Saturday, January 21, 2012

Water Heater Installation

So you're thinking about changing your water heater. Let's discuss some common issues related to improper installation of a water heater. Since I live and operate "Progressive Inspection Service" within California, we'll be refering to installation common to this state. Your area may differ slightly.

Let us begin at the top of a gas fired water heater. Check to ensure the exhaust vent has proper rise so as to prevent carbon monoxide roll out. Check to ensure that all exhaust vent joints are fastened correctly, using screws or high temperature tape if allowed in your jurisdiction. Look for rust/corrosion and or active leaks at the upper plumbing connections, (Remember - leaks can cause damage). Are the upper plumbing connections and visible supply plumbing properly insulated? Is the (TPR) valve present? ie; "Temperature Pressure Relief Valve", does it have a proper drain line with discharge to a safe location within 6" of grade? The drain line must not be elevated above the valve, water must be able to gravity flow away from the TPR valve.

What about "Earthquake Bracing"? Here in California we're required to have a double strap earthquake bracing system. The straps should fully encircle the unit. The straps should anchor to wall studs off opposite sides of the unit so as to prevent lateral movement. The upper strap should be located a minimum of 9" down from the top of the unit. The lower strap should be located a minimum of 4" above the top of the gas controls. Don't forget to install the bracing spacers to fill the gap between the unit and wall. This will allow the straps to hold the unit firmly in place.

Let's abandone the old rigid or semi-flexible gas connectors and install a new "CSST" flexible gas connector. Water heaters are one of the major sources of fires in residential structures. The gas system and related components are critical to have properly installed. If the water heater is located in a garage and in the direct path of a vehicle, it must be protected my a metal post embedded in the concrete slab sufficient to prevent contact from said vehicle.

And finally, the bottom of the unit. If the water heater is intalled in a manner in which leaks can cause damage then the unit should have an over flow pan system with proper drain line discharge to a safe location. Again, water heaters are going to leak, when they do we want to limit or midigate the damage they can cause.

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