Water Heater Plumbing questions...

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by art0859, May 19, 2008.

  1. art0859

    art0859 New Member

    Messages:
    6
    I need to install a water heater in a cinder block shed. I have a (PVC) cold water supply line coming through an outside wall to the place I want the (electric) heater to sit. I will be having an electrician run the electric lines to the location. I would like to do the plumbing myself, but I was hoping for a little advice. For the moment, please do not worry about building codes. This will be in a rural area with no codes. I do want it to be safe and effective, but I do not have to worry about building codes. The building does not and will not contain flamable materials, so I intend for the heater to sit directly on the floor.

    From the heater area, I need a straight run of cold and hot water piping about 35 or 40 feet down the side of the wall to two sinks sitting side-by-side. I also need to make an approximately 4 foot run to another sink with both hot and cold water. I intend to sit the heater in a pan with a drain running through the cinder block wall to the outside. I also plan to run the pressure relief line through the wall to the outside using copper tubing.

    All the piping running to the sinks will be mounted on the cinder block walls approximately 12 inches from the floor.

    Now for my questions...

    On the heater supply line, should I go from PVC to a flexible copper supply line and into the heater? If not, suggestions please?

    From the outlet of the heater, can I go again with a short run of copper (couple of feet) and then transition to some type of plastic pipe (PCV, CPVC)? I do not want to have to run copper if I can avoid it--due to the expense and the need to solder. (I am fairly sure I could successfully solder the copper, but I do not have the torch, solder, etc, and I do not wish to buy it for such a small job). If plastic pipe, what type?

    The pipes (whatever they turn out to be) will be exposed to florescent lighting and no sunlight.

    Also, I do not care if this installation has to be repeated in 5 or 6 years. I only need something that will be reasonably reliable for 4 or 5 years.

    Any advice, thoughts, comments, appreciated!

    --Art
  2. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    It doen't matter where you are codes need to be observed! They protect you and others from an unsafe installation.

    Is this building subjected to freezing temperatures?
    Is this a stand alone shed or connected to your home?
    Is it PVC or CPVC pipe you are talking about? There is a difference!
  3. art0859

    art0859 New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Note: I said I wanted a SAFE installation even though I would not be subject to building codes.

    Building is totally detached and not part of my home.

    Inside of building is air conditioned and heated and therefore not subjected to freezing, outside less than 3 days per year on average below freezing. (In case I was not clear in the first post, the piping will be on the inside wall and not the outside, so freezing should not be an issue.)

    I do not know yet if pvc or CPVC supplying the sinks. That was one of the issues upon which I wanted advice. PVC is coming in from the outside (as I stated in my first post). I plan on PVC for the cold side, but the hot side is where I need help.
    Last edited: May 19, 2008
  4. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    As far as codes go, I believe even Alaska has a code to contend with.
    In the boondocks there may not be an inspection but there is a code!

    Under many codes PVC is prohibited in a building while CPVC is not.
  5. art0859

    art0859 New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Thanks Redwood for your review of codes. I do not believe I ever said that this installation was in Alaska--or even in the states.

    If it will make you feel better, then pretend I am in an area with strict building codes. Bottom line is I am not interested in the minutiae of building codes right now since despite what you may or may not think, I do not have a code nor permitting to contend with in this particular situation. I do want it to be safe and I have no problem following a code, but I do not have to in this situation. The only thing I am interested in is advice on how to plumb for the water heater.

    Thanks again for your interest in making sure that I stay legal though.
  6. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    Messages:
    2,780
    Location:
    USA
    You must be in the United States because this is the only country that I have ever been in that is backward enough to still use water heaters in the style used here.

    In Europe, we got rid of them decades ago.

    Saying that, I love my water heater. It's an eyesore, but by God they are easy to replace compared to the alternatives. This is the only place where as a DIYer I can fix my own hot water!

    "Cinder block", "feet" and "inches" are also terms rarely used outside of the colony.

    Now if you'd said "breeze block", "meters" and "mil", I would have believed ya!
    Last edited: May 19, 2008
  7. art0859

    art0859 New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Good one Ian! I know what you mean. I never said I wasn't in the states either...I just did not say. For the record though, I am from the states, but the installation won't be in the states. Again though...the point is not really where the installation is, but how to do it!

    I hear what you are saying about the eyesore too!

    Now...any advice for me?
  8. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    In your case it will maybe depend largely on what is available. If you have a choice, CPVC might be the easiset....no need to get special tools, etc.

    Generally, it is good practice on any non-metallic pipe or tube to keep it away from the tank about 18", for heat reasons. The tubing will take the temperature of the water ( CPVC or PEX, but NOT PVC) but the temp at the tank could get hotter, especially a gas tank.
  9. Furd

    Furd Engineer

    Messages:
    446
    Location:
    Wet side of Washington State
    Codes are formulated for safety reasons, therefore, a totally safe installation WILL conform to at least some code.

    How does the water get to the heater? You stated it comes via a PVC pipe through a cinder block wall. Most PVC piping is subject to deterioration from exposure to ultraviolet light. That means sunlight and some florescent lighting. If the piping is exposed to sunlight then it cannot be PVC.

    What about seismic activity (earth movement) in the area? You don't want a tankful of hot water to tear out the piping in case of an earthquake so whether or not you want to follow any code you may be well off to securely strap the water heater to the building and use flexible piping between the fixed piping and the water heater.

    And what about the building (shed) itself? Will it have some kind of foundation and floor or are you just going to put up three or four walls, a roof and a door?

    While there is no need to elevate an electric water heater for safety (i.e. flammable heavier-than-air gases) you might want to think long and hard about heat loss through the bottom of the heater to the floor or ground. Also, if the pan you intend to place under the heater is steel you may have to contend with rust-out from the outside (bottom) in.

    If there is any chance of freezing the supply piping you must make whatever allowances are necessary to prevent that. Freezing and breakage of the incoming water line would cause a lack of water supply to the heater and under some circumstances cause element burnout.
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