Adding Power Vent to Existing Water Heater

Discussion in 'Water Heaters and Softeners' started by akroh, Jan 30, 2014.

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  1. Jan 30, 2014 #1

    akroh

    akroh

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    Is it possible to add a power vent to an existing gas water heater? The heater in question is a Rheem and the homeowner would like to convert it to a power vent. I have spoken with a few plumbers in the area and they said it couldn't be done. I would just like some more support as to whether it can or can't be done.
     
  2. Feb 1, 2014 #2

    phishfood

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    Unless the manufacturer is willing to support (read warranty) the installation, and provide very detailed instructions on how it should be done, I would walk away from that project.
     
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  3. Feb 7, 2014 #3

    plumbdrum

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    You could install a power venter, Fields makes one and use a pressure switch off the gas valve to turn on the motor. Keep in mind you may have to keep clearances off the grade and windows. Also this type of work would involve permits and licensed contractors.


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  4. Feb 26, 2014 #4

    CHRISM

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    Danger ! Danger ! Danger !


    UNLESS FITTING A MANUFACTURERS APPROVED COMPONENT UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES `ADAPT` THE VENT [FLUE] OF ANY GAS APPLIANCE !

    "Hello plumdrum",

    I have replied to the OP / akroh and You - quoting You because You stated that what He asked about would be achievable:


    I am a qualified and registered Gas Engineer in the U.K.



    Altering ANY aspect of a Gas appliance will invalidate the Manufacturers specification and the Certification as `Safe and Fit for Purpose`.


    The specifications / design and installation requirements of ALL Gas appliances are approved by whatever Governing body oversees the design and approval of Gas appliances in the U.S. and certifies them as Safe for Sale / Installation.

    ANY alteration of a Gas appliance could cause IMMEDIATE DANGER to Life and Property.


    In this case fitting a `Power Vent` Fan would almost certainly have a detrimental effect on the Burners and could cause the Flames on the Burner to be pulled off !


    I am CERTAIN that what has been proposed about fitting a `Power Vent` to the Gas Water Heater would NOT be either approved or condoned by the Manufacturer and IF it was done this would put the `Installer` of the Power Vent into an extremely serious / legally vulnerable position.


    In the U.K. any alteration such as this would put the installer into the position of being prosecuted under the Gas Safety Regulations - the Gas appliance would be deemed to be `Immediately Dangerous` because the Manufacturers design / Safety specification and approval had been altered.


    The Gas appliance being `adapted` in this way could also cause the person who did so to be prosecuted on a charge of `Endangering Life` !


    I am sure that there must be such a legal process in place in the U.S. - ?

    A less important but still very important consideration would also be that `Adapting` a Gas appliance would doubtless render the Home`s Insurance invalid for any claim resulting from the malfunction [or worse !] of the Gas appliance.

    I have not been active on this Forum for quite some time but I still receive Emails which list a variety of Topics - this was the case Today and I came on to look at this thread.

    As a Gas Engineer I am dedicated to Gas Safety and I decided to sign in Today to post my comments / `Advice`.


    Hopefully this will override the advice of Plumbers who just happen to know that a particular Power Vent products exist and THINK that they can be fitted to a Gas appliance. - OR at least cause the OP / akroh to obtain information / an opinion from a GAS ENGINEER who WILL inform them of the details that I stated here.


    I am sure that the OP / akroh knows that Rheem and other Water Heater manufacturers do manufacture a Power Vent model of Gas Water Heater but I am guessing that the Homeowner wants to `Convert` the existing Gas Water Heater which will not be possible.


    If the replies to this take the attitude that I came to expect when I was active on this Forum there will no doubt be responses that disagree with what I wrote from people who know next to nothing about Gas Safety / Gas appliances.

    I have worded this `Strongly` because interfering with a Gas appliance installation is DANGEROUS.


    Regards,

    Chris
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2014
  5. Feb 26, 2014 #5

    havasu

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    Good to hear from you, ol' buddy!
     
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  6. Feb 26, 2014 #6

    CHRISM

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    "Hello havasu",

    Thanks for your very nice message.


