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Houston Water Heater Repair for Backdrafting

Gas Water Heater

When you think of Houston water heater repair, you might immediately think of leaks or having no hot water for your daily shower. These are certainly some of the most common reasons homeowners in Houston call us for water heater repair. However, there is another issue associated with gas water heaters that can be more subtle and much more dangerous. It’s called back-drafting and can be difficult to detect. Yet, it needs quick repair to protect your home, family, and water heater. In this article, we’ll discuss what water heater back-drafting is, signs to look for, as well as how our plumbers fix the issue to prevent issues for your home and family.

Why You Need Houston Water Heater Repair if Your Gas Water Heater is Backdrafting

The problem with water heater backdrafting is that it can expose your home and family to potentially poisonous gasses. Backdrafted gas water heater exhaust fumes can contain things like carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and methane. These can all create serious threats to everyone in your home, both in the short- and long-term. 

Backdraft from water heaters also creates heat and moisture which can cause issues with your home through mold, mildew, and corrosion. Over time, backdrafting may affect your home’s structure, your water heater, as well as other nearby appliances and materials. Therefore, it’s important to call your trusted Houston plumber right away if you think your water heater is backdrafting. A plumber can provide quick Houston water heater repairs to prevent further issues for your family and home.

What is Water Heater Backdrafting?

Now, you might be wondering what exactly is water heater backdrafting? This is something that only really affects natural gas-powered water heaters, specifically atmospherically vented water heaters. This basically means that the water heater relies on gravity to vent out the fumes produced by natural gas combustion. There are some water heaters called power vented water heaters that use a fan to force exhaust fumes through the vent pipe. Backdrafting is more common in atmospherically vented water heaters (the most popular kind). However, it can sometimes happen with power vented gas water heaters as well. If you have an electric water heater, then you don’t need to worry about backdrafting. 

A gas water heater works by combusting natural gas into flame to heat the water inside your water heater tank. This creates exhaust gasses. It’s important to make sure these gasses move outside of your home. Backdrafting is when those gasses get vented inside the home instead of through the vent pipe to the outside of your house. As we mentioned, this can expose people in your home to harmful chemicals and also damage your home and other appliances. Therefore, if you think your water heater is backdrafting, you should call for Houston water heater repair straight away.

Signs You Need Houston Water Heater Repair for Backdrafting

There are many signs that your gas water heater is backdrafting. Knowing these signs and calling your plumber as soon as you notice them can help you avoid many of the negative consequences of water heater backdrafting. Here are some symptoms of water heater backdrafting:

  • Warm, moist air around the vent hood at the top of the water heater
  • If you place a mirror at the top of the water heater it fogs up
  • Melted or corroded plastic pieces on top of the water heater
  • Corrosion at the top of the water heater tank
  • Moisture at the top of the water heater not associated with a leak
  • Excessive condensation on the cold water inlet pipe

Many times, homeowners actually find out about water heater backdrafting during a home inspection. Inspectors will sometimes use powder or smoke near the water heater. This allows them to visually see whether the smoke goes through the vent pipe or whether it comes back into the house. If they notice these issues, inspectors will usually recommend calling a plumber for Houston water heater repair.

Common Causes of Water Heater Backdrafting

Water heater backdrafting happens when exhaust fumes can’t escape for one reason or another. An incorrectly vented water heater is one of the most common causes of backdrafting. This can look like many things, including a vent with the wrong amount of slope, too many turns or bends in the vent pipe, or too narrow of a vent pipe. 

In some cases, it may be that the vent pipe is damaged somehow and needs Houston water heater repair. For instance, if the vent pipe has a disconnection, slumps, or has a hole or crack in it, this may lead to water heater backdrafting as well. 

Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with the vent pipe itself, but there is a clog in the line. Usually you will have a vent cover on the outside of your home. This helps prevent debris from infiltrating the pipe and blocking off the exhaust pathway. However, these can break or not block everything from entering the vent pipe, leading to things like leaves building up and causing a clog. 

Less commonly, it may be an issue with where your water heater is in the home. Natural gas water heaters need plenty of ventilation to provide makeup air for the air used in natural gas combustion. If there isn’t enough airflow, then the water heater can’t work properly and may start to backdraft. 

Houston Water Heater Repair for a Backdrafting Water Heater

The good news is that Houston water heater repair from our plumbers can typically fix the backdrafting issue and reduce risks for your home and family. Depending on the issue, you may need different kinds of repair services. Here are some common ways we fix a backdrafting water heater:

Houston Water Heater Repair: Cleaning a Clogged Water Heater Vent

If the water heater vent is just clogged by debris, but is otherwise correct and in good shape, then we may simply need to clean out the vent to remove the blockage. We will use special tools to pull the debris out and test to make sure the water heater vents properly after clearing the block. If the clog is due to a broken or missing cover, then you may need to install a new one to prevent the same issue from happening again.

Houston Water Heater Repair for Incorrectly Installed or Damaged Vent

When you have a damaged or poorly installed vent pipe, then Houston water heater repair usually means replacing the vent infrastructure. This way our plumbers can make sure that the vent works properly, meets normal standards, and will prevent backdrafting now and in the future.

Moving the Water Heater

If improper airflow is the issue causing water heater back-drafting, then we may recommend moving the water heater to another location or otherwise making sure there’s more airflow in that location. Sometimes it’s just a simple matter of removing extra clutter from the room or mechanical closet, but in others, it’s best to move the water heater to a different location in the home, though this is pretty labor-intensive and can be expensive, so this is usually the last option we recommend when all others fail.

Replacing the Water Heater

If you have a consistent problem with back-drafting and the water heater is near the end of its useful life, then it might just be time to upgrade. For instance, you might want to replace your water heater with a power-vented option, which uses a fan to send exhaust fumes through the vent pipe. If your house and budget allow, you might even consider switching to an electric water heater instead of a natural gas water heater to prevent back-drafting.

Quick, Quality Houston Water Heater Repair from Santhoff Plumbing Company

If your water heater is on the fritz, call our team at Santhoff Plumbing Company. We are a trusted Houston emergency plumber offering 24/7 service for your needs. Our team can provide you with quick response and good quality water heater repairs to get you back to normal as soon as possible. Contact us online today to request service or call our 24/7 emergency number at (713) 360-2185 for immediate help from our on-call plumbers.

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