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Water heater draft spill switch installed in NW DC

In the summer of 2012, James A. Wheat & Sons installed draft spill switches for the water heater for a family in Northwest Washington, DC.

Natural draft water heaters don’t come equipped with any kind of safety device that shuts the unit down if it isn’t drafting properly, and this can be very frustrating—even dangerous! Most gas appliances and all furnaces include a device or safety switch that will shut the unit down if the venting is clogged or back drafting. These safety devices generally detect excessive heat or check the pressure in the flue exhaust system to verify that the system seems to be drafting properly. This is important because if the system is not drafting properly, your system is not removing the carbon monoxide out of your home properly, and that can be incredibly dangerous—even fatal—for you and your family.

Most water heaters have a direct opening at the top of the water heater where the flue pipe or chimney goes to expel any gas. If the flue pipe or chimney becomes clogged, the flue gases can back up and enter your home through this opening—and since there are no safety devices to stop it, it can be very dangerous because that means gases such as carbon monoxide (CO) will be leaking into your home.

Above is a picture of a standard water heater with the safety device attached. As you can see there is a wide open gap between the water heater and the brown cap that the flue pipe is connecting to. Our safety device will shut down the system if excessive heat is being output into the room.

Fortunately for the family in Northwest Washington, DC we had installed the draft spill switch on their water heater over the summer because on December 12, 2012, we were called to the property because the water heater was not working. What we found was a completely clogged chimney.

The exhaust gases, including the deadly carbon monoxide, were getting backed up and seeping into the home. The only thing that stopped that from becoming a life threatening situation was the safety device we added to the water heater.

At James A. Wheat & Sons, we know that the real heroes are the soldiers, firemen, and police officers who put their lives on the line for us every day, but every once in a while, we get to take part in saving lives. It makes us proud to be able to say that we may have saved the lives of this family by installing the draft spill switch for their water heater.

If you’re worried your water heater doesn’t have a safety device equipped for just such an emergency, contact us today!