Plumbing – CheckThisHouse https://www.checkthishouse.com Home maintenance, remodeling, repair, and improvement tips for your property Thu, 29 Oct 2020 11:19:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.16 Tank Gas Water Heater Maintenance 2: TPRV, Tank Drainage, Flue-Way https://www.checkthishouse.com/6049/tank-gas-water-heater-maintenance-2-tprv-tank-flue.html Sat, 16 Apr 2011 14:20:14 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=6049 Second part of the tank gas water heater maintenance explains: TPR valve maintenance, water heater tank drainage, and internal flu-way maintenance / venting.]]>
Water Heater Maintenance
Part 1
Water Heater Maintenance
Part 2
Water Heater Maintenance
Part 3

 

Part 2 of the tank gas water heater maintenance explains:

  • TPR (Temperature & Pressure Relief) valve maintenance – perform annually
  • Water heater tank drainage – a few quarts once a month
  • Internal flu-way / venting system maintenance – once a year

Tank gas water heater maintenance Part 2 – TPR valve maintenance, testing should be performed at least once a year by a homeowner and / or by a professional – licensed plumber.

Tank gas water heater maintenance - before testing TPR valve make sure it has a properly installed discharge pipe - Safety Hazard

DANGER: Before you start gas water heater maintenance and attempt TPR valve testing, make sure that there’s a properly installed and secured to the valve discharge pipe (click water heater’s TPR valve for details), and that no one will be exposed to the hot water released from the discharge line. Its temperature may be high enough to cause body injury or property damage.

Tank gas water heater maintenance - if possible, use the floor drain to test TPR valveTank gas water heater maintenance - with no floor drain use a bucket to test TPR valveIn case there’s no floor drain directly beneath the discharge line, place a bucket under the water heater’s TPR valve discharge pipe, and place a towel over the bucket to prevent water from splashing.

If you have water temperature set to hot or very hot, I would recommend pouring some cold water into the bucket prior to opening the valve in order to immediately lower the temperature of the discharging water.

Tank gas water heater maintenance - TPR valve locationsContinue with gas water heater maintenance and lift and release the lever handle on the temperature pressure relief valve (TPRV).  This will ensure that the valve is operating freely. TPRV is located near the top of the water heater, on its top or side wall surface. You should discharge a few gallons of water through the discharge line into an open floor drain.

You may also find the discharge pipe suspended directly above the drip pan under the water heater (some jurisdictions do not allow such installation / some do). I wouldn’t recommend discharging water into the pan. Even if the drip pan has been plumbed to the floor drain, some water will remain inside and evaporate through the water heaters burner chamber accelerating its corrosion – use a bucket.

While performing your gas water heater maintenance procedures you may notice the TPR valve discharging water periodically by itself. There could be a couple of reasons behind it:

– A thermal expansion in a closed water system
– Faulty TPR valve

Tank gas water heater maintenance - TPR valve drippingYou can try to slightly lift and release TPR valve lever until it sets properly without leaking and operates freely (repeat that a few times if necessary). If that doesn’t help: Turn off the gas valve, turn off the water shutoff valve, open a faucet located below the TPR valve level to release the water pressure, and contact your plumbing contractor.

DO NOT plug the TPR valve / its discharge pipe outlet to stop the leak! This could result in an explosion of your water heater!

If you have an older water heater and there’s no way of knowing if its TPR valve was ever tested, it is possible that it may still leak when re-closed after opening / testing. It’s a good idea to have your phone nearby and a plumber’s number ready… just in case.

Tank gas water heater maintenance schedule Part 2 – tank drainage / a few quarts monthly

Tank gas water heater maintenance - tank drainage - if it is an older WH tank, you may not be able to fully close the drain valve after testingThe same rule concerning older water heaters applies for the water heater drain valve maintenance procedure – if it is an older WH tank, you may not be able to fully close the drain valve after testing.

Manufacturers suggest draining a few quarts of water from the water heater’s tank once a month in order to remove silt and sediment that tend to accumulate at its base. You can perform this easy water heater maintenance procedure by attaching a garden hose to the drain valve or by using a bucket. Remember to fully open the valve, which will help in accumulated mineral deposits release.

Skipping this gas water heater maintenance procedure for a few months or even years (depending on your water’s source and quality) could allow a significant amount of mineral deposits to accumulate and harden. As a result, they could cover the WH’s gas control (thermostat) sensors, causing their erratic operation / malfunctioning.

This could further result in false temperature readouts delivered from the sensors to the gas control valve, and increased water temperature at the fixtures / higher than the gas control (thermostat) dial setting.

Tank gas water heater maintenance schedule Part 2 – Internal flue-way & venting system / annually

Tank gas water heater maintenance shut downTank gas water heater maintenance - thermostat exampleTurn the temperature dial to vacation, or the lowest setting, or to OFF position (depending on the design) and the gas cock knob to OFF position (not all designs  have one).

If the pilot stays ON, turn OFF the gas shutoff valve and call the plumber!

Wait until the water heater’s draft hood and its vent pipe have cooled down / use  protective gloves for this water heater maintenance procedure.

Tank gas water heater flue baffle hanging inside the WH flueTank gas water heater maintenance - flue baffle should be ispected on annual basisTank gas water heater maintenance - flue baffle hanger-bracketThe water heater’s internal flue requires annual inspections. In order to perform this gas water heater maintenance task, the draft hood and the vent pipe section must be disassembled, and the flue baffle removed from the flue-way for evaluation.

When replacing the flue baffle, make sure it is secured properly by its hanger at the top of the flue way. Reconnect / secure in place the vent pipe and the draft hood. Check this post for the vent pipe information.

If your gas water heater maintenance evaluation of the flue-way revealed any soot or deterioration, contact your local gas utility company or a plumber to further investigate and correct this condition prior to activating the water heater.

Test for exhaust gases spillage around the draft hood after about 5 minutes of burner operation. Put a flame of a match or candle or smoke next to the draft hood – make sure that the flame or smoke is being pulled into the draft hood. Call the plumber if it doesn’t!

Gas tank water heater & vent pipe maintenance

There are many requirements that have to be fulfilled for the gas water heater venting system to operate safely and a few components of this system that must interact with each other constantly. Once you familiarize yourself with them, importance of the gas water heater vent pipe maintenance will become very clear.

As a part of tank gas water heater maintenance have the gas water heater vent pipe inspected by a professional annually. After the first inspection /based on the design and condition of your particular installation he should be able to give you a list of basic maintenance procedures.

For details about the gas water heater venting system visit the following articles:

For details about the power vent water heater system visit  Water heater power vent and follow the maintenance task described below

  • Check all visible / accessible connections on the gas water heater power vent system PVC vent pipe starting from the power vent assembly connection – all of them must be air tight.
  • Check accessible, horizontal PVC vent pipe sections for proper support – there should be no sagging.
  • Water heater power vent motor has sealed bearings and does not require oiling. If it becomes unusually noisy – contact its manufacturer if still under warranty.

Continue to the final Tank Gas Water Heater Maintenance Part 3

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How to Properly Choose a Vanity to Improve Your Bathroom https://www.checkthishouse.com/9312/how-to-properly-choose-a-vanity-to-improve-your-bathroom.html Tue, 04 Aug 2020 11:35:28 +0000 https://www.checkthishouse.com/?p=9312 One way to improve your bathroom is to add a vanity. A vanity can revamp a space without doing major remodeling. It improves how your bathroom will look, but it will also provide more storage spaces for your toiletries and towels. There are many vanities available, and it may give you a hard time choosing ... Read more]]>

One way to improve your bathroom is to add a vanity. A vanity can revamp a space without doing major remodeling.

It improves how your bathroom will look, but it will also provide more storage spaces for your toiletries and towels.

There are many vanities available, and it may give you a hard time choosing the right piece that will fit your bathroom.

Worry no more – because here are some tips on correctly choosing the right vanity to install in your bathroom:

Consider Proportion and Size

The first thing you should consider when planning to add or change your bathroom vanity is the size and proportion.

You do not want your bathroom to be overcrowded because of vanity. It should add more beauty and comfort to your bathroom, not the other way around.

Knowing the appropriate size of vanity you should install in your bathroom during the selection process is crucial—the standard widths for a vanity is 24, 30, 36, 48, or 60 inches.

You can also find sizes between the standard sizes, from the smallest to about 14 inches up to the largest, 70 inches and up.

To make sure that the vanity you have decided to choose will fit your bathroom, you will have to measure the area where you are going to install it.

When measuring, you have to make sure that you give the vanity enough allowance around open doors, drawers, and shower stalls.

Installing a new vanity and not being able to open doors and drawers due to improper fitting would be a waste of money and effort. Using a painter’s tape would be a big help to tag dimensions and get the proper fitting.

Consider Who Will Use It and How

When choosing a vanity, the person who will use it should always be taken into account. Then the next thing you should consider is the primary purpose for the vanity.

If you and your partner are going to use the vanity, it is better to opt for a double sink vanity to give both of you a chance to use it simultaneously.

Knowing how both of you will use your bathroom vanity will help you decide whether to choose a vanity with more shelves or more drawers.

Picture yourself using the vanity and write down the things on how you wanted to store your stuff like makeup, perfumes, etc.

Choose a Style

Now that you already know the exact measurement and the purpose of your vanity, it is now time to choose the design and style.

There is so much to consider when choosing the style and design for your vanities, such as materials, color, and the design itself.

Most typical American bathroom cabinets are usually made from plywood, fiberboard or particle board.

Among these three materials, plywood would be the most advisable material for a bathroom vanity as it can resist water better than the other two materials.

You can choose any color that you want as long as it will not contradict your whole bathroom’s color and theme in terms of color.

White is considered the safest color to choose as it blends well with other colors. It is advised to choose white vanity, especially if you are planning on reselling.

White is a color that never gets old. It also creates the illusion of more space, which is suitable for small bathrooms.

If you are crazy over minimalist design, white will also suit your taste as it provides a more simple and airy vibe.

Properly Locate the Plumbing

Locating where the plumbing is situated is a must before installing or remodeling your bathroom vanity.

It is important that the plumbing be correctly installed on your sink to avoid plumbing and water leak problems in the future.

Location also has a huge impact when choosing what type of vanity is best for your bathroom, considering the plumbing location.

For instance, you want to install a floating vanity. You should ask yourself first if your plumbing will allow you to install this type of vanity design?

Your bathroom’s plumbing is the one that will dictate where or what kind of vanity should be installed.

Changing your plumbing will be a costly and inconvenient task, so locating where it is before you decide to install your vanity would be prioritized.

Although it is possible to move your plumbing if you want, it is still better to talk to your plumber or your contractor before making any decisions.

Do not decide on your own as it will cost you more money and time if you make the wrong decision.

If you do not have a plumber yet, it is advisable that you hire a plumber with a proper license and do not rely on a random person who claims to be an expert in such things. You can hire a plumber online and study their background and experience.

Also refer to the reviews from their past clients. If you hire the wrong man for the job, it is more likely that your vanity will wear out easily due to pipe leakage.

You can also ask the plumber for a warranty to ensure that they will provide quality work.

Takeaway

Knowing how to choose your vanity correctly will help you achieve the bathroom you wanted.

If you go ahead and purchase a vanity without consulting all the important aspects mentioned above, your dream vanity project might become a nightmare.

Remember that it is not just choosing the right style. It is more of choosing the correct size, style, and location.

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How to Choose an Emergency Plumber https://www.checkthishouse.com/8612/how-to-choose-an-emergency-plumber.html Fri, 29 May 2020 14:19:08 +0000 https://www.checkthishouse.com/?p=8612 When it comes to the plumbing in your home, a range of problems can arise. This can cause a lot of issues as we rely on the plumbing to aid the smooth running of our homes. Everything from being able to do the laundry, to being able to bathe, shower, or flush the toilet can ... Read more]]>

When it comes to the plumbing in your home, a range of problems can arise. This can cause a lot of issues as we rely on the plumbing to aid the smooth running of our homes.

Everything from being able to do the laundry, to being able to bathe, shower, or flush the toilet can become an issue when plumbing troubles arise—not to mention the dangers of leaks and flooding in your home. When left unaddressed, these minor problems can eventually worsen and cause stress to the household. For instance, it’ll be challenging for you to take a bath if you’re having problems with a drain clogged with hair. You’ll have a hard time keeping your home clean if you have leaking pipes and faucets.

If you are experiencing a problem with the plumbing in your home, it is important to get a professional out to take a look. Trying to work on it yourself could make matters worse, so you should always call on an expert.

Depending on the urgency of the issue, you may need someone to come out sooner rather than later to look at your emergency plumbing problem.

In this article, we will look at some of the factors you need to consider when it comes to choosing an emergency plumber.

Key Points You Should Consider

There are various factors you need to consider when you are choosing this type of professional to deal with an urgent plumbing issue.

Some of the factors to keep in mind are:

What the Cost Will Be

The cost of dealing with plumbing issues can vary widely depending on the type and severity of the problem. It is important to consider what the cost will be, as this will then enable you to budget.

Of course, most people want to pay the lowest price possible, and looking at the cost is very important.

However, make sure you do not focus on cost alone when you are making your decision.

How Quickly the Work Can be Done

You also need to look at how quickly the work can be carried out, which is particularly important if the plumbing issue is an emergency.

The last thing you want is for the problem to get worse, so the faster you get it done, the better.

So, make sure you check availability and find out when the provider can come out and complete the work.

What Other People Say

When it comes to your plumbing, you naturally want a provider that is trustworthy, carries out work to a high standard, and is reliable.

How can you find this information out?

The best thing to do is to check out some reviews from other people who have used the same plumbing company or professional for similar jobs.

You will then have a better idea of what to expect, and you can make your decision accordingly.

Experience Levels

You should take some time to look at the experience levels of the provider, as this will also help to ensure you choose the right company.

Look at the amount of time they have been in operation, any accreditations, and their BBB rating among other things.

All of these things will help you to choose the most suitable emergency plumber for your home.

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6 Things To Consider Before Hiring a Plumber https://www.checkthishouse.com/8542/6-things-to-consider-before-hiring-a-plumber.html Tue, 25 Feb 2020 20:22:33 +0000 https://www.checkthishouse.com/?p=8542 Male plumber in blue overallsfixes a leak.If you ever heard stories of an inexperienced plumber causing damage to an already ruined plumbing system, then you know how essential it is to hire the right person for the job. If you think you can rely on a random person after just a confirmation on the phone call, you’re wrong! There are plenty ... Read more]]> Male plumber in blue overallsfixes a leak.

