Most gas water heaters have an outer door and an inner door to the burner compartment. During inspections I usually find the “outer” door in place, but quite often I find the “inner” door out of place.
These inner doors require “patience/perseverance” to get them properly back in place. Frankly they can be a real pain in the butt to un-install and install properly. It is little wonder that I find them not installed properly so often.
The instructions on how to put them properly back in place are usually stamped on the cover. It is likely that even some home inspectors are guilty of not getting them put back in place as well—-in their rush to get through the inspection.
When they are not in place, back-drafting of combustion by-products can occur around the out-of-place inner cover and then out behind the outer cover. The door being out of place is not the “cause” of back-drafting and all signs of back-drafting should be evaluated by a qualified professional. Severe back-drafting can overheat the controls and melt the insulation around the tank. It could also catch stored items around the heater on fire.
If your water heater has back-drafting marks like the ones in the picture below, it should be evaluated and repaired by a licensed plumber—let them determine if it is just the inner door being out of place or whether it is related to other issues—like problems with the venting of the heater.
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