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Old 05-04-2013, 06:30 PM   #1
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Bad install on hot water heater vent?


Just bought a new house. Got some estimates on replacing a hot water heater. Two contractors that took a look at the heater saw that the previous owners had the heater venting out of the basement and into the ground. Neither one could believe that anyone would vent their water heater this way and were both adamant that this need to be reconfigured as it's probably releasing carbon monoxide into the house. I told this to a friend of mine who's pretty handy at fixing things around the house. His comments were that it was no big deal.

After seeing the looks on those two contractors faces and how disbelieving they both were that this exhaust ever passed inspection, I'm inclined to believe them but don't want to be gouged either.

Any thoughts?

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Old 05-04-2013, 07:30 PM   #2
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Bad install on hot water heater vent?


a picture would help us determine this.

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Old 05-04-2013, 08:07 PM   #3
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Bad install on hot water heater vent?


Majority of the areas, do not require a licensed plumber to install water heaters, nor to have a permit check after the install. Most likely original owner that installed the unit. As for the exhaust going into the ground, I am guessing from looking at this thread dryer vent install the exhaust is also only about nine inches off the ground.

From the sounds of it, it appears that you got yourself into a pretty bad money pit. Pictures speak volumes.
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Old 05-04-2013, 08:16 PM   #4
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Bad install on hot water heater vent?


How exactly is it "vented into the ground"? Is it power vented out the side and then angled towards the ground?

Maybe cheaper and easier to power vent out the side then to go up through the roof with all new vent pipe, if the manual and local code says you can. Without a picture it's hard to determine. The hwh manual usually tells you exactly how the water heater should be vented. Follow all local codes and manufactures instructions on venting. Or hire a local licensed pro.

Please post a picture when you can so we can give you better and more accurate advice. Thanks.

Last edited by jmon; 05-04-2013 at 09:03 PM.
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Old 05-04-2013, 08:25 PM   #5
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Bad install on hot water heater vent?


Yeah, something is not right here. Why would anyone vent a water heater "Into the Ground" You would have to go out of your way to do something stupid and illegal.
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Old 05-04-2013, 10:47 PM   #6
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Bad install on hot water heater vent?


Far away then a close up view. In the close up view, the two lines to the left are water lines. The PVC at the top is the sump drain and is about 6 inches above ground level when the PVC exits the house. The heater's exhaust is just below that. You can see it going into the basement wall here but it's located, best I can tell, under about 6" of concrete when it exits the house. There is no power vent.

Thank you all for your replys, Steve
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Bad install on hot water heater vent?-img_0071.jpg   Bad install on hot water heater vent?-img_0072.jpg  

Last edited by teeb57; 05-04-2013 at 10:57 PM. Reason: wording
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Old 05-04-2013, 11:02 PM   #7
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Bad install on hot water heater vent?


That is bizarre!!
Look in side the vent- what do you see?
Do you by any chance have a chimney outside?
You better get a carbon monoxide sensor installed pronto- that picture says you are flirting with DEATH
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Old 05-04-2013, 11:08 PM   #8
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Bad install on hot water heater vent?


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That is bizarre!!
Look in side the vent- what do you see?
Do you by any chance have a chimney outside?
You better get a carbon monoxide sensor installed pronto- that picture says you are flirting with DEATH

There is no chimney. There's nothing to take a picture of on the outside of the house because the exaust is venting into the ground. I'd have to start cracking concrete outside to be able to get to it. We were not able to look up into the chimney stack.
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Old 05-04-2013, 11:09 PM   #9
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Bad install on hot water heater vent?


If I had to guess, the OP needs to go outside and take a picture, along with if there is soil and no concrete, to start digging, to see where that exhaust goes. Really need more information here.
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Old 05-04-2013, 11:50 PM   #10
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Bad install on hot water heater vent?


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If I had to guess, the OP needs to go outside and take a picture, along with if there is soil and no concrete, to start digging, to see where that exhaust goes. Really need more information here.
There's no soil, just concrete. And I'm not about to start busting up my drive way to find this exhaust, assuming there is one.
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Old 05-05-2013, 12:18 AM   #11
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Bad install on hot water heater vent?


I think the fumes are messing with your head.

Find out where the exhaust is going and turn off that heater. Who cares about concrete. Cement is cheap and easy to replace.

Remove the joint before the wall and stick an inspection camera up the pipe if you value your concrete over your life. Do not turn that heater on again until you know what is going on.

How did a professional even leave your property without checking for CO levels or inspecting the termination on that pipe?
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Old 05-05-2013, 12:37 AM   #12
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Bad install on hot water heater vent?


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I think the fumes are messing with your head.

Find out where the exhaust is going and turn off that heater. Who cares about concrete. Cement is cheap and easy to replace.

Remove the joint before the wall and stick an inspection camera up the pipe if you value your concrete over your life. Do not turn that heater on again until you know what is going on.

How did a professional even leave your property without checking for CO levels or inspecting the termination on that pipe?
Thanks for your advice. One installer did check for CO2 and said it was reading slightly higher than normal. Both installers suggested, as you did, not to run the water heater.

Which brings me back to my original question. Is this installation acceptable? Judging from most reactions here, it's sounding very risky. And the fumes haven't got to me poor little head yet, I've just never had to deal with anything like this before. Thanks for the cam advice, that sounds like a good idea.
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Old 05-05-2013, 12:46 AM   #13
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Bad install on hot water heater vent?


The joints should be easy to dismantle. Likely just a screw and foil tape along with any paint we see in those photos is holding the elbow to the straight section.

You may even see enough with just a flashlight to figure out where it's going.

There are cheap inspection cameras for less that $100 you can buy if you cannot borrow or rent one.

Eg:
http://www.harborfreight.com/digital...era-67979.html

http://www.canadiantire.ca/AST/brows...ion+Camera.jsp (when on sale it's $99 or less)
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Old 05-05-2013, 12:52 AM   #14
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Bad install on hot water heater vent?


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Originally Posted by teeb57 View Post
Which brings me back to my original question. Is this installation acceptable? Judging from most reactions here, it's sounding very risky. And the fumes haven't got to me poor little head yet, I've just never had to deal with anything like this before. Thanks for the cam advice, that sounds like a good idea.
Not acceptable. Without a powered vent that heater must have a chimney going up up up. The rising hot gasses create the chimney effect creating an upward draft to draw up the gasses. If it's not going up then even if it goes out your wall and somehow makes it to the open air it's not going up far enough to create a chimney so any little breeze or positive pressure differential and it's like someone built a campfire in your basement.
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Old 05-05-2013, 12:54 AM   #15
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Bad install on hot water heater vent?


I like that. Will look to rent one Monday. Thanks!

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