Replacing Gas WH Questions

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by sjm133, Aug 17, 2011.

  1. sjm133

    sjm133 New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Mobile, AL
    Hi all,
    I have a 15 year old gas WH that's still running fine but I know the time is coming to replace it and I'm starting to formulate my game plan for it. The WH is original to the house and at the time it was built drain pans were not in the code so it doesn't have one. Now when I replace the WH I will be installing a drain pan. Plumbing the drain is the basis of my question.

    Right now my T/P release is plumbed through the wall and outside. This is what I'm thinking. My plan is to connect my drain pan line to the same line as T/P line but to place a check valve between the drain line and the T/P so that if the pressure valve opens it will not blow water, steam, or both, back through the drain line into the pan. The WH installations all reference the T/P pressure at 15 psi and the check valve is rated at 200 psi so does anyone have any thoughts, good or bad, on this potential solution? With the location of the WH in the house I do not see any other way to plumb the drain line.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,918
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Unless there is adequate fall from the pan to the valve, there might not be enough pressure to open the valve. Can you not just enlarge the hole and push out a second pipe?
  3. sjm133

    sjm133 New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Mobile, AL
    The WH is on a platform about 18 inches off the floor. The T/P drain goes into the wall at 14 inches off the floor. Now I could raise the platform a little more if needed. The T/P drain goes in the wall and then bends 90 degrees and travels about 8 feet inside that wall until it exits outsilde. Since that wall is studded I can't use the same path. That's what I mean about the location and combining the drain lines as the only solution I see. Would I even need the check valve? I've never seen a T/P valve open due to failure so I don't know what kind of pressure the water exits.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2011
  4. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,917
    Location:
    New England
    Just brainstorming here...not sure I'd worry about it and just tie them together. One of the pros would know if that is to code.

    A T&P valve normally only opens if there is a fault, and often just weeps a little bit of water. Now, if you manually open it, it can come out with the full force of your supply water pressure, but then, you're doing that and can control it. If you added a WAGS valve, if water ever built up in the pan, it would shut both the water and the gas off, so there couldn't be much damage. www.wagsvalve.com
  5. sjm133

    sjm133 New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Mobile, AL
    Hopefully a "pro" will respond. I really don't want to tear my wall apart to add an additional drain. If there isn't much pressure when/if the T/P valve opens then I don' think there will be a problem with combining them. I checked my local building plumbing codes and didn't see anything about this.
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,917
    Location:
    New England
    The more common reason a T&P opens is from excess pressure. It only takes a few ounces to reduce the pressure, and then it closes. Water expands (like most everything) when it is heated...the tank and pipes are pretty stiff, and it doesn't take much increase in volume to radically increase the pressure (or reduce it). Water doesn't, for all practical purposes, compress, so when it expands, if there's no place to go, you are hydroforming your heater and pipes (i.e., expanding them). Something has to give, and the T&P is the safety valve to relieves that pressure.

    The other reason it can open is if the temperature runs away, and it opens before you would get a steam explosion (which you DON'T want to happen, as it may level the house). That would require a failure of the gas valve and it to be on constantly.
  7. sjm133

    sjm133 New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Mobile, AL
    Yep, I got all of that. Just looking for reasons, both for and against, why connecting the two drains together is, or isn't, a good idea.
  8. sjm133

    sjm133 New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Mobile, AL
    Any suggestions as to the order? In other words, which line should contain the TEE, drain pan or T/P?

    Thanks.
  9. BobL43

    BobL43 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,786
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    Just out of curiousity, and not exactly related to your actual question, but are you sure the temp pressure valve for the water heater is spec'd at 15 PSI? I would thing that is WAY too low for a water heater, but as I say, I am not a pro plumber!:eek:
  10. sjm133

    sjm133 New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Mobile, AL
    I knew I shouldn't have typed that!! I can't remember where I read that, but I believe it was regarding the drain pipe attached to the valve, not the valve itself. Sorry for the confusion. The point I was trying to get at was that I wasn't sure of the force of whatever would go into that drain line in the event of the valve coming into play and whether it would be of enough force to blow back into the drain pan if the two were connected together. From what I've read I don't think it would be.

    As a side note to my original question, I've recently seen other installations that simply place the T/P drain into the drain pan itself and then just plumb the pan outside. I guess that would be my other option??
  11. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,917
    Location:
    New England
    Depends on local codes...the release point on the T&P valve is a lot higher than 15psi - (without looking, I guess I should remember), it's about 150psi. But, generally, discharge into the pan is likely okay.

    WRT the max pressure of the water coming out, it depends on what tripped it, temp or pressure. If it was temp, then it could be anything up to the incoming line pressure (assuming you have an expansion tank). If it is pressure, since the pressure drops almost immediately as you release a little water, it would most likely just weep out as it expanded (this would assume you either didn't need or had an ineffective expansion tank, if one was needed based on the plumbing configuration). IOW, it's unlikely it would come out with more force than if you manually opened it (like a hose bib).
  12. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,508
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    The drain line from a T&P valve will range between city pressure and 150 psi, depending on WHY it opened. There are three things you can depend on as far as check valves are concerned;
    1. if the do NOT operate frequently they will be stuck closed, and,
    2. if they DO operate frequently the pivot will wear and the flap will become misaligned, and,
    3. you cannot depend on them sealing 100%.

