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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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 #1
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

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 #2
Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods

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 #3
Bob Ratliff
Robert Ratliff Realty - San Antonio, TX
"Sold with Bob"

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 #4
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 #5
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 #6
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 #7
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 #8
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

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 #9
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 #10
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Charles Buell

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