Water heater questions from a newbie

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by DBS2071, Aug 3, 2008.

  1. DBS2071

    DBS2071 New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Chino Hills, CA
    Hi everyone I've been lurking for awhile and have enjoyed the tips. Well...I installed by water heater today. From reading this forum I decided upon a Rheem. Install went pretty smooth. But before my questions, I do have to share a bit of my stupidity. I hooked up everything, water, gas, vent, earthquake straps, (Chino Hills, CA). tested everything, lit the pilot and it stayed on like it should. Turned the temperature control to 120° and nothing. Would not fire up. I sat thinking what could be wrong. After about 20 mins. and no fire I figured it must be a bad thermostat. I figured I'd have to call Rheem on Monday. That was until my neighbor and his wife came over and after about a minute of them staring at the WH, the wife asks shouldn't this knob be tuned to on not pilot. Geez, I'm a moron. Works like a champ now.

    My questions now. The T&P valve is dripping. Could this be a bad valve? Second, When running the pipe from the T&P valve can a flex line be used or does it have to be hard piped?

    Thanks, Brian
  2. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Brian, How about posting a picture of your installation?
  3. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,342
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    The TP valve should have been replaced with the tank. It is possible the TP is malfunctioning, but it sounds more like another problem. Do you have a pressure regulator valve on your water supply? If you do, you also must have a thermal expansion tank installed between the PRV and the water heater and it must be pressure-matched to the PRV. If you do have a PRV but do not have an expansion tank, because water expands as it heats it must have a place to expand to. If there is no PRV then the city water main absorbs this expansion and that's that. However, if you have a PRV, it has a check valve built in that prevents this expanded water from passing into the city main so a thermal expansion tank is needed. Without this tank or if the one you have is not set right or has failed, because the expanded water has no where to be absorbed, it trips the TP valve. The TP requires a hard pipe to the floor.
  4. DBS2071

    DBS2071 New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Chino Hills, CA
    It came with a new TP valve already installed. I'm pretty sure there is a pressure regulator outside. The supply line comes up from the ground, has a shut of valve, a device that has a dome sticking out horizontally with a screw and lock nut at the end (which I'm sure is the regulator), then the hose bib, then 90's into the house. All of the houses around here have these devices and nobody has an expansion tank that i've seen.
  5. patrick88

    patrick88 Plumber

    Messages:
    836
    Location:
    Webster Ma.
    I would install an expansion tank. It sounds like you have done everything else right. You could change the t&p, but that might be a waste of money. The T&P blow off can be run with hard plastic. The box stores sell the ready made ones.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2008
  6. sjsmithjr

    sjsmithjr Geologist

    Messages:
    295
    Location:
    Knoxville, Tennessee
    Just out of curiosity, did you pull a permit for your installation? To ensure their proper and safe installation, Chino Hills, CA requires a permit for water heater replacements. Contact the Community Development Department at (909) 364-2780 for information; the inspector might even spot the problem your having with your installation.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2008
  7. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,540
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    discharge

    The T&P discharge water will be 200+ degrees if it operates. There is NO plastic that is approved at that temperature, which also has a FULL 3/4" i.d. as required by the code.
  8. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I would highly recommend this as well!
    That was the reason for asking for the picture of the installation.
    It sounds like you have researched the topic and probably done it okay but...
    I strongly feel that installing gas appliances is not a hobby.

    The possibilities of an empty lot with a smoldering pile of toothpicks in the middle of it is very real. As is an entire family not waking up in the morning.

    Please have it inspected!