If you ever heard stories of an inexperienced plumber causing damage to an already ruined plumbing system, then you know how essential it is to hire the right person for the job. If you think you can rely on a random person after just a confirmation on the phone call, you’re wrong! There are plenty of factors you need to consider when hiring a plumber. To make your plumbing system better, it is crucial to evaluate the finance sector along with the time it will take for the task to get completed. You can find a plumber by simply checking online.

The following is a list of few things you must consider when hiring a plumber:

1. Proper Licensing

You can’t just let a random person walk in your house without checking their license. Therefore it is crucial to know if the plumber is licensed by the state. If you’re hiring a plumber from an agency, there is no need to conduct a background check. However, if you’re hiring a normal guy from the internet, you should be sure to ask a couple of questions. If the state doesn’t require the plumber to have a licensed certificate, make sure that the plumber doesn’t have any record of previous complaints.

2. Price

Before finalizing a plumber for the work, you must not forget to discuss the price of the service. If you’re hiring a plumber online, you should always request a price quote. Especially when hiring plumbers from well reputable agencies, one should always enquire about any hidden charges. Although the price is not always associated with the quality of work, in some cases, it matters. This doesn’t mean that you hire someone just because they charge less. Always make sure a plumber is competitive enough with his work before hiring him.

3. Work Experience

While there are exceptions to this rule, it is a good idea to make sure a plumber has enough work experience. Hiring an inexperienced plumber can definitely come with a lot of problems and headaches. There are several cases where plumbers have caused massive damage to the property as a result of being inexperienced with the work that needed to be done. If you’re hiring a plumber online, always make sure to go through the work experience section to confirm all information.

4. Customer Reviews

Customer reviews help in deciding whether or not to hire a plumber for a job. Thanks to social media, customers can easily rate a product or service with ease. Even if a plumber’s social profile seems tempting, if they have poor reviews from clients you might want to switch to another person instead of taking a risk. Customer reviews will also give you an idea about a person’s behavior. For instance, if you want to hire somebody to do the entire plumbing work of the house, you’ll have to make sure the person has a good attitude at work.

5. References

It is always a reasonable idea to ask for references before hiring a plumber. Prepare a list of 4 to 5 questions written down on a piece of paper before you make a phone call to any person or company to confirming a source. If you’re skeptical about the work of a plumber, don’t shy away from asking for references. An experienced and well reputable plumber won’t have any issue in providing the source of his work. So don’t be afraid to ask. References can be of great help to give you peace of mind.

6. Warranty

Top-notch plumbers give some kind of guarantee of their work before coming onboard. However, before you hire somebody, ask them about what kind of warranty they offer. Don’t commit to anyone who already blames the environmental conditions in advance for being the cause of a bad plumbing system in the house. A good hands-on plumber will always seem to make the impossible possible no matter how tough the work is. Whether its problems with cast iron drain pipes or even a water heater inspection it is crucial to be cautious when hiring plumbers for such tasks.
For more great home ownership tips, check out the other blogs on Check This House.

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3 Ways To Avoid Large Scale Bathroom Renovations https://www.checkthishouse.com/8331/3-ways-to-avoid-large-scale-bathroom-renovations.html Tue, 20 Nov 2018 19:52:21 +0000 https://www.checkthishouse.com/?p=8331 Well-functioning bathrooms achieve a lot. When they run well and look good, they increase the value of our homes, they keep us safe from things like mold, and they allow us to feel refreshed and at home in our houses. Sometimes, though, our bathrooms themselves are in need of a refresh. As those who own ... Read more]]>

Well-functioning bathrooms achieve a lot. When they run well and look good, they increase the value of our homes, they keep us safe from things like mold, and they allow us to feel refreshed and at home in our houses.

Sometimes, though, our bathrooms themselves are in need of a refresh. As those who own their homes know, one of the costs of home ownership is maintaining your home so that its value remains over the long haul. Keeping bathrooms updated means ensuring that you’re taking care of what you have and you’re making small changes as the needs arise. Doing so is the key to preventing a situation wherein your only option is a major, costly renovation to save your bathroom.

 

Remove Dirt and Grime

Many large problems people run into in their bathroom spaces are the result of small problems that they never addressed. The smaller an issue is, the easier it will be to deal with. Any problem that arises in the bathroom that you put off will not go away, it will simply become more problematic, and more costly on your time and your resources.

Get rid of rust: Both seen and unseen rust is problematic in bathrooms. Removing rust from the likes of toilets and showers ensures unsightly stains don’t make your bathroom look dirtier than it actually is. Rusting pipes in the bathroom left untreated can end up damaging your plumbing.

Kill mold: Not only is mold potentially harmful for individuals, it can also damage the walls and drywall within your home. As soon as you spot mold growth in your bathroom, take the steps to kill it. It’s important to remember with mold that if you can see some, there is likely more lurking where you cannot see. Therefore, it’s valuable to use a squeegee to remove excess moisture after showers, and to keep fans running at least half hour post-shower to ensure proper ventilation.

Clean the fan filter: As Josh Crank writes in his overview of cleaning fan filters out, “Bathroom exhaust fans are among the most underappreciated systems in today’s homes. They’re easy to forget about when it comes to home maintenance, and they can sometimes malfunction without homeowners even noticing. But when they’re used properly and well maintained, they can make any home safer, more energy efficient and fresher-smelling.”

Consistently assessing how the components in your bathroom are fairing and taking the steps needed to keep them well-maintained will serve you and your bathroom well.

 

Replace the Worn Out or Damaged

Given the fact that our bathrooms really operate as an interconnected system, it’s clear that areas in need of replacing aren’t simply isolated issues. Instead, when things are broken or worn down, it’s often the case that those problems will weaken the area as a whole and you’ll end up having to fix more components.

Fix flooring issues: No matter the type of flooring in your bathroom, if there is damage to the floors the inevitable consequence is that you will have water damage, as well. Whether you need to replace hardwood planks or tiles in the floor, the quicker you respond to damage the better off you’ll be.

Reseal grout: While many will tell you that grout should be sealed every year, the reality is that watching your grout for signs of wear is a better, more cost-effective way to judge. When film coatings on top of grout begin to chip, the grout showing underneath is a sign you’ll need to reseal. If your grout has a penetrating sealer, which is clear, you know you need to reseal when the grout begins changing color, because that is a sign air is reaching the grout.

Things will inevitably break and where out, but staying on top of repairs is the difference between a worn out bathroom and a like-new one.

Refresh Where Needed

Sometimes bathroom maintenance isn’t so much a matter of complete replacement or removal, but rather giving some attention to areas that need a relatively straightforward fix. We can easily tune out small imperfections that we see on a day-to-day basis, but not doing that and actively problem-solving will ensure fixes stay small and your bathroom stays pristine.

Stop the leaks: “The average household’s leaks can account for nearly 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year and ten percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day,” writes the EPA. Leaks waste water and money, and bathrooms leaks a prime culprit. Check your toilet flapper faucet, especially, for leaks.

Deal with cracks and chips: As we’ve noted before, “While cleaning the bathroom or taking a shower; follow the grout lines and look for missing grout, hairline cracks. Pay close attention to the corners and seams – those are the most common areas for the cracks to appear and the grout to become loose.”

If you see an area in need of a little love, give it some, and reap the rewards of bathroom that works they way it should.

When we do home maintenance, we have the power to make many small choices and repairs that ultimately save us from having to make large ones. When you see maintenance that needs to be done, a choice is always made: you either fix it right then or you fix it later. The only difference is usually the time and money spent on it. The longer the problem is allowed to exist, the larger the cost. As in most areas of life, the best home maintenance is that which works smarter, not harder.

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Water Heater Inspection Guidelines & Home Inspector Tips https://www.checkthishouse.com/6300/water-heater-inspection-home-inspector-tips.html Wed, 07 Dec 2011 00:23:17 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=6300 Hot Water InspectionWater Heater Inspection Guidelines The following water heater inspection guide covers 3 types of the most popular water heater installations: Gas, natural draft, tank water heaters utilizing galvanized steel vent pipe Gas, power vent equipped, tank water heaters utilizing PVC vent pipe Electric water heaters There might be some minor discrepancies between jurisdictions which will in most (probably not all) cases concern seismic areas water heater installations. I’ll cover it within this water heater inspection manual but I would highly recommend to obtain a water heater installation permit from your local building department (usually required) and verify plumbing code requirements in your particular area. Water heater [...]]]> Hot Water Inspection

The following water heater inspection guide covers 3 types of the most popular water heater installations:

  1. Gas, natural draft, tank water heaters utilizing galvanized steel vent pipe
  2. Gas, power vent equipped, tank water heaters utilizing PVC vent pipe
  3. Electric water heaters

There might be some minor discrepancies between jurisdictions which will in most (probably not all) cases concern seismic areas water heater installations. I’ll cover it within this water heater inspection manual but I would highly recommend to obtain a water heater installation permit from your local building department (usually required) and verify plumbing code requirements in your particular area.

Water heater inspection general requirements, most apply to all 3 categories of water heaters

Water heater inspection –  cold water supply line and a shutoff valve

There must be a water shutoff valve installed ONLY on a cold / inlet line of the water heater. This is required for the emergency and servicing purposes; so the water flow can be easily turned off in case of a leak or appliance servicing.

The water shutoff valve must be installed at or near the water heater / only a full-bore valve type is permitted for this purpose.

Water heater inspection – hot and cold water line connections

Water supply and distribution line material requirements vary between jurisdictions. They might be copper, plastic, galvanized, or even lead in older buildings.

While performing water heater inspection check for union connectors; they are required within 12″ from the water heater’s inlet and outlet side. Their type will depend on the water pipe material in your home. Dielectric and brass unions are safe for all types of water pipe materials (required for copper water pipes) because they provide required separation for different metal types to prevent their corrosion. Galvanized unions can be used for galvanized and plastic water pipes only.

Some jurisdictions will require / some forbid final water pipe connection to the water heater to be flexible. Also, some will require heat traps / heat loops on those flexible lines. I believe that most of the new water heaters will have heat traps built in, if not, a curved flexible line directly above the appliance servs the same purpose; allows cold water to flow into the hot water heater’s tank and prevents hot water convection / mixing with cold water and flowing out of the tank when not in use.

Installed water heater lines union connectors should be checked for leaks during the water heater inspection.

Water heater inspection – hot and cold water pipes insulation

If you jurisdiction adopted UPC (Universal Plumbing Code), minimum R4 thermal resistance value insulation might be required on hot and cold water pipes withing 5′ from the water heater’s inlet and outlet.

Water heater inspection – hot water recirculating pipes

Some water heaters have a hot water recirculating loop installed, which guarantees instant hot water at the furthest faucet from the water heater. Unfortunately such installation wastes significant amounts of energy and all of the recirculating hot water pipes might require to be insulated.

Water heater inspection – insulation

Most newer water heaters include integral R12 or higher value insulation and do not require additional external blanket insulation installation. However, in case the water heater has a lesser value integral insulation or it has been installed in an unheated area, extra layer of insulation is recommended and might be required.

Water heater inspection – thermostat temperature settings

Water heater thermostat temperature setting is a serious safety issue but not a code requirement. The most recommended setting is under 125°F (48,88°C). But continuous exposure of a child’s skin can even at that temperature result in 2nd or 3rd degree burns.

Water heater inspection – safety drip pan

Tank type water heater installations in areas where leakage could cause damage require protective watertight drip pan underneath. This requirement also applies to a cabinet / under the countertop installations.

  • Protective pan must be made from an approved material; minimum 24 gauge galvanized steel or plastic
  • Its minimum depth must be 1 1/2″
  • It must have a minimum 3/4″ drain with a discharge pipe pitched for proper drainage into an approved location. Depending on your local adopted code this could be over a suitably located indirect wastereceptor or floor drain (it cannot be connected to a sewer line, vent pipe, etc.) or outdoors within 6″-24″ from the ground

Water heater inspection – TPR valve  (Temperature Pressure Relief valve)

All tank type water heaters must have a properly installed TPR valve! Every TPR valve must have a properly sized and made out of an approved material safety discharge pipe attached to it.

Since this is an extremely important water heater inspection topic and serious safety issue, please follow this link to a dedicated article: water heater pressure relief valve

Water heater inspection – expansion tank

An expansion tank would be required if a check valve / back flow preventer has been installed on a cold water supply line creating what is referred to as closed water system.

Water heater inspection – combustion air requirements for any fossil fuel burning appliances

Sufficient amount of combustion air MUST be provided for the water heater to operate properly and to prevent incomplete combustion which might result in producing elevated levels of Carbon Monoxide gas.

Water heater inspection – gas connectors

Some states (including Illinois) require heavy wall gas pipes or CSST (Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing) as a water heater’s final gas connector. No appliance type (commonly used for gas ranges and clothes dryers) flexible connectors are permitted in Illinois.

However, there are jurisdictions where flexible connectors might be recommended or required in water heater installations (seismic areas). Therefore, while performing water heater inspection, gas connector type should be verified with a local building department, and / or gas lines servicing utility company.

Common requirements for a gas flexible connector are that it cannot run through or be concealed inside any wall, floor, or other partition. Also, gas flexible connector should not come in contact with objects like metal wall studs, electrical wiring, copper or iron piping, paneling, sheet metal, etc.

Maximum length of a flexible water heater gas connector is 3 feet.

Water heater inspection – gas shutoff valve

Water heater must have a dedicated gas shutoff valve installed within 6 feet from the appliance, in the same room as the WH, and upstream of the union connector. Where a flexible connector is used, the valve must be installed upstream of the connector.

Water heater inspection – gas line union connector

A union or flanged connection is required between the gas shutoff valve and the water heater. Flexible connectors already include flanged connector so no extra union is needed when using one of those. This is to allow removal of the water heater or its controls without removal of the shutoff valve.

Water heater inspection – drip leg / sediment trap

Water heater gas supply line should have a sediment trap (also known as a drip leg) installed to collect moisture and prevent possibility of  gas valve / thermostat contamination. It should be installed as close to the water heater’s gas valve / controller as practical at the time of equipment installation. Gas line’s drip leg can be in a form of a tee fitting with a capped nipple in the bottom or another device approved as an effective sediment trap. Again, this may not be required everywhere.

