Code: Minimum Hot Water Capacity Replacement

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by bocatrip, Feb 19, 2012.

  1. bocatrip

    bocatrip New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Fl
    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.
  2. kreemoweet

    kreemoweet New Member

    Messages:
    371
    Location:
    Seattle. WA
    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.
  3. liquidplumber

    liquidplumber In the Trades

    Messages:
    69
    Location:
    Gastonia NC
    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.
  4. Hackney plumbing

    Hackney plumbing Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,174
    Location:
    Alabama
    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: Feb 19, 2012
  5. JerryR

    JerryR Member

    Messages:
    242
    Location:
    Florida
    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.
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,635
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    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.
  7. Hackney plumbing

    Hackney plumbing Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,174
    Location:
    Alabama
    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.
  8. bocatrip

    bocatrip New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Fl
    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.
  9. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    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.
  10. Hackney plumbing

    Hackney plumbing Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,174
    Location:
    Alabama
    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.
  11. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    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?
  12. Runs with bison

    Runs with bison Member

    Messages:
    892
    Location:
    Midwest
    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.
  13. Runs with bison

    Runs with bison Member

    Messages:
    892
    Location:
    Midwest
    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.
  14. bocatrip

    bocatrip New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Fl
    Good point! That's being proactive and thinking down the road. I was thinking the same thing.
  15. Hackney plumbing

    Hackney plumbing Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,174
    Location:
    Alabama
    I was thinking the same thing too....in post number 4
    LOL
  16. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    Propane is far more than electric, typically, with all its associated unpleasant plumbing and dangers. I have an old seasonal rate schedule that averages out about 8 cents per KW. Probably lowest on earth. And now we have the care program for lower incomes, quite high numbers actually, and that max's out at 10 cents.

    PGE gets a higher proportion of power from old mega hydro schemes than most in the nation.
  17. Runs with bison

    Runs with bison Member

    Messages:
    892
    Location:
    Midwest
    Yes, I realize propane is generally a more expensive option (I've had it in homes before...nearly had to shoot a propane truck driver once who I caught letting gas out of my tank, but that's another story...I warned him that I would shoot him if I saw him again, even if it was to fill the neighbor's tank across the alley, and I wasn't kidding.) If you don't have access to natural gas or aren't using it for anything else then I can understand why you wouldn't want to incur the monthly charges for that either as it wouldn't make sense for water heater alone with low electric rates.

    I was mainly wondering if there is some sort of local restriction that isn't allowing electric resistance water heaters in new construction?

    California has some pretty good incentive to minimize electric demand and a water heater is a big one. Some regions may be on cheap hydro, but the state as a whole has gotten gouged pretty badly...and the population keeps growing.
  18. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    "we" got gouged on natural gas from those ethically bankrupt zoot-suiters at Enron that fake restricted the pipelines. then they fake restricted the peak power from Washington, But it didnt raise our rates due to the public utilities commission taking a good long time to make adjustments.

    Then they faked "maintenance" on a few plants to play more games. Should have all gotten 100 lashes with wire rope in their boardroom.

    They did succeed in bringing PGE to the brink of bankruptcy - I knew PGE was one of the strongest companies historically, and bought stock at one dollar. A company that owns a Dam INSIDE yosemite park and brings the water via 3] 60" pipes to a heaven like company town built in the 30's, and THEN sells the water to San francisco via a 100 mile tunnel [of which perhaps 40 people in the state know exist] cannot go bankrupt. I think I sold it at 35$ thanks Enron, you sleaze balls - some of us saw your scam during it all.

    Our energy calcs are so strict, that usually electric WH makes it not calc. Which of course is blatantly stupid when we are running around building charging stations for electric cars. This house is all trusses, so the walls are 12" deep and the roof
    32", so if need be we can likely calc it out- luckily we have a new head inspector that encourages building, as he knows this area needs it bad.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2012
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