How to Look

at a House


A blog with answers
to your questions about
HOME INSPECTION
and HOME MAINTENANCE


More Blog Posts about Plumbing:

  1. Should I upgrade to a tankless water heater?

  2. Why does my well pump turn on and off every time I use water?

  3. How old is that water heater?

  4. My air conditioner won’t turn on. What’s wrong?

  5. Should I wrap the water heater with an insulation blanket?

  6. How do I get insurance if my home can’t pass a 4-point inspection?

  7. What’s the powdery crust on the pipe connections at the water heater?

  8. Do you check the plumbing under the floor slab?

  9. Do I have polybutylene pipe? Why is it a problem?

  10. What is causing a foggy haze on my windows?

  11. What is that big thing in the toilet tank?

  12. How do I remove cigarette odor in a house?

  13. What is the difference between water service pipe and water supply pipe?

  14. What’s the flip-up handle on the water heater for?

  15. How come the water has a rotten-egg smell in some empty houses?

  16. My well water test came back positive for bacteria. What should I do?

  17. Do you test the well water?

  18. What is the difference between a regular water heater and a power vent water heater?

  19. How can I tell what type of plumbing pipe I have?

  20. How do you test a shower pan for leaks?

  21. Why is my water heater making strange (rumbling, gurgling, knocking or banging) noises?

  22. What is that pipe sticking out of the ground in the yard?

  23. What is the average lifespan of a water heater?

  24. What are the most common plumbing problems with older houses?

  25. Why are rubber washing machine hoses a safety risk?

  26. What is a dielectric union?

  27. What is a heat pump water heater?

  28. What are the common problems to look for when the plumbing has been replaced in a house?

  29. What is the average life expectancy of copper pipe?

  30. What is the average life expectancy of PVC pipe?

  31. Why is a European-style bottle trap not approved by the plumbing codes in the U.S.?

  32. What is the average life expectancy of CPVC pipe?

  33. What is difference between a single element and dual element electric water heater?

  34. What are the requirements for installing a gas appliance connector?

  35. What is an escutcheon plate?

  36. How do you find a broken water pipe leak under the floor slab?

Welcome to our blog!
We want you to be an informed homebuyer, and each blog post is a question that we have answered for our friends and customers over the years. Hope they help you make a good choice for your next home.

  1. 2)TPR VALVE  DISCHARGE PIPING INCORRECTLY INSTALLED - The pipe must be of equal or larger diameter than the incoming cold water pipe, unlike in the photo below. It should berated for hot water use (PVC pipe is not), take the most direct route to where it terminates without any traps (U-shaped areas that will hold water), and the end of the pipe cannot be threaded—so it is not easily capped.

  2. 3)NO WHEELSTOP OR PROTECTIVE BOLLARD OR A WHEELSTOP THAT IS TOO SHORT - If the water heater is installed at the end of a garage, opposite the garage door, there is the potential for a car to be accidentally driven into it, resulting in flooding or even explosion if a gas line is fractured. So a parking wheelstop or bollard in necessary in front of the water heater. A wheelstop that will fit between the wheels of a car, like in the photo below, is useless.

  3. 4)NO COLD WATER SHUT-OFF VALVE - Like any other plumbing appliance, a shut-off valve is required and it should be placed on the cold water side.

  4. 5)UNPROTECTED ELECTRICAL CABLE - The electric cable that runs from the wall to the water heater needs to be inside a conduit to be protected from damage. The conduit is typically the flexible type. If the water heater is installed in an attic or compartment, protection is not necessary.

  5. 6)DISCONNECT NOT IN-SIGHT OR LOCKABLE - When someone is repairing an electric water heater, they need to be sure that the electricity stays off for the duration of their work. If the main electric panel is within sight of the water heater, the water heater circuit breaker in the panel is acceptable. If the main panel is not within sight, then a disconnect switch, breaker, or pull disconnect box needs to be installed near the water heater OR a locking device installed on the water heater breaker in the main panel.
       Also, there is one more old-fashioned disconnect method we hardly ever see anymore: a cord and plug to a wall receptacle within sight. When this method is used, protective conduit is not necessary.

  6. 7)ATTIC WATER HEATER NOT READILY ACCESSIBLE - An attic water heater needs to be safely accessible for service. Getting to it should not involve stepping cautiously on the bottom chords of trusses and crawling over ducts. This means there should be a solid floor 24-inches wide running from the attic hatch opening for not more than 20-feet to a 30-inch by 30-inch level platform in front of the water heater. Also, an attic light and receptacle outlet is required near the water heater, with a switch located near the attic opening.

  7. 8)INSTALLED IN PROHIBITED LOCATION - A gas water heater cannot be installed in a storage room, bedroom, bedroom closet, bathroom, or bathroom closet, to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. An exception is allowed if the closet is a dedicated enclosure, with solid, weather-stripped and self-closing door, and an exterior source of combustion air.

  8. 9)NO CATCH PAN UNDER WATER HEATER - A watertight and corrosion-resistant pan is required under a water heater in an attic or where leakage would cause damage. A drain pipe from the pan must end near the ground at the exterior as indirect waste into the plumbing drain system. When the side of a catch pan gets cracked during installation or from storing heavy items on it, the pan is no longer functional as a leak protection device.


  1. 10) FLAMMABLES NEAR VENT - A minimum of 6-inches clearance from a single wall metal vent for a gas water heater to any flammable material, or minimum 1-inch for Type B double-wall.

   This list is just the basics. A gas water heater, for example, requires adequate combustion air, a properly aligned draft hood, and resolving conflict of any nearby air-exhaust appliances that may cause a backdraft from the draft hood—a few more of the  multiple other considerations for a good installation.


While we hope you find this series of articles about home inspection helpful, they should not be considered an alternative to an actual home inspection by a local inspector. Also, construction standards vary in different parts of the country and it is possible that important issues related to your area may not be covered here.
©2015 - McGarry and Madsen Inspection.

 

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