The builder of our new home (we bought after 95% completed)has
installed a 50 gallon electric water heater in a house that has 3.5
baths. Our house is less than 3 months old. We soon noticed that we
were running out of hot water after two baths and a shower. We have 3
small kids, so the baths were close together.
I have tried to convince the builder that the electric water heater
needs to be a minimum of 66 gallons, but more like 88 when you
consider a washing maching, dishwasher and jacquzi tub. I've done the
research and followed the calculation method, but the builder is not
willing to do anything about it after several conversations and
providing them with the calculation method.
I even called several local plumbers hoping that would influence the
builder (we've moved in from out of town). I don't know what else to
do beside spreading out the showers, baths, clothes washing and
dishwasher times, which is something my wife is not willing to
do....yet! We feel the builder should replace the water heater with a
more sizeable one. The argument from the builder is that this is what
they install in all their house (apparently regardless of size and the
fact that this one is electric and the rest of the new neighborhood is
gas). Also they said that the one we have now could not be installed
in another new house as the warranty would not be valid.
What can I do besides buying one myself at my cost? Is this my problem
or the builders?
What help can anyone provide?
nope, its not the builders problem. a 50 gallon heater should be plenty for
a "normal" family (I'm assuming that you're in a 3-6 bedroom home). Some
places have a spec for gallons/bedroom for hot water heaters, but most
If you bought hte house knowing that there was a 50 Gal HW heater, and
its operating properly, the builder doesn't really have any responsibility.
If its really a problem for you, either spread out your HW usage, or get
another heater. There are heaters that recharge faster than electric. You
can also get a HW heater installed right att eh tub - they only heat water
when you run the hot water - there's no tank. I think they're called
something like "tankless hot water heaters" or somesuch. great when you have
a need for lots of haot water in place, but don't want to have to keep a ton
of water sitting around hot when you don't need it.
For example: if you're going to draw 3 or 4 bathtubs of water in a one
or two hour time period, but the rest of the time you don't use tohns of hot
water, you've got a need for lots of hot water fast when the kids are taking
their baths, but the rest of the time, your current HW heater is plenty. You
*could* go buy a 100 gallon hot water heater, and pay for the energy to keep
all that water hot all the time. Or you could install a tankless heater in
the tub water supply, and have all the hot water you could ever use at the
tub (this would also disconnect the tub from your main hot water
heater...... More energy efficient, and probably about the same cost as
upgrading to a bigger HW heater.
Another option would be to turn up the temperature on your existing heater.
Be really carefull though - espescially with kids - you can set it hot
enough to cause some pretty bad burns.
The issue here is that YOU need, not "the house needs" a bigger water heater.
If you were taking 3 showers instead (older kids) it wouldn't be a problem,
Suppose you took really long showers and had 4 kids? You would need an even
BIGGER heater still. How is this the builder's responsibility?
Note the recovery rate for electric heaters is longer than gas. If you have gas
- I would get one installed ASAP as the electric bills are gonna kill you.
If not you're gonna have to bite the bullet and buy yourself another electric
water heater and use both in tandem until your hot water needs come down to a
more normal family level.
1. Did you get a set of specifications stating what size water heater
should have been installed? If you did, and it is different from what
you got then the builder should replace the heater. If you got no specs
then you are stuck with what you got. Unfortunately, the time to
bargain about this kind of item is before you sign the contract.
2. Electric water heaters usually have an upper and lower heating
element. It's possible that the temp was not set correctly on one of
the elements. I've seen the upper one set very low in new houses. If
only one of the two elements was working, the recovery time would be
3. You could also consider raising the temp. This will not reduce the
recovery time, but since the water is hotter you will use less for
showers and baths. However, since you have little children, you've got
to be careful to not get the water so hot that scalding could be a
4. Stop trying to do everything at the same time, take shorter showers,
use warm instead of hot water (and be sure the correct level is set) in
the washing machine, etc :)
Oh, and one more thing. I just checked the specs on my house, 50 gal
Some bath/shower faucets can be adjusted to set a maximum temperature.
