Slaying the Dragon…

How many things can you spot wrong in this installation? (which is smack in the middle of the master bathroom)

Water heater (old installation)

Water heater (old installation)

Let me start…(some of this is not visible in that picture)

  • Not enclosed.
  • Sitting on carpet.
  • The carpet under it was cut to fit around it and has “eared” and curled up to touch the bottom of the heater.
  • The gas line to the heater is flared copper.
  • The gas line to the heater is too small.
  • The stack is single thickness and touches the wood where it passes through the ceiling (in two places)
  • The stack is not correctly connected to the heater.
  • The stack does not vent outside (it vents into the attic, common practice in the WAY back days)
  • The heater itself is 30 years old (serial number code says July, 1980). This is not the first heater located here.
  • The T&P line is too small/reduced.

Me and this water heater have had a running battle since we bought the house. I guess it was jealous and knew it was slated for replacement.

The pilot light (actual burner/diffuser) was mounted upside down. This had THREE adverse effects…

  • Flame from the pilot was licking the bottom of the heater, rendering it “char paper” hot (remember the cut carpet curled under the heater?)
  • The pilot would randomly go out (not really getting the thermocouple)
  • When the heater would light, the pilot was way below the burner instead of licking it, so the chamber had to fill with gas before it would catch. Can you say “Whoosh!”

Right after we bought the house I discovered the pilot problem…it had gone out and I pulled the lighting covers and lit it. It looked a little odd, so without replacing the cover I turned the heater on.


Yeah. Nearly lost my eyebrows. There were small flames on the controls and the connections on the copper flared line to the heater, as they were all leaking small amounts of gas. Flared copper isn’t used anymore (using a flex line instead) because if the heater wiggles etc, it works the flare joint and eventually it will wear to the point that it leaks. They need periodically checked for tightness.

I shut it down and after several hours work and a couple trips to the hardware store, fixed all.

Later, I figured out it wasn’t vented outside…working outside on the dormer and staring at the roof I had an “aha!” moment…there were no vent stacks. How could that be?

Well, it’s gone now! I literally tossed it off the back porch!

Old water heater is gone now

It's gone!

Removing it was fun too…shortly after I connected the drain hose, the drain valve shattered in my hand. Really glad we were taking it out! One fitting on the iron pipe simply snapped when I was moving stuff around as well. A disaster waiting to happen! Fire! Water! Plague! (well, maybe not plague).

Replaced with our new tankless, which is flush mounted in a cabinet in the outside wall. MUCHO space saver and works SO much better.

All the iron plumbing is gone too…replaced with PEX.

The tankless water heater installed

The tankless water heater installed

I am REALLY impressed with this system. What a relief it is to have the old stuff gone!

Daniel Meyer

About Daniel Meyer

Author. Adventurer. Electrician.
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2 Responses to Slaying the Dragon…

  1. Pingback: The problem with plumbing… | The Old Victorian

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