Many thousands of water heaters are installed every year by unlicensed handymen or home owners. Improperly installed water heaters cause fires, floods and even deaths. In 2007 there was an estimated 7,200 reported home structure fires involving water heaters resulting in 30 civilian deaths, 340 civilian injuries and $75 million in direct property damage. [Source] According to the Centers for Disease Control, unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning causes more than 400 deaths each year and more than 20,000 visits the emergency room.
Only a licensed plumber is trained to look for all possible potential installation dangers and code violations making sure your water heater will operate efficiently and safely for its life. Here are some dangers that are overlooked by the handyman or home owner when installing water heaters.
Clearances to combustible surfaces are a very important factor when installing a water heater. One Quarter (23%) of home water heater fires had heat source too close to combustibles as a factor contributing to ignition. A 20 year old vent that may have worked fine for the previous water heater may not be sufficient for a newer water heater especially if the BTU rating for the water heater is higher than the old one.
Gas leaks from improperly installed gas lines, connections and even old gas cocks can cause fires and explosions. Certain old brass gas flex lines are prone to cracking when disconnected and reconnected. A licensed plumber will check all gas lines and connections making sure that nothing is leaking.
Improperly sized venting and even old venting can cause the water heater not to draw properly resulting in CO gas from combustion to spill from out under the draft hood into the room. CO is colorless and odorless and can cause headaches, nausea, and dizziness, flu like symptoms, fatigue and even death. When a plumber installs a new water heater he sizes the venting according to the BTU output of the appliance. He must also take into consideration other appliances like a furnace that may be sharing a vent with the water heater. This ensures everything can vent safely.
Every water heater is fitted with a temperature/pressure release valve. This valve opens up to relive pressure when something goes wrong. Without this valve pressure would build inside the water heater until it eventually explodes. There are a number of explosions every year here in the USA. The T&P must be connected to a correctly sized drain line that drains to an outside area.
All water heaters installed in Albuquerque and Rio rancho should be installed by a licensed contractor and inspected by the city. If you need water heater repair or water heater replacement call Central Plumbing today.