Inspection Training

How to Inspect the Burn Chamber on the Water Heater (UPDATED 3/15/18)

While the inspector is at the water heater the burn chamber should be observed. If the chamber is sealed make sure to use the “Not Inspected” comment because the burn chamber will not be able to be properly observed. Please review the entire procedure below.


International Standards of Practice for Performing a General Home Inspection


3.6. Plumbing


I. The inspector shall inspect:

C. The water heating equipment, including the energy source, venting connections, temperature/pressure-relief (TPR) valves, Watts 210 valves, and seismic bracing.


II. The inspector shall describe:



III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:



IV. The inspector is not required to:

A. Light or ignite pilot flames.
B. Measure the capacity, temperature, age, life expectancy or adequacy of the water heater.


Axium SOP Differences

Axium Requires: The inspector will check inside the burn chamber if it is not sealed for any damage or visible rust flakes


Tools Needed

The inspector might require their flashlight to check inside the burn chamber.



  • While inspecting the water heater we will want to try to evaluate the condition the burn chamber if it is accessible. First, we will need to remove the front cover plate of the water heater to determine if it is sealed or can be accessed.
  • If you can see inside the burn chamber you will want to take a picture with your flash on to evaluate the inside of the chamber. We are generally going to be looking for any rust flakes or damage in the chamber.
  • If the chamber is sealed, we will take one picture of that
Common Defects

  • There are rust flakes that are present in the burn chamber.

Common Mistakes

  • Not replacing the cover of the burn chamber (you will do this as part of the next section and take a picture to confirm we put the cover back on the water heater).
  • Not using a flashlight or the flash on your camera to see inside of the burn chamber.
  • Not using the “Not Inspected” comment when it is a sealed chamber.


Report / Software


  • The water heater burner and burn chamber was generally clean and was in acceptable condition. The inner and outer flame shield was present for burner compartment of the water heater.


  • Sealed Chamber: The water heater was “F.V.I.R.” (Flammable Vapor Ignition Resistant) compliant and had a sealed burn chamber that was not visible for inspection.
  • Tankless: Interior components of a tankless water heater are enclosed in a sealed chamber, and could not be evaluated.


  • Not Present: This type of water heater does not require a burn chamber.
  • Electric: An electric water heater does not require a burn chamber.


  • The water heater burn chamber had rust flakes visible. A qualified contractor should evaluate and repair or replace as necessary.