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Water heaters Part 2
Don't get burned

(Part 2 of 2)

Knowing about all the changes in water heater technology can protect your family and home!

Winnipeg, Manitoba - Brian Baker of Custom Vac Limited was preparing for the most significant change coming to residential water heaters since his career began, (FVIR) Flammable Vapour Ignition Resistant technology on water heaters.

Since July 1, 2004 Manufacturers no longer produce the well-known standard combustion water heater (gas, propane, fuel-oil) that we know. Baker says, "Homeowners and building owners can now be assured that vapour from products like paints, solvents or gasoline, which in many cases are stored near the water heater, will not ignite due to their vapour being drawn into the combustion chamber of the water heater." This standard will not include power vented water heaters until January 2005; all other residential water heaters will have to comply by July, 2005.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that the ignition flammable household substances by water heaters accounts for almost 2,000 fires annually. According to 2002 figures from the Office of the Fire Marshall in Ontario, 37 fires in that Province were attributed to water heaters, causing six injuries and approximately $700,000.00 in damages.

This development of the technology resulted from a water heater consortium that worked to consider a number of possible solutions to make water heaters safer. This group formed a consensus around three principle technologies:
  • A one-way, intake system to control the movement of makeup air into the combustion chamber
  • A flame arrestor plate, the single biggest component change in the FVIR designs; and
  • A sealed burner access door and burner assembly, to create a sealed junction with the combustion chamber, preventing combustion air and flammable vapors from entering the chamber through the front of the water heater.

"Even though the consortium worked cooperatively to develop the new FVIR technology each Manufacturer approached the application differently, as such, each has designed their own individual solution. This means that there will be a wide variety of unique designs some of which may require annual maintenance just like your furnace," said Baker. It is important that consumers recognize that while water heaters have always required maintenance many homeowners neglect their water heaters.

A term that you will likely hear a lot about is the management of (LDO) lint, dust and oil. The fact that water heaters are subject to the entrainment of these particulate into the combustion zone means that each manufacturer had to come up with a way in which to manage the accumulation of LDO. Consumers will have to educate themselves before making that snap decision when their water heater requires replacement otherwise they may find themselves at the mercy of someone who does not fully understand this new technology. "Manufacturers will begin Contractor training programs very soon and consumers should ask if their technicians have been trained on the new FVIR technology and products," said Baker.

As with any new product, some people stock up in an attempt to beat prices by offering a lesser quality product while others pick up the new product and hit the road running. "Consumers will have many choices to make such as if they have a water heater leak in warranty, they may want to upgrade to the new water heater for an additional cost," said Baker. Consumers need to remember that price is not everything; energy-efficiency, safety, durability, reliability and the energy source itself are just a few things that need to be considered.

You walk into the basement stairs or front door, what do you see but water, water everywhere. If you live on the main floor of a condo you may get a bigger surprise, a waterfall in your living room. Baker can state with 100% certainty, "Your water heater will eventually fail and leak"! Most water heaters fail within 7-10 years even with annual maintenance and due diligence by either the homeowner or service technician. "That's about 5 million tank failures every year," said Baker. Without a WAGS safety valve, a leaking tank keeps refilling and leaking. The WAGS valve technology prevents disastrous floods and untold damage to your property.

"WAGS stands for Water and Gas Safety and was specifically designed to shut off the water supply (plus gas supply for gas-fired heaters) in the event of a water leak from a hot water heater, thus minimizing water damage and possible gas leakage," said Baker. The valve can be installed on all styles of water heaters, is fully mechanical, requires no external power supply, and cannot be accidentally triggered, making it an effective and easy add-on.

Homeowners, Condominium Associations, or Apartment Owners all need to take a close to look at the benefits of protecting themselves and/or their occupants from the unnecessary flooding due to a failed water heater. Baker reports that water heaters located above main floors are becoming commonplace as buildings are being converted to self-contained apartments and condominiums. If a water heater is located on or above the main floor or located in an area not served by a properly connected floor drain were to leak, thousands of dollars in damage would likely result.

Baker stresses that it's not just the leaking water that we need to be concerned with. Water damage can lead to more serious issues such as poor indoor air quality. If water is not properly and quickly contained and/or removed, furnishings, wallboard, insulation materials, wood, carpets, etc can all become breading grounds for mould. Once established, mould is very expensive and difficult to remove. Each year thousands of dollars in insurance claims are filed. The net result is lost time, out of pocket expenses and the hassle every time a water heater fails.

Mobile homes are another huge market segment that is well suited for the WAGS valve. Today with improved building standards they are well insulated. Once moisture gets into the insulation beneath the floor the fix is anything but inexpensive. In addition, homes above crawl spaces typically have no way to effectively deal with water once it leaks in. "Many times complaints about odors from the furnace, sickness, headaches, etc. are traced back to an event such as a leaking water heater," said Baker.

"You need to look at your home or building and consider the damage that could be done," said Baker. Another suggestion is to pull the costs out of your file from the last water damage claim you made. He'll bet that the damage claim, repair, out of pocket expenses and hassle, well exceeded 40% of the cost of the water heater. In fact, an average homeowners claim for water damage today exceeds $5000.00. The WAGS water and gas safety valve is so good the Manufacturer backs each valve with a $1000.00 policy against water damage.

There are many new products designed to improve and/or protect our homes. The WAGS, water and gas safety valve can be installed for about 40% of the cost of an installed water heater. When you consider the cost of clean up and the protection that WAGS offers. Is it "Good Value"... you decide.



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