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Old 02-05-2019, 10:44 PM   #1
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Tankless Water Heater Installation Feedback


Hello All,

Do you see anything wrong with this picture?

A friend of mine just bought a new townhouse in the North Hollywood area of Los Angeles. It has a tankless water heater installed outdoors at the roof-top level - exposed to the elements. I have no experience with tankless heaters, but even so, a few details of the install seem a bit suspect to me. Instead of jumping to conclusions, I thought I would post a photo and see if the experts on this forum spot any issues with the installation at first glance.

If there are issues with this installation, I'd like to provide some details to my friend so they can get them addressed with the builder.

Note: I'm purposely not sharing what I think I see because I don't want to skew your analysis. And I also don't want to look dumb if I'm flat out wrong

Thanks!
-Fritz
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Old 02-06-2019, 04:28 AM   #2
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Re: Tankless Water Heater Installation Feedback


No anything wrong with this picture.
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Old 02-06-2019, 04:29 AM   #3
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Re: Tankless Water Heater Installation Feedback


If you hadn't said that it was outside, I wouldn't have known by the pic. Do any of the other town houses have the tank outside? I imagine that it must have passed inspection. Ask the manufacturer & the municipality.
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Old 02-06-2019, 04:54 AM   #4
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Re: Tankless Water Heater Installation Feedback


I see nothing wrong with the installation. Some manufacturers build units that have side or front exhaust like the one pictured for external mounting. The ones for inside mounting exhaust from the top and must be re routed.

So, now, what are your concerns?
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Old 02-06-2019, 09:04 AM   #5
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Re: Tankless Water Heater Installation Feedback


Kinda curious that the remote is installed outdoors beside the unit, seems like a waste. Not sure that the remote is actually weatherproof and approved for outdoor use.
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Old 02-06-2019, 04:37 PM   #6
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Re: Tankless Water Heater Installation Feedback


Thanks all for reviewing the picture and your replies.

@Guap0_ - Yes, the other units have the same water heater in the same location. The installation passed inspection, and a home-inspector also had no issues with what he saw.

@iamrfixit - Yes, the remote being outside was the first thing that seemed odd to me. It doesn't look like it would be waterproof, or handle being in the hot SoCal sun for very long.

The other issues I had with the installation were:
  • The unit is plugged into an outlet and not hard-wired. I thought there was something in the NEC about permanent outdoor devices need to be hardwired.
  • Neither the electrical wire or the remote wire are protected in any way. Seems like this should be in conduit
  • The wire to the remote is about 20' long and just bundled up with a twist-tie and left dangling. I thought this should be trimmed to an appropriate length.

Since making this initial post, I've found installation manual for the unit (Rheem RTG-95XLN-1). Some of these concerns seem to be confirmed by the details in the manual - and there are a few other things about the install that do not follow the manufacturer's recommendation. Most of these seem electrical in nature, so maybe I should have posted my question on the Electrical form. Here's what I see in the manual that does not comply with the install [with my comments in brackets]:
  • A dedicated circuit is recommended for the water
    heater. (p55) [I think most of the roof outlets are on the same circuit)
  • DO NOT connect to a GFCI or AFCI circuit. (p55) [I'm pretty sure that's a GFCI outlet it is plugged into]
  • All outdoor gas models do not come with a power cord. Only hard-wire to an appropriate power outlet with a ground terminal. (p55) [Looks like a power cord was added to be able to plug it in]
  • An ON/OFF switch must be provided and installed for the incoming 120 VAC power supply. (p55) [No on/off switch that I've seen]
  • DO NOT install any remote control outdoors or where it can come in contact with water. (p57) [As previously noted, it is outdoors]
  • Avoid installing the remote control in the following areas and/or conditions: area exposed to heat area exposed to direct sunlight (p57) [it is both hot and sunny on a SoCal roof!]

