Hot water heater and code questions

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by spebby, Sep 20, 2008.

  1. spebby

    spebby New Member

    My hot water heater went out yesterday, and I thought when I replace the water heater I would attempt to get closer to code. The water heater is in the basement. I purchased a Bradford-White 50 gal. electric water heater from a plumbing supply house (my house is all electric). I know that the water heater needs to be in a pan and the pan needs to be connected to a drain. That part I have managed to complete using sch. 40 PVC to a 3/4" copper drain pipe. The drain is also used by the A/C unit. Is sharing the drain legal? Does code require hot water heaters to be raised 18" off the floor? The water heater is located under stairs and can not be raised. Do I need to move the heater so it can be raised?

    With the old hot water heater the relief valve was not connected to a drain. In fact, it was not connected to anything, no piping to at least direct the water down. The only drain anywhere close is the 3/4" copper drain. Any suggestions. The basement is finished.

    The supply line has 2 taps for 1/4" copper lines (one was for a humidifier that is no longer used, I never figured out what the other one was for, it was disconnected when I bought the house). Also, in the supply line is a check valve. Does code require a check valve on the supply side? My water source is a well. The presure tank supplies 2 3/4" copper lines into the house. I have always assumed one was cold water supply and one was directly to the water heater, but I have no way to easily verify that, they enter the slab. The hot water side also has a check valve. Is a check valve required on this side? I plan to cut these items out just to clean up the plumbing. I just need to know if I need to replace the check valves.

    Is it OK to connect a brass nipple to a female copper fitting? Is there any preference for pipe dope over teflon tape? Or vice-versa. Is it a good idea to use the flexible copper (or at least it looks like copper) from the brass nipple to the water heater connections?

    My area uses the International Plumbing Code, not sure which year has been adopted, the web site says 2000, but I know the Electrical code has the wrong year on the web site.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    New England
    It's my understanding that extra check valves with a well system aren't a good idea. Now, it's not a bad idea to have a vacuum breaker on a WH (and may be required some places). The requirement to raise a WH, I think, only applies to gas-fired ones and the newest ones no longer require it functinally, but code may not have been adjusted yet. Brass can be connected to copper without any problems. In some places, the flexible copper supply lines are required (earthquake country), so with a quality line would be fine (not all are created equal). The T&P valve must be piped down within (I think) 6" of the floor. Some situations require it to go to a drain, don't know about yours.
  3. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    With this many questions do you think that a professional installation might be in order?

  4. spebby

    spebby New Member

    Thanks for the responses.

    Redwood, I would have no problem with a professional installation if I could find a quality plumber. About a year ago I did some remodeling and I had to use a professional plumber because the work had to be inspected. With advice from this forum I went about the process of selecting a plumber. Of the four plumbers that visited the site, only one proposed doing the work as advised on this forum. This plumber was not the low bidder, I checked their references, checked with the BBB (no complaints), and signed a written contract detailing the work to be done. The workmanship was very poor. No testing of the work perfomed, several sweat joints leaked and it took three trips to get the work completed per the contract even though the plumber doing the work had a copy of the contract, and then it failed inspection (a missing cut-off valve). There is no question in my mind that I could have performed the work better but I am not a licensed plumber, don't know code, and can not pull a permit.

    I have completed the project, we have hot water and no leaks. While it may not be exactly to code, it's much closer now. The water heater is in a pan, the pan is connected to a drain, and the relief valve is piped to within 6" of the floor.
  5. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    The pan should have 1" PVC to the drain.

    The T&P should be piped to the drain if it is close terminating with a 3" gap between the drain opening and where the pipe ends. All in 3/4" pipe.

    If it is not close here we install a 1" T on its back in the pan drain line near the heater and go up to a bushed 3" X 1.5" coupling and terminate the T&P 3" above that.

    Brass to copper is OK.

    Electric heaters don't need to be 18" off the floor.

    Flexible connectors will work but I like soldered connections better.