    When I read the thread / the OP`s question and noticed that He had received a reply which would possibly have encouraged him / `verified` that He can install a `Power Vent` Fan to an existing Gas Water Heater / Gas appliance which is probably NOT designed to have that piece of equipment fitted to the Vent / Flue - I felt that I had to respond for Safety reasons.

    I hope that it was clear to Members / Readers that My previous message was assuming that the existing Gas Water Heater was NOT designed to allow the installation of a Power Vent Fan.


    As I mentioned in my first message about this I hope that at least the OP will consult a Gas Engineer who will inform Him that the Power Vent cannot be retrofitted to a Gas appliance because of the reasons that I stated.


    Thanks again for your Friendly comment.

    Regards,

    Chris
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2014
  7. Feb 28, 2014 #7

    plumbdrum

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    NFPA 54 Mechanical draft systems 10.3.4. When it comes to safety I am always conscience of my decisions being a plumbing and gas inspector for a major city and 2 small towns in a state that has one of the strictest codes in this country. Maybe I should have stated to check manufactures specs but from what I read it sounded to me that an atmospheric HWH was being installed.


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  8. Feb 28, 2014 #8

    plumbdrum

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    After reading a Rheem installation Manuel it does not state that a power venter Cannot me used. If you use the proper spill switches and pressure switches it is approved. I'm sure things are different across the pond to which I respect your profession , but here in Massachusetts it is an approved installation with certain regulation to termination heights other requirements such as a CO detector and sign indicating the location of vent installed at 8' above. I hope this helps.


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  9. Mar 2, 2014 #9

    CHRISM

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    "Hello plumdrum",

    Apart from contravening the Manufacturers Installation Instructions which are the `Main` considerations when installing Gas appliances in conjunction with the relevant Gas Regulations - I am almost certain that what You suggest would be a breach of the Design \ Specifications and Testing that are used to decide whether a Gas appliance is SAFE to be sold to the Public and Installed in Homes & Businesses.

    Certainly ANY adaptation of a Gas appliance in the U.K. / most of Europe [where Regulation of Gas Safety exists] would be a Breach of Manufacturers Installation Instructions / CE Mark [European Safe/ Approved Appliance] / European Gas Appliance Directive / British Standards - and therefore a breach of the U.K. Gas Regulations - for which people can be prosecuted and can receive Prison sentences for serious breaches.


    There is obviously a `Governing Body` / Testing & Certification Organisation in the U.S. / Canada that certifies Gas appliances as Safe for Sale / Installation - this would be either by approving the Manufacturers design and installation instructions or by physically Testing examples of the Gas appliance in `Testing Modules`- indicative of Homes / Buildings.

    What You are proposing as possible regarding `Adapting` the Vent of this Gas appliance would be highly unlikely to be supported by the Manufacturer as `Safe` and permissible - and NOT because they manufacture other models of Gas Water Heater that have a Power Vent system.

    As You are a Gas Inspector I am very surprised that You would NOT agree that even on an Atmospheric Gas appliance / Water Heater the Burner Flames can be disrupted by adding a `Power Vent` Fan to the Vent [Flue] Pipe.

    You know that for example an incorrect Vent [Flue] Pipe Termination point / location can adversely affect the Combustion process on an Atmospheric Gas Appliance - BUT - Not a retrofitted / unapproved `Power Vent` Fan system - ?



    As WE both know an Atmospheric Gas Appliance Burner can also be affected by something as simple as `Inadequate Ventilation` - if We take it that the existing Gas Water Heater does have the stipulated correct Ventilation for it to operate as the Manufacturers designed - what about when a `Power Vent` is installed - what amount of additional Ventilation is required then - what parameters would YOU use to establish that - ?

    *I am guessing that You will state `whatever is stipulated for a similar Input Gas Water Heater that has a Power Vent ` - [!]


    I HAVE NOT LOOKED FOR THE INSTALLATION INSTRUCTIONS / DESIGNS FOR RHEEM GAS WATER HEATERS - I AM ANSWERING THE ORIGINAL QUESTION FROM THE VIEWPOINT OF NOT `ADAPTING` ANY GAS APPLIANCE FROM THE MANUFACTURERS DESIGN / SPECIFICATION / INSTALLATION INSTRUCTIONS.

