Before 2003, most gas water heaters featured an open combustion chamber that allowed homeowners to relight the pilot light with a match. Unfortunately, this presented a danger because water heaters installed in areas close to other combustibles like propane or gasoline resulted in spontaneous combustion, posing a risk to their home safety. The gas spills from the water heater also can threaten your Brookhaven, GA home safety. Hence, there was an urgent need to design safety improvements to water heaters to avert this problem. This brought about the emergency of FVIR (Flammable Vapor Ignition Resistant) water heaters. These systems were a lot safer and reduced the need for water heater repairs.
What Are FVIR Water Heaters?
Any residential water heater manufactured post-2003 is FVIR compliant. To a large extent, the unit now has a sealed combustion chamber. To relight the water heater, homeowners must now use the pilot mechanism. Using a match to relight the system is not possible anymore. As a result, the new water heaters are considerably safer than those manufactured before 2003. These water heaters and any other atmospheric vent water heaters having 30, 40, and 50 gallons comply with the government standards established by ANSI. These standards aim at preventing the unintended or accidental ignition of flammable vapors like those produced by gasoline. However, even the new units require routine water heater repair technician maintenance.
How Does an FVIR Gas Water Heater Work?
Each manufacturer has their design, and these designs keep changing. As established above, FVIR water heaters contain flammable vapors within the combustion chamber. They can also shut down the burner and pilot light if an unusual gas flow is detected. This has resulted in a need for fewer water heater repairs and improved safety. Additionally, almost all water heaters have a flame arrestor below the cabinet. The flame arrestor allows the vapors and air to enter while ensuring that a flash fire that could cause severe damage doesn’t leave the compartment.
Other water heaters feature a door that seals the spark arrestor or vent whenever a flash fire is detected. To further enhance safety in modern FVIR water heaters, there are different safety switches designed to shut the gas supply off in your combustion chamber whenever a sensor detects a flash fire. Fortunately, non-FVIR water heaters are not sold or manufactured nowadays. However, this does not mean you shouldn’t maintain the current units. Even modern water heaters pose significant safety concerns, especially if the pressure inside is not regulated, as this might result in explosions and scalding. Hence, they require servicing by a water heater repair technician.
The FVIR water heater industry is voluntary and was recommended by manufacturers and related associations as FVIR water heaters could save Brookhaven, GA homes, and lives. Water heaters, by their nature, are installed in out-of-the-way, dusty areas such as carports, basements, and closets. FVIR units have fresh air vents that have spark arrestors located below the unit. The manifold/burner draws air, dust, and debris when it ignites for water heating. The debris and dust could clog the vent. When it is obstructed, the water heater will be turned off by new safety features. To fully clean the spark arrestor and air vents, the water heater repair technician must remove the manifold. It doesn’t cost much for it to be cleaned by a qualified technician.
Before the introduction of FVIR water heaters, all parts for gas water heaters were interchangeable. If you require a thermocouple or gas valve, you go to the nearest hardware store. Some water heater manufacturers don’t make the water heater replacement components available in the local stores. Even water heater repair technicians need help finding components for some models. Families end up enduring days, sometimes even more than a week, without hot water.
Main Elements Of The FVIR Water Heater
While FVIR water heaters have many components in pre-2003 units, there are two distinct differences. To begin with, the FVIR water heaters feature a thermal sensor or a thermal cutoff switch (TCO). This is also called a high-temperature limit switch or the TRD (thermal release device) that goes off when the temperatures inside the unit are too high, effectively shutting it down. They reset when the temperatures inside the unit come back to normal. If your unit has been tripping the TCO frequently, you should have it inspected by a water heater repair technician.
The other element of these water heating units is the flame arrestor plate or screen at the bottom, which allows the combustion air to enter. However, if the vapors inside ignite, it doesn’t allow the flame to go out via this screen. The flame arrestor may be made from ceramic or stainless steel. Some water heaters have washable arrestors to prevent dust, oil, and lint from clogging the plate. If you suspect the flame arrestor in your unit is clogged, have a water heater repair technician open the combustion chamber and clean it.
Why Switch to an FVIR Water Heater?
Water heaters are installed in hidden spaces, and it is common to find one installed in a garage. Unfortunately, you will commonly find that that’s where most homeowners keep paint thinners, gasoline, and other flammable items. Unfortunately, the miscellaneous flames from a water heater that isn’t FVIR compliant could roll out and cause a fire. The primary reason for the government to demand that the water heaters be FVIR compliant is to ensure the safety and well-being of its citizens. Hence, ensure that it is compliant when you purchase a water heater. Additionally, ensure that the water heater repair technician in Brookhaven, GA installs it per the applicable codes.
Despite the water heater design developments, these units still pose a risk to you and your family. However, you can avoid these dangers through routine water heater maintenance. Do you need a water heater installation, repair, or servicing? Contact us at Peach Plumbing & Drain.
See our previous blog post here!