water heater code (straps exspansion tank)

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by brother, Dec 17, 2007.

  1. brother

    brother New Member

    Messages:
    53
    Location:
    Washington
    I was just talking with a buddy of mine who does his own electric water heater (in his rental) change out. I was saying that when you change them out, you have to add those earth quake straps and put in a expansion tank lol I also said he needs to route that tp valve tube out side. He said he was NOT going to be doing all of that, besides its just like kind for like kind and he says that its been working fine for years that way and sees no reason for those silly 'earthquake' straps and expansion tank.

    If there is a big enuff quake that will cause the water heater to break the hoses and fall over in the garage then the whole building is going to go down anyways!!

    Im curious , I only told him that cause someone told me, but i never read it any where in a cold book. When is the grandfather rule ok and when is it not?? and do those so called exspansion tanks really do any good?? I got a water heater and its been fine and i did not have any problems with pressure build up!! Just seems like they go overboard with code trying to keep people safe!!
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,756
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    If you have a PRV (Pressure Reducing Valve), or check valve at the meter, then an expansion tank is required.

    My last home was working fine without the expansion tank, until they changed the water meter. Then the tank went bad within a few months.
    First I repaired the leaks, then two months later it totally failed.

    When I replaced the water heater, I added the expansion tank, and I noticed that I had more even water pressure in the house.

    That tank has been in there over ten years now.

    As far as earthquake strapping, much of it started after the San Fransisco quake.
    In the Seattle area, we do it. We also use flexible lines for gas connections on heaters.

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2008
  3. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,298
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    Below is an explanation I wrote earlier today in reply to a similar question about expansion tanks. Do you need one? If you have a pressure regulator valve on the incoming water supply line, yes, you do need on. You also need one if you have one of the newer water meters that have a check valve built in. If your water pressure is much over 60-65 psi, you need a pressure regulator valve and expansion tank as that is too much pressure and will eventually cause problems with fixtures and appliances. As far as earthquake straps, I'd look at your local codes. If required on new construction, I'd install them.

    If you have a PRV, first make sure it is functioning. Buy a cheap pressure gauge that you can connect into the system. Any water system with a PRV should also have an expansion tank, and here's why. When water heats, it expands and must go somewhere. If a system does NOT have a PRV it is referred to as an "open system". In an opens system, this expansion is absorbed by the city water main, so no big deal. A system with a PRV is referred to as a "closed system" , This is because the PRV acts as a check valve and prevents this expansion from going past it. This causes the pressure in the water heater to rise very rapidly and quite high. One this pressure reaches the limit of the TP valve, it trips to protect the tank. In other words, it does its job. An expansion tank gives the expanding water a temporary home. Some newer water meters also have a check valve built into them to prevent the possibility of contamination getting into the city system. Try this test with the gauge. Connect it to a hot water faucet and turn the faucet on. Then open another hot water faucet to drain out some water from the heater so that it will begin heating. Watch the gauge as the water heats. It will probably scare the hell out of you!
  4. construct30

    construct30 New Member

    Messages:
    590
    Location:
    NorthWest PA
    The straps are a good idea when required and insurance companies tend to not care about grandfather clauses. In most areas when you change something and bringing it up to code in the opinion of the official is not too hard then you have to bring it up to code. In my opinion adding straps would not be hard to do so it should be required. You don't have to change every water supply line in the house to bring it up to code just because you change one pipe, that would be too hard.
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,240
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    grandfather

    A Grandfather clause means you do not have to upgrade an EXISTING item to the new requirements. Once you change it however, the new one has to meet current regulations. As far a expansion tanks, strapping, and discharge to a safe location, those are all code and safety items and your local jurisidiction would have authority as to when and if they are needed.
  6. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    You didn't mention what state you are in. In California, the earthquake straps, flex connectors, and TP discharge outside must all be brought up to code when installing a new WH. I do not find an expansion tank necessary for electrics, and they are not mandated here. Always a good idea, and you really need it for a new high efficiency gas WH.

    Also, in California, an owner IS allowed to do his own installs BUT pulling a permit and getting it inspected is required. In San Diego, and I presume other areas, you can get an "easy permit" for things like a WH install on the phone, don't even have to go down to city hall. 10 days after the permit is issued, they send the homeowner a post card reminding him to call for an inspection.

    Your friend doing this without permits is putting his tennants and his insurance coverage at risk!
  7. brother

    brother New Member

    Messages:
    53
    Location:
    Washington

    In washington state, its my understanding you do NOT need a permit to change a water heater, correct me if im wrong please. Hes not doing any new piping or moving it. I do think he needs to put the straps on though even if its in a closet. His water heat is eletric not gas.
    From what i understand its really not that hard to change a water heater out.
  8. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Don't know WA law. Terry can fill us in on that.

    I understand it is electric, which is why I mentioned that an expansion tank my not be necessary unless required by law.

    I agree it is "not that hard" to change out a WH. But there are rules and codes.
  9. MACPLUMB 777

    MACPLUMB 777 TROJAN WORLDWIDE SALES RP

    Messages:
    679
    Location:
    Houston, Texas, United States
    Water Heater Changeout

    :D
    SORRY YOU ARE WRONG !!
    AUTHORITY HAVING JURISDICTION DECIDES WHAT PERMITS AND OR INSPECTIONS ARE REQUIRED,

    THIS MAY BE STATE, COUNTY, OR CITY OR COMBINED ALL THREE ! !

