Robert Lamoureux | Water heaters and air conditioner maintenance

Robert Lamoureux has more than 40 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at [email protected]
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Question No. 1 
Robert,

When draining a hot water heater in order to clear out sediment, etc., I realize the inlet line must be shut off, but does the pilot light have to be turned off as well? (And then re-lit after the water heater has been drained and filled again?) Or can the hot water heater be drained with the pilot light still on? Can you please give me a “ballpark” figure on what a tankless hot water heater costs? (I won’t hold you to it of course, just would like to have a general idea). Thank you, 

— Brian 

Answer No. 1 
Brian, 

Thank you for being a loyal reader of The Signal. You do not have to turn the pilot off — it goes off on high and low temp control automatically. As far as tankless heaters, there is such an array of costs I would recommend that you contact a quality, local water heater company here in Valencia — I’ve shared their name — and speak to them about different costs and manufacturers. A lot is based on fixture units in the home, and they will in two minutes give you an over-the-phone cost. I have two of the tankless heaters and love them. Best of luck. 

— Robert

Question No. 2 
Robert, 

This is a followup to you answering our question regarding air conditioning maintenance. On your advice we had an A/C contractor out and he said that it was a good thing because had he not done the maintenance and refilled the refrigerant needed. The unit may have seized up on us this summer with the heat loads we’re getting. You really helped us to save the day! We also did what you said on the water heater, and got a bit of sediment out. We are going to go with the supplier you recommended and upgrade to the tankless water heater, with the payback on the difference taking about 24 months. An additional perk is that we’ll have more space in the closet where the current water heater sits, and we’re happy about that. Thank you again for your help! One more question is regarding the rolling brown-outs that have been spoken about on the news. The last time we were involved in one of those we lost a ton of food so we are thinking about getting a generator. Unfortunately, there are so many types and brands out there. Without knowledge we are uncertain of the best choice for a residential home. Can you help with this?

— Ginal 

Answer No. 2 
Ginal, 

There are many different types and brands, that is correct. Noise is a big factor, and not knowing where you plan to store this, is space an issue? A standard generator will allow you to use a cord from the generator to a refrigerator, and possibly handle an additional light at the same time. If you jumped up to a 5KW model, that would handle more circuits but now you’re in need of a licensed and insured electrician who can install a transfer switch to accommodate this. Really it all depends on what you’d want/need to accomplish if a generator is ever needed, and of course your budget as well. Keep in mind the location of the unit for both security purposes as well as noise factor. Honda makes some pretty quiet models, but I recommend you do a fair amount of homework before making this decision. I can always do a whole article just on generators and transfer switches so if enough folks have interest in this, just write in to me and I will then create an information page on this topic for you. Best of luck.

— Robert

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