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It's Only Hot Water... Right?

Home Inspector with HomeRun Homes Inspection, LLC HOI#0000818

Two weeks ago I was vacationing in Florida with my family enjoying the R&R... Work never sleeps in my world... nor do the educational wheels that constantly spin in that little teeny brain of mine. "The human head weighs eight pounds". Some days my head is full of it all... but I digress


One simple answer... NO, NO and NO!

 I was touring some new housing community sites near to where I was staying in Sarasota, Fl. As I was slowly driving through the community, I noticed some metal chimney stacks through many of the finished roof structures. My first thought and question was this: why would they be installing a furnace in Florida? Coming from CT. that would be your first thought right? Well it turns out those chimney stacks were for gas fired water heaters. My next thought was WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT!!! As an energy efficiency supporter, I just can't understand for the life of all things within the simplicity of common sense; who in their right mind (some builders are questionable at best) would install an 80% efficient gas fired water heater in a brand new home (this site was having approximately 70+ homes built)? Calling all Home Depot specials, isle 7... contractor pickup!!! Some of what I learned when I attended my ASHI home inspection school in Tampa was this statement (fully laced with sarcasm); "CHEAPER IS BETTER"

Having an accounting and finance background, I fully understand the financial side where a builder is going to maximize his/her bottom line by investing in cheaper products. If it falls within minimum building code, go for it. The average homeowner won't know the difference. A great example is a very close friend of mine who is having a CUSTOM HOME built outside Columbus, Ohio. He consulted me on some of the mechanical choices the builder had presented. To gain a good prospective of the home I'll give you the basics... 4,000+ sq. feet, 6 bedrooms, 4.5 baths, 3 car garage - for a family of 7 (2 adults and 5 kids). Here's the kicker that sent me through the roof. The builder wanted to install an 80 gallon electric water heater. What? No wait, what??? Here it comes in 3... 2... 1... CHEAPER IS BETTER


The top 10 factors to consider in your own home when it comes to choosing a new water heater and assessing the high & low points of your existing unit. Same things goes if you are having a new home built. Check your builder's major mechanical list of products being used. Question them heavily as to WHY they are using products that do not meet high energy efficiency standards (especially with natural gas & propane). 

1. Age

2. Fuel Type (electric, gas or oil)

3. Ventilation/Exhaust

4. Tank Size

5. Number of Hot Water Fixtures in the home 

6. Family Size (how much demand is there)

7. Temperature settings

8. Energy Efficiency

9.  How far does the hot water have to travel?

10. Annual maintenance


David Shamansky
US Mortgages - David Shamansky - Highlands Ranch, CO
Creative, Aggressive & 560 FICO - OK, Colorado Mtg

It is sad the crap that many of the builders install and pass off to their buyers who are completely unaware

Oct 22, 2015 12:06 PM
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Hi Robert. Just happened to find this blog of yours today. I have been absent from AR for some time and had not seen this post. I'm not quite grasping your obvious problem with standard atmospherically vented water heaters. Are there better, more efficient options, of course. Is there something wrong with the WHs in these new construction condos? No, not really. As for your friend in Ohio. Was there natural gas on his street? If not that may be why the builder chose an 80 gallon electric. The house is quite large and I would expect to see at the very least an 80 gallon unit. A hybrid electric is certainly a better option than a standard  electric unit. Depending on the cost of electricity in Ohio, it may be cheap to run that unit. 

Oct 26, 2016 04:05 AM