on.
    Paul
    http://www.gastekservices.com

    A word of caution: When working with gas and other things you really might want to consider a licensed contractor. Consider the value of your life and others around you. I recently looked at a burned up heater at a customers house and found out he tried to trouble shoot it. He said he's not sure what he did but the unit caught fire. The unit is now toast and is being replaced. I'm only providing you with help but in many cases you need to hire someone. I realize people are all about saving money but lives are priceless!

  4. #4
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    Re: What is the lifespan of a typical gas heater?

    Quote Originally Posted by ps0303
    Did you have a home inspection on the house when you bought it? Unless it was banked own, usually when the inspection comes back, unless it's an as-is house, and something is broke it usually gets repaired/replaced before the house is closed on.
    Yes, I knew it wasn't working before we bought the house, and the house was sold as-is. I didn't know why it wasn't working, but I assumed I was going to swap it out for an electric heat pump anyway. I may still do that, but I'm stuck between paying now or paying later, and I'm preferring to pay later at this point. I think a lot of the controls would need to be replaced, too, once I convert. Everything is set up for gas right now. I was told it could be $400 for a new circuit board, but that it might still not work or work for long afterwards. It's a gamble. We'll see. Anyway, I'm curious what a 300,000 BTU heater does to this pool compared to the 125k electric, which I already have experience with at my old house (the pools are almost identical in size). I like the idea of a FAST warm up in the middle of winter. But I know I'm going to pay for it.

  5. #5
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    Re: What is the lifespan of a typical gas heater?

    They put in a new control board and temp sensor today and my heater seems to be working great now. One thing I noticed right off the bat is how HOT the exhaust is. I was holding my hand a couple feet away from the exhaust and my hand was burning hot after about 2 seconds. Why can't they find a way to recycle this extremely hot exhaust gas to make the pool heaters more efficient??

    In any case, it raised my pool temp from 81 to 87 in just a tad over 2 hours (15k gal pool). Bad news is it consumed 10 gallons of propane in the process, or nearly $50 bucks. We just bought the house and this is my first time using it, so I'll have to figure out the most efficient way to not go broke heating my pool. Elec heat pump is $4k, so it's either pay now or pay later. But I really, REALLY like how fast this thing heats my water. I'm in Orlando so I don't think I'll need to use the heater THAT much, or else I'll just run it for the spa. My wife and kid won't touch the water unless it's warm, like 88 plus. Well, my kid will but then he jumps out after about 2 minutes.

  6. #6
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    Re: What is the lifespan of a typical gas heater?

    Your heater is probably around 70-80% efficient which is why the exhaust is so hot. They do make high 95% efficient heaters, but they cost more up-front. Ironically, the most efficient heaters have bigger problems trying to prevent corrosion of the heat exchanger from condensation. With the less efficient heaters, much water content goes up the stack as steam, but with the high efficiency heaters the exhaust is much cooler so more water condenses and if not properly trapped or redirected, it can end up on the heat exchanger when the heater turns off and corrode it long-term (from the outside).

    My 9 year-old heater is 80% efficient (or at least it was when I got it) and I did have to replace the control board when a part shorted out, but that's the only needed repair so far.
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

  7. #7
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    Re: What is the lifespan of a typical gas heater?

    Quote Originally Posted by flguy
    They put in a new control board and temp sensor today and my heater seems to be working great now. One thing I noticed right off the bat is how HOT the exhaust is. I was holding my hand a couple feet away from the exhaust and my hand was burning hot after about 2 seconds. Why can't they find a way to recycle this extremely hot exhaust gas to make the pool heaters more efficient??

    In any case, it raised my pool temp from 81 to 87 in just a tad over 2 hours (15k gal pool). Bad news is it consumed 10 gallons of propane in the process, or nearly $50 bucks. We just bought the house and this is my first time using it, so I'll have to figure out the most efficient way to not go broke heating my pool. Elec heat pump is $4k, so it's either pay now or pay later. But I really, REALLY like how fast this thing heats my water. I'm in Orlando so I don't think I'll need to use the heater THAT much, or else I'll just run it for the spa. My wife and kid won't touch the water unless it's warm, like 88 plus. Well, my kid will but then he jumps out after about 2 minutes.
    Most of the reason why pool heaters aren't more efficient is becasue of the cost. The consumer wouldn't spend $3000 for a high efficiency pool heater. Heating a pool with propane is an expensive venture. Natural gas is cheaper but you don't have that. As for a heat pump, consider your cost for the electricity. While still cheaper than propane, you won't get the heat up time like you just experienced especially when it's colder out. Using the heater for just the spa is more then likely the main reason why the previous owner purchased it for.
    Paul
    http://www.gastekservices.com

    A word of caution: When working with gas and other things you really might want to consider a licensed contractor. Consider the value of your life and others around you. I recently looked at a burned up heater at a customers house and found out he tried to trouble shoot it. He said he's not sure what he did but the unit caught fire. The unit is now toast and is being replaced. I'm only providing you with help but in many cases you need to hire someone. I realize people are all about saving money but lives are priceless!

  8. #8
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    Re: What is the lifespan of a typical gas heater?

    Quote Originally Posted by ps0303
    Using the heater for just the spa is more then likely the main reason why the previous owner purchased it for.
    That's what I thought at first, but it's a 300k BTU heater, which seems overkill for a spa. By the way, I confirmed the gas price and there is another company, Ferrellgas, that can give it to me for $2.90/gallon standard rate. This is WAY better than I thought I was going to have to pay.

    Specifically, Ferrellgas said "Gas Price for next 3 years: Based on LDC (commercial wholesale cost) Wholesale plus 1.70 margin
    - example if purchased today the price would be 1.20 plus 1.70 or $2.90 per gallon (after first fill discount)". Not bad.

  9. #9
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    Re: What is the lifespan of a typical gas heater?

    The previous owner wanted the spa heated up sooner rather then later so they went with a bigger model. I see it many times. People want to have the spa ready to go in 20 or less.

    Sounds like a deal on the propane cost. One big advantage to owning the tank is that you can shop around on gas prices.
    Paul
    http://www.gastekservices.com

    A word of caution: When working with gas and other things you really might want to consider a licensed contractor. Consider the value of your life and others around you. I recently looked at a burned up heater at a customers house and found out he tried to trouble shoot it. He said he's not sure what he did but the unit caught fire. The unit is now toast and is being replaced. I'm only providing you with help but in many cases you need to hire someone. I realize people are all about saving money but lives are priceless!

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