Direct Vent Water Heaters

When you are looking for a new tankless or traditional tank-style water heater, it can be hard to know the best option for your needs. But beyond the type of heater, ventilation styles can vary too. At PlumbV we offer an array of types and models and a direct vent system can be combined with any of them. If you will be using a combustion-based water heater, then understanding a direct ventilation setup is key.

Water heaters often use fuel for combustion, and air flow is vital to this process. But inevitable byproducts like carbon monoxide can be deadly if not properly vented. In traditional atmospheric venting models these gases rise through the system and are eventually vented via a roof pipe. But if air flow is restricted in the area surrounding the water heater, two problems could develop: 

A backdraft is a shift in air pressure that can prevent gases from venting into the outside atmosphere and instead force them back down the vent pipe. A toxic buildup of carbon monoxide or other combustion gases could lead to unsafe conditions.

Negative air pressure results when the water heater pulls air from the room to such an extent that it forces outside air to be drawn into the home at a higher-than-normal rate. Indoor air quality can suffer and climate control can be compromised.

Neither result is safe or desired, and both can be avoided with a direct vent system. This style of ventilation is configured with dedicated pipes to both pull and expel air from and to the outdoor atmosphere. Air is drawn from outside the home and gases and excess heat are vented back outside. This closed system doesn’t allow for gases to build up or for negative pressure to threaten air quality and is best used in tight spaces with poor ventilation. Direct vent systems feature airtight pipes and a sealed combustion chamber to ensure safety and avoid seepage.

Direct venting relies on natural air pressure, so electricity isn’t needed to push the air through, and any localized outages won’t compromise air safety. This type of ventilation is also quieter and more efficient than using a forced-air fan. Since air pressure is fixed, pilot outages aren’t an issue either. Since electricity does not need to be present to install, there are many possible applications for direct vented water heaters. The key factor for proper venting is that a space is in close proximity to an outside wall.

Expert Opinions

Each type of water heater has its good points and ideal applications. For some, direct venting is ideal. At PlumbV we only recommend and install models that will conserve both water and energy and will work well in your specific circumstances. If you are in Raleigh, or Durham, North Carolina or the general Triangle area, let PlumbV be your go-to plumbing expert. We can help you to find the best water heater for your family's needs and keep it in top shape with regular maintenance. Give us a call today to learn if a direct vent system will work for you.

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