Water Heater Problems

Hot Water Heater Problems

A hot water heater  may be the more common storage type.  Or a recent arrival, the instant or on demand heater.  The storage type is by far the most commonly found in a home inspection.  This post is concerned only with the standard storage heater.  Hot water heaters may be gas, electric or oil fired.

During an inspection we check for;

  • A pressure relief valve and proper extension tube length. The extension tube should extend to within 4”-6” from the floor
  • The vent pipe for heaters should be installed higher than the furnace flue
  • The vet pipe must slope upwards and be free of rust, corrosion and holes.   Some jurisdictions require a minimum of 3 fastener screws per joint
  • Copper tubing should not be used with natural gas.  The additives in natural gas may corrode the copper tubing presenting a serious fire hazard.  This does not apply to propane
  • Only approved gas lines such as black iron pipe, corrugated stainless steel tubing (csst) or flexible natural gas appliance connectors should be used for natural gas appliances
  • A dirt leg should be installed to trap debris in steel gas lines
  • Water and gas  shut off valves close to the heater are recommended
  • The flame should be predominately blue with a yellow tip allowed
good hot water heater flame
example of a good hot water heater flame
  • A predominately or completely yellow flame indicates a dirty or defective burner.  This should be serviced by a qualified service person
  • Many plumbing codes call for an expansion tank to be installed near the hot water heater.  This is up to local officials to enforce we will only inspect its condition if present
  • Electric water heater wiring should be enclosed in conduit

Extend it’s life

Water heaters usually come with tank warranties that range from 5 to 9 years.  The quality of your water supply will determine the life of your tank. However you can extend its life by draining a few gallons of water off of the tank every month.