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The ITA Report

Water Heater Inspection
Premier/Consolidated Furnaces Present a Substantial Risk of Fire
Recall Directory
Q & A with ITA Instructors

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Click here for complete catalog of inspection courses offered by ITA.

Water Heater Inspection

Court Orders FREE Water Heater Repairs Nationwide

14 million water heaters made between 1993 and 1997 may have a defective part called a dip tube. This part can cause unwanted particles in your drinking water, clogged plumbing, loss of hot water, and high utility bills. If your client´┐Żs water heater has this part, it could cost them plenty.

Typical Questions and Their Answers About Hot Water Safety...

Q: What causes a hot water storage tanks to explode?
The basic cause of a hot water storage tank explosion is, first, overheating or excessive temperature. A physical cause is corrosion and service weaknesses. With the superheated water, the heat weakening and corrosion factors combined can cause a "pressure-heat rupture". This causes a sudden reduction of the pressure within the tank by exposing its contents to the atmospheric pressure, and the superheated water immediately flashes into steam. This combination of circumstances is the explosion itself. To comment further about what "pressure-heat rupture" means, let us suppose a heater under 212 degrees can satisfactorily withstand its service pressure of say 75 lbs. However, the same tank when overheated above 212 degrees may only be able to stand a ressure of 50 lbs or less, because of the heat weakening effects. Therefore, what was normal pressure can become excessive pressure and cause the rupture of a superheated tank.

Q: Why is it temperature and not pressure that causes a hot water explosion?
It has been illustrated and proven in the film, "Explosion Danger Lurks", that it is not water pressure that causes an explosion. Tank pressure was built-up to over 500 lbs and even when a rupture was caused, nothing happened except a squirt of high pressure water. Water pressure is simply the weight of water and water is practically an incompressible solid. Therefore, unless it is superheated, it has no latent heat energy in itself to expand when released. Consequently, there can be conditions of a perfectly normal pressure right up to the time of an explosion. On the other hand, at the time of a heat weakened pressure rupture, the force and energy of the explosion is steam pressure, as a result of the superheated water flashing into steam under the atmospheric pressure condition.

Q: Is a pressure relief valve necessary on the cold water line when a T & P valve is installed on the tank or heater?
Pressure is common to all parts of a system and since the combination T & P valve gives protection against both excessive temperature and excessive pressure, there is no need for a separate pressure relief valve on the cold water line.

Recall Directory

Recalls can be a valuable and informative tool when relayed by the home inspector to the client. Duane Roundy of AAA Inspection Services in Kent, Washington researched recent recalls and contact information. They are listed below for your reference.

Louisiana Pacific (LP) Siding
Cadet Heater

Polybutylene Piping
Composite Siding Boards
Omni Wood/Woodruf
ABS Plumbing
EIFS - Synthetic Stucco
Water Heater Dip Tubes

Premier/Consolidated Furnaces Present a Substantial Risk of Fire

A typical consolidated furnace installation. This one is an HBA model. Adding to the fire hazard is the attraction to use the attic for storage. In the fire service this is referred to as "fuel load" Once open flame erupts from the furnace, the fire spreads rapidly involving the entire attic.

If you inspect a house that was built between 1983 and 1995 and the furnace is in the attic, there is a very good chance that Consolidated Industries manufactured this furnace. They were sold through many different brand names but most of the furnaces were manufactured under the Premier and Consolidated labels.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, these furnaces present a substantial risk of fire. As of September 27th, 2000, there have been about 30 reports of fires and damage to homes associated with these furnaces as well as failures of burners and heat exchangers that can lead to fires.

For more information visit

Questions & Answers with ITA Instructors

List the proper dimensions for these items:

A. Attachment of electrical wire near any enclosure - 12"
B. Attachment of wire through walls - every 4.5 feet
C. Gaps in the wall around boxes - 1/8"
D. Amount of sheathed cable allowed inside a box - no more than 1", no less than 1/4"

Why are steam boilers long lived?

The older boilers were constructed of thick cast iron, with few moving parts. The body of the boilers rarely failed to wear. Items like seals, gauges and burners could easily be replaced, sometimes the older units were so heavy it seemed impossible to remove the boiler so they would opt to repair it and keep it going.

Do you verify a firewall between the garage and the house?

Professional standards do not require identification of the rating of the materials on the wall between the house and the garage. Typical wall coverings with an approved fire rating would be 5/8" dry wall with type X rating or stucco, plaster or other similar materials. Although standards do not require that we identify the fire rating, we do however, identify any damage, holes or openings in that wall. Many areas of the country do not require fire rated materials on that wall. But in areas where this requirement exists we believe the inspection is an important part of overall safety.

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