Installing the vent for your water heater, or cleaning out the vent when something has disrupted it, is a bit of a hassle. Either may leave you wondering, why do water heaters need to be vented? We’ll explore which water heaters need to be vented, why, and what options you have for ventilating them.
Gas Water Heaters
Like anything that is powered by gas, a gas water heater needs to be vented. It relies on gas combustion and creates emissions that cannot just linger in your home, or they could cause serious health problems and even death. Therefore, it is vitally important that your gas water heater is properly vented.
Types of Water Heater Vents
There are three types of water heater vents that your plumbing professional can choose from. Which they choose will largely depend on the layout of your home, which type of vent your last water heater had, and the instructions from the water heater manufacturer. The options include:
- Chimney vent: A chimney vent uses the home’s existing chimney to vent out the emissions. Intake and ventilation both use the chimney. The system may have a fan, or it may rely on the natural tendency of hot emissions to rise in order to ventilate the system.
- Direct vent: A direct vent uses a hole in your home right near the water heater to vent out emissions and bring in fresh air. They can be advantageous because they don’t rely on a chimney and can be installed essentially anywhere. These systems typically have fans in order to facilitate proper ventilation. They run horizontally so, without fans, there would not be any pressure to encourage the exhaust to leave.
- Power vent: A power vent also vents out the air right near the water heater but uses indoor air to do so. It pulls air from inside with a powerful fan. The room must have proper airflow for a power vent to work.
Your current water heater may not have its own vent. Sometimes water heaters are installed to vent through the same vent that your furnace or other appliance uses. However, this practice is no longer encouraged and is against the building codes in some areas. Sharing vents increases the likelihood of pressure problems that may stop the vent from working properly. Now, every appliance should have its own direct or power vent.
What About Electric Water Heaters?
Electric water heaters do not require ventilation, as they do not create emissions or by-products of combustion. This makes them an ideal choice in homes where the ventilation process is daunting. Perhaps you would need to drill through a tough material to vent your water heater. Or, you may want to place it somewhere where venting would be inconvenient. Either way, electric water heaters are a great solution.
What About Outdoor Water Heaters?
When space in your home is a problem, you can use an outdoor water heater. These do not need ventilation even if they are gas-powered.