    As for the T&P dripping check the pressure with a gauge and a Thermal Expansion Tank will probably fix the dripping problem.
  9. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    SInce Chino Hills is in the South Coast Air Quality Management District, I assume your new WH is the Ultra Low Nox, and cost you an arm and a leg! What did you pay for that WH if you dont mind my asking? You have noticed that the burner in that is not just an open flame, but a glowing matrix. You mentioned it is a Rheem ......good choice. Rheem got the Ultra design right, just as they got the FVIR right. Some other manufacturers got both of those "wrong".


    follow up: You were at ground zero of last weeks earthquake, I believe. Everything come through OK?
  10. DBS2071

    DBS2071 New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Chino Hills, CA
    Yep, ultra low nox. And I should have been more precise...It is a GE, which from what I understand is a Rheem. It was $579.00 for a 50 Gal/12 year. And yes, that glowing matrix was one of the first things I noticed

    Made through the quake just fine. A few items on the floor, a couple of broken items. No biggie. It beats floods and tornados. Well that is until the so called BIG ONE hits, then I might change my mind.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2008
  11. DBS2071

    DBS2071 New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Chino Hills, CA
    I'm very familiar with gases that go boom. I work with Hydrogen tanks and piping as well as piping natural gas to heat treat furnaces. So I am well versed in gas safety. I handled this job like I do with hydrogen, no margin for errors. I am completely confident working with natural gas.

    Here are some pictures for your opinions. If you notice I have not finished the piping on the TP valve, I didn't want to finish the hook up until I figured out what was wrong with the dripping. If you notice the small stub in the other picture, that is where the TP valve gets attached.

    Attached Files:

  12. MACPLUMB 777

    MACPLUMB 777 TROJAN WORLDWIDE SALES RP

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

    Ok These Are The Problems I See;

    #1 You Need Sheet Metal Screws At Least (3) If Possible In Each Joint Of The Single Wall Vent Pipe, In Case A Minor Earthquake ! !
    So The Vent Doe's Not Come Loose And Poison The Family ! !

    #2 Yes You Can Use A Water Heater Flex To Connect The T & P Drain
    "but" Check With Your City Officials On This,

    #3 Where You Have The Cold Water Flex Go Back To H.d. And Get A 3/4" Brass Tee And One Brass X Close Nipple This Allows You To Install Thermal Expansion Tank There, If Not Enough Room Get A
    2nd. Brass Nipple And Strap Tank To Sidewalls Being Sure To Hit A Stud With A Second Earthquake Strap Kit And Use A Water Flex To Connect It Together,

    The Thing You Must Know About Plumbing The Codes Get Updated All The Time So What Was Allowed At The Time Of The Old Heater
    Install Is Not A Approved Way To Install A New Water Heater To Todays Code ! ! !

    Yes The Device You Describe On Your Front Water Service Is The Prv. This Doe's Have A Internal Bypass To ALLOW Hot Water To Flow Into Street But The Chino Hills Area Has Very High Street Water Pressure ( Because Of Those Pesky Santa Ana Summer Fires )

    So Because Street Pressure Is At Or Higher Then The The T & P Relief Setting Of 150 Psi. You Need The Thermal Expansion Tank
    To Test This Get A Double Needle Pressure Gage And Leave On The Wtr/htr Drain Over Nite,
    You Will Find That After 10:pm If Not Before The Water Pressure Will Go Up! !

    Thats More Typing Then I Have Done In A Long Time

    By The Way Just Because I Am In S.l.c. Ut,
    I Still Carry A Ca. Contractors Plumbing License
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2008
  13. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Thanks for posting the pics I believe our Doctor of Waterheaterology has covered what additional stuff needs doing.

    One thing though Jerry...
    I would suspect that the hills rather than Santa Anna winds and fires have more to do with the water pressure....
    It takes ooomph to make water go uphill!:cool:

    Jerry, you might SNAKE ANY DRAIN, PLUMB. ANY PIPE, MAKE COLD WATER BOIL ON A FREEZING DAY but....
    I have been there and done all that plus I know how to make water go uphill.:eek:
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2008
  14. MACPLUMB 777

    MACPLUMB 777 TROJAN WORLDWIDE SALES RP

    Messages:
    679
    Location:
    Houston, Texas, United States
    Water Pressure

    Yes I Know About How To Make Water To Go Up HILLS ! ! !

