Water Heater Supply valve too close?

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by steve42, Feb 28, 2014.

  1. steve42

    steve42 New Member

    Messages:
    23
    Location:
    Alabama
    After a several years of remodeling and 6 months of real estate listings, we have a contract to sell our home. The buyers' inspector came out today to give it a look and, as seems to be the standard for inspections, he found three action items.

    I haven't seen the report yet, but our Realtor told my wife that one of his findings was that the supply shutoff valve for the electric water heater is not high enough above the tank.

    Our home is in a rural community in Alabama, and there is no local code. I've done some searching and I can't find anything that specifies a minimum height for this valve. I can see where having it too close could be a hazard, especially for a gas heater with a valve near the vent, but ours is 6 inches above the top of the tank, and it's electric, so there's only marginal heat up there.

    Now, I am 5' 8" tall and I have to reach to get to it. If a 5' 4" person had to shut it off, they might need a step stool.

    So, what is this guy talking about?

    Thanks,

    Steve
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,929
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    That's a new one on me.

    There is no listed location for shutoffs when it comes to water heaters. I often have my shutoff 6" above the tank. If it isn't hitting the tank you should be fine.
    You can't run CPVC directly to the tank. You have to have a transition of 18" of piping before the CPVC. In Washington State, that would be a flex connector.
  3. steve42

    steve42 New Member

    Messages:
    23
    Location:
    Alabama
    Yeah, you can discount this one... between the realtor who is a poor communicator and my wife not really understanding the terminology, it got seriously transmogrified! If you want to rename the thread, feel free.

    The inspection issue is actually the pressure relief drain valve. The water heater that was here when we bought the house did not have a pipe attached, so we didn't attach one to the water heater either.

    Here's the statement on the "Inspection Contingency Removal Addendum":

    The water heater sits in a water heater pan. Is it sufficient to run the drain line from the PRV to the pan? The pan drains out of the laundry room onto the carport.

    Steve
  4. dj2

    dj2 Member

    Messages:
    409
    Location:
    California
    To answer your last question: The drain pipe from the T&P valve (use 3/4" copper) must go outside the building and stop 6" above ground. Not into the pan, not to the floor where the water heater is located. Outside. The reason: once your T&P valve starts leaking, it would fill the pan in no time.
  5. steve42

    steve42 New Member

    Messages:
    23
    Location:
    Alabama
    That's an issue. The current location has the water heater "land locked". It is in a corner of our laundry room which is off the carport. The wall behind the WH is shared with the kitchen. The wall on the right is the wall to the carport. To the left is a small open area, then the washing machine. If we penetrate the wall behind the washer, it would exit into the dog pen in the back yard. You don't want to burn a dog who might see water coming out the pipe and try to lick it. To exit in the fourth direction, the pipe would have to go past the carport door.

    As I alluded earlier, past inspectors never noticed the absence of that drain, but I can see why the previous owners didn't have it.
  6. dj2

    dj2 Member

    Messages:
    409
    Location:
    California
    Well, this is the code in my city, and inspectors do check it. In your situation, they would make you open walls to run your drain line outside.

    And they don't care if there a dog in the way.
  7. Reach4

    Reach4 Active Member

    Messages:
    2,133
    Location:
    IL
    The discharge of the T&P valve has different requirements in different places.

    http://archive.org/stream/gov.al.plumbing/al_plumbing_djvu.txt says
  8. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,937
    Location:
    New England
    That T&P (temperature and pressure) safety valve (not a PRV) opens for one of two reasons...the water got too hot (almost boiling) or the pressure got too high. In either case, it could open fully, and the water could be quite hot...you do not want it spraying all over the place. Thus, at a minimum, it requires a pipe to get it directed (hopefully) somewhere where it can be directed or contained safely. As noted, that varies depending on your local codes. Note, even with a pan, if this is finished space, if the thing fully opens, it may come out faster than the drain on the pan can handle. The more common discharge may only have it weeping a bit (from overpressure), and that is easily contained by the pan.
  9. steve42

    steve42 New Member

    Messages:
    23
    Location:
    Alabama
    As stated originally...

    The only requirements I have are to follow any accepted national codes and common sense. I spoke with 3 friends this weekend; 2 who work for an industrial refrigeration and plumbing company and 1 retired electrical contractor. I think I have 2 options:

    1) I can come off the TPV about 8", make a 90 degree right, pierce the exterior wall onto the carport, and make a 90 degree down toward the carport floor, terminating less than 6" from the floor.
    2) I can come off the TPV about 8", make a 90 degree left, run 8", make a 90 degree down, run 12", make a 90 degree right, then past the washing machine, pierce the exterior (brick) wall and make a 90 degree down toward the ground, terminating less than 6" from the ground.

    Option 1 drawbacks: this is the country and everyone except unsolicted visitors uses the kitchen door. A copper pipe running down the wall will be an unattractive feature beside that door.
    Option 2 drawbacks: we would have to do a lot more soldering of angles because the pipe will have to pass by the breaker panel, so we must get below it, and then go out to the back yard where high pressure overheated water might injure pets. Plus, the rules do say the termination should be in an observable location. The back wall inside a small fenced area where the water would hit brick and grass might not be noticed.

    I'm leaning toward Option 1, but if I made an offer on a house and the seller did something that was aesthetically unpleasing, I might be upset, even if it was for safety and compliance.

    Steve
  10. steve42

    steve42 New Member

    Messages:
    23
    Location:
    Alabama
    I hate to post a question and then not followup with the final solution.

    We decided to take the 3/4" copper pipe out the rear of the house. We used Sharkbite fittings instead of soldering the pipes. For the record, I wanted to learn to solder, but I had none of the supplies. By the time I factored the costs of supplies I would need to buy to do the soldering on such a small project, the Sharkbite fittings actually saved me money. :(

    Anyway, we got that handled and the pipe is fastened to the bricks, terminating about 8" from the ground.

    We also located a very small leak in the cold water line to the master bath (where the line transitioned from copper to PVC) and the cutoff valve was crusted over, so I bought a Sharkbite with a shutoff and replaced that as well. We are supposed to close in a few days, so my plumbing issues on this house are complete.

    Thanks for the assistance.

    Steve
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