One other thing - it may not be evident in the photo, but black pipe was used to supply gas to the unit. This pipe is already rusty. I think this should be painted to prevent corrosion. I came across this in California Mechanical Code for gas piping which would seem to support that:
1308.5.6 Protective Coating Where in contact with material or atmosphere exerting a corrosive action, metallic piping and fittings coated with a corrosion-resistant material shall be used. External or internal coatings or linings used on piping or components shall not be considered as adding strength. [NFPA 54:5.6.6]
I know that last one may be a little nit-picky, feel free to roll your eyes but I will be painting it since the rust is beginning to stain the roof deck below.

Thanks again all for taking the time to review the installation photo. Please let me know if you have any comments on the items I listed above.

-Fritz
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Old 02-07-2019, 07:12 AM   #7
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Re: Tankless Water Heater Installation Feedback


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@Guap0_ - Yes, the other units have the same water heater in the same location. The installation passed inspection, and a home-inspector also had no issues with what he saw.
Apparently, something can pass code & still not be completely follow the manufacturer's recommendations. However, I'm sure you can move it to a better location but you might get stuck for the bill.
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Old 02-07-2019, 11:25 AM   #8
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Re: Tankless Water Heater Installation Feedback


Is there a roof overhang above so the heater does not get wet every time it rains?

Can you fashion shields or hoods for components to keep them from getting wet?
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Old 02-07-2019, 12:06 PM   #9
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Re: Tankless Water Heater Installation Feedback


I thought the song said it never rains in California. We dont install outdoors so i would not know what code would be but on indoor install we put the temp control by the unit. Yes i would paint that gas pipe. We paint all our exterior gas piping.
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Old 02-07-2019, 07:44 PM   #10
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Re: Tankless Water Heater Installation Feedback


Thanks again for reviewing my (long) post and providing feedback.

@Guap0_ - I'm not in the building trades, so I'm not be the best to judge what is up to code and the level of quality, but I do see a lot of stuff that doesn't seem right to me but passed code inspection. It seems like most work is done just-good-enough instead of done with attention to detail. The closet containing the air handler is just on the opposite side of the wall where the remote is mounted so it would have required only the smallest additional effort to put the remote in an appropriate place (i.e. drilling a single 1/4" hole and passing the wire through).

@AllanJ - There is about a 12" overhang above the unit, not enough to ensure it won't get wet. The unit is facing North, and we just had a storm that traveled through from the south-west. If you look at the photo, you will see that the stucco is a darker color on the right side. That is where it is wet from the storm. If the storm were coming from the North-West or North, I'm sure it would have soaked the unit. I could build a shield, but I'll probably just move the remote (or have the builder do it). The rest of the unit is intended for outdoor use, so it should be ok.

@ct18 - It pours, man, it pours. We put lots of stuff outside here that you wouldn't think is a good idea (like breaker boxes). Thanks for confirming the pipe should be painted.

Last edited by fritzycat1; 02-07-2019 at 08:13 PM.
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Old 02-08-2019, 07:06 AM   #11
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Re: Tankless Water Heater Installation Feedback


Quote:
It seems like most work is done just-good-enough instead of done with attention to detail.
You're probably right. Since there are a number if issues & your friend already bought the townhouse s/he might want to hire an independent inspector & maybe even a lawyer to investigate more. If it's a new town house, it might be a good idea to see what the Dept. Of Consumer Affairs or the Better Business Bureau has to say about the builder.
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Old 02-08-2019, 07:36 AM   #12
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Re: Tankless Water Heater Installation Feedback


i jsut read the pdf for the remote and it is not weather proof, it must be installed inside
see page 59-60
https://images.homedepot-static.com/...c192e28c6f.pdf
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Old 02-08-2019, 08:15 AM   #13
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Re: Tankless Water Heater Installation Feedback


Any appliance should be installed per the manual and it is the inspectors job to insure this. In my neck of the woods, they don't sign off until the manual has been reviewed. This means it is on site at the time of inspection.
Your builder and sub contractors are installing using methods and materials the inspector allows. This should be brought to the attention of your inspectors office.
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