Inspection Training

How to Inspect the Operations and Response to Controls on the Water Heater

While the inspector is inspecting the water heater it is important to determine for the client that the water heater fired properly. One of the ways that this can be shown is by making sure that the picture that you take shows the flame. Please review the below procedure:



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:
E. The capacity of the water heating equipment, if labeled.


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.

H. Operate any valve.

Q. Evaluate wait time to obtain hot water at fixtures, or testing of any kind to water heater elements.

R. Evaluate or determine the adequacy of combustion air.

S. Test, operate, open or close: safety controls, manual stop valves, temperature/pressure-relief valves, control valves, or check valves.

T. Examine ancillary or auxiliary systems or components, such as, but not limited to, those related to solar water heating and hot water circulation.

V. Inspect or test for gas or fuel leaks, or indications thereof.


Axium SOP Differences

Axium Requires: The inspector will turn the ignition/thermostat up on the water heater in order to test its operation and start the flame.


Tools Needed

No tools required to inspect the Operation and Response to Controls



  • Turn the ignition/thermostat on the water heater up (There should have been a picture taken in the “Water Heater Ignition System” section that shows what the water heater will need to be set back to after this operation).
  • Take off the front cover of the water heater so you can observe the flames. This is where you will take your first picture showing the flames of the water heater (Make sure that the flash is turned off on your camera).
  • The second picture is a very important picture. This picture will show a combination of different items including that we put the dial back to the starting point (same as picture from ignition section) and that we put the cover door back on the water heater.
  • This section shows that the water heater fired up and that we put it back together as we found it.

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Common Defects

  • Water heater not responding to controls.
  • Water heater not responding to demand for hot water.
  • Water heater is not operational.


Common Mistakes

  • Not taking a clear picture of the flames.
  • Not putting the cover back onto the water heater.
  • Not setting the thermostat back to the original setting. This is very important because we have had issues with not setting it back and this can result in two issues:
    • We left the water heater on a low setting and now there is no hot water. This will upset current homeowners if they can’t figure out how to set the water heater temperature back to a high setting.
    • We left the water heater on a high setting and now this can result in a very dangerous situation where the water can scorch someone and burn them badly. This is especially dangerous for children.

Report / Software


  • The water heater responded to the demand for hot water.


  • The [word 1] at the time of the inspection and the water heater operation and response to controls could not be inspected. A qualified contractor should evaluate and repair or replace as necessary.
    • Gas Off
    • Gas Valve/Pilot Off
    • Just Turned On
    • Leaking or Damaged
    • Tankless
    • Water Off


  • N/A


  • The water heater did not respond to controls or demand for hot water and was not operational. A qualified contractor should evaluate and repair or replace as necessary.