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Lynne
Water heater replacement frustration
Lynne

Our 40 gallon electric water gave up the ghost two days ago; the thermostat wouldn't shut off, and since is 15 years old, we turned off the circuit breaker, picked out a similar sized 50 gallon tank, and arranged to have it installed today.

When the installers showed up (with a 'tall' tank, not the 'medium' we ordered to fit in the space), they said they couldn't do it anyway, because we have a modular home (stick built in two sections and assembled on site in 1977), and they didn't have a license to do work on modular homes. I don't get it, since it's built like any other home, we've had the water heater replaced twice in all those years, and it was never an issue. But OK.

The other thing that came up was how many bedrooms and baths we have (3 bedrooms, 3 baths). Apparently that requires a tank with a delivery rate of 67 or better; the tank we selected was 62. Then there are permit and inspection requirements as well and what started as a $900 bill will now be $1500.

So here we are on Christmas Eve with no hot water. I can cope. But I'm frustrated that what seemed like a simple thing has gotten so complicated. Mind you, we have lived just fine with a 40 gallon tank for 15 years, but thought we'd take the opportunity to upgrade. If we replace the 40 gal with another one of the same size would be have to go through all these hoops? I can buy a Rheems for $400.

A. Spruce
Re: Water heater replacement frustration
A. Spruce

My condolences on the timing, if you've seen the thread I just started, I had a similar "emergency" on the eve of the holiday. Thankfully, my problems were solved easily.

I do not know of any restrictions for "modular" home water heater systems, that is not to say that there are not restrictions, but modular homes are looked upon very similarly to conventional construction. Where the problem may lie is that the installer/supplier is mistaking your modular for a "mobile" or "manufactured" or "trailer", wherein there are all kinds of restrictions, codes, and deviances from the standard code in regard to water heaters and such.

IF you have the ability to install the water heater yourself, just do it and get yourself through the holiday period. Once you're safely on the other side, then you can decide whether the regulations are relevant to your situation, and more importantly, whether side stepping those regulations will affect your insurance coverage.

To be quite honest, a water heater is a water heater, the difference between a "code applicable" heater and one that is not, is whether the manufacturer has paid a premium fee to the regulatory commission to register said heater to be compliant to the parameters of the application. That is to say, the manufacturer has paid a special fee to register said heater to be compliant for YOUR application.

What does all this matter? If there is ever a problem and property damage occurs, and it can be traced back to the W/H, and said W/H does not meet the specs required of the abode, you become sh*t out of luck for a claim. Basically, you're wagering about $300 between a certified tank or not, in the event of a possible damages claim. This is if you own the home. What your liabilities are if you should sell a home with this knowledge are, I cannot help with.

Lynne
Re: Water heater replacement frustration
Lynne

We are looking into repair instead of replacement for expediency. Someone is coming out tomorrow.

One thing that bugs me is the delivery rate requirement...if I want to chance running out of hot water why should anyone else care?

A lot of joints advertise 'same day' or 'next day' service, but I don't see how any of the could possibly deliver on that.

dj1
Re: Water heater replacement frustration
dj1

The only ways to get a new WH installed the same day are if you do it yourself or have a plumber available.

Why don't you get a plumber to do it for you. Having the big box store send in their "contractors" is no good. They are notorious for robbing customers at the point of installation, doing a sub quality installation and not standing behind their work. Just Google complaints against them and see the long list of law suits pending.

I assume you ordered installation from the store, did you?

Lynne
Re: Water heater replacement frustration
Lynne

I didn't buy the WH yet, and it was a 'big box' store on-line. I thought I'd give them a try but never again!

I prefer replacement to repair but at this point I'll take what I can get.

dj1
Re: Water heater replacement frustration
dj1

Are you capable of installing a WH yourself?

keith3267
Re: Water heater replacement frustration
keith3267

In most 15 year old water heaters, the thermostat attaches to the side of the tank. If you unplug the WH or shut off the circuit breaker, it is really easy to change and not too expensive. There are two thermostats, one for the top and one for the bottom and they are different. If you know which one is stuck on, then you only need to change it, but if you aren't sure, then you will need to replace both.

You can do this yourself. You only need a screwdriver in most cases. The thermostat slides into a bracket so you only need to loosen the screws holding the wires in place. You should mark the wires or take a digital picture first, but it is pretty simple. Total cost should be under $50, but it has been a while since I have done this.

Your old WH may or may not have built in heat traps. If it does not have them, the new one will and that means changing the fittings on the water lines that connect to it. If you have copper pipes, then the old fittings will have to be cut off and new ones soldered on. If you are not prepared for that, then you will need a professional.

Replacing the thermostat(s) yourself will buy you time so you can research installers and plumbers in your area, get quotes and do this on your schedule, not someone elses.

dj1
Re: Water heater replacement frustration
dj1

I wouldn't recommend repairing a 15 year old water heater, because it could be good money wasted away. A newer WH maybe yes, but not 15 y.o.

To start with, your diagnosis may be off, causing you to buy parts you don't need and can't return. Add to this the fact that even with new parts, your tank is 15 y.o.

Your choice to replace is solid.

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