Garage water heater inspection

Follow this link – garage gas water heater – for explanation of such installation.

Water heater inspection – safety strapping

Tank type water heaters safety strapping might be mandatory in your area so please verify that with a local building department.

Based on the UPC (Uniform Plumbing Code) section 510.5, water heaters located in seismic zones 3&4 require strapping and / or anchoring to resist horizontal displacement caused by an earthquake. If you’re not sure about your seismic zone, use this US Seismic Zone Map (please let me know if the map is gone at that link) to determine it or call your local authorities.

The following general requirements stated in UPC might vary in your area: “Strapping shall be at points within the upper one-third (1/3) and lower one third (1/3) of its vertical dimensions.  At the lower point, a minimum distance of four (4) inches (101.6 mm) shall be maintained above the controls with the strapping”

Follow this link for detailed California Guidelines for Earthquake Bracing of Residential Water Heaters

Natural draft, tank type water heater inspection

Water heater inspection – draft hood

Water heater draft hood’s diameter depends on the size / BTU’s of the appliance. Residential size water heaters have usually 3″ or  4″ diameter draft hoods, some accept both sizes; the collar of the draft hood will have a profile that allows for different diameter vent pipes installation (picture).

A 3″ diameter draft hood should only have a 3″ diameter vent pipe directly attached to it. 4″ diameter vent pipe can be used as well but only with a reducing coupling.

In case the water heater and the draft hood have been designed to accept 4″ diameter vent pipe only, under no circumstances this pipe can be downsized!

New, 4″ diameter draft hood water heater installation in place of an old one that utilized 3″ diameter draft hood and a 3″ diameter galvanized vent pipe requires entirely new 4″ diameter vent pipe connector. No part of the old, smaller size water heater vent pipe can be re-used!

Water heater inspection – vent pipe vertical rise above draft hood

Although there is no UPC code that would mandate water heater’s vent connector having 12″ vertical rise above the draft hood, the Gama venting tables that are required for proper vent pipe / chimney calculations start with a 12″ minimum vent connector rise.

Water heater inspection – single wall vent pipe connections

All water heater single wall vent pipe connections must be secured with 3 sheet metal screws each (unless some other form of fastening has been approved in your jurisdiction) which includes draft hood connection. Using metallic duct tapes is generally not permitted on water heater vent pipes because it limits monitoring and prevents spotting corrosion and leakage signs, which should be investigated by a professional ASAP .

Water heater inspection – double wall / B-vent pipe connections

B-vent type water heater vent pipes require no screws on their joins because they utilize twist and lock connections. The only area that requires screws is the first joint with a single wall vent pipe or draft hood connection.

 

Water heater inspection – vent pipe clearance to combustible materials

  • A single wall water heater vent pipe requires minimum of 6″ clearance to combustible materials
  • Double wall / B-vent type connector requires 1″ clearance to combustible materials

Water heater inspection – single wall vent pipe locations

  • Single wall vent pipe cannot pass through any walls, floor, ceilings
  • Can be only installed in the same room as the water heater
  • Single wall vent pipe may never be installed inside the wall / ceiling cavities
  • Single wall vent pipe cannot be installed in an unheated or inaccessible area (attic, crawlspace)

Water heater inspection – vent pipe slope, support, and length

  • Water heater vent pipe requires a minimum of 1/4″ rise per linear foot towards the chimney to maintain proper draft.
  • The entire run of the vent connector must be sufficiently supported to prevent sagging and dipping.
  • Maximum horizontal length of a single wall vent connector is 75% of the total vertical height
  • Maximum horizontal length of a double wall / B-vent connector is 100% of the total vertical height

Water heater inspection – water heater and furnace vent pipe connection

Venting a furnace that utilizes induced draft motor and a natural draft water heater into a common vent requires “Y” shaped connection. This is required to prevent exhaust gases from the furnace from being pushed back into the house through the water heater’s vent pipe / draft hood.

Click – water heater venting – for an article dedicated to this subject.

Power vent, tank type water heater inspection

Water heater inspection – PVC vent pipe

Tank type water heaters utilizing power vent must have its PVC vent pipe joints sealed / glued using appropriate PVC cement that creates air tight joint. Using silicon for this purpose is not permitted.

The PVC vent pipe’s first connection to the power vent assembly collar is usually made with rubber sleeve / coupling and two clamps, which quiets vibration and minimizes its transfer onto the PVC vent pipe joints.

Water heater’s PVC vent pipe must be properly supported along its entire vertical and horizontal run to prevent sagging and dipping. Manufacturers span support recommendations vary between 3′-6′ with the first support / strap located immediately adjacent to the first 90° elbow. This might be further regulated by you local authorities.

The diameter and the minimum / maximum length of the water heater’s PVC vent pipe must be verified using the water heater’s installation manual. It usually depends on the appliance’s tank size, power vent motor,  BTU’s, and the number of elbows along the entire run.

Click the following link – water heater PVC vent pipe – for additional material covering water heater’s PVC vent pipe. You need it to complete this power vent water heater inspection .

Tank type, electric water heater inspection

Water heater drip pan, TPR valve and discharge pipe requirements are the same as above.

Water heater inspection – electrical connection

Electric water heater requires in-sight or lockable disconnect, 220V circuit breaker should be labeled accordingly.

Electrical conduit must be secured to the connection box with a listed type connector and wiring performed / concealed inside the compartment / protected with a cover.

Electrical conduit must not touch metal water pipes.

Electric water heater grounding terminal screw and grounding wire installed - water heater inspection

Electric water heater grounding requirement - water heater installation manual picture

Electric water heater requires grounding – a ground terminal is usually located inside the connection box or in its vicinity.

Green color wire or green tape marked wire must be attached to the WH grounding terminal and to the electrical service ground terminal.

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Anode Rod, WH shut-down & Combustion Air: Water Heater Maintenance Part 3 https://www.checkthishouse.com/6075/water-heater-maintenance-3-anode-rod-shut-down-combustion-air.html Sun, 17 Apr 2011 00:22:39 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=6075 You have reached Part 3 of Tank Gas Water Heater Maintenance Water Heater Maintenance Part 1 Water Heater Maintenance Part 2 Water Heater Maintenance Part 3 Use the navigation above to revisit Parts 1 & 2 of this important gas water heater maintenance procedure. Part 3 covers the following: Sacrificial Anode Rod maintenance Vacation and ... Read more]]>

You have reached Part 3 of Tank Gas Water Heater Maintenance

Water Heater Maintenance
Part 1
Water Heater Maintenance
Part 2
Water Heater Maintenance
Part 3


Use the navigation above to revisit Parts 1 & 2 of this important gas water heater maintenance procedure.
Part 3 covers the following:

  • Sacrificial Anode Rod maintenance
  • Vacation and extended shut-down of the water heater
  • Water heater’s combustion air – extremely important!

Tank gas water heater maintenance – the Sacrificial Anode Rod

The anode rod purpose is to prolong the life of the water heater’s glass lined tank. While protecting the tank from corrosion the rod deteriorates. It’s performance and the life span depend on the water conditions in your area, which will influence the time intervals for the anode rod’s evaluation, and replacement if such is required.

If you have a good quality water supply and you’re not using any water softening systems, water heater maintenance will not be that extensive and you can expect the sacrificial anode rod to last approximately 3-5 years. However, the softener system or an acidic water source will cut that time in half or even more thus increasing water heater maintenance

Therefore, my suggestion is to have a professional performing at least the first time evaluation of the water heater’s sacrificial anode rod. The plumber will be able to show you what tool would be the best to remove it (1 1/16″ socket wrench in most cases), how to determine the remaining life span of the rod, and hopefully come up with a time frame for the next check-up.

Water heater maintenance - most typical / exposed sacrificial anode rod hex head locationWater heater maintenance - replace deteriorated anode rodWater heater maintenance 3 – Tank water heater sacrificial anode rod access.
In most residential tank type water heaters it is fairly simple to locate the anode hex head screw on top of the appliance’s enclosure.

However, in some water heater tanks this access might be obscured and without information about a particular appliance design and extra tools you may not be able to find it – get a plumber.

Water heater maintenance 3 – Perform the anode rod maintenance inspection by following these steps:

  1. Turn off the water heater’s gas supply (lower the thermostat to minimum, set the regulator to OFF and / or turn OFF the shutoff valve) / turn off the electrical power supply if such exists
  2. Turn off the cold water supply at the water heater cold line and at the the main water shutoff
  3. Release the water pressure by opening any of the water faucets located below the top part of the water heater’s tank level. If you have any faucets on the floors above the water heater level, open those faucets as well and wait until there’s no water coming out of the lowest faucet (leave it open for the rod inspection)
  4. If there’s no faucets below the water heater’s top plate level (for example: a water heater located in the crawlspace or a basement with no extra sink) you’ll have to used the WH’s drain valve to release the pressure and drain water from the system
  5. Use a 1 1/16″ socket wrench to unscrew the rod (you may also need a breaker bar, especially on older water heaters)
  6. Carefully (to prevent it from breaking apart if severely deteriorated) pull the anode rod from the water heater’s tank and depending on its condition: clean it or replace it with a new one. I’ll try to get some pictures for you so you know what to expect.
  7. Reverse the procedures above

NOTICE:
Completely removing the anode rod from the water heater’s tank (except for inspection and/or replacement) will void the warranty and shorten the life span of the glass lined tank.

Tank gas water heater maintenance Part 3 – Vacation and Extended Shut-Down of the water heater

Whenever your water heater is to remain unused for an extended period of time, you can save money and energy by simply turning off the gas, power supply (in some models), and water feed to the appliance.  This will also prevent a build-up of dangerous hydrogen gas.

Hydrogen gas can be produced in a hot water heater that has not been used for some period of time, usually more than 2 weeks.

HYDROGEN GAS IS EXTREMELY FLAMMABLE!

To safely disperse such gas and minimize risk of injury, open the kitchen hot water faucet for several minutes prior to operating any of the electrical appliances that might be connected to the hot water system. Refrain from smoking or using an open flame near the faucet.

A typical hydrogen confirmation presence is a sound of air escaping through the open faucet as the water begins to flow.

Water heater maintenance 3 – Planning to leave your house completely unattended during the winter / concerned about freezing?

  • Consider draining the tank water heater and piping if they might be subjected to freezing temperatures. If it’s a long shut-down period, have a professional check your water heater’s operation. If you decide doing it on your own, make sure the water heater is re- filled completely prior to starting its heating cycle.

Water heater maintenance 3 – plumbing system draining pros:

  • If you turn off the water to your property and properly drain / air blow the entire system, you don’t have to worry about freezing, cracking  pipes, and flooding.

Water heater maintenance 3 – plumbing system draining cons:

  • Anode rod helps to protect water heater’s tank from corroding but only while filled with water. Even its interior walls are glass-like ceramic coated, its rust-resistance will be compromised when empty.

Final gas water heater maintenance requirement – combustion air (applies to all fuel burning appliances)

Gas water heaters require oxygen from air to burn its fuel (gas or oil), which is called a combustion process. Consequently, this air required for water heater’s combustion is called “combustion air”.

An insufficient amount of combustion air supply results in an incomplete combustion process. As a bi-product of such incomplete combustion, Carbon Monoxide is released to the WH surrounding area, and this could be deadly for you.
Unfortunately many of us don’t understand it or simply forget about it. Therefore, I highly recommend following this link and educate yourself about combustion air – combustion air minimum requirement

Some basics of the water heater maintenance concerning combustion air:

  • The water heater takes its combustion air through the openings around its base (sides and / or underneath the bottom plate). DO NOT block or obstruct any of those combustion air inlets. Keep anything at least 1” away from them.
  • DO NOT store ANY combustible materials (wood, paper, fabrics, etc.) or flammable liquids (paint, paint thinners, aerosol spray, gasoline, etc.) near the water heater.
  • Make sure that the water heater location has plenty of fresh air circulation – combustion air
  • Maintain functional Carbon Monoxide detector(s) and smoke alarms in your home – check Home Safety category for details.

That concludes Part 3 of the tank gas water heater maintenance, let me know if you have any questions. If this is where you have started from, make sure that you go over Parts 1 & 2 of water heater maintenance.

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Gas Water Heater Maintenance 1 | How To Maintain Tank Water Heaters https://www.checkthishouse.com/6043/gas-water-heater-maintenance-tank-water-heaters.html Sat, 16 Apr 2011 03:53:59 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=6043 Gas Water Heater Maintenance – Part 1 of 3
Water Heater Maintenance
Part 1
Water Heater Maintenance
Part 2
Water Heater Maintenance
Part 3


Wow, I’m very impressed… You must be one of the very few that are actually interested in a gas water heater maintenance. While performing home inspections, I have asked hundreds of homeowners about this simple procedure and a raised eye brow was usually the answer to my question.

Besides water heater maintenance you can also check this water heater inspection post that covers many other things,

With a few simple gas water heater maintenance steps you can get years of reliable operation from your appliance. Most of those steps can be easily performed by a homeowner, however, there are a few that should be carried out by a qualified service personnel experienced in gas water heater repair.

Warning:
Just like with every appliance, your gas water heater maintenance should be performed on regular basis. Neglecting this requirement can compromise the proper operation of your appliance. The outcome could be hazardous, result in Carbon Monoxide poisoning and hot water scalding.

I divided this gas water heater maintenance schedule into 3 parts just in case you don’t like to scroll too much. I highly recommend to read all of them but you can use quick links below to jump between them as well.

Gas water heater maintenance components that are recommended to be periodically evaluated by a professional (even that most of them can have basic tests performed by a homeowner as well):

  • Gas control (thermostat) – annually
  • Burner in a sealed combustion chamber equipped appliances – newer water heaters (2003 and later) – bi-annually
  • TPR valve – temperature & pressure relief valve – at least once a year
  • Internal flue-way – annually
  • Venting system – annually


Gas water heater maintenance components that are suggested for routine checkups performed by a homeowner:

Part 1 – you are here

  • Visual ONLY evaluation of a burner in a sealed combustion chamber equipped appliances – newer water heaters (2003 and later) – scroll down for more
  • Open combustion chamber burner maintenance – scroll down for more

Part 2 – Tank Gas Water Heater Maintenance

  • TPR valve (temperature & pressure relief valve) maintenance – can be tested by a homeowner following simple guidelines in Part 2
  • Water heater’s tank drainage – monthly
  • Internal flue-way in a natural draft water heaters annually
  • Water heater natural draft venting system maintenance – annually / partial evaluation by a homeowner can be performed
  • Gas water heater power vent system maintenance – annually / partial evaluation by a homeowner can be performed

Part 3 – Gas Water Heater Maintenance

  • Sacrificial anode rod maintenance
  • Vacation and extended shut-down of the water heater
  • Water heater’s combustion air – extremely important!

