Checking venting on a gas water heater

by Mary
(Toronto, Canada)

I have a Rheem Fury gas water heater that was running great until two days ago. It seems that the upper surface of the heater is hotter than usual, and there is a burning smell in the same area.

Is something wrong with a heater, vent blocked or something else?

Can you help, please, I am afraid to run the water heater and I don't have hot water for shower and dishes.


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Jul 12, 2012
How to check is the vent blocked
by: Zee

Mary, your Rheem water heater might have a problem with a spillage - your venting is not working properly. I will assume that the Fury model you have is atmospherically vented model and there is a very simple test you can do to check is the vent blocked or not.

Start the water heater as usual and let it run for several minutes. It is important to run it for 3-4 minutes so the upward draft can be established and gases from the water heater can freely run through the vent pipe and out.

This is the scenario if everything is OK with the water heater - there will be no spillage and you won’t smell burning.

Keep in mind that every gas water heater should have sufficient air supply and proper draft for extracting the gases out.

Use a match, light the paper or any material that produces a smoke. The idea is to place it between the draft hood and top of the heater and 2-3 cm away. The venting is blocked or there is no proper upward draft if the smoke doesn’t get into the vent pipe. If it does the venting is not blocked.

In a case of a blockage turn the water heater off immediately and call the technician. If you decide to do it, remove two or more screws that hold the vent attached to the draft hood, remove the vent pipe and check for blockage and changes in its shape and size (which might also be the reason).

Don’t worry, it is a good thing that you have notice the spillage on time as it can be very dangerous due to the carbon monoxide poisoning, and damages on the heater.

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