Plumbing in the Home/water heater


We purchased our home in July. The date on the water heater is 2006. The water heater is located in a closet with louvered doors in the downstairs bathroom which leads to the laundry room. It has been crackling and knocking since July so loudly we can hear it upstairs. Four days ago I smelled gas from the water heater while running the dryer. A friend told us that it is back draft. We have placed a CO detector in that area since then and it has never went off. We decided to have the water heater replaced and switched over to electric. Until my Father-in-Law told my husband that gas is cheaper to run and that there is some special vent that has a fan to prevent the back draft from happening. Is it better to switch the water heater over to electric or keep the water heater gas and get one with this special venting system?

Hello Nancy,
Typically the cost of operation is less for a gas heater than electric but that varies per location.
The "Power Vent" feature is part of the water heater design, not an add-on system.

Make-up or combustion air is very important with gas appliances. Having a water heater in the same area as a dryer can cause a backdraft as you are experiencing. Additional make-up air needs to be installed. Typically 100 sq inches per appliance with 50% at the top and 50% at the bottom since gas water heaters draw air at both the top and bottom.


Plumbing in the Home

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Dana Bostick


Pretty much any residential plumbing questions. For "item specific" details such as a specific model of fixture, I will need to research and there may not be any useful information available. Note: I live and work in Southern California. We do not, as a rule, use hot water or steam heating systems, oil fired boilers or private water wells so my knowledge in those areas is pretty limited. There are others here on AllExerts that can probably answer those questions better.


Retired, Licensed General Contractor with Plumbing license. Active Home Inspector, Litigation Consultant and Infrared Thermographer, Online Marketing specialist.

Publications "Rain Maker" as "Inspector Dana", about making money online.

30+ years in the building trades, Licensed General Contractor (Retired), Certified Infrared Thermographer Internet Entrepreneur, Amazon & eBay Merchant (deals-by-dana)

Awards and Honors
Listed FHA Fee Inspector, FHA 203(k)Consultant, HUD Mobile Home Inspector

Past/Present Clients
Home buyers, sellers and owners, Investors, Commercial roofing companies (infrared roof scans for moisture intrusion, Litigation Consulting for "Slumlord" laws in SoCal

©2017 All rights reserved.