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Home Fix: Fixing electric water heater can be a simple DIY fix
By C. DWIGHT BARNETTTribune News Service
Q: My electric water heater is failing, and I’m not getting enough hot water. Do I need a new water heater, or can I fix this and wait? What about tankless water heaters?
A: Electric water heaters have two heating elements, each covered with a removable access plate. One is near the top of the heater and one is near the bottom.
The heating element near the bottom does most of the work in heating the cool water that enters the tank. Because hot water will rise to the top of the tank, the top element works to keep the water at a set temperature. If you have hot to warm water only for a short time, it is most likely that the bottom element has failed.
This is a simple DIY fix if you are comfortable working around high voltage equipment. If not, hire a professional to make the repairs.
First turn off the electric power supply to the water heater. In most cases the water heater will have a separate electric panel or fuse box. Simply turning off the main breaker or fuse at the main panel could leave the heater energized if it has its own separate electric panel.
The next step is to turn off the cold water supply to the water heater. This may be a valve at the water heater or one for the entire house. You then need to remove the pressure from inside the tank by opening several hot water faucets. It is not advisable to open the drain at the bottom of the heater or to vent the temperature relief valve on the heater. Either of these valves can become blocked with sediment and would need to be replaced to prevent leaks.
You can now safely remove the bottom element and replace it with a new one of the same wattage. There should be a manufacturer’s identification label on the water heater’s jacket with the wattage rating listed. If not, go online to the manufacturer’s website and refer to the model number of your unit.
When finished, close the hot water faucets, turn the water on slowly and make sure there are no leaks. Reattach the cover plate to the heating element and, once the heater is filled with water, turn the electrical power back on. Follow the same procedure for replacing the top element.
As far as an electric-fired tankless water heater, until improvements have been made, the availability of hot water these units produce is less than a storage water heater. Homes that have domestic solar hot water can be enhanced with a tankless electric water heater. However if natural gas or propane gas is available, a gas-fired tankless water heater is, in my opinion, superior to a common storage-type water heater.
C. Dwight Barnett is a
certified master inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors.
Write to him with home improvement questions at C. Dwight Barnett, Evansville Courier & Press, P.O. Box 268, Evansville, Ind. 47702 or e-mail him at

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Can not find him listed on the CMI site

He’s not a “Board” Certified Master Inspector. See the difference?

I Don’t. The way I understand is that “Certified Master Inspector” is a registered trademark.

Maybe Nick will explain.

He can’t use “Certified Master Inspector” at all in any way, shape, or form.

Nearly all the thieves of late have been ASSHI members. Just sued another one today.

Correct. “Certified Master Inspector” is a registered trademark.

He only needs to use, “Master Inspector” in order to avoid issues at this time.

If he changes his fake professional designation slightly by dropping the word “certified” we’d still sue him under common law for deceptive trade practice and false advertising instead of trademark infringement. He’s on our list to sue either way. This scumbag C. DWIGHT BARNETT is probably one we want to use to set an example.

Please explain. You don’t hold the trademark for Master Inspector. Unless things have changed, “Certified Master Inspector” is not on the Principal Register. It is only on the Supplemental Register having not met the requirements for the Principal Register AS OF THIS TIME. It cannot be converted from one register to another. A new application must be made. Has that been done?

Trademark infringement isn’t the only thing we can sue him for. We can sue him for false advertising under common law and for deceptively attempting to pretend he has a designation that he didn’t earn. He claims he is a “Certified Master Inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors.” That’s false. He’s lying and has been lying to gain an unfair competitive advantage over our members in his market.

True. He made a choice and once he used “Certified”, there is no going back and unringing the bell. Had he just used “Master Inspector” from the beginning, he would have had no issues.

Calling yourself a “master” inspector insinuates to the public that you have earned that professional designation somehow. If you haven’t (and just made it up), you are guilty of false advertising under common law regardless of trademark infringement. When we come for you, that’s just one of many counts we’ll claim in our lawsuit. We’ll also claim unfair competition, intentionally creating confusion in the marketplace, deceptive advertising, bla bla bla.

And if someone has performed 1500 inspections and over 1000 hours of education, each of which meets the CMI standards by themselves, what is your argument?

First of all, that does not meet our requirements, it only meets a portion of them.

Secondly, qualifying for a professional designation and having been awarded one are two different things. An accountant who merely qualifies to be a CPA, is not one. And and accountant who fully qualifies to be a CPA but isn’t a CPA can’t falsely advertise that he/she is one. That’s false advertising, unfair competition, deceptive business practice, intentional creation of confusion in the marketplace and bla bla bla.

Another example: I personally qualify to be a Washington State licensed home inspector. But I’m not one. Can I call myself one?

Non-Sequitur. CPA is a state licensed position and has certain requirements for licensure. You cannot be a CPA without being licensed as a CPA. It is the law. The same goes with Washington State Licensed Home Inspectors. It is a law.

Master Inspector on the other hand is merely a name with no legal requirements except in Nevada where they have the designation Master Inspector of Structures.

CMI does not hold the rights to Master Inspector, only Certified Master Inspector AT THIS TIME. And bringing suit would be interesting. The first argument would be your lack of standing since you have no legal rights to deny anyone the use of Master Inspector, only Certified Master Inspector. Good luck. I can see the counter suits for restraint of trade.

Good discussion.

Uh, no. Use in licensing is merely one type of evidence of having established distinction in the marketplace. The law doesn’t require a professional designation be used in governmental licensing to acquire common law rights. Besides CMI has been used for licensing purposes, specifically grandfathering. Anyway, establishing that we have common law rights to the professional designation isn’t a problem at all.

And actually, we don’t even sue over trademark infringement. Come to think of it, that would require that we file in federal court and we never do. We file locally. Plenty of other ways to skin the cat. Deceptively and intentionally causing confusion in the marketplace is what we normally claim in our lawsuits. All we have to prove is that the defendant’s actions likely confused consumers and we win. Slam dunk.

What is deceptive and causing confusion when a person claims the title Master Inspector if they have more inspections, more education, and a Homeland Security background check with fingerprinting? They are not attempting to claim they are “Certified”. They are holding themselves to a certain standard, of which you have no claim or authority.

Sounds like the gibberish some of the defendants use before they lose. LOL. Mark gets paid by us either way and InterNACHI keeps the legal fees he collects from the defendants. It’s profitable and fun. He’s in-house counsel so if he’s not suing idiots, he’s fetching me doughnuts… and I’m currently on a diet, so he might as well keep making us money.

Has there been a single case filed by CMI or InterNACHI that has gone to trial in regards to CMI? How many cases have actually been filed?

I am not understanding, lets say if a vendor calls his inspectors Certified Inspection Experts just for simply using his products is that false advertising? Is that inspector by using that logo misleading the public?

I’ve researched that particular professional designation at the USPTO. It requires that you agree to “exceed the standards of practice” on every inspection. Here is the actual requirement that the mark was awarded on straight from


Once you formally agree that you exceed your standards of practice through use of that professional designation, the sky is the limit in terms of what your disgruntled client can argue in court that you should have inspected. In short, no one can use it. And god forbid their E&O insurance provider finds out what the inspector has to agree to do on every inspection to be a Certified Inspection Expert.

Roughly 30.