Do you have a Rheem Tankless Water Heater?

Home Inspector with Charles Buell Inspections Inc.

If you have a Rheem tankless water heater or are thinking of getting one, you should be aware they have a little noticed requirement in their installation instructions it might be wise to think about or consider.

Rheem Tankless Installation Instructions

Note the 3rd bullet point.  While the 2nd specifies the unit must be properly grounded, it states the unit is NOT to be installed on circuits that require AFCI or GFCI protection.

I found this troubling and baffling so I called Rheem technical support.  I was informed that the unit WILL trip AFCI and GFCI devices.  It is called nusiance tripping, and periodically having to reset the breaker is not desirable. 

I specifically asked what a customer should do that wants to install a unit where AFCI and/or GFCI protection was required, and was told, "find another location to install it."

Now this is problematic, as in most jurisdictions that have adopted recent electrical codes, there are very few such locations any longer.  Almost all locations where one would want to locate one of these units now falls under either AFCI or GFCI protection---and sometimes both.

So outdoors is out. 

The garage is out. 

The basement is out. 

This leaves the attic.

Of course the attic is problematic for other reasons.  Leaks, attic temperatures that might necessitate installation of tempering valves as the water lines heat above 120 degrees F. 

I have not yet found another tankless manufacturer that has this issue and I would be surprised if Rheem is not working on a solution to this problem.

With coming code changes, I suspect the receptacles in even the attic will require either/and/or AFCI / GFCI protection.  This is just the way the codes have been moving---are moving.

Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

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Comments (13)

Fred Hernden, CMI
Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area - Albuquerque, NM
Albuquerque area Master Inspector

I have never run into a Rheem unit, most of them are imported from China that I see here. I will be looking for that now, thanks Charles!

Jan 10, 2019 09:04 AM
Debb Janes
Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
Put My Love of Nature At Work for You

Wow, that's a catch 22. Good to know, and I'm guessing this issue will be popping up for us. D 

Jan 10, 2019 09:07 AM
Debe Maxwell, CRS
Savvy + Company (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC

I don't have a Rheem but if I did I would be pretty upset with this "resolution". They need to address this in a better way else lose potential customers not wanting to have to deal with this issue.

Jan 10, 2019 12:34 PM
Potranco Realty
Potranco Realty - San Antonio, TX
"Sold with Potranco Realty"

We have an ECO Smart unit, I had to go check when I started reading your blog. Great information thanks for sharing.

Jan 10, 2019 12:42 PM
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

To answer your question - I do not, and never will.

As to nuisance tripping, so often my AFCI circuit I was required to install with my smoke detectors when I finished my basement bedroom nuisance trips!  The electrician promised me it would.  He was right.

So, what's different with Rheem electrically that the others don't have?

Jan 10, 2019 01:35 PM
Charles Buell

Jay of course you do know that if it keeps tripping it is doing its job?  Unless you have pre 2008 AFCI's anyway.  Rheem told me their ignitor does not play well with AFCI and GFCI.  Kind of weird given that Bradford White requires GFCI protection. :)

Jan 10, 2019 01:45 PM
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

The AFCI was installed last year when I finished my basement bedroom, had to add two smoke detectors, and bring all the smokes up to the modern AFCI standard.  So the electrician installed a new AFCI breaker to cover the smokes.  It trips as often as twice a week, as predicted.  Don't know why. 

If it keeps tripping it's doing it's job?  To trip 4 or 5 times a month for no reason?

The electrician also said that because of the nuisance tripping people install the breaker to get the county approval and then immediately remove it to avoid the tripping thing. 

To me the whole thing is silliness.

Jan 10, 2019 03:06 PM
Charles Buell

Jay they simply do not trip for "no reason."  I had one it took me a couple of months to figure out.  It was a bad power strip.  It is telling you there is something wrong in the circuit---they can  be hard to find.

Jan 10, 2019 03:17 PM
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

It's a circuit with 9 smoke detectors on it, there is no power strip.  I think the solution is a regular 15amp breaker!

Jan 10, 2019 04:41 PM
Charles Buell

I would want to figure out what is wrong :)


Jan 11, 2019 02:28 PM
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

It does not make particular sense but hopefully Rheem also concurs and is working toward a solution.

Jan 10, 2019 07:35 PM
Charles Buell

I expect they will

Jan 11, 2019 02:28 PM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Realtor - Retired

That's quite a lot for this blonde to take in.  One thing for certain however, the appliances, etc., being manufacturered today, aren't of the same quality as several years ago.  For example, I replaced an oven in my kitchen with a GE brand a few years ago.  I've had problems and repairs with it before it was even out of warranty.  The previous one, a Kenmore, had lasted 28 years.

Jan 12, 2019 09:32 AM
Joe Pryor
The Virtual Real Estate Team - Oklahoma City, OK
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties

I love the idea of tankless hot water systems and they have gotten better. However, this one seems problematic and would be a problem in Oklahoma City also.

Jan 13, 2019 03:32 PM
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce

As our water heaters age...we will be going tankless...good to know !

Feb 11, 2020 05:35 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Charles- much of the technical details when flying over my head but your point is made!!!

Feb 11, 2020 05:37 PM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
CEO of Vision Drive Realty - Coastal San Diego

Great info. Come back to posting in The Rain soon, hope you are well?

Aug 01, 2020 06:15 AM