Ask The Expert



We have a 12 year old 40 gallon hot water heater that is starting to rust out (no surprise there). It’s only function is to provide hot water for four or five faucets in community building restrooms used mainly on weekends. We’ve been quoted on a 30 gallon replacement tank and have also been told we would need instant hot water heaters for each sink, which makes that idea more expensive.

Do we really even need hot water, and if so, what other alternatives have we not thought of?

Steve T.

Hi Steve,

If these are out buildings, it sounds like this is a request from the health department, or a plumbing company aware of the requirements of that agency. Either way, yes, you have to provide hot water.

Since you don’t have washing machines and showers, a 30 gallon tank should provide ample hot water for community bathroom lavs.

The health department wants to assure that people are able to wash their hands with hot water to kill bacteria before going back into the pool. You don’t want bacteria to contaminate the water.

They are requiring instant hot water because most people will not wait and will return to the pool without thoroughly washing their hands.

Hello Robert,

I was reading the warning tag on a light in my home. It said do not use anything other than 60 watt bulbs, but this is too dim. How important is that warning? Can I put in 100 watt bulbs? Thank you for your time,

Alicia M.

Hi Alicia,

The problem is the heat generated by the higher wattages. The more heat you are creating, the more at risk of damaging the fixture or fire. I would follow the manufacturer’s recommendation and use 60 watts. If it’s too dark, consider buying additional fixtures and add lighting to the darker areas of your home.

Another option would be to call the manufacturer and ask if they recommend replacing the 60 watt incandescent bulb with a compact fluorescent bulb. An incandescent bulb uses heat to produce light. A fluorescent bulb contains a gas that produces ultraviolet light when the gas is charged by electricity. The UV light hits the white coating inside the fluorescent bulb and changes it into light. This process is four to six times more efficient than incandescents, so you could use a 15 watt CFL that would produce the same amount of light as a 60 watt traditional bulb. Also, the CFL’s last 10 to 13 times longer and use much less electricity to operate. Here is a list comparing the wattages of standard incandescent bulbs and CFL’s :

  • — 40 watts incandescent = 10 watts compact fluorescent
  • — 60 watts incandescent = 15 watts compact fluorescent
  • — 75 watts incandescent = 20 watts compact fluorescent
  • — 100 watts incandescent = 26-29 watts compact fluorescent
  • — 150 watts incandescent = 38-42 watts compact fluorescent
  • — 250-300 watts incandescent = 55 watts compact fluorescent

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Robert Lamoureux of IMS Construction, Valencia, CA, has 30 years experience as a Commercial, General, Electrical and Plumbing contractor. The opinions expressed in “Ask the Expert” are not to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after a thorough visual inspection has been made.

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