Saturday, August 1, 2009

Water Heater Part 2: The mystery deepens

The recalcitrant gas hot water heater in the attic still had more to teach me. It continued to periodically extinguish itself. As the summer of 2006 went on, I got tired of going up every few weeks to relight the pilot light. I called a plumber, who, streaming sweat from being in my sauna-like attic, complained that the attic was too "tight". Having recently learned insider terms like "tight", I knew what he meant. Was it possible that there was not enough airflow through my attic? Why should there be airflow through the attic at all? There were, in fact, two small attic "turtle vents" just above the hot water heater, although their placement on the roof roughly 30% below the peak seemed counterintuitive even to the not-yet-Efficiency-Man me of 2006. And finally, was it conceivable that lack of airflow was so bad that it was choking my pilot light due to lack of oxygen?
Intrigued, I began to Google and read up on what I found.
What I discovered, dear readers, has formed the main portion of my energy-inefficiency-fighting career to this point. The biggest opportunities for energy efficiency in your home, and for fighting the triple behemoths of Energy Inefficiency, Large Utility Bills, and Not So Comfortable Home, can be found right upstairs in the attic.*
Incident: Continually failing pilot light
Problem: Seemingly insufficient airflow
Solution: Stay tuned...

* This is true in my neck of the woods, central Texas. From what I have read, the attic is the main efficiency issue in many climates, but you should research your own area. Solutions that are appropriate for Efficiency Man may be less appropriate for readers in other areas.

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