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12/10/2015 - Condo Water Heater Replacement - A Better Price

Smiley Home Services - Same water heater - a better price - thanks to our resident plumber Ernesto Saiz.

$730.00. Additional charges may apply if you need a new ball valve or heater pan. For more info or to order, call 561-358-7403. Disclaimer

Buckeye Plumbing -  Replace existing water heater with new Rheem 38 gallon 4500 watt water heater. Price for heater, installation and Palm Beach County decal is $1,025.39. Additions if needed, ball valve change- $22.86 each, heater pan change- $71.08, electrical upgrade- $135.00, full permit- add $90.00. Note: The Palm Beach County decal program is designed for high performing plumbing companies only and is a random inspection at no additional charge. A full permit will require an inspection. For more info or to order, call 888-358-7403. Disclaimer

Note: Do-it-yourself is not recommended because the water heater pipes are glued and the electrical connection is hard-wired. In addition, a permit is required to do the work unless the installer is currently in the Palm Beach County decal program - a program for plumbing contractors that have proven themselves to provide quality work within the plumbing code guidelines.


Questions and Answers

Q: Do I have to replace my water heater now?

A: No. The association can not make you replace your water heater unless it is leaking water. However, having been warned of the risks involved, should your water heater fail and cause damage to the common areas or neighboring units, your legal position in a negligence suit is considerably weakened.

Q: Is it just a matter of time before my water heater fails and floods?

A: Not necessarily. Water heaters can fail by leaking or they can just stop heating. Unfortunately there is no way of predicting which way a particular water heater will fail. But so far, the history is not encouraging in that three water heaters have been replaced after failing by flooding, one was replaced because it was leaking, four were replaced because they were rusting and none have been replaced because they were not heating.

Q: Can I have a plumber inspect my water heater to determine what condition it is in?

A: Yes. But this may or may not be helpful because when water heaters fail catastrophically, the failure is usually a result of a rusting out at the seam in the back of the tank which is covered by insulation and the outer shell of the water heater. And in any event an inspection does not get you off the hook should the water heater fail and flood.

Q: Is the Developer replacing their water heaters at this time?

A: Currently the Developer is only replacing water heaters in their units that show signs of leaking i.e. rusting on the outside jacket of the water heater as seen in the picture below.


Q: Can I wait to replace my water heater until it shows signs of rusting, as seen in the pictures above?

A: If your water heater is rusting it should be replaced ASAP because it means that water is leaking. However there is no guarantee that rusting will be visible before a water heater fails catastrophically.

Q: Who has to pay for the damage to my unit if the water heater in the unit above fails and the water leaks into my unit?

A: Per Florida Statute 718.111(11)(f), each unit is responsible for the contents in their unit including all personal property within the unit or limited common elements, and floor, wall, and ceiling coverings, electrical fixtures, appliances, water heaters, water filters, built-in cabinets and countertops, and window treatments, including curtains, drapes, blinds, hardware, and similar window treatment components, or replacements of any of the foregoing which are located within the boundaries of the unit and serve only such unit.

However, homeowners that have sustained damage to their personal property i.e. everything covered under Florida Statute 718.111(11)(f)), have the option to pursue legal action against a negligent homeowner.

Q: What can I do to reduce my exposure to flooding until I have my water heater replaced?

A: Familiarize yourself with how to turn the water off in your unit and for the whole building in the event that someone else's unit floods and they are not home. Click here for details.

Also, you can get a simple water leak detector for less $20 that you can put in the drain pain under your water heater. As for installing a more expensive leak detector that shuts the water off if a leak is detected, there probably isn't enough room above the water heater to install one.

And finally, if you plan to be away for an extended time period, shut off the hot water valve on your water heater and turn off the power in your breaker panel to your hot water heater. And leave a key to your unit with a neighbor and let the Property Manager know who this person is.

Q: Can I install a tankless water heater instead?

A: Probably not. The problem is that there is not enough power from the breaker box due to the high current draw of tankless water heaters and thus rewiring from the breaker panel with a heavier breaker switch ( like a 60 amp breaker), much heavier wire, and probably a separate conduit, would be required. As for the economics, Consumer Reports says they are not financially ready for prime time.

Q: Is a permit required to install a replacement water heater?

A: Yes. And there are two options. A full permit from the County which requires that the County inspect the job when it's completed and typically costs about $100. Or a decal placed on the installed unit by a plumbing contractor currently in the Palm Beach County decal program - a program for plumbing contractors that have proven themselves to provide quality work within the plumbing code guidelines. In this case, the County may at their discretion inspect the job after it is completed - or not. But if they do, there is no additional charge.

Peter Schulz - Editor - Email CM

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