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  • Writer's pictureLisa Bea Smith

Melted Grommets on a Gas Water Heater?

Deadly gases might be entering your home!

Exhaust from a gas water heater is supposed to flow through the vent pipe and to the exterior of the home. However, if the exhaust gas “backdrafts”, deadly carbon monoxide may be going into the home. A sign of backdrafting is melted plastic grommets on top of the water heater, which is caused by the hot exhaust.

Some causes of backdrafting include an improperly installed vent pipe. However, during high winds, even a properly installed vent might backdraft. Therefore, a carbon monoxide detector should always be installed in any home with gas appliances. Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed on every level, by sleeping areas, and within 5’ to 20’ for any gas appliance (water heaters, furnaces, fireplaces).

To test for backdrafting, close all the windows and doors and turn on all the bath and kitchen fans. This will create a worst-case scenario for backdrafting. Turn on a hot water faucet and then light an incense stick. The incense smoke should be pulled up the vent pipe. (Water heater vents should slope upward at least 1/4 in. per foot.) Any home with an attached garage, fireplace or gas appliances should have carbon monoxide alarms.

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