Gas water heater maintenance – sealed combustion chamber burner, visual evaluation ONLY – perform twice a year

  1. Look through the sight glass and inspect the pilot burner flame with the main burner off and the main burner Gas water heater maintenance  - examine sealed combustion chamber through the sight glasswhile firing. To activate the burner run your hot water faucet(s) for a few minutes or increase the temperature setting – remember to return dial to the original position after testing (120°F starting point is recommended).
  2. If you observe soot buildup inside the burner chamber or / and dominating yellow – orange flame, the water heater should be turned OFF and serviced by a licensed professional.
  3. If you observe any foreign objects inside the burner chamber (other than the burner and the pilot / ignition device) have it serviced by a professional ASAP

Gas Water Heater Maintenance CAUTION:
Servicing of the water heater burner contained within the sealed combustion chamber must be performed by a licensed / qualified professional. After removing the burner’s access door, its gasket must be replaced.

Gas water heater maintenance – open combustion chamber burner – perform twice a year

Gas water heater maintenance - remove both burner chamber covers for interior evaluationRemove the burner chamber covers (be careful – they may be HOT) and observe the pilot flame with the main burner off and with the main burner while firing. The only difference from the sealed combustion chamber evaluation is that you should not look into the chamber while attempting to ignite the burner!

Wait until the WH burner is on (after running hot water for a while or increasing the temperature setting) and then look inside (use safety glasses), while keeping a safe distance to prevent an injury from heat.

Malfunctioning, improperly adjusted open burner chamber water heaters may cause a flame roll-out while firing, so be careful – call a professional if something like that happens. The burner flame should light smoothly from the pilot or igniter.

Other conditions to look for inside the burner chamber while performing gas water heater maintenance:

Gas water heater maintenance - remove rust flakes from the burner and the floor shield beneath itGas water heater maintenance - leaking water heater requires immediate servicing

  • Foreign objects on top of the burner and underneath it – the only thing you should see inside the burner chamber is the burner and the pilot / igniter

  • Corrosion / rust flakes – they are not uncommon but should be carefully removed ASAP
  • Standing or dripping water – condensation is normal, especially after running hot water for a long time. However, if it doesn’t evaporate and keeps accumulating at the base of your water heater; turn off the gas shutoff valve, turn off the water shutoff valve and call the plumber.

Gas water heater maintenance / cleaning burner chamber components – follow this procedure:

  1. Turn the temperature dial to vacation setting and the pilot knob to OFF position. If the pilot stays ON, turn OFF the gas shutoff valve and call the plumber!
  2. Make sure that the water heater’s chamber interior is cool enough to perform cleaning. A vacuum cleaner attachment can be used to remove rust flakes from the burner and the floor shield beneath it. Be extremely careful around the pilot area / igniter device – some designs are very delicate and easy to damage.
  3. Any larger objects will have to be removed by hand (use safety gloves for that). Some objects you can expect (I’ve seen them all) are birds, mice, rats, and corroded flue baffle.

Gas water heater maintenance - flue baffleA flue baffle (more about it in “Gas water heater maintenance 2”) is normally suspended inside the flue, directly above the burner. After its hooks / brackets or bottom sections corrode, deteriorate, they may fall down onto the burner in which case the flue baffle requires immediate servicing / replacement – it’s a SAFETY HAZARD – call a plumber.

Please continue to Gas Tank Water Heater Maintenance Part 2 that covers TPR valve, water heater tank drainage and internal flu-way maintenance. Remember to go over all 3 Parts of the gas water heater maintenance procedures.

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Garage Gas Water Heater Installation Requirements & How To https://www.checkthishouse.com/5712/garage-gas-hot-water-heater-raised-above-the-floor-fvir-safety.html Fri, 08 Oct 2010 18:30:50 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=5712 garage gas water heaterThe following are the general requirements for the garage gas water heater installation concerning its burner chamber height above the floor surface. Depending on the model / type / age of your particular water heater and your jurisdiction, they may or may not apply – always check before the installation. If there’s no manual explaining the garage gas water heater installation requirements, contact the manufacturer and ask for  instructions for your particular model (in many cases you’ll be able to obtain it online).]]> garage gas water heater

Garage gas water heater installation requirements

The following are the general requirements for the garage gas water heater installation concerning its burner chamber height above the floor surface. Depending on the model / type / age of your particular water heater and your jurisdiction, they may or may not apply – always check before the installation.

If there’s no manual explaining the garage gas water heater installation requirements, contact the manufacturer and ask for instructions for your particular model (in many cases you’ll be able to obtain it online).

However, the rules listed below are extremely important. If they do apply to your garage gas water heater, you may be putting your life in danger by not following them.

As a general requirement, you should not install a gas water heater in any location where gasoline, flammable vapors or liquids, and combustible materials are likely to be present. Such installation may result in an explosion or fire, but sometimes there may be no other choices. If this is where you’re standing right now, you must follow the garage gas water heater installation rules.

1. How high should the garage gas water heater be raised off of the floor?

The free-standing or attached garage gas water heater installation is one of those not-preferable locations, but sometimes it is the only one.

Water heater installed in a closet opening to the garage

Ignition source (pilot, electronic igniter, hot surface igniter, etc.) of the garage gas water heater must be 18″ from the floor surface.
The same rule applies to the gas water heater that has been installed in a room opening to the garage, such as a utility closet, or utility room. This applies even if the door(s) separating the garage and the water heater room are air tight / self closing.

2. Water heater ignition source must be 18″ from the floor in an area where flammables are stored.

For the garage gas water heater and any area that is also dedicated to storing flammables, or if there’s a possibility of such materials being stored there, put the appliance on a platform so the ignition source is at least 18” above the floor surface. Make sure that this platform is capable of supporting the weight of the filled WH.
Open combustion chamber water heater and flammable liquids stored in front of itThe way it often works in our homes is that while looking for some storage space we stuff our utility room / closet with everything that doesn’t fit anywhere else. Things such as leftover paint, paint thinner, all kinds of cleaning chemicals, container filled with emergency gasoline, etc are usually found here. Is this how your water heater closet looks? Well, you’re not alone.

Sealed combustion chamber water heaterBesides accidental spillage, some of those plastic containers may simply melt down while standing next to the water heater or on top of it, spilling its contents, and causing vapors to ignite underneath the water heater and inside the burner chamber – go and look around your WH base. Don’t push it to the side! Take it out of there!

Bad news: most of the WH manufactured prior to 2003 had an open combustion chamber and they were not equipped with a safety device that would prevent vapor ignition.

Good news / also applies to garage gas water heater installations

  • Effective July 1, 2003, all residential 30, 40, and 50 gallon atmospheric vent (natural draft) water heaters are required to be equipped with FVIR -flammable vapor ignition resistant design.
  • July 1, 2006 – the same requirement has been applied to 30, 40, and 50 gallon power-vented residential gas water heaters with less than 75,000 BTU input.
  • July 1,  2007 – water heater conversion to FVIR design has been extended to all residential water heaters with inputs of 75 000 BTU’s or less including Power Direct-Vent, Direct-Vent, Manufactured Housing and larger gallon capacity models not covered in the first two phases.

3. Elevation of the garage gas water heater above the floor is not required if the water heater is FVIR -flammable vapor ignition resistant.

Garage gas water heater elevated 18 inches above the floorTheoretically, FVIR feature-equipped garage gas water heater could be installed without the previously required 18” elevation (wherever the flammables are stored). The new water heaters have a sealed combustion / burner chamber and a push-button igniter mounted on the exterior.  Although they still draw the combustion air from the surrounding area, safeguards incorporated into this new design prevent gas or vapors ignited inside the chamber from escaping into the room.

I said that “theoretically” you can skip the 18” elevation requirement, because manufacturers and some jurisdictions may still recommend (or require) that even garage gas water heaters equipped with FVIR are still installed 18 inches above the floor surface.

Always read the manual and verify procedures with your local code enforcement division before the garage gas water heater installation… any water heater installation – it could save you time and money.

Water heater on the ground installation requires 3 inch pedestal4. Gas water heater On-the-Ground installation

Water heater requires a 3” pedestal (concrete, etc.) to minimize moisture infiltration / corrosion. It cannot be installed directly on-the-ground.

5. Gas water heaters on combustible floor

For the garage gas water heater installations this would most likely apply to platform materials. Water heaters can be installed directly / without elevation on a combustible floor (unless otherwise specified in its manual or by your local jurisdiction), except on carpeting. If it must be installed on carpeting, you need to place a wood or metal panel beneath the water heater, extending at least 3” beyond its base in all directions.

6. Electric water heater in a garage

Some jurisdictions may require electric water heaters to be elevated above the garage floor as well. Because of the location of the lower heating element, an electric WH may have to be raised 10 to 12 inches off the floor – check first!

7. Water heater installed in the garage requires protective guards / bollards in order to prevent a car from driving into it.

How about garage gas water heater maintenance…  it will extend its life span and make your life safer.

That covers the basics of the garage gas water heater installation concerning its burner chamber height above the floor surface.

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Furnace, Water Heater & Vent Pipe Clearance Guides & Locations https://www.checkthishouse.com/3151/furnace-water-heater-vent-pipe-clearances-and-locations.html Sat, 07 Mar 2009 03:25:02 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=3151 furnace, hot water tank clearance locationsGas burning appliances vent pipes produce heat when discharging exhaust gases to exterior. Temperature of the vent pipe is transferred to the surrounding area and all the materials that are in the vent pipe vicinity. Problems start arising if those materials are combustible and located to close to the furnace, water heater vent pipe. If you apply heat to a combustible material for some period of time (that varies between materials), its point of ignition will gradually get lower and eventually little heat will be required to start a fire – that’s why you need a clearance between the vent pipe and a combustible material.]]> furnace, hot water tank clearance locations

Vent pipe clearance to combustible materials

Visit water heater inspection for more information about this subject.

Vent pipe clearances - single wall vent pipe not permitted in attic, too close to framing - 6 inches minimum distance to combustiblesFurnace, water heater vent pipe clearance - paper and wood framing are highly flammable and require 6 inch clearance to a single wall vent pipeFurnace and water heater vent pipes require clearance to combustible materials – why is that necessary?

Gas burning appliances vent pipes produce heat when discharging exhaust gases to exterior.

Temperature of the vent pipe is transferred to the surrounding area and all the materials that are in the vent pipe vicinity. Problems start arising if those materials are combustible and located to close to the furnace, water heater vent pipe.

Furnace, water heater vent pipe clearances - single wall vent pipe installed too close to the main beamIf you apply heat to a combustible material for some period of time (that varies between materials), its point of ignition will gradually get lower and eventually little heat will be required to start a fire – that’s why you need a clearance between the vent pipe and a combustible material.

Flash point / temperature at which wood will ignite is 572F (300C).

For all of us not aware of this condition, here are the required / minimum furnace, water heater vent pipe clearances and locations where the single or double wall vent pipes can be installed.

Furnace / water heater vent pipe clearance – single wall

Furnace, water heater vent pipe clearances - single wall vent pipe requires 6 inches clearance from the floor framing

Minimum distance between the single wall vent pipe and combustible materials is 6”

The minimum distance between the single wall vent pipe and combustible materials is 6”

The single wall vent pipe cannot be concealed inside the wall or floor. Even if you keep the clearances at the entrance and exit from that space, whatever section is inside must be double wall type pipe.

A vent pipe is an important part of the gas water heater maintenance – don’t forget your schedule.Furnace, water heater vent pipe clearances - single wall cannot penetrate ceiling, wall or floorFurnace, water heater vent pipe clearances - no single wall can enter ceiling, wall or floorThe reasoning is simple – you can’t see what is happening inside the wall or floor, and if the single wall vent pipe starts corroding, separates, leaks exhaust gases, you’ll have no control over it. Also, concealed spaces have no way of discharging heat and 6” vent pipe clearance simply wouldn’t help.

Furnace, water heater vent pipe clearance - single wall vent pipe is not permitted in unconditioned atticFurnace, water heater vent pipe clearances - no single wall furnace vent pipe is permitted in an unconditioned attic The furnace, water heater single wall vent pipe cannot start in or pass through the attic. Also, it cannot be used in the crawlspace or other unconditioned space. The exceptions are unconditioned basements and garages within the exterior walls if local 99% winter design temperature equals or is larger than 5F.

Winter design temperature is the temperature that is exceeded during either 99% or 97.5% of the hours in December, January and February. Heating systems through the US are designed / calculated based on winter design temperature. 97.5% winter design temperature values are typically used by local codes. (Simplified Design of HVAC systems by William Bobenhausen)

Furnace, water heater vent pipe clearances - single wall pipe thimble at ceiling penetration, but double wall pipe is requiredA conditioned space is an area where temperature and humidity are controlled directly or indirectly.
An unconditioned space is an area isolated with doors and / or partitions from a conditioned space.

Typical examples of an unconditioned space are unheated attics, crawl spaces or garages.

  • Whenever the single wall vent pipe penetrates the roof surface, it requires thimble which must extend 18” above and 6” below the surface. Thimble must be open at the bottom and sealed around the vent pipe above the roof.
  • Horizontal section of the furnace, water heater single wall vent pipe cannot be longer than 75% of the vertical vent pipe length

Furnace, water heater vent pipe clearance – double wall

  • Typical listed and labeled double wall vent pipe clearance to combustible materials is one inch, but you should always check before installation.
  • Maximum horizontal section of the furnace, water heater double wall vent pipe cannot be longer than 100% of the vertical vent pipe length.

It will complete the information about the furnace and the water heater vent pipe clearance requirements.

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Gas Water Heater PVC Vent Pipe and WH Power Vent https://www.checkthishouse.com/2991/water-heater-pvc-vent-pipe-and-power-venting.html Sat, 21 Feb 2009 05:04:26 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=2991 The following information does not apply to a tankless type water heater power vent systems. PVC vent pipes can be used only with water heater power vent /exhaust motor equipped hot water heaters also known as an induced draft gas water heaters. The following information may also apply to CPVC and ABS pipes if such installations ... Read more]]>

The following information does not apply to a tankless type water heater power vent systems.

