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Picture Perfect

OK, maybe I’m just being picky, but on Page 58 of the June 2003 Plumbing & Mechanical, the picture on the right shows a gas water heater with no sign of a sediment trap.

The fire code clearly calls for one. Unless it is out of the picture to the left, there is no sediment trap on the fuel supply line. And if there is, it is going to be tough to service it since it is upstream of the shutoff valve.

I work for a full-service propane dealer. While we are not a plumbing company, we do work with residential hydronic heating. Several times a year, I come across installations that do not have the most basic kind of precautions.

We do a pre-inspection as a matter of policy before taking on a new customer. We check out their system to make sure it is up to code, etc., and give them an estimate (NOT a quote) of what it will take to correct any problems.

Maybe I’m over-sensitive when I see pictures like this. Propane suppliers seem to have gotten stuck for more responsibility for a customer’s system than the public utilities have. But when customers balk at bringing their system to code I tell them I am not afraid of them. It’s their widow’s lawyer that bothers me.

Mike Bumpus
Wabash Valley Heat and Gas
Hutsonville, Ill.

Editor’s note: Mike raises good points. However, we also want readers to know that many of the photos we receive from manufacturers are taken in controlled studio environments and not meant to document an actual installation. In the case of the photo mentioned, a Rheem spokesman told us that a professional plumbing contractor was hired to “install” the water heater in a photography studio, but that the image was meant to highlight the Piezo igniter than the overall installation.

A Good Deal

I just read Dan Holohan’s column on the life expectancy of a boiler (“Fifteen Years,” June 2003).

How long do the following last?: 1) a water heater; 2) a car; 3) a refrigerator; and 4) a computer?

I’m also curious as to who has the perception that the boiler should last 30 years — the contractor or the homeowner? If the homeowner knew they could save money by installing a new boiler every 15 years, would they?

People will buy a new computer every three to five years because there are faster processors, more memory, larger hard drives, flat screen monitors, a new version of Windows, etc. — even when the old one worked.

Look at the VCR when it first came out compared to today. The originals were large and clunky and had very few features, if any. Year by year, new features were introduced along with a smaller size.

If the heating industry could take this approach, more boilers and controls would be installed, more jobs created and more profits generated for the industry.

Looks like a great deal of opportunities are being missed.

Bill Burton
Danfoss Inc.
Abingdon, Md.