Flex lines - code?

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by dx, Feb 11, 2009.

  1. dx

    dx General Contractor

    Messages:
    156
    Location:
    Michigan
    I was at the supply house today and the counter jockey was telling a customer they don't stock "connection kits" because "flex lines are not code".

    I'm not sure he was thinking about a specific kind of flex lines, but he didn't say so. Does anyone have a code paragraph reference that talks about this? It made me curious and I'd like to read it myself.
  2. SewerRatz

    SewerRatz Illinois Licensed Plumber

    Messages:
    1,706
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    It depends where you are at. Here in Illinois water heaters must be hard piped. That is the water supply and gas supply must be hard piped to the tank. Here is a picture from the Illinois code book, sorry about the quality its a copy of a copy 100 times over.
    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2009
  3. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

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    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    It is all relative to where you are. California Plumbing Code....use of flex connectors is MANDATORY. Same for gas connector.
  4. SewerRatz

    SewerRatz Illinois Licensed Plumber

    Messages:
    1,706
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Do you have to strap you water heaters in California? I had a guy ask me if I was going to use earthquake strap on his new heater. I informed him Illinois code does not require it and we can not use flex pipe it has to be hard piped.
  5. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

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    7,308
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    In Washington we can use flex on water and gas. Sure makes connections easy. In eastern Washington at least, we do not have to strap things for earthquakes, but I believe they do have to strap on the west side. but I think flex is legal. Terry might provide more west side data. At any rate, your local laws/codes will have to be followed, so best to check with your local authorities.:)
  6. dx

    dx General Contractor

    Messages:
    156
    Location:
    Michigan
    OK, I looked it up since it seems to vary state-to-state.

    In Michigan we are under 2006 IPC without changes in this regard. So the only requirement is 503.1, which says you must have a valve on the cold supply line. Nothing else under 503 (Connections) except a paragraph about recirculating heaters.

    I'm surprised at some of the responses. I can understand the mandated flex lines in the earthquake areas. But I don't understand why rigid only in Illinois. What's the thinking behind that one?
  7. SewerRatz

    SewerRatz Illinois Licensed Plumber

    Messages:
    1,706
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Tomorrow I can dig out one of my older code books that gives the explanation for having the unit hard piped. I would call your city, county or state plumbing inspector and ask them what is required for piping water heater, get a clarification on flex supplies. The state may follow the IPC code but the local area can make the code stricter. For example here in Illinois the minimum depth of a water line is 36 inches or deeper to protect from the frost line. In the Chicago area the local and counties up here changed that part of the code to read the minimum depth is 60 inches or deeper to protect from the frost line. They can make the code stricter but not any thing less.
  8. dx

    dx General Contractor

    Messages:
    156
    Location:
    Michigan
    Thanks SewerRatz. I don't need to ask inspectors, I just checked online several bigger local cities. No ordinances modifying 503. I'm a GC and we always use flex lines and no problem with inspectors. And then we use a lot of PEX for entire buildings, which is all flex.

    My thinking is that flex connections prevent any stresses on the heater and lines if anything gets bumped or there is any movement in the framing (shrinkage, etc) or slab.

    I'd be curious if the rigid requirement has something to do with fire, like you guys have all your wiring in rigid conduit.
  9. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

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    Location:
    San Diego
    BIG ass straps. The strapping and method of attachment have to be approved by the Office of the State Architect. So you have to buy approved kits. Can't just pick up some metal strap in the Simpson Strong-Tie section of the home store!

    Years ago, when the strap rule first came in, there were no specs. Folks just used a piece of plumber's tape and some drywall screws!
  10. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    26,304
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    flex

    I have connected very few water heaters with rigid supplies since I moved to this area. Looking at the Illinois picture, I do not see anything there that specifies hard connections, or anything relative to the piping other than a shut off valve and a dielectric union at the heater. You still have a shutoff valve and the nuts on a flex are usually dielectric, both of which would meet the code.
  11. SewerRatz

    SewerRatz Illinois Licensed Plumber

    Messages:
    1,706
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    I went looking for my older code book. I couldn't find it at this moment. So I placed a call to the state inspector to see what he says about hard piping water heaters. I just know when I was in my plumbing class we where told flex supplies in Illinois is against the code that they needed to be hard piped.

    Did you notice the gas supply? Where they are teeing off the main supply the tee is upturned. This is a little thing missed by some guys.
  12. dx

    dx General Contractor

    Messages:
    156
    Location:
    Michigan
    After reading hj's comment, it occurs to me that the Illinois picture says "recommended" on the bottom. Not sure what that means, or where it's from, but I've never seen a code or ordinance say "recommended". Only "required".
  13. SewerRatz

    SewerRatz Illinois Licensed Plumber

    Messages:
    1,706
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    That is the illustration in the appendix of the code. I talked to the state inspectors I am waiting on an e-mail from them.
  14. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    26,304
    Location:
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    gas

    The '6" sediment trap" and "capped for cleanout" is there for the purpose of catching any debris. Which is why we NEVER bothered turning the tees up and then looping down. Now, however, fire sprinkler fitters ALWAYS do that with their heads so debris does not drop down and plug the orifices.
  15. SewerRatz

    SewerRatz Illinois Licensed Plumber

    Messages:
    1,706
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Well around here they want both, the sediment trap and the tee turned up. I did a tap into a 1" line to run a line over to a cloths dryer. I just put the tee on its side shot the line to the wall and down the wall to a tee with the sediment trap. It got tagged by the inspector then he pointed out the code to me. Ever since that how I been doing it. It was a PITA to rework pipe to just add an inch to it.
  16. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,304
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    gas

    We never did it when I was in Chicago, and here neither the upward loop NOR the drip leg is required.
  17. rickst29

    rickst29 New Member

    Messages:
    9
    CA requires both strapping AND flex lines.

    And in my nearby location, Reno NV, it's the same. (We get earthquakes too.) The flex-line final, with a bend and a few extra inches of length, keeps the gas supply connections at and inside the WH from cracking up if the water heater, or the pipe, move a bit too much. In a "moderate" earthquake, good strapping will keep it from moving a lot, but the WH can still move move enough to cause problems.
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