Water Heater PVC Vent Pipe - induced draft ventingWater heater power vent PVC pipe - induced draft venting 2Water Heater PVC Vent Pipe - induced draft venting 3

PVC vent pipes can be used only with water heater power vent /exhaust motor equipped hot water heaters also known as an induced draft gas water heaters.

The following information may also apply to CPVC and ABS pipes if such installations are permitted by the manufacturer and local authorities. Check water heater inspection for more information about water heater installations.

For the rest of this post I’ll be using “PVC vent pipe” just to make it easier. When installing a new or altering your existing water heater vent pipe installation, always check your particular water heater model for the manufacturer requirements and verify installation with local jurisdiction authorities.

There are two types of PVC pipe water heater power vent systems – single (single wall and concentric) and double pipe.

PVC vent pipe water heater power vent system (single wall PVC)

Power vent equipped water heater discharges exhaust gases through that single pipe. However, requires combustion air for fuel burning process and this must be supplied in sufficient amounts from the house interior or exterior.

You cannot install the water heater power vent system that uses just a single wall PVC vent pipe for exhaust discharge purposes in a closet, behind the solid doors, with no air supplying vents,  or in any type of room that doesn’t conform to the combustion air requirements for fuel burning appliances.

Inadequate amount of air will cause incomplete combustion, and one of the bi-products of that is Carbon Monoxide, which could be deadly.

There are also single-concentric water heater power vent / PVC vent pipe systems used by a high efficiency and high efficiency condensing storage / tank type water heaters. They have combustion air supplied from the exterior (some water heater PVC vent pipe systems might be 2 pipes starting at the water heater and converted into one concentric pipe before wall / roof penetration).

PVC vent pipe water heater power vent system based on 2 pipes

This system is called direct vent, uses one PVC pipe to supply combustion air from the house exterior and second PVC vent pipe to discharge exhaust gases beyond the house. Both PVC vent pipes MUST terminate on the outside.
Advantage of the 2 PVC pipe water heater venting system (and a concentric / single pipe), is that you can install this type of the water heater power vented system in the closet / behind the solid door, or crawlspace with no vents, etc.

Water heater power vent systems utilizing double PVC vent pipe also come in high efficiency and condensing high efficiency “flavors”.

PVC vent pipe water heater power vent system cannot be connected to the regular chimney or share venting with other appliance (e.g. water heater power vent and a high efficiency furnace cannot be venting through the single PVC pipe)

Types and sizes of pipes that can be used in water heater power vent systems

Water heater power vent PVC pipe - SCH 40 PVC, CPVC and ABS pipes are used for ventingTypical water heater power vent equipped system utilizes (unless otherwise specified by the manufacturer and/or by your local jurisdiction) 2″, 3″ or 4″ diameter, schedule 40 PVC, CPVC or ABS pipe. Size of the vent pipe depends on model, BTU rating of your appliance, length of the entire horizontal and vertical pipe section, and the number of installed elbows.

Example (based on A.O. Smith Water Heater Power Vent requirements):

GPVH-40 and GPVH-50 model (40 and 50 gal / 40,000 and 50,000 BTU) water heaters.

Max water heater PVC vent pipe length would be:

  • 40’ for 2” pipe
  • 120’ for 3” pipe
  • 160’ for 4” pipe

However, for every installed 2”&3” elbow you have to deduct 5’ from the maximum distance, and for a 4” elbow – 8’ of the pipe.

Water heater PVC vent pipe clearances at side wall penetrationWater heater power vent PVC pipe connections must be air tightWater heater PVC vent pipe roof clearancesAlways check water heater power vent system PVC vent pipe requirements that apply to your particular model. If you are missing the water heater PVC vent system installation manual, contact the appliance’s manufacturer / check online if possible.

  • Gas water heater power vent / induced draft gas water heater PVC pipe can be installed vertically (through the roof) and horizontally (through the wall). For horizontal installations is should be supported every 3’ – 3 ½” to avoid sagging along the run (or per manufacturer’s instructions).
  • All connections on the gas water heater power vent system PVC vent pipe must be air tight (require primer and cement for PVC/CPVC/ABS pipe)
  • Slope of the pipe – always check manual, but for non-condensing installations (not high-efficiency water heater) level or slightly up-slope towards the exterior should be OK.

Gas water heater power vent / induced draft gas water heater PVC pipe exterior terminations

Again check the manual, but some of the most common water heater power vent PVC pipe requirements are:

  • Horizontal exhaust outlet 12” minimum above the ground or expected snow level (for cold climates)
  • Vent riser – 24”(if pipe penetrates the wall lower that 12” from the ground)
  • Minimum 18” above the highest point where it penetrates the roof
  • Minimum 6” away from the vertical wall
  • Exhaust pointing down with rodent screen at the end
  • min 36″ above the forced air inlet if closer than 120″ horizontally to the inlet
  • min 9″ -12″ from the window / door opening (depending on BTU rating)

Below are links to some of the manuals available online showing different types of water heater power vent installations.

Did gas water heater maintenance ever cross your mind? It’s very important for your safety and to maximize your appliance’s performance.

Feel free to ask if you have any questions about the gas water heater power vent system and water heater PVC vent pipe.

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Combustion Air for Fuel Burning Appliances https://www.checkthishouse.com/2531/combustion-air-for-fuel-burning-appliances.html Fri, 23 Jan 2009 05:23:28 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=2531 Combustion air is required for all types of fuel burning appliances in our homes to properly burn that fuel.

Combustion air has three functions:

  1. It  is required to properly burn fuel
  2. To dilute exhaust gases that are being vented to exterior
  3. To vent and cool appliances

The most popular fuel used in our homes is of course natural gas.

For every one cubic foot of gas, there are 10 cubic feet of combustion air needed for clean burning in addition to dilution and ventilation air.

There are two products out of a perfectly balanced gas combustion – carbon dioxide and water vapor, which are perfectly safe. However, if we limit the amount of the combustion air in the process,  a third bi-product might develop, unfortunately a deadly one – Carbon Monoxide.

Example:

Imagine a gas water heater in a small closet, behind the solid door, and without any openings in walls providing that necessary combustion air. After using all of the closet’s combustion air for burning process, the air pressure in the closet will become lower than the one inside the water heater’s vent flue pipe.

The water heater closet will pretty much act now like a vacuum and the exhaust gases may be sucked back into the closet space instead of being discharged to the exterior. Since the oxygen starving combustion process is now producing that deadly Carbon Monoxide, it will eventually leak through the gaps around the closet door into the house…

The areas designated for fuel burning appliances are described as confined space and un-confined space.

The water heater closet from my example could be a confined space – an area with a closed, solid door and walls / ceiling that create a barrier between the appliance and the rest of the house, thus not allowing any combustion air penetration.

A confined space is a room that has less than 50 cubic ft of air volume for every 1000 BTU/hr of appliance input .

Combustion air amount depends on the appliances BTU's

If the water heater has a 40 000 BTU/hr rating, the room would have to have over 2000 cubic feet of volume to provide enough combustion air (without additional sources) for proper burning process.

Un-confined space is a room that has more than 50 cubic ft of air volume for every 1000 BTU/hr of appliance input (BTU/hr input should be on the appliance label / information tag).

Assuming that our example water heater closet itself is a confined space, and it is located in a room being an un-confined space, we would require two openings in the closet door or wall to allow combustion air inside. One opening should be located within 12” from the floor, and second within 12” from the ceiling of the enclosure.

Combustion air ports in the utility room wallOpenings between confined space and unconfined space must have at least 100 sq. inch area each and provide at least 1sq. inch of a free airflow area per 1000 BTU/hr of the appliance input (1/4” min. or larger mesh screen if installed over the openings, metal grills and louvers provide 60%-75% of their net free area, wood louvers only 20%-25%).

With a 40000 BTU/hr water heater input, the combustion process would require only 40 sq. inches of an opening at top and bottom, but you still have to obey the minimum 100 sq. inches per each opening requirement.

Examples of combustion air opening sizes between confined space and un-confined space (inside of the house air)

Up to 100K BTU/hr – 100 square inch openings
125K BTU/hr – 125 square inch openings
150K BTU/hr – 150 square inch openings
175K BTU/hr – 175 square inch openings, and so-forth

Click for house interior combustion air calculations.

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How to Install a Saddle Valve, Tips & Guidelines https://www.checkthishouse.com/2445/saddle-valve-installation.html https://www.checkthishouse.com/2445/saddle-valve-installation.html#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2009 04:00:04 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=2445 How to Install a Saddle ValveIf the saddle valve installation is your first plumbing job, don’t worry, it’s very simple. Just follow these instructions carefully: Even if the saddle valve came with some appliance installation kit, it may not be permitted in your area. You may want to check if such installation complies with your local plumbing code. This How to Install Saddle Valve Guide covers copper pipe installation. However, you can also use it for plastic and galvanized pipes since most steps are almost identical, and I will explain the difference whenever [...]]]> How to Install a Saddle Valve

If the saddle valve installation is your first plumbing job, don’t worry, it’s very simple. Just follow these instructions carefully:

Even if the saddle valve came with some appliance installation kit, it may not be permitted in your area. You may want to check if such installation complies with your local plumbing code.

This How to Install Saddle Valve Guide covers copper pipe installation. However, you can also use it for plastic and galvanized pipes since most steps are almost identical, and I will explain the difference whenever it’s necessary.

Saddle valve parts A typical saddle valve application is to provide water supply for a whole house humidifier, ice maker, water filtering / dispensing equipment, or anything else that uses a ¼” diameter supply line. The installation is so simple that in most cases, a professional plumbing contractor will not be necessary … unfortunately there are always some exceptions; hopefully, yours will not be the case.

Tools for the saddle valve installation on copper pipes:

  • Straight and Philips blade screwdriver
  • ½” or adjustable wrench

Additional tools for the saddle valve installation on plastic and galvanized pipes:

  • Drill with a 1/8” – ¼” drill bit (some applications / manufacturers might require ¼” diameter hole to provide better water flow, i.e. for the ice maker).

For your safety, I highly recommend using a cordless drill or at least a power drill plugged into a GFCI protected outlet. Wear protective glasses.Water might be too hot if saddle valve installed too close to to water heater inletSaddle valve with a clamp designed for a 3/8th of an inch tubing1. For the saddle valve installation, pick a cold water supply pipe located as close as possible to the appliance you’re providing water for. The longer the supply tubing will be, the more chances for damaging it.

If you’re installing a saddle valve on the water heater supply line, try to move it further from the water heater inlet, so it doesn’t pick-up already heated water. ¾” pipe is very easy to work with, ½” will be OK, but if you try to install the saddle valve on anything smaller than that – it might not work, unless you use a specially designed for this purpose saddle valve / clamp.Close water shutoff valve and relief the pressure from water pipe2. Close the main water shutoff valve. If you have two valves – close both of them. It is very common for water shutoff valves to start leaking around the stem if not used for a long period of time or if used very often. If it starts dripping, you can try to re-tighten the packing nut (below the handle).

This might not work on old valves, and if you can’t stop the leak,  it is one of those unfortunate cases that requires a phone call to the plumber (returning valve to the position you’ve originally started from might sometimes stop the leak).

3. Open the faucet preferably located below the area of the saddle valve installation to relieve the pressure. For galvanized and plastic pipes, since you’re going to be drilling it, I would suggest to open all of the house faucets and drain water from the system. In any case – ask your household members to not use any water outlets during the installation (it will just take a few minutes).

4. Clean the section of the pipe that the saddle valve rubber gasket will be placed on. Paint, corrosion, dirt, and anything else that might prevent a watertight seal should be removed from this small area. You can use a piece of sandpaper (as fine as possible to do the job), steel wool, or even a kitchen scrub-sponge with soap may be just enough. Wipe off any remaining debris with a clean towel.Install rubber gasket on saddle valve5. Prepare the saddle valve – the top section of the clamp should be attached to the valve, just make sure that it’s tight. Check the packing nut, you should not be able to turn it by hand in any direction. Place the rubber gasket around the saddle valve piercing pin (be careful, it’s very sharp).

The shape of the gasket should fit perfectly into the clamp curve. For a copper pipe installation, backup the piercing pin all the way up by turning the saddle valve handle counterclockwise – it should be retracted approximately 1/8” into the rubber gasket.

Attach one side of the bottom clamp to the saddle valve top clamp with a bolt (make just a couple of turns of the bolt), or you can do both bolts after placing the valve over the pipe (whatever is more comfortable in your situation).

For a copper pipe, skip #6 and go to #7.

6. Drill a 1/8” hole (or larger if required by the appliance manufacturer) in the galvanized or plastic pipe to accommodate the saddle valve piercing pin. If you drained your plumbing system (#3) there should be no spillage, especially if drilling on the upper or side wall of the pipe.

However, if only the bottom of the cold pipe is accessible, there might be some water remaining inside the pipe – watch your eyes. Clean debris after drilling, but be careful because there could be some sharp pieces still attached to the edges of the hole.

Position saddle valve on top of the pipeSecure bottom part of the saddle valve clamp with 2 bolts7. Place the saddle valve on the cold-water copper pipe, with the rubber gasket directly over the cleaned area. Holding onto the  top and bottom parts of the clamp with one hand, install the second bolt with the other.

You should be able to turn both bolts with your fingers until the clamp firmly touches the pipe. For the final turns use a flat tip or Philips screwdriver (depending on the type of bolts that came with your valve). Make sure that you’re tightening both clamp bolts evenly.

When the saddle valve rubber gasket is slightly compressed, stop turning – it doesn’t take that much force to crush the copper pipe.  For plastic and galvanized pipes, install the saddle valve with a piercing pin fully extended (all the way down) – this is the “closed” position.

Saddle valve piercing copper water pipe8. For the saddle valve secured on a copper pipe, start turning the valve handle clockwise. You’ll feel some resistance when penetrating the pipe wall, continue past this moment until you the handle can’t be turned any more. There should be approximately 7/16″ of the stem left above the packing nut when you’re done – this is the “closed” position of the saddle valve.Attach plastic or copper tubing to the saddle valve9. At this point, it’s time to test your saddle valve installation project. Before you open the water shutoff valve, close all the faucets that you’ve previously open. I would suggest that at this point you attach a plastic or copper water line to the saddle valve and place the other end into a bucket, sink, floor drain, etc.

