Can a chimney vent water heater be converted to power vent?

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Can a chimney vent water heater be converted to power vent?

Postby dude1701 » Thu Mar 06, 2014 2:20 am

A little background, i just moved here a few months ago and a squirrel decided to make a nest in the chimney a few weeks ago, so i got it cleaned out but with a 23 year old furnace and a rented hot water tank (natural gas) i am deciding what to do, and if i get a high efficiency furnace this year and the squirrels are insidious i would like to decommission the chimney (probably cap it)

The tank is rented and i was planning on buying it out, but the chimney cleaning cost almost $400 and i am not eager to revisit that. An open cap would cost $150 to keep using chimney venting appliances but the chimney is also a nice air sucking appliance, the vent sucks warm air from the house costing me heating/cooling money on top of combustion air coming form the basement.

The tank buyout would be just over $400, removal is $175 and then i would have to buy my own to replace it. Its 6 years old and does not have any rusty water in the bottom of it when i flushed a couple gallons from the bottom last month. I plan on getting an anode replacement before buying it out if i do that. It had a 6 year warranty so its now not warrantied but i assume i can get another 10 years out of it if i stay on top of anode replacement.

So if i want to eliminate the chimney i am wondering if i can convert it to power vent or some other non chimney venting, and if i spray foam the basement headers (major air infiltration, the bottom foot of all exterior walls is cold) i would need to make sure it has dedicated combustion air from outside

Please give your thoughts as to what i should do, can this tank be converted to operate in a more airtight house (i would get an HRV when i foam the headers), should i buy it out and do these things or just get another tank (a lot more money, probably close to $1000 or more all told)

Thanks for your insights, and the tank's model number is G640S38FV-02, its made by GSW which i believe is a subsidiary of John Wood.
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- Can a chimney vent water heater be converted to power ve

Postby Freon » Sat Mar 08, 2014 12:25 pm

Your question regarding power venting the hot water heater is one you need to direct to the manufacturer. Since there are UL and other standards heating equipment needs to comply with in order for it not to violate building codes, only the manufacturer would know if any modification would not jeopardize the current standards your hot water heater meets. Possibly there is a retrofit kit you can buy.

Personally I would go for the vented chimney cap to keep the squirrels out. Not knowing your geographical location, it is not clear how demanding your winter season is. Also you might look into an electric hot water heater as an alternative. You can always seal the basement and then have a direct flow of air from the outside through a damper controlled pipe. But the BTUs saved may not be worth the effort, depending on your climate.
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