    PEOPLE DIE EVERY DAY FROM GAS APPLIANCES HAVING BEEN INCORRECTLY INSTALLED - OR `ADAPTED` ! !

    Regards,


    Chris
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2014
  10. Mar 2, 2014 #10

    plumbdrum

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    Listen, you deal with England codes and I'll deal with what's approved with our national codes. I'm not hear to debate. What was asked was if it could be done, not knowing why it has to be powervented? Maybe chimney failed, but in this country it is an approved installation with all the proper safety devises installed. I would have no problem approving such installation, I understand it's not the most ideal way to do it, but I could not fail such installation. Rheem installation Manuel states to safely vent to the outside with proper draft hood installed on tank, NFPA 54 allows this type of venting system. Thanks for your concerns just answering the question about an installation in THIS COUNTRY.

    Thanks:
    Chris


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  11. Mar 2, 2014 #11

    plumbdrum

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    Also just checked FIELDS CONTROLS website. Maybe that will help


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  12. Mar 5, 2014 #12

    CHRISM

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    "Hello Chris",


    I did not see your replies until Today / Wednesday 5th March as for some reason I am not receiving Email notifications from the Forum that there have been replies on this thread.



    Regarding Your reference to `In THIS COUNTRY` - Gas Safety SHOULD be Universal - although I know that there will be some differences in Gas Safety Regulations that apply to `minor` installation processes from Country to Country there should NOT be ANY major differences in Gas Safety Regulations that apply to Venting the Products of Gas Combustion [or other Fuels combustion] as these can be Deadly !


    I am reasonably sure that the Gas Safety Codes / Regulations that you have in the U.S. [and Canada] have been formulated / written from information that originally would have come from Research & Testing carried out in the UK and from British Standards and the UK Gas Regulations.

    This is the case almost everywhere in the developed World where Natural & LPG Gas etc. is used for Heating / Cooking and Manufacturing processes etc.

    During the last 100 Years the UK has been continuously developing Gas Safety Information and Regulation and has carried out VERY extensive Laboratory and `Real Life scenario` / Purpose built Homes / Buildings Testing processes.


    The Information / Results of these Tests / Investigations are obviously published in various forms and I am sure that the U.S. [and Canada] has adopted MOST of the `Important Regulations` - written into the U.S. Gas Codes / Gas Safety Regulations.


    I do NOT agree from a Gas Safety point of view that You can state `It is permissible IN THIS COUNTRY` with regard to advising the OP that He CAN install a Power Vent to an existing Atmospheric Gas Water Heater without approval from the Manufacturer - which would NOT be forthcoming !


    Altering the Gas appliance Manufacturers Installation specification in this manner is abhorrent to a UK Gas Engineer and is ILLEGAL in the UK because it is an UNSAFE PRACTICE !



    IT WOULD BE UNSAFE IN ANY COUNTRY WHEN THE APPLIANCE IS NOT SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED TO BE `ADAPTED` BY THE INSTALLATION OF A `POWER VENT` FAN ETC.



    Having the `Technical Knowledge` to know that a model of Power Vent Fan and certain `Safety Components ` are available does NOT mean that YOU should be advising someone who is obviously NOT a Gas Engineer that they CAN `Adapt` a Gas Appliance Vent [Flue].

    IF that type of situation were permissible in the U.S. or anywhere else who knows what kind of `Heath Robinson` contraptions [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Heath_Robinson] would be installed / `adapted` - ENDANGERING LIFE & PROPERTY and setting back Gas Safety Regulation by DECADES !



    EDIT - I HAVE REALISED FROM THE REPLIES FROM plumdrum / CHRIS THAT I HAVE BEEN COMPLETELY MISUNDERSTANDING WHAT HE HAS BEEN STATING WHEN HE ADVISED THE OP ON THIS MATTER.

    PLEASE SEE MY NEXT MESSAGE WHERE I EXPLAIN FURTHER AND APOLOGISE TO HIM.

