Burnt Combustion Hatch? Please Help!

Hello to All,
I’m new to the forum and would like to introduce myself, I’m Sabrina.
I have a question that maybe someone could possibly answer for me.

**I have a gas water heater (used water heater) that my landlord had his wannabe plumber (not a licensed plumber) install in my apartment 2 1/2 weeks ago. **

Ever since he install the durn thing, when the water heater kicks on it starts to burn our eyes, nose and throat…so we have to keep the windows open when the thing kicks on.

**I have noticed that around the combustion hatch door the water heater looks burnt. I have attached a photo of this as well…hope I did that right…if not, here’s a link to the image: **

Could anyone know if this burnt area has anything to do with this burning of our eyes, nose and throat…is the water heater not burning correctly?



Thank you,

It’s called evidence of flame-rollout…typically caused by insufficient combustion air or a blocked exhaust vent piping.

It can let Carbon Monoxide into the home and it can be is deadly! Have it corrected!

OMG!!! Mr. Kage,
I’m am so scared! As soon as I read your reply to this post Mr. Kage I called that wannabe plumber and asked him if this gas water heater had a warranty, he said yes. MFD on the heater is 02.2003…He also said he would check on the warranty on Tuesday. Now we have to wait!!! til after the holidays to get this fixed!!

I guess keeping the windows open when the water heater is in use is the best thing til it can be fixed? yes/no??


This is deadly and must be corrected .
Please shut of the heater.
Open a window
Get a carbon Monoxide detector immediately Wall mart sells them .
This will give you some protection and call the Housing authorities in your area .
Please stay in touch Sabrina we have no idea where you live or who you are .

Ask yourself where they got a used (4 year old) water heater and why did someone else get rid of it? The water heater could have 10 warranties but if it is installed improperly it will do not one bit of good. As stated, there is evidence of flame rollout, incomplete combustion and the danger of Carbon Monoxide. Looks like they twisted the gas line into a pretzel as well.

You might also want to check and make sure the heat shield is in place. This is an additional “cover” located behind the exterior, blue cover.

Without the heat shield, there will be flame-rollout every time the unit fires up, even if there are no other issues. . .

Hi jpope,

There is a silver plate behind the blue shield, the outside blue shield is not the shield that came with the water heater whenever it was new. I guess my landlord or that wannabe plumber put wherever shield he could find for it on there.

Being the weekend I really don’t want to shut the heater down because I willbe without hot water for 3 days! I know one person here suggested to “shut it down” but if I keep all windows open would this be an ok thing to do til I can get the water heater replaced on Monday or Tuesday?

I have the heater on a “Medium” setting so it doesn’t kick on often and I am not using hot water unless I have to shower.

Also with the heater just sitting and not running, just the pilot light lit, is this causing Carbon Monoxide to get in my house…this only happens when the heater is heating (running) right?

Thanks so much for your replies,

Hi Doug Edwards,
Yes in the photo it looks like the gas line is twisted like a pretzel but they are not pinched at all…all rounded out.


Hi Roy D Cooke,
I have a Carbon Monoxide Dectector and it hasn’t gone off. It sits in the same uility room as the water heater.
I have tested the detector and it works…so guess I am doing ok.


Was it that way when he first installed it Sabrina?
How about a picture of the flue pipe above.
Like the others said, better just shut it off until someone who knows what they’re doing gets it fixed.
You can **LIVE **without hot water but NOT with Carbon Monoxide .

There will be no MFG warranty on a used water heater built in 2003.

I would also be concerned about the TPR valve. If this was installed by someone who is not qualified that too may be an issue.

Jeff, I very rarely have the flame roll out of the cabinet, with the heat shield open and firing the burner, when inspecting the water heater burners…maybe I’ve been lucky?







A friend of mine, her father is a licensed plumber so I called him a little while ago. I told him what was going on and he came over and looked at the water heater geez was I surprised he did too…what a nice guy!

**Anyway, he said that he didn’t think the flue pipe was blocked because there is nothing on or around the flue pipes that have soot, they are all clean. He said that it could be a combustion problem and that the flue pipe on top of the water heater needed to be replaced because it is not a double lined pipe and it needs to be more on an angle going upwards too. **

Here are a few images



Sabrina, You should really have that water heater shut down until some one qualified can replace it. The TPR valve is not safe, that combined with flame roll out and other issues you have does not seem to be a safe situation fr you.

Please keep us posted.

Thanks to all for your replies and help. I am going to shut the water heater down and demand my landlord to replace it again only this time with a NEW water heater.


My god! That thing is an accident waiting to happen.

Mr. Cooke,
I was wondering just what would the City Housing Authorities do about this problem if I called them?

Thank in advance,

Even without the actual “flame” rolling out, the heat will cause discoloration that will worsen over time.

The majority of the time I see this condition (not usually this severe) is on a unit that, for all intents and purpose, is functioning properly, and the shield is missing or improperly installed.

In this particular case, however, this unit appears to be starving for oxygen, and its exhaust system is barely functional.

What is connected to the vent pipe heading downwards from the connection to the water heater?