Hot Water Systems and
Pre-Purchase Home Inspections
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In residences (homes, condos, and co-ops) the hot water is used for bathing and cleaning. In some buildings, the hot water serves to sterilize equipment that is used by the general public.
Besides comfort, hot water serves a vital role in maintaining good health. To serve this role, the hot water must be produced at an appropriate temperature.
Most homes, buildings, condos, and co-ops have a tankless hot water heater, a hot water heater with a storage tank, a hot water booster tank, or an indirect-fired hot water heater.
The Engineers of Heimer Engineering evaluate the hot water system in the home or building you are considering purchasing and advises you if it is sufficient. You are also advised of the need to budget for upcoming replacement of the hot water heater.
The expense analysis in the engineering report helps you understand the expenses involved in repairing or replacing the hot water system.
Hot Water Temperature
In homes, buildings, condos, and co-ops, the temperature of the hot water should be around 120 degrees Fahrenheit, although some dishwasher manufacturers recommend 130 degrees Fahrenheit to assure that the dishes will be properly cleaned and sterilized. Lower temperatures are recommended by others to reduce the risk of scalding and reduce energy consumption. A lower temperature, however, increases the risk of bacteria growth.
Hot water that would scald in seconds at 140 degrees Fahrenheit will take minutes to cause the same level of injury at less than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Many hot water systems produce hot water at well over 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
The risk of scalding or serious burns, especially to children and elderly people, is high. When possible, our Engineers measure the hot water temperature and advises you of hazards.
Hot Water Heater
Hot water heater life expectancy varies dramatically depending on the type of hot water heater. A tankless hot water heater can last as long as the heating system in which it is mounted, although effectiveness may diminish over time. An automatic storage hot water heater, hot water booster tank, or an indirect-fired hot water heater typically lasts from seven to 15 years. Our Engineers evaluate the hot water system, and advises you of remaining life expectancy.
A tankless hot water heater heats the water by circulating it through coils inside a boiler. As the water circulates through the coils, it is heated.
Tankless hot water heaters may suffer from performance problems, especially as they age. Many systems start out at an initial temperature hot enough to scald. After running for a short time, this hot temperature may fall to a relatively low temperature. To help overcome this problem, many people install hot water booster tanks in conjunction with a tankless hot water heater.
A variation of the tankless hot water heater is the instant hot water heater, sometimes called the demand hot water heater. In an instant hot water heater, water passes over a heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is kept warm, usually by a gas flame or electric coil.
Hot Water Booster Tanks
A hot water booster tank works in conjunction with a tankless hot water heater. Most hot water booster tanks are small hot water heaters. The water is pre-heated in the tankless hot water heater. The heated water than circulates into the hot water booster tank. The hot water booster tank stores the hot water, and warms it if necessary. This increases the amount of available hot water, although at the cost of greater energy consumption. Often, hot water boosted booster tanks are electric, which makes them expensive to operate.
Hot Water Heaters
With Storage Tanks
When many people say hot water heater, they are typically referring to a single unit that both heats and stores the water. This type of unit is sometimes called an automatic storage hot water heater. This type of unit must have some method of heating the water (typically oil, gas, or electricity) along with a tank to store the heated water.
The size of the storage tank is typically between 30 and 120 gallons, depending on the type of fuel used and the amount of hot water needed. Heimer Engineering's Licensed Engineers evaluate both the fuel and the hot water demands to determine if the hot water heater is sufficient in size.
Hot Water Heaters
An indirect-fired hot water heater consists of a storage tank, a circulator pump, and a boiler that serves as a heat source. The boiler (and the water is contains) is kept hot. When the storage tank of hot water falls below a certain temperature, an aquastat activates the circulator pump. The boiler-heated water is circulated through coils in the hot water storage tank.
This process heats the water in the storage tank. The water heated in the boiler never contacts the water in the storage tank.
In the Metro New York area (with its half-year heating season), an indirect-fired hot water heater might be less expensive to operate than a separate hot water heater. In addition, during very cold days the boiler may not be able to heat the house and produce hot water simultaneously.
During the inspection, the Heimer Engineering℠ examines, analyzes, and/or reports on (as appropriate based on the building):
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Heimer Engineering℠ Standards of PracticeThe Licensed Engineers of Heimer Engineering℠ substantially adhere to the InterNACHI® Code of Ethics, to Subpart 197-4 of the State of New York Code of Ethics and Regulations for Home Inspectors, and to the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE®) Code of Ethics. All State of New York Licensed Engineers are also bound by New York State Education Law Article 145.
Heimer Engineering℠ Code of Ethics
The Licensed Engineers of Heimer Engineering℠ substantially adhere to the InterNACHI® Standards of Practice and the ASHI® Standards of Practice. In the event of a conflict, the Licensed Engineers of Heimer Engineering℠ use Engineering judgment to decide what standard or Engineering principle takes precedence.
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Heimer Engineering℠ performs home inspections, building inspections, condominium inspections, and co-op inspections in the State of New York. We do not perform inspections or recommend Inspectors or Engineers outside of the State of New York. We provide Licensed Professional Engineer consultation services including hurricane and storm damage and damage from adjoining construction. Expert witness services are provided regarding playground injuries, parking lot, walkway, and stairway slip, trip, and fall.
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