March 1998 Edition

Water Heater Installation

We want to replace our gas water heater before it starts to leak and would like to know if there are any pointers in installing a new one?
Most gas water heaters will last approximately ten years. Replacing the water heater will reduce the chance for a tank rupture.
The first place to start is by removing your old heater. Turn off the gas and close the cold water inlet valve. Attach a garden hose to the drain valve located at the bottom of the heater.


Be careful where you point the end of the hose. Unless you let the heater cool, the water will be quite hot and could damage plants or shrubs. Opening the T&P valve will speed the draining by allowing air into the tank. When the tank is empty, disconnect the vent hood, water lines, T&P pipe and the gas pipe. Now the old water heater is ready to be removed and disposed of.
If  the water heater is located in the garage or basement, it should be installed on a stand that will raise the burner at least 18” above the floor. This is needed to prevent the pilot or burner from accidentally igniting combustible fumes like gasoline or paint thinner. Vapors are usually heavier than air and can travel close to the floor.
 Next, reconnect the  vent pipe. Be careful to keep the proper clearances for the type of pipe used. If using single wall pipe, a minimum of 6” is required between the pipe and any combustible material. If double wall or “Type B” pipe is used, a minimum of 1” clearance is required.


When reconnecting the water pipes, flexible pipe connectors make it easy to connect the old water pipes to the heater. Rarely are the water heater connections in the same spot as the old one and rerouting hard copper pipe can be difficult.
Flexible connectors are simple to use since they bend easily. Be sure to use pipe compound or Teflon tape on the threads.
Be very careful in attaching the gas pipe. Use Teflon tape on the threads and tighten securely. Check the connection by turning on the gas and testing for leaks. Use dishwashing detergent solution on the joints and check for bubbles. Never test for gas leaks with a flame. If any leaks are found, turn off the gas and repeat the process.
The last item to install is the most important. The temperature and pressure relief valve. If the thermostat goes bad inside the water heater, the burner will continue to heat the water. Since the water is under pressure, the temperature can rise to as much as 250 degrees and can create enough pressure to cause the water heater to explode and it could explode with the power of two pounds of dynamite.
To prevent this from happening, an external safety valve is installed called a temperature and pressure relief valve. If the temperature reaches 210 degrees or if the pressure reaches 150 pounds, the safety valve will open relieving the pressure. The T&P piping should run to the exterior of the structure and discharge to a safe place such as 6” above the ground. The pipe should have a natural drain slope or have a drain valve installed where the water can be drained after testing. The pipe must remain unobstructed and water is not allowed to stay in the pipe. Be sure to test the valve every 6 months by lifting the test lever on top of the valve. When the lever sticks and cannot be lifted, the valve must be replaced.                    
Some people choose to drain the tank once a year to remove any sediments.  I’m not sure if this is needed since our water is pretty clean. However, if you choose to do this follow this procedure: Turn off the gas (or electricity if electric) and close the cold water inlet valve. Drain the tank with a garden hose as noted in the beginning of this article. When the tank is empty, flush the sediments by opening and closing the inlet valve. Do this until the water comes out clean. When finished, be sure to completely fill the tank before lighting the pilot  (or turning on the electricity).
When setting the water temperature, be sure to lower the temperature far enough to prevent scalding accidents. Children, the disabled and elderly people are particularly vulnerable to scalds. Water temperature over 125 degrees can cause severe burns.

Mildew Problems?

We are having a problem with mildew on our ceramic tile and around the eave of our house. What is the best way to eliminate mildew?
We live in an area of the country known for its temperate climate and high humidity. These same conditions are conducive to the growth of mildew. Mildew appears as black spots on surface dirt and is usually detected in areas not subject to rainfall, such as interior walls and under eaves and porch enclosures.
In the bathroom the use of products like X-14 are effective. Caution should be taken to insure proper ventilation while this product is used. This product contains a powerful caustic, sodium hypochlorite in a concentrated solution.
For outdoor use, the following solution is recommended:
1/2 cup of detergent (Tide, for example)
2/3 cup trisodium phosphate (TSP, Soilax)
1 quart 5% sodium Hypoclorite (Clorox bleach)
3 quarts water
Spray on with a garden sprayer, let the solution sit for a few minutes, scrub with a stiff bristle brush and then rinse with clean water.         
Commercial mildew cleaners are available from local building material suppliers and paint stores.

SOURCE: Jerry Goldwasser, Buckhead Home Inspection Service

If you have a question, change of address, comment, home tip or would like to send Home Tips to your clients, send your letter to Home Tips, Christian Building Inspectors, Inc., 3697 Habersham Lane, Duluth, Georgia 30096. You can E-Mail your questions to us at We reserve the right to edit questions for length.

Quote Of The Month

“Make the mistakes of yesterday your lesson for today”

- Unknown

A Tip Of The Hat To:

Roy Holman

Re/Max Of Atlanta

Duluth, Georgia

****Thank You****