  • For a plastic tubing, first slide the compression nut on it, then a plastic compression sleeve, and a brass insert (just like on the picture) last. Insert the brass insert fitted tubing into the saddle valve body, slide the compression sleeve and a nut to the beginning of the thread and use your fingers and a ½” or adjustable wrench to tighten it – be careful not to over-tighten it, though.
  • For copper tubing, you just need a compression nut and a brass compression sleeve – this one needs only a little more force – again, take care not to use too much of it.

10.  Open the water shutoff valve(s) and start turning the saddle valve handle counterclockwise until you see water running from the attached tubing. Control the flow by turning the valve handle; for most applications it should be open all the way. After testing, close the valve and work on your appliance.

There might be 3 points of leakage:

  • Around the rubber gasket – you need to slightly re-tighten the saddle valve clamp bolts
  • Around the saddle valve packing nut – carefully re-tighten it with an adjustable wrench, channel locks or players
  • At the water line / plastic or copper tubing connection to the saddle valve – this one might start leaking after connecting the other end to your appliance when pressure builds up inside the line. You’ll either need to re-tighten the compression nut on the saddle valve, or remove it and check the compression sleeve and / or insert for proper installation.

Congratulations – you have just completed saddle valve installation – just let me know if you have any problems.

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Why Plumbing Vent Flashing Does Not Work with Roofing Cement https://www.checkthishouse.com/2384/plumbing-vent-flashing-does-not-work-with-roofing-cement.html https://www.checkthishouse.com/2384/plumbing-vent-flashing-does-not-work-with-roofing-cement.html#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2009 03:53:53 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=2384 plumbing vent flashingHouse plumbing vent flashing is required around the pipe at its roof surface penetration. Without it, or if improperly installed, rain water or melting snow will seep around the vent and damage the roof decking material, sometimes making its way down to the wall / ceiling surfaces inside the property. Depending on your roofing material ... Read more]]> plumbing vent flashing

House plumbing vent flashing is required around the pipe at its roof surface penetration. Without it, or if improperly installed, rain water or melting snow will seep around the vent and damage the roof decking material, sometimes making its way down to the wall / ceiling surfaces inside the property.

Depending on your roofing material and roof slope, there are different types of plumbing vent flashing that can be installed and NO – roofing cement is NOT one of them.

cracked at seam

Question: Why roofing cement should not be used as a permanent plumbing vent flashing:

Answer 1: Because every roof structure contracts and expands independently from the plumbing vent stack

Answer 2: Because every building settles differently from the plumbing vent stack

Both of the conditions (A1 & A2) will cause roofing cement applied around the plumbing vent stack to crack, separate from the pipe, and eventually leak water.

Plumbing vent flashing manufactured specifically for this application creates a waterproof / watertight seal around the roof-penetrating pipe without the use of any sealants. The most common types of materials used for this purpose are:

  • neoprene rubber
  • sheet metal with a neoprene rubber insert
  • lead

There are also more sophisticated and expensive copper or galvanized steel plumbing vent flashing types assembled from two or more pieces. While serving the same purpose, they also add appeal to your house’s roof.

Neoprene rubber flashing and sheet metal with neoprene rubber types are very easy to install, but you have to keep in mind that water will penetrate it if you fail to do it right. The most common mistake is placing the flashing on top of the sloped roof surface material (shingles, rolled composition, metal, etc.) and applying roofing cement or caulking around it.

Properly installed plumbing vent flashing on sloped shingle roofImproperly installed plumbing vent flashing is a common point of leaks - top and side edges should be under the shinglesTop and side edges of the plumbing vent flashing apron (this section is mostly hidden under the roofing material) have to be inserted under the slope roof surface material with the bottom edge exposed.

That open bottom edge prevents any possible condensation from the pipe sweating from being trapped under the roofing material, and can eventually cause roof decking damage or mold growth in the attic.

Any other installation is unprofessional and will most likely fail over time.
Plumbing vent pipe neoprene rubber flashing cracked - requires replacementAlthough neoprene rubber has a long life span, it might eventually crack along the seam with a plumbing vent pipe, and at that point, I would definitely recommend replacement.

If you’re able to pick a warm day for this procedure, it might be possible to slightly lift the top shingles (they will split / break if it’s cold and you will need to replace them) and replace the flashing without causing any damage.

You can use a hacksaw blade to remove nails holding down shingles located above the plumbing vent stack and the vent stack flashing itself. Just slide the blade underneath the surface and cut any nail that prevents flashing removal.

In some occasions, however, to properly install a new plumbing vent flashing, the roofing material needs to be removed from the vent surrounding area and be re-installed (especially on a multilayer roof).

Lead flashing has been used on plumbing vents for many decades, and because of its larger apron, it is still the choice of many roofers. It also slides down over the plumbing vent stack, but instead of the neoprene rubber that provided seal in the previous two types of flashing, a lead top section bends inside the vent pipe, and by overlapping it, prevents water penetration.

Plumbing vent pipe flashing made completely out of metal has a minimum of two pieces:

  1. Flashing / apron section, which also covers part of the vent pipe
  2. Counter-flashing secured to the top of the vent pipe and overlapping bottom section

Such design works like a telescopic antenna, allowing for structure movement independently from the plumbing vent stack; it definitely stands out from the crowd.

Plumbing vent pipe flashing installation on a flat or low slope roof also needs to provide for a building structure / roof framing independent movement. However, depending on the roof type, whether it’s metal, built-up roofs, modified bitumen roofs, single-ply (EPDM, EP, Hypalon, PVC, etc.), or membrane roofs, the installation procedure will vary.

Missing flashing at the plumbing vent pipe sloped roof penetrationOnce again – the one thing that should not be used on any of those roofs as a plumbing vent pipe flashing is, and has always been, the roofing cement.

Consider this – before you make another hole in your roof for that extra bathroom plumbing vent, check your attic. It might be possible to connect extra pipe to the house main plumbing vent stack without causing any roof damage

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Gas Water Heater and Furnace Chimney Flue Size Calculations https://www.checkthishouse.com/1887/gas-water-heater-and-furnace-chimney-flue-sizing.html Tue, 18 Nov 2008 03:55:13 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=1887 Furnace Chimney Flue Size CalculationsChimney Flue Size Calculations The following gas water heater and furnace chimney flue size calculations are based on Peoples Gas “Construction Guide for Gas Usage” in the city of Chicago and National Fuel Gas Code. Before applying any of the following rules, you must check your local building code requirements, and appliance manufacturer installation instruction. Have you checked your house brick chimney lately… or whatever type of the chimney you have? Did you have a new furnace or water heater installed / was your house chimney flue recalculated for those new appliances? Make sure that you chimney flue size / diameter is correct; [...]]]> Furnace Chimney Flue Size Calculations

The following gas water heater and furnace chimney flue size calculations are based on Peoples Gas “Construction Guide for Gas Usage” in the city of Chicago and National Fuel Gas Code. Before applying any of the following rules, you must check your local building code requirements, and appliance manufacturer installation instruction.

Chimney flue size - diameter must be properly calculated and installed - it is a serious safety issue!

  • Have you checked your house brick chimney lately… or whatever type of the chimney you have?
  • Did you have a new furnace or water heater installed / was your house chimney flue recalculated for those new appliances?

Make sure that you chimney flue size / diameter is correct; chimney flue size is one of the parameters that will help to achieve proper draft – the water heater and a furnace exhaust gases will be discharged safely to the house exterior – your life may depend on it. Some of the consequences of an excessive or insufficient chimney draft are:

  • Poor burner performance
  • Excessive combustion (burning process) noise
  • Improper combustion which could result in Carbon Monoxide spillage into the living area
  • Soot buildup inside and around the burner chamber of your appliances

The basic method for the chimney flue size calculations is “The Seven Times Rule” (applies to natural draft and / or fan assisted type appliances vented into the same chimney).

When two or more appliances are connected to a chimney, the flow area of the largest section of that chimney cannot exceed seven times the smallest flue collar, or draft hood outlet area, unless designed with approved engineering methods.

To make it simple – if you have a gas water heater with a 3” draft hood, and a furnace with a 4” flue collar connected to the same chimney flue, you’d calculate that chimney flue size based on the 3” draft hood – the smaller of two. So let’s calculate… or why don’t we skip those calculations and I’ll give you the answers:

The largest permissible flow area (in²) of the chimney flue for draft hoods or flue collars.
Diameter of Draft Hood Outlet or Flue Collar Flow Area (in²)
3″ 7.065
4″ 12.560
5″ 19.625
6″ 28.260
7″ 38.465

The Seven Times Rule application results:

The Seven Times Rule for appliances connected to a multistory common chimney
Smallest draft hood outlet or flue collar Largest section of vertical vent or chimney
3″ 7″
4″ 10″
5″ 13″
6″ 15″
7″ 18″

Q. Are those numbers sufficient for calculating you chimney flue size / diameter?

A. No, they aren’t! There are several other factors responsible for chimney flue size; chimney placement, height, lateral length of the vent pipe, type of the vent pipe, number and type of the connectors along the entire chimney flue run, size and category of the vented appliances…

So it’s always smart to have a professional calculating your chimney flue size. But, using the tables above will at least prevent many wild, way off the chart installations. Make sure that you have Carbon Monoxide detector installation performed according your local jurisdiction requirements!

If you’re looking for a gas water heater and furnace chimney flue size tables / guides covering most of the possibilities, try this publication by Hart & Cooley.

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Most Common Cast Iron Drain Pipes Problems https://www.checkthishouse.com/1757/cast-iron-drain-lines-problems.html Fri, 31 Oct 2008 03:46:52 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=1757 cast iron drain problemsIf you are living in an older house, its plumbing might contain cast iron drain lines. Compared to the newer PVC pipes, cast iron drains are much quieter during operation; but at the same time, they might prove to have significant, and quite expensive, problems. Some cast iron pipes have a tendency to corrode and ... Read more]]> cast iron drain problems

If you are living in an older house, its plumbing might contain cast iron drain lines. Compared to the newer PVC pipes, cast iron drains are much quieter during operation; but at the same time, they might prove to have significant, and quite expensive, problems.

Some cast iron pipes have a tendency to corrode and crack over time, and this process often starts in places we have little or no access to. It is a defect caused by inadequate annealing – heat treatment of the cast iron pipe during the manufacturing process (repeated heating and cooling). It makes the pipe more vulnerable to corrosion and sometimes causes it to crack.

If all of your pipes are exposed, you can easily check them for rust-colored blisters on their body and cracks, which usually appear along the top part of the pipe.

You’re out of luck if your cast iron drain pipes run behind the finished walls and all you’re experiencing is an unpleasant sewer odor in the house. If you’ve eliminated all other possibilities for its source (one of them might be a plumbing drain vent problem discussed in other post), and you do have a cast iron drain installed – it might be cracked.

Cast iron drain lines are expensive to repair; the material and labor rates are significantly higher than the ones for PVC piping, but some jurisdictions may simply not allow to use anything but cast iron.

Assuming that you can replace your damaged cast iron drain line with a PVC section, it’s just the matter of a few simple steps. But, before you start the procedure, make sure that you have a good support under the entire cast iron pipe you’ll be working on. When you remove the damaged section, the remaining end parts may become unsupported – and cast iron pipes are very heavy! Proper support is extremely important when dealing with vertical cast iron pipes – if it runs inside the wall, theoretically it should be secured with clamps and other pipes, but spending a little extra time supporting it can save you from unnecessary pain.

  • Remove an old pipe section (you can use a snap cutter or a mechanical saw / Sawzall® Reciprocating Saw with a long blade – this will be the toughest part of this procedure)
  • Cut a slightly shorter section of a PVC pipe (1” shorter than the section you’ve just removed should be enough)
  • Clean the pipe surface and install two so-called “transitional fittings” (it’s just a thick rubber tube with a screw clamps installed on each end) on each end of the cast iron pipe – you have to slide them or roll them back onto the cast iron pipe in order to put the new PVC section in place
  • Slide or roll the rubber tubing back onto the PVC pipe and retighten the clamps screws with a screwdriver

This is it (at least for a straight piece)! However, if you have to install cast iron, you’ll most likely need a plumber $$$

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Plumbing Vent Problems in Your House & Other Common Sewer and Drain Issues https://www.checkthishouse.com/1662/plumbing-vents-in-your-house.html Mon, 27 Oct 2008 04:58:37 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=1662 Plumbing Vent ProblemsHouse Plumbing Vent, Sewer and Drain The purpose of a plumbing vent in your house is to remove sewer gases from the drainage system and equalize its atmospheric pressure. Without the plumbing vent, our toilets and all other home plumbing fixtures might not be draining properly, can cause unusual noises (like gurgling or belching as and after they discharge), and could be responsible for an unpleasant sewer gas smell inside the house. A house plumbing vent is one of those features that may easily become compromised. Some of the most common reasons for the plumbing vent to lose its performance is our [...]]]> Plumbing Vent Problems

The purpose of a plumbing vent in your house is to remove sewer gases from the drainage system and equalize its atmospheric pressure. Without the plumbing vent, our toilets and all other home plumbing fixtures might not be draining properly, can cause unusual noises (like gurgling or belching as and after they discharge), and could be responsible for an unpleasant sewer gas smell inside the house.

A house plumbing vent is one of those features that may easily become compromised.

Some of the most common reasons for the plumbing vent to lose its performance is our lack of knowledge during remodeling, the house age, and / or miscellaneous stuff (including bad luck).
Plumbing vent too short above the roof surface - 10 inch required for cold climates to prevent clogging with snow and icePlumbing vents too short above the flat roof, min 10 inches required for cold climate Lets go outside and look at your house’s roof; you should be able to see a plumbing vent stack – a piece of pipe penetrating the roof surface (if your plumbing fixtures have been located far away from each other, there could be more that one plumbing vent visible above the roof, but at least one should be 3” or 4” in diameter).

It’s usually the same material as the rest of your plumbing drain system, but in older homes, there might be 2, 3, or even more types of pipes connected together (cast iron, galvanized, copper ABS, PVC). If you have a flat roof, you will most likely have to get up there to check your plumbing vents – be extremely careful, or have a professional do it for you!).
Corroded and displaced plumbing vent pipe requires replacementBroken, leaking plumbing vent pipe connection in attic areaPlumbing vent pipe left open in attic area. It should continue through the roof and discharge sewer gases to exterior

If you can see the roof surface and you can’t see the plumbing vent pipe … you’re not alone.