    Regards,


    Chris
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2014
  13. Mar 5, 2014 #13

    plumbdrum

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    Have you looked at the NFPA code I referred you to? or at any of the brand water heaters or power vent company's from this country. The Rheem water heater co states to vent safely to the outside, also the Fields co. Stats that it can be used and that it works on a negative draft with proper interlocks to prove draft before the appliance starts. The commonwealth of Massachusetts requires that ALL gas and plumbing products have Product Acceptance through the State Plumbing an Gas board. I feel sorry that you feel that you can't get your point across , and feel like your speaking to complete idiot because YOU have an Engineering degree, but AGAIN this is an APPROVED installation. Please take the time and maybe try to educate yourself on some alternative venting systems that are approved by our National Fuel Code. Again the code is NFPA 54 10.3.4 , Mechanical Draft systems. also 10.3.4.5. The manufacture that I have looked up operate on a negative draft.


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  14. Mar 5, 2014 #14

    CHRISM

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    "Hello again Chris",

    I did NOT think that I am corresponding with an Idiot at all - as a Plumbing & Gas Inspector I know that You must be very experienced and knowledgeable in these Trades.

    In fact having re-read your messages I think that I may have misunderstood what You meant regarding the Installation of a Power Vent `TO` an existing Gas appliance Vent Pipe.




    I thought that You meant that a Power Vent Fan could be retrofitted / connected to a Gas Water Heater`s Manufacturers supplied Vent Kit.


    I now think that You meant that it could be connected to a constructed Vent Pipe - NOT to a Manufacturers Vent / Flue Kit - although this would still need Manufacturers approval here in the UK and even with Drawings and Calculations submitted the Manufacturers would be very likely to refuse their official approval because of `possible unknown influences` on the Gas Appliance / Ventilation.


    As You were so adamant that what You stated is perfectly achievable and `within US / State Gas Safety Codes` I could not understand how there could be such a difference in Gas Safety / Gas Appliance Installation / `Adaptation` Regulations between the UK and the US.

    Here in the UK we also have Power Vent systems but they are designed to be retrofitted to chimneys / or Flues / Vent Pipes that have a Gas appliance installed within a `Fireplace` / Catchment area OR to be installed as a `Designed In` Power Vent / Flue on an appliance Vent / Flue Pipe or on a Multiple appliance Vent / Flue system - with Manufacturers approval obtained for the Vent / Flue Pipe / System design and Installation.

    Adapting / connecting to an existing Gas appliance Vent Draft Diverter / Draft Hood and supplied Vent Kit would not satisfy the Manufacturers Installation requirements / Gas Safety Regulations in the UK for retrofitting a Power Vent Fan to the Vent / Flue Pipe.

    Also with a Gas appliance that has a Vent Kit / Manufacturers design limitations on the equivalent length of the Vent / Flue Pipe it would obviously NOT be appropriate to install a completely independent Vent / Flue system for either Natural Draught or a Power Vent / Fan Assisted Vent / Flue system.

    We cannot discard the Manufacturers Vent Kit / Draught Diverter / Draught Hood OR connect it to a redesigned Vent / Flue Pipe which utilised some of the Manufacturers Vent Pipe Kit - this would be altering the Manufacturers Installation Instructions / Design / Safe Operation criteria.

    HERE IS WHAT I THINK YOU MEANT:


    You are stating that on an Independent / Constructed Gas Vent / Flue Pipe which is connected to an Atmospheric / Natural Draft Gas Appliance it is permissible in the U.S. / your State to add a Power Vent Fan to that or an adapted Vent pipe and that there would be no concerns about the Safe operation of the Gas appliance - obviously dependant upon the correct installation of the Power Vent Fan / Termination of the Vent and correctly calculated Ventilation for the appliance.

    In UK Gas Utilisation / Gas Safety / Manufacturers Design & Installation Instructions for an Appliance that requires a Vent / Flue Pipe to be constructed from the Draft Hood connection to Termination there are obviously some important design criteria / calculations for `Natural Draft` / Atmospheric operation of the Gas appliance / Vent / Flue Pipe and for providing the correct Combustion / Cooling [of location] Ventilation.

    In the UK it is definitely NOT permissible to connect a Natural Draft / Atmospheric operated Gas Appliance to a `Power Vented` / Fanned Draft Vent / Flue Pipe without the Manufacturers approval which would be very difficult to obtain or could prove to be very expensive regarding their Engineers Site visits etc.

