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4 Water Heaters - Reverse Return Piping??

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Aloha everyone,

I have a client who's 50 gallon low boy heater finally started leaking pretty bad after probably 30+ years.  Since they installed that ancient artifact way back when, they ended up extending the home over the original staircase going down into the lower area under the home.  So, now I have a 17" tiny stairway next to the pool to crawl down under there and needless to say, the only thing I can get down there is small.  I tried talking them into running new electrical so I could do an Eltron electric tankless under there, but as rich people do, she balked at the idea of having a conduit coming down the exterior wall, on the side of the pool.  So, im looking at dragging 4 - 10 gallon electric, single element heaters down there and having the electrician provide me 4 25 amp 120 volt power supplies to power them.  I've only ever piped 2 heaters together, either in series or parallel and had questions on how to do this to equal flow and in turn operation of the 4 minis I have to pipe together.  I started looking around and came across the reverse return method.  I was wondering what some of you thought about approaching this install using that method or if any of you have other suggestions you might offer.  Appreciate the help.

Mahalo,
Shawn 

Comments

  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 7,379
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    That’s what I’d recommend.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,883
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    Aloha everyone,

    I have a client who's 50 gallon low boy heater finally started leaking pretty bad after probably 30+ years.  Since they installed that ancient artifact way back when, they ended up extending the home over the original staircase going down into the lower area under the home.  So, now I have a 17" tiny stairway next to the pool to crawl down under there and needless to say, the only thing I can get down there is small.  I tried talking them into running new electrical so I could do an Eltron electric tankless under there, but as rich people do, she balked at the idea of having a conduit coming down the exterior wall, on the side of the pool.  So, im looking at dragging 4 - 10 gallon electric, single element heaters down there and having the electrician provide me 4 25 amp 120 volt power supplies to power them.  I've only ever piped 2 heaters together, either in series or parallel and had questions on how to do this to equal flow and in turn operation of the 4 minis I have to pipe together.  I started looking around and came across the reverse return method.  I was wondering what some of you thought about approaching this install using that method or if any of you have other suggestions you might offer.  Appreciate the help.

    Mahalo,
    Shawn 

    Check the codes for minimum staircase with!
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,256
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    Yikes 4 WHs!

    If that is the only option here are two piping ideas.

    Ignore the black pipes as these are indirect tanks.

    The Caleffi Quicksetter plus could be used to balance the flow equally. Trade RR piping for valves basically. They are also shut off valves to valve off a leaker.

    If you do RR, fig 5-10, do the reverse return piping on the cold supply to lessen heat loss from hot piping.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,335
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    Hi, It seems like the tail is wagging the dog. Is there any chance of moving the heater/s to a simpler location? Maybe an outdoor shed?

    Yours, Larry
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,076
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    Can 3 way valves help in any way? As a tank gets cold the valve will reduce flow from that tank in favor of the others. The other option is to walk away from the job and let it be someone else's headache.

    If the homeowner returns to you at a later date, you have more control over what you offer to provide hot water. Tankless water heaters are the way to go if you can't get anything else to fit. LP gas if you do not have access to Natural gas.

    Edward Young Retired

    After you make that expensive repair and you still have the same problem, What will you check next?

  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 2,806
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    Piping in series is used in hotter water applications . Reverse return in parallel for volume . Try to pipe each the same .

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • Shawn_Holdt1976
    Shawn_Holdt1976 Member Posts: 2
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    Aloha guys, thank you for the input.

    I like the tail wagging the dog analogy. But unfortunately, I don't always get my way. Sometimes you have to do what they ask as proof that it is not the best solution. Providing you give them the disclaimer up front and protect yourself with wording in your proposal for such. I still think running new electrical down there and putting in an electric tankless is the way to go. They have more than sufficient power as they have a 325 electrical service.

    This is a customer I want to help as we have done things for her in the past, so although I've considered walking away, I enjoy the challenge of it all in figuring out what else to do. Moving the heater location might be an option if moved inside the house somewhere, but I'm not sure if there is anywhere inside the house to move it too.

    Its funny, yesterday she told me the electrician was going to put 4 timers on them, one for each. I tried to explain to her that they all need to have power at the same time or we will have hot/cold mixing issues and trying to sync 4 timers over the long haul is going to be a task she shouldn't undertake. She was lost obviously. I finally told her that shes trying to understand something that has taken all of us years to figure out with much training and trial and error.

    So, im not going to buy 4 flow valves as was suggested in the first reply, seems ridiculous for this mickey mouse **** she wants to do. Im going to pipe them reverse return as evenly as possible and see what happens. But, I am going to include wording in my proposal that if this is not sufficient, we are not responsible etc.

    Mahalo,
    Shawn
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,075
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    Just mention that the 17" staircase is not to code and must be changed.

    You could probably get out of this job........ ;)
  • TonKa
    TonKa Member Posts: 104
    edited February 2023
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    I suppose you could suggest a plasterer, electrician, and painter team up to run the wires inside the wall.
  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 2,806
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    Now you dictating to a electrician and the home owner . Know when to fold them ..

    There was an error rendering this rich post.