The most common reasons for this scenario are:

  • The main plumbing vent stack starts at the lowest part of your house structure. Decades ago, in older homes, the most common type of the plumbing vent pipe was cast iron – it could settle, shift under its own weight and along the entire length
  • Plumbing vent pipe could have corroded and separated sliding under the roof surface
  • Another possibility is that your old roof has several layers of roofing material, and the plumbing vent is still there but its top edge level is the same as the roof surface.
  • Sometimes plumbing vent disappearance may also be blamed on the roofer – if it was too short, he could just go over it with new roofing material; or the plumber just stopped it in the attic or forgot to install it at all

Plumbing vent flashing must be properly installed and vent stack pipe should extend at least 6” above the roof surface. For cold climates, it should be 6” above the highest expected snow line (10” above the roof), unless otherwise specified by your local building code.

So if it’s not above the roof, and you do have plumbing in your house, something is wrong and the best place to start searching for the plumbing vent is in the attic.

Look for a pipe that penetrates the floor – the area usually corresponds to the toilets locations, kitchens, and other plumbing fixtures in your house. Sometimes plumbing vent pipe might be hidden under the insulation or simply laying on the attic floor. You should consider yourself lucky if you can locate it in the attic because sometimes it’s just a mystery, and could be an expensive one.

Plumbing vent pipes separated in attic areaBroken plumbing vent pipe in attic areaCracked - separated plumbing vent pipe in attic areaIf your plumbing vent pipe is where it suppose to be, check the attic periodically anyway. You might be able to spot the problem early, and save yourself  a costly repair. Some of the problems that might be visible from the attic:

    • Cracked plumbing vent pipe
    • Plumbing vent pipe separated at connections
    • Leakage stains, roof decking damage around the roof surface penetration caused by improperly installed plumbing vent flashing, sometimes damaged or even missing

Missing plumbing vent on the ejector pump wellBesides all the common plumbing fixtures, you may also have an ejector pump installed in your house. It might look just like a regular sump pump, but it serves your plumbing fixtures located below the main drain line.

The ejector pump well, its cover, and all penetration points should be sealed to prevent sewer gases from escaping into the living space. Sewer gases should be discharged to the exterior through the plumbing vent pipe attached to the well cover.

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Chimney Flue Requirements, Furnace and Water Heater Venting https://www.checkthishouse.com/72/chimney-flue-furnace-water-heater-venting.html Fri, 20 Jun 2008 18:07:44 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=128 Chimney Flue RequirementsProper furnace / water heater venting is an extremely important issue, which depends on the performance of the house chimney / chimney flue or other exhaust assemblies. The conditions explained in this post also apply to the wood burning appliances. Consequences of improperly assembled vent pipes, problematic chimney flue, deteriorating chimney walls can be sometimes fatal – fire and Carbon Monoxide poisoning are topping the list. Therefore, combustion products from your furnace, water heater, wood burning fireplace, and any other appliance that requires some kind of an exterior vent / chimney, have to be properly properly discharged to the exterior. Certain requirements [...]]]> Chimney Flue Requirements

Proper furnace / water heater venting is an extremely important issue, which depends on the performance of the house chimney / chimney flue or other exhaust assemblies. The conditions explained in this post also apply to the wood burning appliances.

Consequences of improperly assembled vent pipes, problematic chimney flue, deteriorating chimney walls can be sometimes fatal – fire and Carbon Monoxide poisoning are topping the list.

Therefore, combustion products from your furnace, water heater, wood-burning fireplace, and any other appliance that requires some kind of an exterior vent / chimney, have to be properly properly discharged to the exterior through its flue.

Certain requirements have to be met for the appliance’s chimney / chimney flue to draft properly. The most obvious one is unobstructed surroundings, in particular the roof itself. Depending on chimney placement / distance to the surrounding walls, there are different height rules.

For oil and wood burning appliances there is a very simple formula that regulates this chimney height requirement, it is called “3-foot, 2-foot, 10-foot rule”. What it means is that top of the chimney should be 3 feet above the roof surface through which it protrudes and 2 feet above anything within a 10′ radius measured horizontally (those are minimums).

This chimney rule can be applied to wood burning fireplaces, heating stoves and any oil fueled appliances, but remember that manufacturer requirements have to be incorporated into it.

Improperly installed water heater chimney / ventFor gas venting appliances, the chimney flue / venting rules are more complex, simply because of the variety of products on the market. For a double wall type vent (required in cold climates) I’ve prepared a separate post – Gas appliance vent terminations.

Below are some requirements for the furnace / water heater single wall vent pipe / chimney (warm climate):

  • Chimney / chimney flue must terminate min. 2′ above the roof
  • Chimney / chimney flue must terminate min. 2′ higher than building withing 10′
  • Chimney / chimney flue must terminate min. 5′ above the flue collar (e.g. water heater installed close to the roof framing would need at least 5′ long vertical vent pipe)
  • Single wall vent pipe requires minimum 6″ of clearance to combustible materials

General rule –  the chimney should not be outside a window or other house opening.

There’s several other requirements which apply to certain types of furnaces and water heaters venting. Always follow manufacturer guidelines, if you have any concerns about your chimney, call a heating contractor or other chimney specialist and have the chimney/heating system examined.

Never connect bathroom vent to the chimney flueSingle chimney with two flues, one for wood burning fireplace, second for gas appliances1. NEVER USE CHIMNEY FLUE TO VENT CLOTHES DRYER, KITCHEN / BATHROOM VENT

2. DO NOT USE SINGLE CHIMNEY FLUE TO VENT GAS AND SOLID FUEL (WOOD BURNING FIREPLACE OR HEATING STOVE) – you can have one chimney but multiple flues for different fuel types

3. READ MANUFACTURER’S INSTALLATION GUIDE and ask your licensed HVAC or plumbing contractor / installer if you have any concerns – installation guides are usually very clear, with simple diagrams explaining all required clearances, type of required materials, etc.

Chimney flue diameter downsized with new metal liner pipe4. If you’re replacing an old water heater (check water heater inspection) and a furnace (or any combination of those), with new appliances that also require regular chimney, make sure that your chimney flue is evaluated. Flue gases temperature in older, low efficiency furnaces (78% and less efficient), was sufficient to elevate chimney flue temperature to the point which guaranteed proper draft.

When connecting a new, regular type (known as category 1 type gas appliances) furnace /water heater, with efficiency slightly below 83%, old chimney flue size might need to be decreased with a new liner. This is extremely important, and serves various purposes – properly sized chimney flue:

  • prevents acidic condensate from forming on the furnace / water heater chimney flue walls
  • colder gases in large size chimney flue will not have enough energy to travel all the way to the  top and discharge safely beyond the property (becomes critical during cold season), they will condensate on cold chimney flue walls, cause deterioration and corrosion of appliance metal vent pipes
  • allows furnace / water heater combustion process gases to draft efficiently beyond the property
  • prevents flue gases from returning into the house, which would create potentially hazardous conditions, possibility of Carbon Monoxide poisoning

5. If one appliance has been disconnected from the chimney previously serving 2 or more appliances, make sure that a professional re-evaluates your chimney flue. It may need to be down-sized to prevent flue gas condensation and to provide proper draft (typical condition when upgrading to a high efficiency furnace) – check this chimney flue sizing guide.

This video below explains in detail how to install a new liner inside the chimney. It is 8 minutes long, but you’ll get a good idea about the entire procedure – this is an extremely important and often necessary procedure.

 

Water heater improperly connected to chimney flue with T type connector - not permitted when induced / forced draft motor appliance connected to the same flue as natural draft applianceFurnace and water heater properly connected to chimney flue with WYE type connector6. If you’re replacing natural draft furnace (no motor assistance for exhaust gases removal), with an induced / forced draft motor equipped appliance, and your natural draft water heater remains connected to the same chimney flue pipe, make sure that water heater vent pipe connection is “Y”, and not “T” type.

“Y” type vent pipes connection is necessary to prevent exhaust gases from mechanical draft type appliance vent pipe, from being pushed back into the natural draft type vent pipe, and contaminate living space.

Possibility of such contamination is greater during the cold season and on taller, exposed chimney / for example – attached to the side wall of the house. Before the hot exhaust gases warm up the chimney flue and create proper draft, they often discharge through the water heater’s draft hood.

Broken seal on high efficiency furnace PVC vent pipe connectionHigh efficiency PVC pipe and water heater vent pipe in the same chimney flue - not permittedHigh efficiency furnace PVC vent pipes exterior termination When upgrading to, or having a high efficiency furnace installed, exhaust gases will be discharged through the PVC pipe, and not the chimney flue.

There are two types of venting associated with those furnaces – single pipe and two pipe systems.

Because high-efficiency furnaces venting system must be air tight, PVC vent pipe connections should be monitored periodically during furnace operation for any moisture / condensation. If such occurs on PVC joints, you should have this condition evaluated by a licensed HVAC contractor – connection will have to be resealed.

PVC vent pipes should not be inserted into the chimney flue if it is still used for other appliances venting.

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House Water Heater Vent Pipe Tips & How To Do It Right https://www.checkthishouse.com/49/water-heater-vent-pipe.html https://www.checkthishouse.com/49/water-heater-vent-pipe.html#comments Wed, 19 Mar 2008 22:14:46 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=78 There’s more about the water heater vent pipe in my article below the video. Follow the links to skip down for more important information. Water heater vent pipe draft hood Water heater vent pipe material Water heater vent pipe connections Water heater vent pipe pitch Water heater vent pipe corrosion Water heater vent pipe clearances ... Read more]]>

There’s more about the water heater vent pipe in my article below the video. Follow the links to skip down for more important information.

House Water Heater Venting Video:

To fully understand house natural gas water heater venting I highly recommend reading House Brick Chimney Problems & Gas Water Heater and Furnace Chimney Flue Sizing posts – several of the water heater vent pipe conditions described below depend on properly operating and installed chimney!

Check my new post explaining tank gas water heater maintenance and water heater inspection It’s important!

There are two common natural draft gas water heater vent pipe systems:

  • natural draft gas water heater – explained below
  • induced draft / water heater PVC pipe venting / power venting

Natural draft gas water heater vent pipe system is still dominating and as long as the property has favorable structural conditions and a chimney dedicated for use with gas burning appliances, you can use this type of venting.

Typical, natural draft water heater vent pipe assembly - missing screws at draft hood connectionTypical connection of the natural draft gas water heater vent pipe would look more or less like one on the picture (one of the problems with this connection – missing screws at draft hood). There might be several variations… some good and some bad of course.

Assuming, that you don’t know anything about water heater vent pipe subject, this is how the natural draft gas water heater venting should be installed:

Water heater vent pipe draft hood

On top of natural draft gas water heater, in its center section, right above the water heater vent, you should have a draft hood installed. It sits on 3-4 short legs, sometimes secured to the water heater top plate with screws, or (depending on design) has its legs shaped like pins or hooks at the end, inserted into the holes in water heater top cover.

Water heater vent pipe - collapsed natural draft gas water heater draft hood poses safety hazardFor the gas water heater vent pipe system to operate properly its Draft Hood Has to be Centered over the vent hole, and its legs must be straight – any displaced or deformed draft hoods should be serviced / replaced if necessary. Water heater draft hoods serve a very important purpose and if not installed correctly, carbon monoxide gases may be expelled into the living space. I’m pretty sure you’re aware how dangerous Carbon Monoxide can be…

  1. Gas water heater draft hoods provide additional air for the combustion process gases, to be properly pulled out from the burner chamber (base of the water heater), into the water heater vent pipe and the chimney
  2. Gas water heater draft hoods act as a device, which in case of down-draft (a condition which forces air / wind back into the vent pipe / chimney), prevents air from extinguishing the gas burner.

Loose water heater vent pipe, oversized - requires reducing connectorGas water heater draft hoods come in different sizes, and if you are replacing water heater, make sure, that the draft hood and the water heater vent pipe match each other.

Water heater venting - installed vent pipe reducing connectorIf the draft hood that came with your water heater has a top opening diameter designed for 3″ vent pipe, and you have 4″ vent pipe installed, use an adapter / increaser to join both of them together.

Downsizing of water heater vent pipe is not permitted and poses safety hazardHowever, if the gas water heater draft hood is larger, designed for a 4″ pipe – do not downsize it! / DON’T install reducing connector from 4″ draft hood to 3″ water heater vent pipe just to accommodate an old venting system.

Water heater vent pipe and draft hood properly secured with screwsReplace the smaller size vent pipe with a proper / required size:

-most 30 gallons, 40 gallons, and 50 gallons gas water heaters use 3″ diameter vent pipe

-some 50 gallons might require 4″

-75 gallons and more will call for 4″ and more

Always follow the appliance manufacturer’s recommendations and comply with your local code requirements – again – never downsize the water heater vent pipe!

Natural draft gas water heater vent pipe material

Flexible, aluminum connector used as a water heater vent pipe is not permittedAluminum water heater vent pipe section is not permittedFood can used as a water heater vent pipe is not permitted

For natural draft type just use galvanized steel pipe and don’t experiment with aluminum pipes, food cans with removed both ends, stainless steel sections, blue stove pipes, high temperature plastic tubing, flexible pipes…, etc.

Water heater vent pipe example - developed height

Make the vent pipe section between the water heater and the chimney as short and as straight as possible. The common rule is that the horizontal part of the single wall vent pipe must be equal or shorter than 75% of it’s total developed height.

Draft hood and gas water heater vent pipe connections

The connection between the draft hood and the vent pipe should be secured with sheet metal screws – three per connection on a single wall pipe are recommended.

DO NOT use regular duct tape to secure or seal connections. Some building inspectors don’t even allow aluminum tape on joints. Simply because it hides problems like corrosion or holes developing on surface.

If you are using a B-vent which is a double wall vent pipe, you supposed to use screws on the first connection only – to the draft hood or to the single wall water heater vent pipe. Smaller diameter double wall to double wall vent pipe sections utilize twist lock fittings with no screws / larger diameter B-vent pipes might require screws on its joints.