    ANYTHING that is `Substantially different` to the Manufacturers Installation Instructions / Specifications is classed in the UK as `Immediately Dangerous` and is therefore a breach of the UK Gas Safety Regulations for which Legal action with a possible Prison sentence will follow for the person responsible for the Installation.



    With regard to retrofitting `additional Gas Safety Controls` to an appliance - in the past apart from retrofitting a `High Limit Thermostat` / `Overheat Thermostat` supplied by the Manufacturers to some older Gas Boilers [Gas Furnaces] in order to allow them to operate a Sealed Water Central Heating System [with an Expansion vessel] as approved by the Manufacturers there are no `Additional Gas Safety Controls` that are allowed to be retrofitted to a Gas appliance in the UK.

    There was a brief period of time when Oxygen Depletion Sensors were supplied by some Manufacturers of Gas Radiant Fires [Open Flue / Vent - Natural Draught] to Gas Engineers for retrofitting on a Service call after some Safety scares about their use in Sleeping accommodation - that was long ago - now ALL Safety Controls are fitted at the point of Manufacture and NOTHING can either be altered or `adapted`.


    I had not previously looked at any of the Rheem Gas Water Heaters for use in the U.S. until Tonight - as I expected they are of an Industry Standard design.



    If as it does seem that I have misunderstood what You were referring to regarding connecting a Power Vent to an Independent / Constructed Vent / Flue Pipe - Please accept my Apology - having read your replies to Me again I don`t know why this had not become obvious sooner.

    My entire sequence of messages on this thread has been influenced by my misunderstanding of what You meant in your original reply to the OP - I am suitably embarrassed !


    I am sure that You are a well qualified and experienced Plumbing and Gas Inspector and a credit to your profession.

    On this occasion my `Master of Science` Degree in Building Engineering Services and my many Gas Qualifications did not prevent Me from misunderstanding what You meant !

    I will probably try to find time to look at the Codes that you identified -just out of Professional interest - But in the past for some reason I have not been able to access specific U.S. Plumbing / Gas Codes via the Internet.


    Regards,


    Chris
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2014
  15. Mar 6, 2014 #15

    SHR

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    NO NO NO! Unless the water heater originally was manufactured with a power vent assembly and you are replacing it. Power vent water heaters are manufactured differently from the ground up. Extremely dangerous and will void water heater warranty and any homeowners insurance claims related to the water heater. If you value the lives of you and your family, DO NOT DO IT! :eek:
     
  16. Mar 6, 2014 #16

    plumbdrum

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    Thank you Chris, my apologies on my outburst, I'm sure in your country some things are a little differently worded, aka language barrier . Lol, I enjoyed the debate. I look forward to more correspondences with you. That being said I'm not a fan of the system, but the option is out there for situations like electric heat conversions or chimney failures.
    Regards:
    Chris


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  17. Mar 6, 2014 #17

    plumbdrum

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    That was not the question SHR. The question was asked If a power venter could be installed on a water heater, and my answer is yes with regards to manufactures instruction. From my reading of most atmospheric HWH it can be done by a Mechanical Vent System with proper interlocks. Read NFPA 54


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  18. Mar 6, 2014 #18

    plumbdrum

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    I'm starting to think that maybe everyone is thinking about mounting some sort of fan exhaust to the exiting HWH directly to it. This design I'm talking about is a power vent that mounts to the exterior of the house, Fields controls, (not to name a brand but the 1 I'm familiar with) is such a brand the uses negative pressure venting to the outside SAFELY with proper interlocks installed


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  19. Mar 6, 2014 #19

    SHR

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    I stand by my prior post. NO authority having jurisdiction is going to approve the method you refer to. I respect your right to express your opinion though and am glad we have this forum for discussion.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2014
  20. Mar 6, 2014 #20

    plumbdrum

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    Um, I'm a authority having jurisdiction in a major city and 2 towns. Do you homework and come back and let me know what you come up with. Like I've said , I'm not a fan of the installation but in most cases it is an approved installation. I've stated the code references and given you product info, made your homework easy.

    Regards
    Chris


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