Question About Direct Vent vs Power Vent Water Heaters
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    21

    Question About Direct Vent vs Power Vent Water Heaters

    I currently have a powered vent water heater, and would like to switch to a direct vent water heater. The pros I see to the direct vent unit are there is no blower to make noise or to fail. Are there any cons that I am missing? I ask because And the plumber who took a look at my current water heater mentioned most of his installs are power vent units, he has not done a direct vent installation in some time. I also noticed the direct vent units cost more than power vent units. It seems like the elimination of the blower should reduce the cost, not increase it.

    The 40 gallon A.0. Smith FPSH40 water heater in my unfinished basement is approximately 12 years old. It is installed next to an exterior wall, and vents 2' or less horizontally to the outside, so I think a replacement with a direct vent unit would be fairly straightforward. The heater is leaking at the top, around the cold water inlet fitting. I thought maybe the fitting just needed to be tightened, the plumber advised me to replace the heater. His opinion was that the leak was at the top of the tank, and was just seeping out in the vicinity of the cold water inlet.

    Anyway, any advice or guidance you can share would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Keokuk, IA
    Posts
    5,520
    I found that the cost of the power vent and direct vent were both high enough that it made sense to go to a high efficiency tankless or hte AO Smith Vertex units. You can sometimes also get a rebate from teh utility for them as well. Most of hte HE units vent with regular PVC like your power vent. When I looked at direct vent units, they were pretty pricey. The blower goes away, but the flue pipe get larger and more complicated and is stainless steel I believe and requires specific vent pipe.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    21
    Thanks for the explanation about the technical differences between power and direct vent. I understand your thinking regarding high cost of a direct vent unit moving one into the price range of a higher efficiency unit. In my case, I'd rather keep it simple, and fan free - if possible. The power vent unit has been mostly reliable, it's only weak point has been the blower, which failed once. I was able to replace it myself, but I think the replacement blower was around $.

    That's why I thought the direct vent would be a less complex solution. However I did a brief internet search which showed that direct vent units sometimes have issues holding their pilot lights due to wind coming back down the venting. And my installation would have the venting exiting a well that faces west, the direction from which we occasionally get fairly high winds. I like the idea of getting rid of the fan, but I don't want to sacrifice reliability. Are there instances where a direct vent would not be a good choice?
    Last edited by beenthere; 11-08-2012 at 06:51 PM. Reason: price

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