Inspecting the Water Heater

That large tank in your new home is more important than you know.

What are we talking about? Your hot water heater of course.

Try going a day without hot water and you’ll see what I mean. There are several types and many manufacturers of hot water heaters and they’re not all the same. The basics are that there are hot water heaters with large tanks and tankless hot water heaters. All of them are either gas or electric powered. What do we look for when inspecting a water heater as home inspectors? First we start with the age. Why is this important? The tank water heaters have a life-span generally 10-15 years depending on gas or electric. When we see an older water heater we look for telltale signs that it is nearing the end of its life like rust stains or corroded water supply pipes. What is the capacity? If you’ve got a 38 gallon water heater in a 6 bedroom, 4 bath 3000s/f house, it is probably not sufficient. Is there a drip pan installed? If the water heater is in an area where it can damage the home if it leaks, like your attic for instance, it must have a drip pan and in the case of the attic, a way to drain water out of the home should a leak or failure occur. How about the heat of the water produced? We measure the water heat and look for a temperature of at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Does it have a TPR (Temperature Pressure Release) valve extension terminating 6” from the floor? Is the cutoff accessible and visible, If it’s gas, does the gas connection have a drip leg, is the vent (flue)material proper and properly installed with 12” before the elbow and with a 1/4” rise per foot? This is all important to safely and properly vent the exhaust gases produced to the outdoors.

Electric water heaters are an entirely different animal and we’ll address those next month. Do you need a home inspection? Call Summit Home Inspections with a certified licensed, insured professional home inspector ready to help you. We will inspect the home you are buying and give you the highest quality service and generate the highest quality report.

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