In Sedgwick County Kansas, you need a permit to install a water heater. Some people like to point at issues like this as over-regulation by local governments. But, let me give you a quick example of why it’s important, thanks to the MythBusters:
If you didn’t take a couple minutes to watch it, I’ll give you the short version: water heater goes boom, blowing out through the floor with the bottom of the tank, and blowing completely through the roof (and even getting some air time after penetrating the roof.) Water expands when heated, and if it doesn’t have a way of escaping though the T&P valve (Temperature & Press Valve) due to blockage or improper installation, things go really wrong. Fortunately, those sort of catastrophic failures are rare.
But, that’s not the only way a water heater can fail. Gas water heaters have three potential hazards:
First, all gas pipe must be properly installed and tested, otherwise a gas leak may occur. A professional plumber has multiple ways of testing for gas leaks, ranging from using soap and water solutions to a “sniffer” that detects the gas in the air. This isn’t just a theoretical problem, either – gal leaks that result in explosions actually happens several times a year here in the United States.
Second, a flue (exhaust pipe) must properly be installed to allow the gas burned to heat the water to safely escape outside. Gas water heaters produce carbon monoxide when running, which is an odorless, colorless gas that can kill you.
Third, a gas water heater must have adequate fresh air to work with.
Fourth, it can be a fire hazard. When installing a water heater, the professional must make sure it’s not being installed in an area too close to flammable materials. Additionally, homeowners and renters should always make sure that nothing flammable is stored too close to the water heater.
And, of course, there’s that whole explosion thing we covered initially, which we covered first thing. It’s impressive. In fact, let’s take a look at another one the MythBusters did:
That danger exists for both gas and electric water heaters, since the explosion isn’t based on the gas used to run it, but instead the blocked expansion of water.
There’s also other dangers involved, though those are damage to your property. In improperly installed water heater can lead to leaking. Leaking can cause damage to floorboards if a drip pan and drain isn’t installed (necessary for installation on wood floors, but not concrete). Leaking could also potentially lead to a build up of moisture, and in a dark area, allow hazardous mold to grow.
We do a lot of water heater installations, so we’ve seen it all when it comes to home-owner and maintenance man installations of water heaters. Always have a properly licensed plumber install your water heater – don’t risk the health of you, your family, and your property. Even if you don’t use us, use someone who’s licensed in Wichita to have the job done right.
Water Heater image courtesy of Krystle of Home Jobs By Mom