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New water heater doesn't perform as well as the old

Q. Some months ago our electric hot water heater was replaced. The old 60 -gallon unit had two heating elements, the upper at 2,000 watts, the lower at 1, 500 watts, so wired that only one element operated at a time.

My plumber replaced the water heater with a 60-gallon unit but with only one heating element at 5,500 watts. Needless to say, the recovery time from a completely cold water condition is much greater than in the old tank.

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But more disconcerting, when we have a heavy demand for hot water, such as with guests, the circuit breaker for the hot water heater trips and we end up with no hot water at all.

Whom should we now call - an electrician, the power company, or the plumber? Arthur J. Tufts East Norwich, N.Y.

A. In my opinion, the plumber was ill-advised in replacing the old heater with one so electrically dissimilar. Ideally, he should have replaced the old heater with an elecrically comparable new one.

I'd persuade that plumber to remove his 5,500 watt heater and install one with the two heating elements equal to the old one . . . or would he prefer to pay an electrician to do the necessary rewiring to accommodate the slow recovery unit?

Even then, you, the owner, must suffer through 5 or 10 years of a water heater with unnecessarily slow recovery.

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