Home inspectors concerned with home safety will now be looking at these water heaters, wall ovens, fire sprinklers, and hurricane building standards.
At a meeting the other day with a group of home inspectors, we discussed the idea of a unit being installed correctly to the specifications, but it causes a safety issue. We home inspectors are frequently very concerned about possible safety concerns, which is a great frustration to many sellers who feel that such matters should not be pointed out. Most of the time, I am required by state code or by my own desire to report on current thinking or findings that will make an older home more secure. Along these lines, you should be aware that there may be some causes for concern being addressed in your home.
Gas Water Heater Recall- about half of the homes that I have inspected recently have A.O. Smith water heaters. There may be an issue with certain models having their flue glass temperatures becoming too hot. Here is what may be happening: you have a burner compartment below which heats the base of the chamber containing the water. This produces a gas (combustion gas which you can think is comparable to the gas that needs to be handled by the muffler of your car). This gas goes through a tube passing through the water chamber (this also helps heat the water). This gas comes out of the top of the unit, and it is caught by a another tube that has a funnel like object on the end of the tube. This generally passes through your ceiling and then out your roof to a vent that needs to be well away from your roof. The concern is that the vents will overheat due to the heat in this escaping gas. This can be a fire hazard. The recall concerns units with the A.O. Smith model numbers FCG-75 300 and FCG-75 301 with serial numbers L07A071460 through L07A144966 and State model GS6 75 XRR S and GS6 75 CRR S water heaters with serial numbers M07A009387 through M07A072884. You can follow this link to the Consumer Product Safety Commission for more information.
Wall Oven Recall– GE has recalled various wall ovens to inspect and repair them because there may be concerns about fires and because you can be burned. Here is the link to the Commission information on this recall.
Other concerns have to do with building codes. Fire safety is becoming a larger concern, and fire protection equipment has been greatly improved. Costs have come down so that they are practical for homeowners. This has led to fire sprinklers being required in newly built single or two family residences starting in January 2011. I know this seems far off, but it will be coming sooner than you think, and it may mean that if you plan to sell your home around that time, buyers will be looking for such a feature.
After suffering the damage from Ike, many Houstonians are still dealing with the repairs. I know that on home inspections, I have clients asking me about features that will help protect the home from a hurricane or at least a strong wind. Engineers and others have been working on this issue constantly, and this has lead to standard in home construction. This standard will be incorporated in the 2009 International Residential Code. This will take a while to filter through to become a requirement from local governments, but it may be nice for you to know about if you want to be more secure in your home.