Sizing Water Heaters

What do I need to consider when replacing a water heater?

These units are old enough that none of the water heaters are original and whoever replaced in the past has simply bought smallest and cheapest.

I’m thinking 40 gallon if it fits and I have amps on the panel to support it?

It sounds like you are talking about electric hot water heaters. With their slow refresh rate I would get the biggest one possible. Unless it’s a small trailer. If you are replacing a gas hot water heater beware that their are models that are mobile home compliant. We have run into lots of older units with a normal house hot water heater and have failed inspections when new gas lines were run.

That being said bigger and/or better will run you more money. The mobile home gas models will also cost you more.

I think the reason why the smallest/cheapest units being installed is the economics of our residents and the fact their is always more demand for what you can see and touch than infrastructure items.

Yes, some of these units used to have gas as well, but the tenants haven’t used gas in years. Historically, previous owners cut any corner, safe or not. Electric service heavy enough to carry the additional load is a concern.

I’ve also seen a few tankless heaters that are priced comparably to a 40-50 gallon tank, but the previous owner had bad luck with the units she was buying from Costco. If reliable, tenants might save a little money month to month.

You are right, no one cares about infrastructure until it fails. That would be my galvanized supply lines!

Try checking at this website:

Your last comment bring up the question of are you providing a product the market wants at a price they can afford or are you giving them what you think they should want.

I walk into the trap of the latter and my partner every so often has to sit me down and have “The talk”. This is a business catering to a certain market segment. High end or low end. Family or over fifty. Working class or seasonal. If you are straying out of your segment unintentionally you can run into sinking money into areas the market segment won’t reward or even care about.

Being the hands on side of our operation I see “good enough” work that never was good at all and end up doing more rehab than was required to turn around a unit. It is one thing if it adds 10% to do a better job it another thing if it costs 200%. I think the term I am trying to describe is the law of diminishing returns.

At our park I would replace a broken/ leaking water heater with a 50 gallon electric or 40 gallon gas unit. Fix the rotten flooring, replace and galvanized piping with PEX A piping, replace old values with new ball values, heat tape and foam pipe insulate as needed. This is what we provide to our blue collar work class park. Clean, safe, mechanically sound homes at price a $10-$15 per hour wage can afford.

Ok I’ll get off my soapbox now. I hope I wasn’t too preachy.

1 Like

Not too preachy at all. You and I are struggling with the same balancing act.

@Wanderer, whichever type of water heater (electric or gas) you choose, remember to check supply capacity, and the size of the WH closet. Sometimes the space is too narrow for the new heater.

Depending on the city and it’s inspectors (and more importantly, your insurance company) the WH needs to be certified for Mobile Homes by the HUD.

That is to avoid surprises in rehab costs and/or time.

Also check for appropriate venting needed for gas WH.

Best regards
Alejandro Riera
Insignia Remodeling LLC