Ongaro & Sons understands that you want to be able to depend on your heating, cooling and plumbing systems every day of the year. Our consumer reliability reports highlight several issues you need to know to make sure your heating, cooling and plumbing systems are ready when you need them.

Tips on Replacing Your Water Heater

Your water heater is used more than any gas appliance in your home. It provides hot water to your fixtures 365 days a year. If installed and maintained properly, it will run at peak efficiency for many years. Over time, the costs of operating a gas appliance always far exceed the initial cost of buying it.

The wrong water heater, improperly installed, could sentence you to years of excessive utility bills and shorten the life of your water heater. Also, it may not deliver all the hot water you were hoping it would, and may even adversely affect your family’s safety.

Make Sure It Is Installed Correctly

One way to insure it’s installed correctly is by the permit process. Whenever a water heater is installed, your local building department requires that a permit is pulled and the installation inspected. The inspector will check the installation for any code or safety violations. Also many local building departments require a permit to be pulled on any newly installed gas appliance before selling a home, if one had not been pulled at the time of installation.

Proper seismic strapping is for safety as well as a code requirement There are several reasons why you want to insure that your water heater remains secure in the event of an earthquake. A gas connector can be ruptured by a fallen water heater and a water heater can be an emergency water source if the need arises. The code is very specific in thickness of the strapping, placement of the strapping and anchoring procedures.

A properly designed and installed appliance venting and ventilation system will serve the following important purposes:

  1. Conveys all hot combustion gases to the outside atmosphere
  2. Protects the building structure from fire hazards due to overheating walls or other surfaces
  3. Prevents damage to walls and furnishings due to the escape and condensation of hot combustion gases
  4. Provides for good air circulation and adequate oxygen supply for the appliance and for the occupants of the home

The combustion process consumes oxygen from the air, producing carbon dioxide and water vapor. If these products of combustion are not removed and fresh air supplied, the oxygen in the air becomes depleted.

The combustion process, deprived of sufficient oxygen, tends to become incomplete and carbon monoxide may be produced. Carbon monoxide can be lethal, even in small quantities. Water vapor, also produced by the combustion process, if not properly conveyed to the atmosphere can condense on cool surfaces. This condensed water vapor can rot wood and corrode metal. If the condensed water vapor runs down the flue pipe it can corrode the flue, the top of the water heater and/or the inner flue which runs through the water heater.

Thermal Expansion occurs in any water system when system water is heated during periods of non-use. Once a non-return barrier, such as a back flow preventer, pressure reducing valve or other check valve is installed to isolate system water from the city main water supply, the “open” connection to the city supply is “closed”. The Thermal Expansion problem can be much more serious than frequent spillage of hot water. During the buildup of dangerous pressures, components of the water heater, such as internal flues, fittings, water connections, may fail even before the relief valve pressure is reached. Faucet washers and toilet fill valves can also be affected by Thermal Expansion causing them to fail prematurely.

The ideal location for a water heater is outside the building Thermal Envelope. This can include a closet inside the home that has a sealed door and all the combustion air for the water heater is brought into the closet from outside. If the water heater is located outside the building, the interior of the home is not subject to; depletion of oxygen, possible vent spillage, or humidity as mentioned above.

There are other code issues related to the location of the water heater such as:

  1. The installation of a water heater stand to keep the burners 18″ off the floor, when located in a garage. This keeps the pilot flame off the floor level and out of the path of potential spills of flammable liquids.
  2. The installation of a water heater pan is required, whenever the water heater is installed in an attic or furred space where damage may result from a leaking water heater.
  3. A water heater located in a closet, which access is gained through a bedroom or bathroom is not permitted unless the water heater is a direct vent water heater. A direct vent water heater has sealed combustion and receives all its combustion oxygen directly from the outside.