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Will Your New Furnace Orphan Your Hot Water Heater?

Make sure you compare apples to apples with your furnace replacement quotes.

Pay particular attention to what the contractor plans to do to vent your water heater after the new furnace is installed. Ask questions if they did not mention how your water heater will be vented.

Many times furnace companies will not even address your hot water heater when they quote you on the furnace replacement and this can cause serious problems down the road. So be informed and ask the furnace company how they plan to vent your water heater.

This is a common problem that certified chimney sweeps have figured out years ago, but in more recent times, professionals in the HVAC field have discovered the problem; they coined the term, orphaned water heater, for it and in many cases still refer clients to a chimney sweep to fix the problem.

What is an orphaned water heater?

An orphaned water heater is when the furnace is replaced with a sealed combustion model leaving the water heater alone with a too big flue for the small amount of output it releases alone. The problem lays in the lack of draft when the furnace isn’t running or in summer months and the negative pressure in the house doesn’t allow the emissions to vent out properly. The draft being reduced will result in water vapor and ruin your flue and chimney.


Options to prevent an orphaned water heater.

1. Install a Direct Vent

Not usually a good option because of cost.

2. Install a Power Vent

Not really an option unless your current water heater is condensing and/or sealed combustion.

3. Replace the water heater

If your old one is on the fritz, consider replacing it with a new water heater, preferably an electric model water heater or a gas water heater with a power vent or a gas water heater with a direct vent.

If your current water heater is fine, this isn’t a viable option.


4. Reline the Chimney

The best option and it is often cheaper than installing a new vent system and definitely less than a new water heater.

If you are looking for help in the Chicagoland area to get your Chimney relined, we can help! Valley Chimney does this replacement about 100 times a year. We can also explain your options for you too. Give us a call!


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“Fantastic service by Terry and his team. I have a wood burning/gas fireplace that needed cleaning and to check for animals that I had heard near the chimney. They did a thorough cleaning (and kept the house clean while doing it!) and found no evidence of animal activity. Terry showed me that the previous owners had tapped into the gas line incorrectly and had used copper pipe for the gas to the fireplace. They removed (at my request) all gas components and the fireplace is now safe and set for wood burning (I can have it changed back to gas in a safe manner later). I'm very grateful that they found and fixed the possibly dangerous situation and did a wonderful job on everything else. I highly recommend Valley Chimney!”

‐ Diane R.

Geneva, IL

8940 B Route 34
Yorkville, IL 60560

(630) 553-5995


Service over 30,000 clients across the western suburbs of Chicago