Don’t Want to End Up in Hot Water? Follow These Water Heater Tips

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Every week, the detail-oriented folks at Green Scene Home Inspections will give readers an education in inspection. Want to see what they see? Tune in for “Upon Closer Inspection.”

If your water heater isn’t a big deal to you it’s because you’ve never had to function without it. We hope that never happens to you because things like hot showers, washing dishes, and laundry are important. Not to mention, when a water heater stops working, it often comes with a nice flood when the tank empties out.

So here are some home inspection finds that will help you know what to look for and whether your water heater is working correctly or needs attention.

The Disappearing Flue Pipe 

We see this one a lot – The flue pipe is supposed to be connected to the unit. This one is allowing carbon monoxide to collect in the closet instead of being safely directed outside. Maybe it was never set up correctly, or maybe the part was left off by accident during a repair.

Where does the water go? 

Another common issue we find with water heaters is an improperly set up drain pan. The drain pan is there in case of a leak. We can assume in this photo that there’s been a slow leak, because someone has put a towel there to catch the water. That open pipe coming from the drain pan should be connected to piping that would take the water to the outside. In this set up, once the towel is saturated, all the water will just leak out onto the floor.

Heat Source Too Close to Combustibles 

The larger pipe next to the chimney is the water heater vent pipe. This is just poor workmanship. The water heater vent pipe can get extremely hot, and this is coming out right up against the wooden siding on the chimney.

In this video, Inspector John talks about some of the things an inspector looks at when inspecting a water heater:

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