I know this is the case with Moen Positemp faucets -- these are the ones
that rotate through cold before getting to hot, so a young child who
turns the water on cannot turn on only hot, but must go throug cold
first. When the handle is removed, there is a small plastic stop that
can be adjusted to stop the handle from turning beyond a certain maximum
"Never ascribe to malice what can equally be explained by incompetence."
firstname.lastname@example.org (Jim) wrote in message
You bought the house and either the water heater was in place or you
didn't specify the larger size you find you need. I - non lawyer -
think you are stuck with the situation. I think the contractor is
correct in saying he cannot reuse the heater elsewhere.
Can you and the contractor or a local plumbing shop find a way of
adding a heater to the system?
Throw the kids into the bath all together (depending on sex and age). They
will have more fun than a barrel of monkeys. You will have a few splashes
to clean up from the floor after their communal bath, but it solves the
problem of insufficient hot water and the kids really start to look forward
to bath time because it is PLAY time. If your wife is inflexible to the
extreme, I would start looking for a new wife, else be prepaired to live a
life of misery.
It seems that you have plenty of money to do whatever you want to
make your wife happy, so it is not the big problem it might be in a family
of more modest means.
email@example.com (Jim) wrote in message
In all honesty, I think this is your problem not the builders. The
builder can't forsee how many people are moving into a house and what
their hot water usage habits are. If the water heater leaked, or was
in some other way malfunctioning, I could see where you would have a
valid complaint for the builder.
You are either going to need to buy a bigger hot water heater, or buy
another one and hook it in series with your existing one to provide a
larger quantity of hot water.
Even if it were a gas heater, it'd be not big enough. I'd install
another one or replace with a bigger one. That's what happens when house
is built on spec. not being customized. It's your problem.
Haven't you go through the spec. sheet of the house before signing to
Some people seem to be of the impression that anything they're dissatisfied
with is someone else's problem/fault.
Buying a house isn't like buying a gift for someone, who can simply return it
or exchange it for a different color.
It's one thing if you looked at the model, and the home you 're buying isn't
done exactly the same way, or with the exact additional features you contracted
for... or of the same quality... but you bought this house after seeing it 95%
I take it the plumbing was done?
firstname.lastname@example.org (HA HA Budys Here) wrote:
If a person buys a new home based on the stuff that was in the model
home that swayed them to buy their actual home, it's their own lack of
foresight of informed defense if they want to make issue with the
builder because the water heater ends up being too small to accommodate
8 people taking showers at once. IMO, this is pretty much why God
invented Home Depot, weekends, and disposable incomes.
And if I recall right, this is also why God invented the oft-used
phrase, "Sounds like a personal problem to me."
I don't think it's the builder's problem because you should have known
what size water heater was being installed. It should have been a part
of your contract and was certainly stamped on the side of the water heater.
However, a 50 gallon electric water heater is inadequate for 5 people.
Electric water heaters are the least expensive to install but the most
expensive to operate (you will come to hate electric water heaters when
you see your electric bill) and additionally they have the lowest
recovery rate. Gas or oil fired recover much faster. I would guess
that a 50 gallon electric unit would have to replaced by a 75 gallon, or
larger, electric unit.
I have two homes, one with a single 30 gal oil fired water heater and
the other with two, 50 gallon electric water heaters. We can run out
with the electric units but never with the oil fired one.
Our house had a 30 gal hot water heater.
Also three teen-age sons.......
Five morning showers spread over 1 hour....
We NEVER ran out of hot water.
Maybe with an electric water heater.
But certainly not gas !
Are you taking 100-gallon hot-water baths ?
On 29 Dec 2003 15:51:43 -0800, email@example.com (Jim) wrote:
One thing comes to mind. Baths take more water. I did the calculations
onetime, and the tub in my parnets house holds about 50 galons of water when
it's full (measure length times width times depth, in inches. Multiply these
three. Divide by the capacity of a galon of water, which is 231 cubic
So you figure 30-40 galons to fill a tub, less if it's shallow fill for
But, a shower.... I had a place ahwile back which had a 12 galon water
heater. And somehow I was able to take quick showers. I've known of 5 galon
water heaters in campers, and somehow it is possible there too.
Maybe showers when possible? Less water,a nd it's quite cleaner, cause there
is always new water. Not sitting in the tub like a piece of meat in your own
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