    You can't be closer to code you either meet or do not meet code but I knew what you meant.
  6. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    S. Maine
    It's amazing how hard it is to find a qualified plumber:D
  7. What??? no dialectric unions

    If you put the water heater in a pan and piped the pan to the nearest floor drain and did the same with the T+P valve it is fairley close

    of course you did not install a thermal expansion tank or
    it does not sound like you installed a dialectric unions
    on the heater get it up to "code"

    if the unit is at least in a pan, you have done more
    than most jack -leg plumbers from LOWES will do.....

    If you put flex connectors on the heater, I think that they are actually much better than Dia-electric unions...

    I did that exact same thing on Friday for a warranty replacement on a 2 year old gas bradford white unit....
    Dialectirc unions are a joke. and do not work
    The flex connectors really do disconnect the unit from the system......

    With that plumber you had a contract with, did you make a compliant on Angies list and the BBB???
  8. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    I find it amazing that people cannot find a good plumber...
    I know plenty of them!
    I just wonder what us good plumbers are doing wrong that these bad plumbers manage to sell so much of their bad work....:confused:

    Maybe its the selection of a low bidder...
    Maybe its the selection of the unlicensed plumber or, the side job plumber who is a friend of a friend of a friends friend....
    Maybe its the yea we don't need no stinking permit and inspection...

    I don't know but somewhere the selection process went wrong and you paid the price...
  9. spebby

    spebby New Member

    I did make a complaint with the BBB. I wasn't aware of Angies list.

    I realize close doesn't mean anything when it comes to meeting code, you either do or don't meet code. In this case it's not code, but it's not going to be inspected. Since the only accessible drain was 3/4" copper pipe, I assumed using 1" PVC wouldn't gain anything. It will handle a small leak, but nothing major.

    I did use the flexible copper to connect both the supply and exit. I purchased them at a plumbing supply store (not a big box store) when I bought the water heater. Hopefully they are of good quality. I had read enough on this forum to know to avoid the whirlpool water heaters at Lowes, and the ones at HD were no cheaper than the Bradford-White at the plumbing supply.

    I really do appreciate the plumbers who take the time to post on this site. It's a big aid to us DIYers. Thank You to those that responded and Thank You to the other plumbers that post on this forum. And if you know of a quality plumber in the Oklahoma City area, please post their contact info.
  10. spebby

    spebby New Member

    I think the biggest problem in finding a qualified plumber is the fact that so many plumbers are listed in the Yellow Pages (both the good ones and the bad ones). I have no problem paying for a professional job, unfortunately, you also must pay for the unprofessional job. I can understand why you would know plenty of qualified plumbers, you see them in the plumbing supply stores, probably on a daily basis. I get there about once every 5 years. The plumber I selected was not the lowest bidder, was licensed (don't know about the guy who actually performed the work), and knew that a permit would be required. The plumber must pull the permit and request inspection in my area. While it did take me policing the work and calling them back out a couple of times, they ultimately did the job OK, particularly the work that was under the new slab. I was just disappointed is the workmanship. The sweat joints are ugly, with little drops of solder all down the copper, and they left a pile of solder on the floor for me to clean up at each joint. This house obviously was not plumbed by a qualified plumber when it was built (probably the original home owner). In searching for a place to tie in to the drain the plumber came upon a joint that was original to the house. This joint had a 2" copper drain and a 3/4" copper drain feeding into a 4" orangeburg drain pipe. No formal fitting was used, it was encased in concrete. They did fix that and replace the orangeburg at an additional cost since it was not in the original contract.

    On a humorous note, I got a good laugh when the plumber left for lunch one day. He was in a bobtail truck and when he left, he didn't close the back door. I called the company and told them to radio the plumber that is back door was open. Apparently they didn't pass the message on, because he didn't notice the problem until he had lost quite a bit of his load (pipe and tools). A year later, there are still a few short pieces of PVC in the ditches in my area.
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