    ANY TIME YOU CHANGE OUT WATER HEATER OR OTHER FIXTURES IT MUST BE UP TO CURRANT CODE AS REQUIRED THEIR IS " NO" GRANDFATHER CLAUSE
    ON THIS ! !:confused:

    JUST LIKE YOU CAN'T BUY A NEW 2008 CAR OR TRUCK AND HAVE IT MADE TO 1958 STANDARDS,:(

    SO IF YOU GOOGLE WATER EXPLOSIONS AND SEE HOW MANY "ELECTRIC"
    WATER HEATERS BLOW UP NATION WIDE YOU MIGHT GET A IDEAL WHY THESE CODE REQUIREMENTS ARE MADE THIS WAY

    JERRYMAC MASTERPLUMBER
  10. MACPLUMB 777

    MACPLUMB 777 TROJAN WORLDWIDE SALES RP

    Messages:
    679
    Location:
    Houston, Texas, United States
    Water Heater Changeout

    A thermal expansion tank is required on any city water system as per MFG'S.

    install instructions or will void warranty on products,

    as mandated by the clean water act all city meters must have one way check valves installed to prevent some D. I. Y. home handyman from causing
    a sewer cross connection that bleeds back into the city water.
    also to protect the T & P valve from liming up caused by bleeding off thermal expansion,
    there for causing the valve to be plugged off or freezing up because of lime on seats

    thats why plumbers get paid the big bucks to pertect you from your lack of
    know how,

    JERRYMAC MASTERPLUMBER
  11. BAPlumber

    BAPlumber Plumber

    Messages:
    227
    Location:
    Vashon, Washington
    I plumbed in the Seattle area for 6 years and I don't know of any juristiction that doesn't require a permit to replace a water heater.
  12. brother

    brother New Member

    Messages:
    53
    Location:
    Washington
    This is really done by local municipality. I just learned that
    Snohomish County does NOT require permits for minor repair work or fixture replacement, provided that the fixture is not being relocated or, in the case of a HOT WATER TANK, and its fuel type/source is not changed.
    Basically like kind for like kind, no change in wireing or relocation.
    Have a good day. ;)
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2007
  13. BAPlumber

    BAPlumber Plumber

    Messages:
    227
    Location:
    Vashon, Washington
    http://www.co.snohomish.wa.us/documents/Departments/PDS/Building/Residential/32plumb.pdf

    the county will take juristiction ouside of incorporated cities. I don't know where you are but, I'd be willing to bet that any city in snohomish co. (outside the reservations) requires a permit.
  14. Just call me Angel

    Just call me Angel New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Grandfather, Grandmother - whoever - help me phrase it please!

    Hey! Newbie here -:) Thanks so much for the sharing the WEALTH to all. I actually was having a major bad day w/my LANDLORD and who helped me?? (datadah!!) You guys!!
    I was looking for an some exact wordage, before I got on the phone & well you know b_ched that guy out. What a LOSER. I knew the law, but I wanted something STRONG. Leave it the PLUMBERS of America.
    Many thanks.
    I think you guys are definite keepers!\


    As far as that goes who doesn't need some help now and then, - when you're working at half capacity? Special THANKS TO HJ FOR THE QUOTE I USED. LEFT HIM STUTTERING. LMAO

    Angel
    Seattle, WA
  15. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,240
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    requiremnts

    The thermal expansion tank requirement depends on the plumbing system, and has nothing to do with whether it is an electric, gas, or high efficiency gas heater. If the SYSTEM requires it then you need it. NONE of the water meters in this area have check valves, and only one jurisdiction requires pressure reducing valves for all new residences. Older ones are retrofitted as the need arises.
  16. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,298
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    It's not so much a matter of an expansion tank being required by a code, but as requirement to prevent the TP from constantly tripping. If a water supply has a PRV thus creating a closed system, every time the water heater heats water, the resulting expansion of that heated water will not be absorbed by the city water main. The creates a rise in the water pressure in the closed system to exceed the 150 PSI point that the TP where designed to trip. Conversely, if the system is not closed, the expansion is absorbed by the city main so there is no need for the expansion tank. So, it is pretty simple. If you have a PRV, you need a thermal expansion tank, and if you don't have a PRV, you do not need the expansion tank unless there's a checkvalve in the water meter, or one installed.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2008
  17. JMcConnell

    JMcConnell New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    Auburn, Washington
    As a home inspector, I usually have a bit to say about water heaters and why they should be strapped. Our Washington State requirements have been adopted from California's for good reason. We are both in a seismic prone area, even sitting on the same basic fault line. Back in 1984, so many water heaters broke loose (major multi-family housing areas) that the firefighters had little or no pressure at the hydrants to put out fires. That is one good reason. Another reason is why have any damage done from a water heater banging around or causing flooding in the first place (not to mention fire or explosions from a gas water heater)? Lastly, to prevent contamination of the water supply in the house, I advise (in the event of an earthquake) the homeowner turn off the water supply to the house AND the water heater. I can't think of anyone who would not appreciate having 40-50 gallons or more of emergency drinking water stored conveniently in the water heater.

    Just my 2 bits worth.
  18. toolaholic

    toolaholic General Contractor Carpenter

    Messages:
    874
    Location:
    Marin Co. Ca.
    all good points !
Similar Threads: water heater
Forum Title Date
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Bacteria in water heater Jun 29, 2014
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Split/Merged Supply to Water Heater? Jun 20, 2014
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Should I flush my new AO Smith GCV-50 water heater every 6-12 months? May 30, 2014
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Hot water heater as a water source for ice maker? May 7, 2014
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & water heater nightmare. Apr 26, 2014

Share This Page