Is Your Water Heater Safe?- Chula Vista Home Inspector
I recently made a video while inspecting a water heater at a Chula Vista home inspection. This water heater has several safety issues which I identify in the video. Discovering unexpected expenses after purchasing a new home can ruin your experience! Replacing a water heater can cost you $750- $1500, so you want to be aware of it's condition. It is our goal at First Choice Inspections to make sure you don't have any surprises once you move into your home.
The water heater at this Chula Vista home inspection was a 40-gallon gas-fired unit. When installed in a garage, a water heater must be installed on a platform so the flame or ignition source in the unit is at least 18 inches above the floor. Flammable vapors from the vehicles in the garage will hang low to the ground and can ignite and explode if the water heater sits lower. As of July 1, 2003, 30, 40, and 50-gallon, gas-fired water heaters built for sale in the United Sates must include features that will resist the ignition of flammable vapors outside of the unit. These FVIR (Flammable Vapor Ignition Resistant) models are approved for installation on a garage floor. One of the easiest ways to determine if a water heater is an FVIR model is to look for the viewing port (a small glass window) down by the burner chamber and the combustion air inlets on the side of the unit. All FVIR units have these features.
As your Chula Vista home inspector, I'll also check to see if seismic straps have been properly installed on your water heater (required in CA). The seismic strapping will prevent lateral movement and tipping during a seismic event and will prevent gas and water line breaks at the unit. Two straps are required- one on the top third of the appliance, and one on the bottom third. The bottom strap should not be installed within four inches of the gas valve or damage to the valve may occur. The straps should be anchored in the edges of the wall studs with over-sized steel washer plates and 1/4" lag screws at least three inches in length. If the lag srews are anchored in the belly of a wall stud, the stud will split during a seismic event.
There are also numerous other items to look for when performing a water heater inspection, but I'll cover those in a future article. When you are looking for a professional home inspection, First Choice Inspections will be happy to provide you with one of the most thorough home inspections available. Steve Stenros is a CREIA MCI inspector (Master CREIA Inspector), a Chula Vista home inspector, and can be reached for appointment at 888-335-3040.