What I'm Seeing Now

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When The Water Heater Gets Buried Behind A Wall

When the water heater gets buried behind a wall.

How can the water heater be removed?  What to do!?

Four years ago the kitchen was remodeled and a new water heater and furnace were put into the original closet in this house.  This installation created many problems.

Apparently the order of installation went like this -

Step 1.  The 22" diameter water heater was installed.  It got dinged and dented in many places.  It barely fit into the space front to back, so it was likely larger than the older unit that was there previously.

Step 2.  A new furnace was installed.  Notice the bottom of the furnace was 2" wider than the base of the previous unit.  But the opening beside the furnace and the edge of the cabinet was only 17".

Step 3.  Installing the plumbing, the AC line and the gas lines to the HVAC unit.

So now, how can the water heater be removed if needed?  Reverse those steps by first removing the AC and gas lines - removing the entire HVAC unit - and then removing the water heater.

Not only that, but the new water heater does not allow access around the lower side to be able to shut off the water main!  In fact, it sat right beside the water main.  Can you see it?  A cropped photo of the valve is below.

Explain how it is possible to shut off the water?  Apparently in the last four years there has not been a need.

Even if someone could climb over the water heater and shimmy down into the cavity beside and reach the water main valve, it is touching the edge of the heater and it would be very difficult to shut it off!  But climbing over would be virtually impossible as the plumbing tubing is there, as well as the furnace vent.

This is poor, poor planning and remodeling indeed.

My client, the potential buyer of this house, would be inheriting a mess.

My recommendation:  nobody noticed this before during the planning and execution?   The contractor thought this was a good idea?  How is it that the home inspector can walk in and glance at the opening and immediately understand the ramifications of such an appliance installation?  It took some quick measurements to prove how unfortunate and unthinking the installation was.  Do you think a buyer without a home inspection would have noticed this?  Do you think that buyer would have learned quickly had the water main needed to be shut off?  Learning about things after one buys the house is not the best time.  The best time to become informed about the home one is purchasing is beforehand, with a thorough and competent home inspection.

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 16 commentsJay Markanich • January 22 2017 12:55PM

Comments

I have only seen this once in a home while doing an inspection. Why?

Posted by Harry F. D'Elia, Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR (Real Estate and Beyond, LLC) over 1 year ago

Good morning Jay. Did your customer understand the word "pass"? Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker (Wayne M Martin) over 1 year ago

Harry - one time a seller had built a drywalled space completely around and hiding the water heater.  I told my client that I could do nothing to see the water heater but that if I walked away and suddenly a hole was there I would not have known exactly how that hole got there.  I went into another place, heard a smash, came back and magically there was a hole so we could see the unit!  And good thing.  It was installed entirely incorrectly!

Wayne - this was not the only bad planning and execution!  The report was, um, lengthy...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 1 year ago

I helped a realative remove one that burned out and it was not a pleasent job.

Posted by William Feela, Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No. (WHISPERING PINES REALTY) over 1 year ago

Wow! That is a tradesman nightmare for sure. I see it a lot. People have no idea how much a service call on one of those units will cost. That's the perfect place for a tankless water heater. They could have had one installed for the cost of one service call. 

Posted by Mike Cooper, Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Sales Pro (Cornerstone Business Group Inc) over 1 year ago

What's that smell? I smell a flipper in the house...

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 1 year ago

William - removing a water heater is no fun even when it's accessible!

Mike - I have to believe the contractor knew what a mess he was leaving.  And as to tankless I advise my clients to say no, they aren't there yet.  Even the green guys agree with me.

Fred - this was a homeowner!  They "remodeled" the kitchen and bathrooms, and did so not realizing what was left for them I think.  Those are the canister lights installed over the "remodeled" bathroom.   It was the same over the other bathroom and kitchen!  Forgoto insulationo.  Actually I know how to say that properly in Spanish, but Spanglish is more fun.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 1 year ago

Jay Markanich This water heater can be hazardous to the property.

Posted by John Pusa, Your All Time Realtor With Exceptional Service (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Crest) over 1 year ago

You certainly do come across the strangest things! What I want to know is how they turned the water on to that heater after it was installed.

Posted by Marte Cliff, your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) over 1 year ago

It can if there's a problem with it John!  And to the whole house had there been a serious plumbing problem.

Marte - the water heater had its own shut off.  I suspect that to replace it they only needed to shut off the water heater valve, leaving the main untouched.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 1 year ago

You can imagine how painful it was to install the water heater and HVAC unit.  They knew exactly the mess they were creating but didn't care.  Install, get paid, leave.  Not my problem anymore.

Posted by Stephen Weakley (Nationwide Mortgage Services) over 1 year ago

One hopes that is not true, but certainly I see this crap all the time and am cynical enough to think it is no accident, Stephen.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 1 year ago
For some people common sense can go out the window, and in this case it was lost on both the homeowners and the contractors that did the work
Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) over 1 year ago

Ed - I wonder, as to both parties!

What's the song say?  "And I wonder ... I won, won, won, won, wooonderrrr."

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 1 year ago

what a mess.

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com) over 1 year ago

Ay, ay, cap'n Bliz.

And in more ways than just this installation!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 1 year ago

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