Water Heater

Back Draft Call Back

Gas water heaters use a special flue connection, called a draft hood, that allows indoor or surrounding air to induce a draft up the flue increasing speed and efficiency of the exhaust of the combustion gasses.

That is the theory anyway.

Melted collars on a Salem Home inspection

The plastic collars were melted due to back drafting

If the flue is installed properly it should draft properly but there can be problems that can be hidden that can cause problems with proper draw.

When the draft hood does not function properly you get what is called backdrafting.  This is where combustion air would rather spill back into the home or garage instead of getting effectively sucked up the chimney.  This is potentially dangerous because sometimes gas appliances do not burn as clean as they should and monoxide is a by-product of improper combustion.

On a recent home inspection I noted issues with draft on the water heater.  The combustion air was spilling into the home.  So much so the plastic trim on the water pipes were melted!   I suggested that this was potentially dangerous and a licensed professional plumbing/heating and air contractor repair as necessary.

Several weeks later I was asked by my client to re-inspect the work that was done.  Everything looked great until I got to the water heater draft hood.   No change to the back drafting condition could be noted.

Testing Back draft on a home inspection in Salem Oregon

Fogged mirror indicates back drafting.

One of the problems with repairs done by the seller is that they usually want to meet the agreed upon conditions for the least amount of money as possible!

A week later I was called back to inspect the back draft once again.  This time I met the heating and air contractor who was involved in the repair.  He told me how he began to fix sections of the flue and he kept discovering problems.  He ended up replacing the entire flue all to way up to the roof line due to the deteriorated, unlined masonry chimney that was at the root of all of the issues.

Helpful presentation to keep you from getting Burned!

Unfortunately WordPress doesn’t seem to want to allow me to embed my presentation this morning so you all will have to bear with me and click on the link below:

Water heater temperature adjustment presentation

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Jim Allhiser President/Inspector
http://SalemOregonHomeInspections.com
503.508.4321         jallhiser@perfectioninspectioninc.com

“Always on the cutting edge”

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Parts and Inspection of a Water Heater (part 4 of 4)



Water heaters in general are reliable for around 10 years.  They can last much longer or they can start to fail after 5 or 6. (the oldest I have seen was a 68 year old electric water heater that was still cranking away!)  Among other issues with water heaters, the age is a good indicator of when the unit may start to fail or when you may need to replace the unit.

The thing I look at, when I am inspecting homes in Salem, Oregon and the water heater is the name plate:

The name plate will give most all of the information we need to determine the size and age of the unit.  Some times the age is very obvious and there will actually be a label that states when the unit was manufactured.  Most of the time you have to look in to the Serial Number. With most brands the year will be the second 2 numbers in the serial number.

Bradford White apparently insists on being difficult because they use a secrete spy code on their tanks and you need to bring your box-top decoder ring.

In this first picture you can see the location of the serial number:



This next picture shows the two letters that are significant for determining the date of manufacture of this particular water heater:



At this point we get out our secrete spy decoder ring (or try a Google internet search):
and we can see that this tank was produced in October of 2005.  Meaning it is a 4 1/2 year old tank.


At this point I am tired of talking about have concluded some brief ideas on what to look for when looking at these super stylish modern appliances.  You can check out my earlier posts here:  More water heater information



Jim Allhiser President/Inspector
http://SalemOregonHomeInspections.com
503.508.4321         jallhiser@perfectioninspectioninc.com

“Always on the cutting edge”

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape
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Parts and Inspection of a Water Heater (part 2 of 4)

In my first post I wrote about the safety issue of having a standing flame in the garage and how the water heater should be installed to prevent unwanted fires.  Water heaters are heated water under pressure and there are a few very important safety devices that need to be just so, and anyone who watches MythBusters knows that water heaters, gone wrong, can be devastating……
The next thing I look at when I am inspecting homes in Salem, Oregon and the water heaters therein is:

The Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve (TPR)
This is probably the single most important safety device on water heaters.  This is a simple valve that allows gas/steam/liquid to leak if the pressure or temperature gets too high.
In recent years TPR’s have become very standardized, mounted on the tank, but older models still may have the valves on the hot water line.  This condition will cause a home inspector to gripe and is not as safe as the valve on the tank but if you do notice this condition it is most likely time to replace your whole water heater.
With the TPR in a standardized location it is now time to add the extension piping.  Yes, extension piping is important!  Remember that TPR valve is a release valve just waiting for the temperature or pressure to get to high.  When it releases it may do so with a significant amount of steam and super heated water.  The extension piping ensures the steam exhausts near the ground and not in anyone’s face.

The pictures are perfect examples of how NOT to pipe the TPR!

I will discuss the other important items in the next posts…….


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Jim Allhiser President/Inspector
http://SalemOregonHomeInspections.com
503.508.4321         jallhiser@perfectioninspectioninc.com

“Always on the cutting edge”

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Parts and Inspection of a Water Heater

Sexy, stylish and fashionable your water heater is not. (unless you have one of those tankless systems, but that is another blog)  Your water heater is an important part of modern living and it really makes indoor plumbing enjoyable.
There are a few things that I look for and that are important when I am inspecting homes in Salem, Oregon and the water heaters therein, the first thing is:


Where is it?

If it is in the garage there are a few rules that need to be followed for safe operation.  If it is gas, the flame source needs to be at least 18″ off the ground.  This condition will apply to gas units th
at are more than 4 years old because we have now gone to a sealed burning unit that does not have an exposed flame.  If you can get to the pilot light so can combustible gasses.  Combustible gasses in garages tend to hug the ground so if the flame is sealed or 18″ off the ground it will help prevent those combustible gasses from igniting.

I will discuss the other important items in the next posts: Part 2, 3 and yes even 4!



Jim Allhiser President/Inspector
http://SalemOregonHomeInspections.com
503.508.4321         jallhiser@perfectioninspectioninc.com

“Always on the cutting edge”

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape