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Water heaters Part 1
Don't get burned

(Part 1 of 2)

Knowing about all the changes in water heater technology can protect your family and home!

Winnipeg, Manitoba - Brian Baker of Custom Vac Limited believes that before you just run out and purchase that new water heater you need to become aware of all the regulatory changes about to come into effect.

The majority of water heaters that are replaced are under what we term, "emergency replacement," said Baker. This means that when consumers recognize water on the floor, they panic creating an emergency. We have become so dependent on hot water as a society that the minute that we have no hot water we call around looking for the least expensive installed price, paying little attention the details like hauling away the tank, understanding better insulated models, permit fees, venting costs or many add-ons that could prevent and/or eliminate future problems.

From technology aimed at improved water heater safety, to the new energy efficiency requirements, changes in potable water delivery temperatures or damage caused by leaking water, consumers should prepare themselves for an unprecedented period of change to their mindset as they purchase new water heaters. The first two issues to be covered are, the new Energy Efficiency standards and the second, reducing potable water temperature in buildings to prevent scalding.

The Federal Government is positioned to increase the (EF) energy factor for water heaters. NRCan oversees the "watt loss test" that measures the energy loss of water heaters. Baker said, "It is important for consumers to recognize that most of the day their water heater sits at home not being used, it is maintaining 60C (140F) water temperature, consuming energy all day (on and off) just so that when they come home and jump in the shower they have instant hot water.

" All the time that consumers are not utilizing hot water, the water heater sits there loosing heat to the surrounding space. "In the case of gas and oil water heaters that utilize chimneys a huge amount of heat is being lost from the home due to the stack action of the chimney," said Baker.

John Cockburn of NRCan, reported that the new standard will affect electric water heaters with volumes between 11 and 100-gallon; oil-fired units with storage capacities of up to 50 U.S. gallons and input ratings of 0.75 US gallons per hour or less; and gas units with inputs of 75,000 BTUH or less and a storage range from 20 to 100 U.S. gallons.

On a global scale we can no longer afford to be a wasteful society, we need to begin to reduce our energy use in homes. Costs of energy continue to escalate, low water levels, black outs like what happened in major cities in the U.S. and Canada will continue unless we do our part. "Purchasing newer more efficient, safer products needs to be the first decision not the last one," said Baker.

"Another major issue that our industry faces is "scalding," said Baker. In the U.S. more than 4,000 children are scalded each year by potable water (tap water). Two recent studies in Quebec estimated that approximately 33 people are hospitalized and 3 people die each year in their Province. The risk is higher with children under 5, people over 60 and people with physical or mental deficiency. The most effective way to prevent the scalding of these persons is to install anti-scald valves.

In Canada, Safe Kids Canada gave a formal presentation to the Canadian Advisory Council on Plumbing (CACP) requesting that the temperature settings on water heaters be changed so that they would not exceed 49C (120F). However Baker says, "This would have created another problem, bacteria and the potential for legionellosis to grow in the tanks."

The Quebec report titled, "Prevention of scalding and legionellosis associated with hot tap water in private homes," recommends that current thermostat settings be maintained at 60C (140F) and to reduce the risk of scalding they recommend the installation of an effective anti-scald device on the water heater outlet to lower the temperature to 49C (120F). "Unfortunately, not enough is being done by our Industry to educate consumers and promote products that we sell and install that can prevent these needless accidents from happening," said Baker. The 2005 National Plumbing Code will address this issue, but as Baker says, "Why wait, we know accidents can be prevented today by simply installing anti-scald valves." Ask you contractor to install one and prevent your children or an elderly member of your family from becoming another statistic.

"Many people have water temperature related problems, one which is, "Stacking." This is very common in all water heaters. Stacking occurs whenever a water heater develops temperature and the domestic water is not being drawn. This will normally occur during many on-off periods that are caused by the users through the use of many quick short draws of hot water.

Most controls and heaters in use today are not designed to accommodate this problem. It is important to identify and respect this factor since it will lead to higher temperatures during an initial draw from the heater resulting in a higher scald potential," said Baker.

When it comes to these changes in water heater technology says Baker, "They are designed with both safety and efficiency in mind. Consumers should embrace the changes, educate themselves and deal only with reputable Contractors that understand these changes and are willing to meet their needs. Hot water heaters are not complex but demands for quick, fast 24 hr. emergency replacement without regard to the many choices and issues, may limit consumers decisions and choices in the marketplace."

In part 2 we will discuss the new (FVIR) Flammable Vapour Ignition Resistant water heaters and how to eliminate water damage caused by a leaking water heater. As Baker says, "All water heaters will leak, we just don't know when they will leak."



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R3E 1S5
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