When is it Enough?

Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

Enough, adequate, sufficient, can be interpreted differently by each person you ask, making “enough” a some what subjective term. Enough cake for one person might be half of a double layer chocolate velvet cake, for another just a sliver. In other instances the opinions are probably going to be more aligned. In other circumstances opinion is more or less removed by an established set of guidelines or standards.

Water heater in a Connecticut houseIn the home inspection industry there are numerous sets of standards for inspecting a house. There is 10 x 10 the amount of standards for constructing buildings. Most people know these as building codes. One thing all these standards have in common is this;

They are bare minimums.

Some of us in the home inspection business like to refer to the Standards as;

The worst job you can do and get away with it.

It is no different for building codes and I’m certain the same could be said for many industries. Now the question, if something meets code or building industry standards, does this make it right or adequate?

For example, If a house has say seven bathrooms, plus the usual kitchen and laundry what is the standard sized water heater for this house?

50 gallons, 75, 100?

Tankless coil type water heater

There is no “right” answer because first of all it depends. But more interestingly there isn’t a building code or standard that that I’m aware of that addresses water heater sizing. It is left up to the builder who would obviously defer to the plumber.

As for inspecting homes basically the same is true, the inspector is not expected or required to determine the adequacy of the water heater. In reality it would almost be impossible to determine because there are so many variables to consider.

The Connecticut Home Inspection Standards say only this with regard to water heaters;

The inspector shall describe the water heating equipment including the energy source

Reporting the water heater as a gas fired 40 gallon unit located in the basement is all that is needed, provided there are no deficiencies.

At what point does not enough become a deficiency?

Would anyone think this water is hot enough? Getting back to that seven bathroom house, would any reasonable person consider an aged tankless coil type water heater that may deliver 2 gallons of hot water a minute adequate for this house? Apparently there must have been quite a few, because that is exactly what I found in that house I described.

The house has been significantly added onto, four new bedrooms and four new baths. It had been inspected by the town. It had been inspected by another home inspection company. Everyone apparently found the water heating system to be fine. 90 degree water at the bathroom taps must be fine for them, but not for my client. Nor is not having a water heater that can barely deliver enough hot water for one low flow shower head okay. Yet it can be said no one broke any rules. Just as it can be said no one stepped up and made a point of an obvious inadequate water heating system.

How much information is enough?


James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
Former SNEC-ASHI President
NRSB #8SS0022
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

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Posted by

James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
Former SNEC-ASHI President
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

 ASHI Certified Inspector

To find out more about our other high tech services we offer in Connecticut click on the links below:

Learn more about our Infrared Thermal Imaging & Diagnostics services.

Serving the Connecticut Counties of Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex, New Haven, Southern Litchfield and Western New London.


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Charlie Dresen
Steamboat Sotheby's International Realty - Steamboat Springs, CO
Steamboat Springs, CO e-Pro

Very good point and great examples to drive it home. I knew a gal in the textile business and she used to lament about manufacturers who always came in within the tolerances, but also always came in at either the very low end or the very high end...and we wonder why a size medium shirt can look almost as big as a size large or almost as small as a size small. Same point you were making...getting away with "just enough" or "just under the max" can lead to very unpleasant and inconsistent results.

Jan 25, 2012 12:04 AM #1
Ellie Shorb
Compass Real Estate - Chevy Chase, MD
Realtor DC, MD & VA Luxury Home Expert

Very provocative... thanks! I suggested your post because I have never seen an inpspection where they really took the time to explain to buyers whether the equipent in the house would not just work, but ALSO fit their needs in terms of size/capacity. I will be adding this to my checklist.

Jan 25, 2012 12:19 AM #2
Craig Rutman
Helping people in transition - Cary, NC
Raleigh, Cary, Apex area Realtor

I would think that there should be a minimum requirement in the building codes for things like water heater size and HVAC systems. People should know these things prior to completing a transaction.

Jan 25, 2012 02:27 AM #3
Joe Petrowsky
Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709 - Manchester, CT
Your Mortgage Consultant for Life

I copied your post and will forward to my Realtor partners. Great informationa dn thank you for sharing the post with us.

