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What is this device on this water heater?


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I have an idea what it is for (detect flue gas spillage and cuts the unit off), but I have have never seen this device on a water heater before.

This is a new States water heater. States does not show this device in the installation manual and I could not locate it on their website. Any help or information would be great.

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If that unit spills with enough frequency to require an aftermarket safety switch then wouldn't it make better sense to fix what is causing the spill in the first place, replace it with a power vented DWH, or go electric?

I would think if even a very small handful of water heaters needed spill switches to be reliably safe then they would be standard equipment.

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Maybe it's not about the water heater so much as the other appliances or exhaust fans that might create a low pressure area where the water heater is installed.

The furnace, clothes dryer and HRV might all kick on at the same time and cause a back-draft. I've known people that could take a taut sail straining at its mast and turn it into a flaccid sheet draped over a pole. Maybe this guy is married to one of those.

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I just spoke with the owner and she said her mother-in-law insisted (and paid for) the spillage detector to protect her grandchildren. This is a single (widow) mom, her husband was killed in Afghanistan last year, he was a Screaming Eagle pilot from Ft. Campbell. This WH is in the basement and the mother-in-law was concerned because she had a friend who died from CO poisoning. It does share the space with a Cat IV furnace that is drawing it's combustion air from outside. Anyway, I guess it is a good thing.

This inspection was a maintenance type inspection. A couple local inspectors and myself volunteer our time for this type of inspection for those who have lost a husband or wife that are stationed at Ft. Campbell. The sad thing is the we have done 17 this year! Many of the repairs are done by folks stationed at Ft Campbell or other local professionals who also volunteer their time and many times supplies and equipment.

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As I was reading down I was thinking to myself, "Maybe it's none of those reasons and this has been installed because the owner or the installer knows someone that died from CO poisoning and is now a little bit paranoid about gas water heaters." Then I read Scott's post.

Scott, Thank You for providing that service to our troops. Making ends meet as a soldier is bad enough; I can't imagine what it must be like for a soldier's widow, especially if the soldier didn't bother to purchase additional life insurance above and beyond what the military provides and if the soldier was in debt.

If there is a heaven, they've probably already got your director's chair with your name on it in place and waiting for you.




Sorry, Scott. I'd forgotten to answer your question about how often I see spill switches. The answer is rarely - probably less than half a dozen a year.

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