    But I Also Know Fire Protection I Am A Rated Fire Protection
    Specialist Since Oct. 1974
    And Carry A Current Fire Sprinkler Lic. In Calif since JAN. 1989

    The High Water Pressure Is To Get The Right Volume And Pressure
    Up To The "top" Of The Calif. Hills To Fight Fires
    I Have Grown Up In Those Same Calif. Hills Helping To Fight Those Brush Fires From A Early Age And That Is What "SPARKED" My
    Interest In Fire Fighting

    [​IMG]
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 4, 2008
  15. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Well Jerry if you think about it a little, the pressure gets the water up to the top of the hill whether it is going to a faucet or a fire truck. The diameter of the water main is what determines if a fire truck is going to have a satisfactory water supply.:cool:

    That area looks a little sparcely populated to find a hydrant... They usually put them next to roads...

    BTW Jerry I do miss the volunteer firefighting days... It was fun throwing water around.
    Spent a good 25 years + doing it. Saw a couple of big ones too!

    One of the things I really liked was the muster competitions that we had. Our company did an event close to this one in the video below where the truck drives ahead ,stops sets up a draft, and pumps water down a 150' run of 2 1/2" hose to a target.

    It's funny in the video linked below it shows a 1919 fire truck doing it in about 30 seconds. We did it with a 1975 truck in about 28.5 seconds on the average. Truth is that is pretty phenominal when you think about it because that 1919 White in the video is a ringer for this event. The truck has a positive displacement pump so the priming is easy. We started with a dry pump but ours was a 1,000 gpm centrifugal pump that took some doing to get a prime. Watch the video its neat!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Afmr3Te-X64&feature=related
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2008
  16. DBS2071

    DBS2071 New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Chino Hills, CA
    Well the TP valve stopped dripping on it's own. I don't know if air in the lines could have caused it, but once I opened everything up and got all the air out of the system along with opening up the TP valve it seemed stop. It was never dripping bad just seeping a little. I could put my finger on the stem and with the lightest pressure it would stop the drip.

    I talked to the city building inspector and he said an expansion tank is not normally used out here and is not needed and therefore is not required for code. The pressure regulator will take care of any thermal expansion.

    Now as for the regulator...it must have taken a dump because the pressure is reading 120 psi. :eek: Two of my neighbors have changed theirs for the same reason. I guess that's this weeks project. Maybe that's what was making the TP valve to drip?
  17. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,946
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    So the inspector said that the pressure regulator means you need no expansion tank.

    That is the opposite of how everyone else thinks.
    Everywhere else, they follow the code book and use one.


    The reason it stopped when you opened the T&P, is that you relieved the pressure.
    The same thing would have happened if you had opened a faucet.

    The reason the pressure keeps climbing, is that the PRV doesn't allow the building pressure to go back out to the main.
  18. DBS2071

    DBS2071 New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Chino Hills, CA
    He said there is no code in this city for an expansion tank and he's the top dog at the city. I know not one home around here has one. He said the regulator does have a bypass for thermal expansion as long as the inlet pressure is not above 150 psi which it isn't. The only reason I mentioned the fact that I opened it up was maybe it wasn't seated right or perhaps it had some dirt in there. Anyway, it hasn't dripped any more since then so if there was a problem with thermal expansion wouldn't it still be doing it? I don't no at this point. I'm leary of finishing hard piping the TP drain line until I am positive that it isn't a faulty valve.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2008
  19. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,342
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    The fact that some, just some, PRV have a bypass for pressure has recently been noted. It would appear that these are newer model PRVs since the majority of the plumbers all testify to the need for a thermal expansion tank in conjunction with a PRV. I certainly found this to be true in my home when I installed a PRV. The TP gushed water every time the water heated until I learned about the thermal expansion tank. I don't know how this "top dog inspector" knows that everyone has one of these PRVs with a bypass, guess that's why he's top dog.
  20. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,540
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Is that so?

    This Doe's Have A Internal Bypass To ALLOW Hot Water To Flow Into Street

    That must be a humongous amount of expansion and back flow if hot water gets even close to the PRV. Usually it would stop within a few feet, or less, of the water heater. A cup full of expansion will increase the pressure enormously.
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