Jan 25, 2012 02:28 AM #4
Vince Chinell
VICO Home Inspection - Branson, MO

James,  Seems like it happens a lot when homes are "added on to".   Heating, A/C, and plumbing lines are run to the new additions but heating, cooling, and hot water tanks are never increased with the new size demand.  Another consideration, at least in the county areas is load on the septic system.  People wonder why a home system doesn't work as well as it should,  the house was not origianally designed for the "load" that the "add ons" created.

Jan 25, 2012 02:36 AM #5
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

My personal favorites are the 50 gallon and the 100 gallon. I have used both in my lifetime on homes that I have owned and managed. There can never be enough hot water especially when one needs it. Good one James

Jan 25, 2012 03:24 AM #6
Pat & Wayne Harriman
Harriman Real Estate, LLC (203) 672-4499 - Wallingford, CT
Broker/Owners, Wallingford CT Real Estate

Not enough becomes a deficiency when you have 4 adults living in a small house with only domestic hot water! You learn to space out showers real quick or you better be first in the bathroom!

Jan 25, 2012 03:27 AM #7
Cynthia Larsen
Cotati, CA
Independent Broker In Sonoma County, CA

Don't get me started on tankless water heaters, there is too much that is not shared when a consumer is trying to make a choice. You said the magic words ... low flow shower head ... tankless water heaters don't work well with them if at all.

Jan 25, 2012 06:40 AM #8
Debbie Holmes
Gold Key Real Estate - Boise, ID
Gets the job done!

I think they must be more advanced in Europe because I have lived in 2 separate locations and they worked fine... Here they seem to have problems...

Jan 25, 2012 06:52 AM #9
Jo Olson
HOMEFRONT Realty - Kettle Falls, WA
HOMEFRONT Realty @ LAKE Roosevelt - Stevens County

I want all the information you got and so do my clients! This type of stuff is so very important.  I have a house in contract right now and because of size and location there are two hot water tanks! 

Jan 25, 2012 10:36 AM #10
TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc.
Complete Home Inspections, Inc. - Brentwood, TN
Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029

Good evening,  James. I just love it when a builder puffs himself up and touts that the house was built to "Codes". What a joke...

Jan 25, 2012 11:23 AM #11
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Jim, Enough is when I can take my hot shower when my son is taking his ; )

Now what if you have one of them very nice LARGE jetted tubs and your tank can not even fill it with warm water, Hmm not enough in my book.

Did I mention I have a 80 and a 50 gallon, yeah I got enough ; )

Micheal- LOL, except where it was not even built to code ; )

Jan 25, 2012 12:42 PM #12
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Are you sure it's all relative, Dr. Einstein?

And, truth be told, my wife would FREEZE in a 90F shower!  She is sub human in her ability to handle hot showers!  And loves them...

Jan 25, 2012 10:17 PM #13
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Charlie, Going above is the best approach in my eyes. 

Ellie, Normally it's not something I would do or I sure most other inspectors. In this instance it was so obviously an issue, I made a point of it. 

Craig, Nope. Another one of those assumptions made about how homes are built and checked. 

Joe, Thanks for spreading the info. 

Vince, So true. The septic system is another one, like you say, that doesn't get increased along with the house. 

Richie, So true. Nothing is more memorable than a cold shower. Makes people ornery :)

Wayne, I remember the bathroom battles growing up :)

Cynthia, While that is true in some cases, this tankless water is a different type than you may be thinking of. It's installed right in the oil fired boiler. They are notoriously poor performers. 

Debbie, Like I said to Cynthia, this a somewhat different type than you're used to. The oil fired tankless in the boiler is a piece of junk in my opinion. 

Jo, Yes that is usually what one sees, over kill, not undersized. 

Michael, Yeah, like that is superior construction. Makes me chuckle as well.

Don, That coil will NEVER keep up with the demand to fill a tub. There were several in the house and the client has a baby. I think she be using a tub...a lot!

TWO water heaters. Oh that's right you live in the land of cheap electricity :)

Jay, I'm not a doctor, but I did....

I like mine hot too, 90 is not going to cut it. 

Jan 26, 2012 11:54 PM #14
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Delivering the Unbiased Truth.

Just remember James, the second you exceed the standards of practice you're going to get sued.  


Jan 29, 2012 10:48 AM #15
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Reuben ;)

Jan 30, 2012 12:08 AM #16
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James Quarello

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