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Old 11-10-2016, 09:41 AM  
lhort
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Default LP water heater problem

Hi. I am having an issue with my water heater and would like some advice. Water heater is LP gas, located a few inches away from the basement wall with a vertical rise of 18 inches going straight up to the elbow with a proper pitch. All piping going out of the house meets code, doubled wall pipe, exhaust pipe above roof. I live in New York and if the weather is very cold (0-20 degrees or so) the fumes occasionally can be smelled in the basement. When this happens, the pipes are cold and have condensation, if I open the outside door to provide a draft then the pipe warms up and the fumes go up the exhaust pipe. However, now it seems that this is happening occasionally when the weather is in the lower 30s. My house is not super tight or energy efficient so a draft issue shouldn't really be a problem. There is no blockage in the vent pipes. I have a carbon monoxide monitor and it has never gone off. I am looking for a solution to this problem. Could it possibly have anything to do with my heater being older and maybe doesn't burn as hot as it should to warm the exhaust pipe in cold weather? Could replacing this water heater with a new one be a solution to the problem? Thank you


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Old 11-10-2016, 09:50 AM  
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Do you have a fresh air vent from outside to somewhere near the unit to provide fire air?


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Old 11-10-2016, 10:21 AM  
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Warm air has the greater capacity to retain humidity in suspension then cold air. Which can be recognized as dew, fog or condensation.

In your situation, being it loose or tight, air circulation as well as temperature can be a mitigating factor.

If you have sufficient combustion air for the appliance, you might consider a small electric heater to raise the temperature slightly.
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Old 11-11-2016, 05:09 AM  
lhort
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Hi. Thank you for the responses.

No I don't have a vent near the heater.

Like I had stated, this really wasn't a problem before unless it was bitter cold and nothing in the home has changed. So, why is this happening now?
Could it possibly have anything to do with my heater being older and maybe doesn't burn as hot as it should to warm the exhaust pipe in cold weather? Could replacing this water heater with a new one be a solution to the problem?
Thank you
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Old 11-11-2016, 08:09 AM  
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Water heating appliances have a "life expectancy," and only you know when it was installed, so if your heater is near that, then replace it.

Other then that, we can only offer you assistance in mitigating the conditions you have outlined.
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Old 11-11-2016, 02:59 PM  
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Hi. Yes I understand. Just wondering if a simple fix like a new water heater would solve my problem. If so, I would get a new one rather than adding ventilation or switching to electric, etc.
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Old 11-11-2016, 03:02 PM  
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Would the "life expectancy" include not heating hot enough so that that the fumes wouldn't go up the flue ?
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Old 11-11-2016, 03:16 PM  
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Is it safe to think that you might have a gas furnace too.
If you do not have air supplied for the fire, where is it getting the air from.
We do know that the humidity level may be to high as you are getting condensation. Then you also need cold to make it condense.
If the furnace or other fans in the house like bathroom or hood fans are pulling air down that vent while the tank is trying to fire it maybe just be over powering the draft.
The hint is opening the door helped.
Let's talk about how hard or easy it will be to add the vent to get needed air in.
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Old 11-11-2016, 03:30 PM  
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Mercaptan is the smell added to gas it is heavier than air. With heat added it will follow the exhaust up the chimney but in colder weather and less wind it could hang around the roof and get sucked back down the chimney as the house needs more air inside.
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Old 11-11-2016, 03:49 PM  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lhort View Post
Would the "life expectancy" include not heating hot enough so that that the fumes wouldn't go up the flue ?
When reaching an appliances useful duration, water heating appliances will typically recover slower, creak, thump and bang, because of the mineral sediments accumulated in the bottom, with little affect upon the venting.

If $500+ is more reasonable than $10 or $20 for a cheap small electric space heater, then go for it.

Only you know the age of the appliance.


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