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Thread: Code: Minimum Hot Water Capacity Replacement

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member bocatrip's Avatar
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    Default Code: Minimum Hot Water Capacity Replacement

    Hi All. I have a 2 bedroom 2 bath Villa in Florida, built in 1999. I want to replace my AO smith 52 Gallon electric hot water heater due to it's age. No leaks so far. Is there any building code which requires a minimun capacity replacement? I live alone and was thinking of getting a 12 year GE 40 gallon unit as not to waster money heating water I am never using? Anyone know if I'm required to get a specific size unit? Would a 40 gallon suffice for my usage? I was told that the newer units are more efficient and have a higher recovery rate. Any feedback would be appreciated.

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    DIY Senior Member kreemoweet's Avatar
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    As far as I know, there is no code requiring you to have a water heater at all. There may some local or Florida
    regulation though, which I wouldn't know about.

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    In the Trades liquidplumber's Avatar
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    You should be able to downsize your heater with no problems. Ive never heard of any ordinance that wouldnt allow you to do that. (theres no code covering that, but you should check local ordinance just to be extra sure.... I highly doubt there is)
    Also consider installing a timer for the most cost savings. If your life has a fairly regular schedule (up at 6, out the door by 7 home at 5, in bed by midnight) most days, a timer will save you alot of money. Most folks find that the savings pay for the cost of the timer within a few months.
    Every time an electric water heater comes on its the same as turning on 45, 100watt light bulbs!!! If you use a timer to regulate the heater to only run the few hours a day when you would actually be home and using hot water, the savings add up pretty quick.

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    Yes a residence is required to have hot water. A 40 gal is fine for a 2 bedrrom two bath home without a garden tub. Thats pushing it however,for sure check with local code department to protect yourself if you decide to sell.
    Last edited by Hackney plumbing; 02-19-2012 at 08:04 PM.

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    DIY Senior Member JerryR's Avatar
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    According to the Energy guides, The 50 gallon GE 6 year energy guide vs the 40 gallon GE 12 year is only a $12 per year difference.

    In Florida (Boca?) the real life difference will be even less due to the cold water supply temp rarely exceeds 75dF.

    If you have a Roman tub you will need at least 50 gallon HW heater to fill it with warm water. *I know as I just went through this at my 3 Br 2 bath house in Sarasota. *The home was built in 2001 and came with a 40 gallon / dual 4500 watt element heater. *Replaced it with 50 gallon and it made all the difference.*

    I have 6 year, 50 gallon HWH from Home Depot in both homes, list price $265 and they do a great job.
    JR

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    You can install any size heater you want to, and you do NOT even have to turn it on if that is okay with you. You could even install a 30 gallon heater but it would probably cost you more than a 40 gallon one. For all practical purposes, you only heat the water you use so the size of the heater is immaterial.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    You can install any size heater you want to, and you do NOT even have to turn it on if that is okay with you. You could even install a 30 gallon heater but it would probably cost you more than a 40 gallon one. For all practical purposes, you only heat the water you use so the size of the heater is immaterial.
    Some codes require a certain size water heater based off the bedrooms and baths of a residence. Local ammendments or state codes can specify this. You will have it operating for inspection. In new home construction the final will not be given without the water heater installed and in operation.

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    DIY Junior Member bocatrip's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for all your feedback. I'm leaning towards the 50 gallon GE 12 year sold at Home depot. A permit is required and I would prefer to go with a reputable outfit rather than abc plumbing. It will cost a few dollars more, but at least here in Florida, I will have some recourse for any problems down the road. I'd like to keep the copper piping that exists now and if I get the tall model, it is pretty much the same size. I don't like the flex tubing I see on many replacements.

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    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    A 40 gallon has always been "standard" for 2br/2ba, even 3br/2ba. Today, 50's are more commonly found, but with all the HE appliances, that may be overkill. It all depends on showers: algore wants you to take a 3 min. lukewarm; your interior designer want you to have six heads flowing 15gpm, steamy hot. You decide!

    Building officials here won't allow less than a 30 gallon in any residence, even a studio or efficiency apt.

    For you, that 40 will be fine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimbo View Post
    A 40 gallon has always been "standard" for 2br/2ba, even 3br/2ba. Today, 50's are more commonly found, but with all the HE appliances, that may be overkill. It all depends on showers: algore wants you to take a 3 min. lukewarm; your interior designer want you to have six heads flowing 15gpm, steamy hot. You decide!

    Building officials here won't allow less than a 30 gallon in any residence, even a studio or efficiency apt.

    For you, that 40 will be fine.
    I suspect the reason inspectors/codes do not want undersized water heaters installed is because everyone knows the "fix" for that is to turn it up to boiling......LOL

    Seriously tho,undersizing water heaters causes all kinds of problems besides runnign out of hot water.

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    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    If I may subject shift, here is a question for all: I have a set of approved house plans with a 40 gallon water heater. But it clearly shows electric. Electric WH are idiotically not allowed in Ca. lately.

    Electric is what I want, and have partially installed. My plan guy says just do it, and thinks the energy calcs were with electric also. Hope for a nice or stupid inspector?

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    DIY Senior Member Runs with bison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hackney plumbing View Post
    Some codes require a certain size water heater based off the bedrooms and baths of a residence. Local ammendments or state codes can specify this. You will have it operating for inspection. In new home construction the final will not be given without the water heater installed and in operation.
    In addition to the above (which I've seen as guidelines in some commonly used codes) one other consideration that might factor in is if there is any chance that the home will be sold within the water heater's lifetime. If a potential buyer has had problems with small water heaters in the past, likes big tubs, or long showers) they are likely to be wary of a 40 gallon unit and assume that it won't meet their needs or it will have to be replaced. This is even more of an issue with electric because of the slower recovery.

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    DIY Senior Member Runs with bison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ballvalve View Post
    If I may subject shift, here is a question for all: I have a set of approved house plans with a 40 gallon water heater. But it clearly shows electric. Electric WH are idiotically not allowed in Ca. lately.

    Electric is what I want, and have partially installed. My plan guy says just do it, and thinks the energy calcs were with electric also. Hope for a nice or stupid inspector?
    Are you saying electric resistance water heaters (storage type) are not allowed for new construction in California?

    If the home is all electric or doesn't have access to natural gas then I could see why you wouldn't want to go with LPG or the extra expense of monthly service charges for gas. On the other hand I can understand why California would be trying to minimize electric use/maximizing efficiency after being raped by Enron and associates.

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    DIY Junior Member bocatrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Runs with bison View Post
    In addition to the above (which I've seen as guidelines in some commonly used codes) one other consideration that might factor in is if there is any chance that the home will be sold within the water heater's lifetime. If a potential buyer has had problems with small water heaters in the past, likes big tubs, or long showers) they are likely to be wary of a 40 gallon unit and assume that it won't meet their needs or it will have to be replaced. This is even more of an issue with electric because of the slower recovery.
    Good point! That's being proactive and thinking down the road. I was thinking the same thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bocatrip View Post
    Good point! That's being proactive and thinking down the road. I was thinking the same thing.
    I was thinking the same thing too....in post number 4
    LOL

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