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Why is my water heater power vent noisy and vent pipe leaking?

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I noticed that the mechanical venting device on top of my water heater has gotten a little noisy when it operates. Also, there is some reddish brown ooze coming out of a joint in the exhaust pipe just above the water heater. The exhaust pipe exits out the back wall of the house, and I have wondered if an animal could get inside the pipe. My women’s intuition leads me to think that something is just not right. Do you think there is cause for concern?
asked in Gas Water Heater by darekrudy (21,730 points)
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1 Answer

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Hi Kathy,
Many of those water heater power vent motors generate more noise as they get older, some of them are very noisy from the beginning. If the noise level increase is noticeable it would be wise to check the motor / blower assembly. It might be the motor or / and the blower blades.
The whole assembly sometimes becomes loose (because of the constant vibration) and it might just require re-tightening. In some cases it’s the blower blades touching the enclosure which creates some unusual noises. Touch the motor blower assembly (be very careful not to get burned) a few minutes after it starts operating. If it is very hot you should have a professional look at it. 
As for the reddish-brown ooze, regular power vented water heaters (not condensing type) should not produce any moisture. It might be some rain water that traveled inside the PVC vent pipe and caused corrosion of the motor assembly components… Right above the water heater means at the first joint, where the PVC vent pipe connects to the blower assembly? 
Water heater’s PVC vent pipe termination end should have a rodent screen installed. Without it, a bird or any small rodent capable of reaching the pipe can enter it.
Check this article for more information about WH power venting – http://checkthishouse.com/2991/water-heater-pvc-vent-pipe-and-power-venting.html. Unfortunately I can’t see & “touch” your problem so you may need to call a plumber for detailed evaluation. Let me know if there’s anything else. Thanks
answered by darekrudy (21,730 points)


Thanks for the quick response! I think I will call a plumber, especially because you said the ooze is not normal. Plus, I’m pretty sure there is no screen on the pipe termination. I read other articles on your website, and apparently the noise issue is pretty common with power vent motors, but maybe a tightening will help. You have been very helpful, thank you.