    A "pressure line" and a "gravity line" should NEVER be interconnected, and as an aside, you are not even allowed to connect two relief valve discharge lines together.
  13. nukeman

    nukeman Nuclear Engineer

    Messages:
    709
    Location:
    VA
    Most of what you want to do wouldn't fly here (and probably the same for your location). Our code is IPC based, and I bet AL is the same:

    504.6 Requirements for discharge piping. The discharge piping serving a pressure relief valve, temperature relief valve, or a combination thereof shall:

    1. Not be directly connected to the drainage system.

    2. Discharge though an air gap located in the same room as the water heater.

    3. Not be smaller than the diameter of the valve served and shall discharge full size to the air gap.

    4. Serve a single relief valve device and shall not connect to piping serving any other relief device or equipment.

    5. Discharge to the floor, to an indirect waste receptor or to the outdoors. Where discharging to the outdoors in an area subject to freezing, discharge piping shall first be piped to an indirect waste receptor through an air gap located in a conditioned area.

    6. Discharge in a manner that does not cause personal injury or structural damage.

    7. Discharge to a termination point that is readily observable by the building occupants.

    8. Not be trapped.

    9. Be installed as to flow by gravity.

    10. Not terminate more than 6 inches (152 mm) above the floor or waste receptor.

    11. Not have a threaded connection at the end of such piping.

    12. Not have valves or tee fittings.

    13. Be constructed of those materials listed in Section 605.4 or materials tested, rated and approved for such use in accordance with ASME A112.4.1.
  14. sjm133

    sjm133 New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Mobile, AL
    So.... what happened to the replies from Terry that said "just tee them together...."??

    As I said, I currently have no drain pan since it was not code when the house was built. I will add one when I replace my WH but have no way to plumb it to drain. I would have to rip my wall apart to run an additional line outside, which I do not want to do.

    I did find that AL code is IPC based.

    So if I'm reading item 5 correctly, I can just drop the T/P valve line into the drain pain since it states "...to an indirect waste receptor..", as long as there is an air gap, correct? Then the drain from the pan would then go outside.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2011
  15. cwhyu2

    cwhyu2 Consultant

    Messages:
    1,339
    Location:
    Cincinnati OH
    Yes that is correct.
  16. nukeman

    nukeman Nuclear Engineer

    Messages:
    709
    Location:
    VA
    As far as the tee goes, it would depend where it was. For instance, if you had the 3/4" line come off the T&P and then an air gap and into say a larger pipe (for gravity drain), you could tee after that air gap connection. If the 3/4" line came off the T&P and went straight out of the house, you couldn't use the tee (you would also violate #2 and possibly #5 (if you lived somewhere colder)).

    As far as going into the pan, you may or may not be able to do that. It sounds like some areas allow it and others do not. The pan is really made to catch any slow leaks from the tank and isn't designed to be able to take full flow from the T&P. The T&P can (but doesn't always) release a ton of water (which turns out to be a mess if the T&P lifts and sticks open...ask me how I know :( ). The flow can also splash out of the pan even if the pan's drain line was large enough to carry the flow.

    They want the air gap in the same room as if you had it in another room or just outside, someone might see the pipe dripping and not know what it is for or think it is just some "leaky pipe" and try to cap it.

    Maybe you can tell us more about where the WH is and what is around it. I think that I would try to run a separate line for the pan (to floor drain, outside, etc.).

    Just to show some different opinions on the subject:

    Dallas: http://www.dallascityhall.com/pdf/Building/TPDischargePanDrain.pdf
    Palo Alto: http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=17800
    Arlington, TX http://www.arlingtontx.gov/build/pd...Water Heater Installation and Replacement.pdf
    Auburn, AL http://www.auburnalabama.org/PSDir/2009 Code Editions.pdf

    Basically, some places say "Yes.", some places say "No.", and others say "Yes, only if there is no other way to do it.".

    If it turns out that your only option is the pan, you'll just have to check with your city/county and see what they will say. Often, they are fairly flexible in remodelling situations when you are trying to bring things up to current standards.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2011
  17. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,917
    Location:
    New England
    The pressure out of the T&P, when released because of pressure build-up, would be the 150#, but since water doesn't compress, would quickly drop. Unless you were high in altitude, the 210-degree high release point would mean that the tank wouldn't flash to steam and further propel it out of the tank. Under typical situations, the flow from a T&P valve is more like a weep, maybe with an intial spurt, than a steady flow. Now, if the valve fails in a stuck open mode, it might reach the supply pressure on a constant basis...

    If the valve has failed, or the outlet is blocked, THEN you could have explosive consequences.
  18. sjm133

    sjm133 New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Mobile, AL
    A basic layout of the room is attached. It's a single story home with no basement. WH is located in a laundry room with no in floor drain.

    I've looked at my local plumbing codes, which are just local adjustments to the 2009 IPC and nothing is noted about this in it. I think I may give them a call on Monday to ask about it specifically.

    Attached Files:

  19. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,508
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; Then the drain from the pan would then go outside.

    Correct, with one addition. ALL the water that did NOT overflow the pan, (which would happen about 5 seconds after the T&P valve operated. And maybe immediately if you are connecting the pan to a 3/4" line), would go outside. Even if the city says it is "okay" to connect them, are they going to pay you for the water damage when it does NOT work properly? Hook the two together, then trip the lever on the T&P valve and see what happens to the water when it enters the pan. Run the pan drain on the exterior of the wall behind the W&D and make a new hole in the wall.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2011
  20. sjm133

    sjm133 New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Mobile, AL
    So you're saying regardless of what the code or city says is acceptable I should have two separate drain lines; one for the drain pan and one for the T/P valve?

    The current T/P line is 3/4". City code says that the drain pan line must be 1".
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