What to do to get a heater to vent properly

by Richard
(Kankakee, IL USA)

Purchased a Reliance 30gal gas hot water 6/29/11. It would not vent properly and would overheat when burner turns on. We were told the chimney was blocked so we proceeded to have a new seamless stainless steel liner installed at a cost of $440. This did not solve the problem.

The only way we can get the heater to vent properly is to open a basement window which causes severe condensation problems in the basement due to the air conditioning pipes.

We do have an exhaust fan in the attic which we've had for 20+ years. If we disconnect the attic fan and shut the window the heater works as it should. We have not made any changes to the house or attic and we are at a loss to know what to do to remedy this problem. We were told to block any openings in the attic which would cause the attic fan to draw air from the basement which we did. Reliance gave us the number to call for a factory trained water heater specialist. He was here on Friday and he did not have a clue what to do.

We are at our wits end with this. We have considered purchasing a ventless water heater and starting over but due to the cost of installing the chimney liner it is financially impossible to do so at this time. PLEASE CAN YOU HELP US?

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Sep 19, 2011
Solution for Reliance water heater
by: Zee from water heater reviews

The problem with your Reliance water heater is in the location of the heater and insufficient air flow. Your Reliance hot water heater, for the proper work, needs plenty of air to sustain the flame.

(You didn't specify, so I will assume that the heater is installed in the attic).

Attic is not the best place due to the high temperature and little or no fresh air. Your attic needs a constant air flow - proper venting.

Air leaving the attic is OK for your roof and shingles but it creates a negative pressure, so Reliance water heater cannot work due to the decompression - there is no air coming in (outside air pressure is higher that inside).

Check out do you have any vents that brings the air in and are blocked with the insulation. You already said that the attic has a fan that blows the air out, that is good. This is why when you open the window and make the draft the water heater will work - water heater will get some air. If you read the instructions from the manufacturer you will see that for the installation in the basement, if there is an insufficient air flow, two small opening should be provided, one in the upper and the other in lower section.

Check the flame color on the main burner as the lack of combustion air causes the burner flame to burn as yellow and unstable instead of blue.

These are situations when pilot outage happens often... you can read it here also https://www.hotwatertalk.com/pilot-light-goes-out.html

And for the last, vents should be done per instructions; it must handle total BTU of the water heater, has minimal number of elbows and on the specified distance from each other, two feet straight up at the end and from the roof.

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