Natural draft gas water heater vent pipe pitch

Water heater venting - WH vent pipe horizontal run / pipe has a negative pitch

Gas water heater vent pipe connector must continuously run upward towards the chimney entrance, rising not less than 1/4″ per linear foot, to provide proper draft. Some installation might be a significant challenge, or even become impossible, due to a water heater height and chimney flue connection level, in those cases, induced draft motor equipped water heater should be considered.

Natural draft gas water heater vent pipes corrosion

Heavily corroded water heater vent pipe, holes on surface might cause Carbon Monoxide spillageSeverely corroded water heater vent pipe poses safety hazard, possibility of Carbon Monoxide poisoningWater heater venting - corroded vent pipe connections might cause CO leakage and joints separation

WH vent pipes should be monitored periodically for corrosion and deterioration. Problems with proper drafting, chimney conditions and combustion air issues usually cause galvanized pipes to corrode.

Small holes start appearing on their surface – most common areas are along the bottom portion and on connectors. At some point, corroded gas water heater vent pipe wall becomes very soft, and might fall apart when under even slight pressure.

Corroding gas water heater vent pipes should be replaced as soon as possible, to prevent possibility of exhaust fumes / Carbon Monoxide contamination.

Water heater vent pipe clearances and restrictions

Gas water heater vent pipe located to close to combustible materialsSingle wall gas water heater vent pipe / connector cannot be installed closer than 6″ from any combustible materials such as floor / wall framing, paper, etc.).  Such installation could create pyrophoric conditions and a fire-hazard.

Pyrophoric condition is when a material  ignites spontaneously at significantly lower temperature if it is constantly exposed to heat. So, if something would normally ignite at 500F, by applying constant heat to it, that ignition point might be lowered to let’s say 250F – it’s just an example…

  • Single wall natural draft gas water heater vent pipe cannot be used in unheated areas like attic or garage (even if only partially penetrating that space) , because such vent pipe installation will cause excessive condensation on vent pipe walls and compromise proper drafting – double wall pipe / B-vent type is required.
  • Single wall natural draft gas water heater vent pipe can not be used inside the walls, ceilings and any inaccessible areas – double wall type vent pipe / B-vent must be installed.

Thinking about relocating your natural draft gas water heater to the garage area? Check this important information – garage water heater requirements.

Check the gas water heater vent pipe clearances post for more about natural draft water heater venting.

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Water Heater Gas Connectors & Flexible Gas Water Heater Connectors https://www.checkthishouse.com/17/water-heater-gas-supply-connector.html https://www.checkthishouse.com/17/water-heater-gas-supply-connector.html#comments Sat, 08 Mar 2008 02:30:13 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/testhouse/?p=24 Water Heater gas connectorsWater Heater Gas Connector Illinois remained very conservative, as far as water heater gas connector type (or any other permanently installed appliance gas connection), which used to be black steel pipe only. However, according to Peoples Gas / Nicor website “Updated Construction Guide” (just fill-up the pup-up from and you’ll be able to open it) the use of CSST – corrugated stainless steel tubing, as a final gas connection for permanently installed appliances, such as water heaters, furnaces and boilers is now permitted. If you are planning to use CSST tubing as a water heater gas connector, make sure that you consult this [...]]]> Water Heater gas connectors

Illinois remained very conservative, as far as water heater gas connector type (or any other permanently installed appliance gas connection), which used to be black steel pipe only.

However, according to Peoples Gas / Nicor website “Updated Construction Guide” (just fill-up the pup-up from and you’ll be able to open it) the use of CSST – corrugated stainless steel tubing, as a final gas connection for permanently installed appliances, such as water heaters, furnaces and boilers is now permitted.

If you are planning to use CSST tubing as a water heater gas connector, make sure that you consult this installation with your local code enforcement division, and if approved, have a certified contractor perform this work. Because water heater CSST type connector installation is still rare in our state, I’ll explain a couple of most common violations associated with water heater gas connector installation.

Check this important post – Tank gas water heater maintenance

Flexible water heater gas connector

Water heater gas connector - flexible applinace type connectors are not permitted in Illinois

Appliance type flexible water heater gas connector is not a permitted type of installation in Illinois. Often, when replacing water heater, its dimensions are slightly different from the previous one, and old gas piping has to be altered, so it matches new connections.

The easiest way is to eliminate old steel pipe used as water heater gas connector and install an appliance type flexible connector. Unfortunately, if you’ll have a gas company employee visiting your house, and he’ll notice this installation, you might get a violation ticket and have a gas turned off until proper connection is established.

Water heater gas connector requires a drip leg

Drip leg missing on water heater gas connector

Drip leg / sediment trap is a required component of the water heater gas connector. Its a short piece of a pipe with a cap on the bottom visible on first image to the left (attached to the bottom of a ‘”T” connector).

Water heater gas connector / supply line drip leg is intended to capture any condensed water that may have been transported with gas, and shall be installed as close to the inlet of the water heater as practical (not required on illuminating appliances, ranges, clothes dryers, gas fireplaces and outdoor grills).

Some states might not require drip leg installation on a water heater gas connector so check with your local building department.

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What is a TPRV (Temporary Pressure Relief Valve) and Why They’re Important https://www.checkthishouse.com/16/water-heater-tpr-safety-valve.html https://www.checkthishouse.com/16/water-heater-tpr-safety-valve.html#comments Mon, 03 Mar 2008 04:34:44 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/testhouse/?p=17 TPR ValveWater Heater TPR Valve Water heater TPR valve must be installed on every water heater (gas or electric). TPRV – Temporary Pressure Relief  Valve Water heater TPR valve is also known as Watts Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve. The pressure relief valve is usually located on top or side wall of the tank enclosure (tankless water heater safety valve, also known as T&P valve is located underneath the appliance). Some old water heater tanks (1960s or earlier – they are still operating in some houses), were not equipped with pressure relief valves, and I would highly recommend replacement for safety and financial reasons [...]]]> TPR Valve

Water heater TPR valves must be installed on every water heater (gas or electric).

TPRV – Temporary Pressure Relief  Valve. Water heater TPR valve is also known as Watts Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve. The pressure relief valve is usually located on top or side wall of the tank enclosure (tankless water heater safety valve, also known as T&P valve is located underneath the appliance).

Some old water heater tanks (1960s or earlier – they are still operating in some houses), were not equipped with pressure relief valves, and I would highly recommend replacement for safety and financial reasons (sediment at the base of old tanks is so thick, that it takes much more gas to heat up the same amount of water).

Every water heater requires TPR valveWater heater TPR valve releases excessive tank pressure if for any reason it reaches an unsafe level, that’s why all tank type units MUST HAVE a pressure relief valve installed, otherwise they could simply blow up. Because some of us are very creative, and you might own a property purchased from such a person,  below are the major no-no’s.

If something listed below appears to be similar to the installation in your home – FIX it immediately!

Every water heater TPRV requires discharge pipeTankless water heater T&P safety valve also requires discharge pipeWater heater TPR valve must have a discharge pipe attached to it (blue tubing on this picture is just one of the few permitted types of pipes).  Discharge pipe should extend from the water heater TPR valve and terminate within 6″ from the floor surface (distance and discharge location might slightly vary between some jurisdictions, so check with your local code enforcement division, or local / licensed plumber).

Such installation is required so if the valve needs to relief pressure / hot water, it will be discharged at the floor level, and not sprayed at your face or / and body.

Newer discharge water heater TPR valve into the sink, tub, shower, etcWater heater TPR valve discharging into the sink, tub, shower, etc creating a safety hazardWater heater TPR valve discharging into the sink, improper pipe materials used - safety hazardWater heater TPR valve should never discharge into the sink, tub, shower stall, etc. Emergency discharge of hot water / steam might cause severe injury. Keep the discharge pipe low, always pointing down and within 6″ from the floor level – you may also pipe it directly into the floor drain.

Water heater TPR safety valve discharge pipe must be always pointing downWater heater TPR safety valve discharge pipe should never be downsizedWater heater TPRV discharge pipe should never be downsizedWater heater TPR valve discharge pipe must be the same size as the valve’s discharge end, which is 3/4″ in diameter. The reason is simple – it has to be able to relief the same amount of water as the amount coming through the inlet side of the water heater, no reductions should be made or any type of valves installed between the safety relief valve valve and discharge pipe end.

No threads are permitted at the discharge end of TPR valve pipeThere should be no threads at the end of the water heater TPR valve discharge pipe, because when this valve starts leaking / dripping, and there’s a thread at the end of pipe… some of the home owners cap it, which creates a very dangerous situation. Whenever the safety valve will be required to open because of the increasing temperature / pressure,  that capped discharge pipe might cause the water heater to blow up.

PVC pipe can not be used for the water heater TPR valve dischargeWater heater TPR valve discharge pipe must be made out of same materials that is used for water distribution – galvanized steel, hard-drawn copper or CPVC (regular PVC tubing would not withstand high temperature and it is not permitted). If you are planning to use anything else, make sure that it is approved in your jurisdiction.


The discharge pipe from the relief valve on the water heater has been incorrectly plumbed uphillDischarge pipe from the water heater TPR valve must always run downhill- if the TPR valve opens occasionally, and water / steam instead of being drained, accumulates / floods the valve, it might eventually cause its corrosion, and prevent it from functioning properly or at all.

Water heater TPR valves should be tested periodically (as recommended by the manufacturer). There is a small lever on the top of the valve, which opens the valve when lifted.

BUT – most of the home owners never do it, and any type of valve tested for the first time after long period of time might not close anymore and will keep leaking. So before you make any testing attempts, first follow this short check list:

  1. Make sure that you know location of the cold water shutoff valve (main or dedicated for water heater), and that it is functional … just in case you have to use it
  2. Make sure that there’s a properly installed water heater TPR valve discharge pipe
  3. Make sure that discharging water will not damage your flooring material (you can place a bucket underneath and even cover the top with a towel to prevent hot water from over-spraying surrounding area)
  4. If it’s an old water heater, I wouldn’t even test the TPR valve, but it would make sense to replace – they  are very cheap

Don’t forget your tank gas water heater maintenance, it’s a very important task!

Now, go ahead and check your water heater TPR valve installation…

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Gas Pipes https://www.checkthishouse.com/7/gas-pipes.html Fri, 25 Jan 2008 04:44:55 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/testhouse/2008/01/24/water-heater/ Read more]]>
Threaded black-iron gas pipe distributing fuel through the house was up until recent time, the only type of material permitted (not the only one used) by code in Illinois, with copper, aluminum tubing / piping used as final connections to supply gas burning appliances (max 10′ long, entire section should be visible), and flexible connectors.

You might see variations of gas pipes listed above spliced together in your house, and if you think, that it doesn’t look right, call the plumber or utility company.

So what is right? I’ll start from flexible Gas Appliance Connectors: in Illinois, most common applications are stoves, ranges, cook tops, clothes dryers and portable room heaters. Unlike in other states, in Illinois, flexible gas connectors they can not be used for any stationary appliances, permanently secured in place, like furnaces, boilers, water heaters, which require rigid pipe for final connection.

In the past, most of the flexible connectors were made out of uncoated brass (not manufactured for more that 2 decades), and some of them could be dangerous (it is very difficult to tell which ones are, by just looking at them).

Therefore, DON’T EVER pull out your appliance to check the connector type, because it might separate, brake apart, and cause an explosion (I’ve seen many brand new appliances still connected with those old, uncoated brass connectors). Use a flashlight and a mirror if necessary to look under the appliance – make sure that you’re not dealing with the old type.

If you’ll notice one at your property or even suspect one to be installed – call a plumber, gas company, have them check it for you, and if necessary, replace it with currently accepted types of connectors – uncoated stainless steel and coated stainless steel

don’t use more than one connector per single appliance – don’t splice together two or more shorter connectors – they need to be readily accessible (visible), they shall not pass through floors, walls, ceilings and appliance enclosuresthere might be some appliance manufacturer exceptions !.

It is recommended, that any flexible connector should be replaced whenever the appliance is replaced or moved from its location (for more detailed information about gas regulations in Illinois, go to this website: Illinois Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas , navigate to “Construction Guide“, fill-up simple form and download this free booklet – very helpful information).

Second, fairly easy to spot, and very common problem with gas pipes is type of Teflon tape used sometimes on pipe connections / threads.

White Teflon tape use on gas pipes (when you look at areas where pipes sections are jointed together, or connect to any appliance, thin, white tape might be applied at those locations) is forbidden, because small pieces of tape can get shredded during assembly, break off, and flow downstream to block a gas valve.

There are special compounds (pipe dope), and yellow Teflon tape dedicated for use on gas pipes connections.

Gas leaks, very common on older pipes, with hardened, deteriorated pipe dope, and on some gas shutoff valves. While living in the house, we get used to its smell, and might not be able to detect small gas leaks (natural gas is odorless, and distinctive smell you might recognize is added by the gas company to help you detect gas leaking into the air… smells kind of like rotten eggs, and is called marcaptan).

Sometimes, you go away for a weekend or vacations, and when you come back, that “gas smell” is there – open doors and windows, call your gas company, it doesn’t hurt to have it checked.


As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, threaded black-iron pipe used to be the only pipe permitted for gas distribution in Illinois houses. However, during last few years, another product, since 1989 widely used through the US, finally became available and approved for installations in IL.

I’m talking about CSST (Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing) . Similar to yellow coated flexible connectors used for appliances, but this one comes in coils (pre-tested for leaks), can be cut to any length, and ends fitted with special connectors. It is permitted in Illinois to be used inside the walls, and according to Peoples Gas website (Updated Construction Guide), as a final connector for permanently installed appliances, such as water heater or furnace – a few words directly from this Construction Guide:

” CSST is not designed to be used as a flexible gas appliance connector and shall not be used as a substitute. The use of CSST as a final connection for permanently installed appliances, such as water heaters, furnaces and boilers is allowed. CSST shall terminate outside of the appliance jacket where the excessive heat may ignite or damage the protective coating.

The use of CSST as a final connection of movable gas appliances, such as ranges and clothes dryers, is not allowed. Per manufacturers’ installation instructions, striker plates shall be installed for protection where CSST passes through structural members and is restricted from moving.”

However, call your local code enforcement division, or utility company before you decide to have CSST gas pipe installation performed in your house, because:

  1. A lack of familiarity by code officials may present problems.
  2. Performing CSST installations requires The Contractor to obtain special training and certification (not just any licensed plumbing contractor can do it).
  3. Like with any gas pipes  installations… there might be some problems CSST ALERT
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