Water heater install in new home - how would you coment?

Came across this installation in a high end custom home at the one year inspection. Wanted to get some thoughts and then I will post what I said in report.

The room that the units are installed in was originally going to be part of the attic space. According to the homeowners, the decision to finish this room was made at the very end of the build. They are using the room as a treadmill room with children play things present. Based on meeting the parents, I doubt that the kids use this room alone, but are present here when a parent is exercising.

My first concern was that the gas units are located in a unconfined room that is part of the home ventilation and is not separately ventilated. Checked the books and they seem to indicate that this is allowable except in bedrooms and bathrooms. However, I have never run into this in a newer home around here and do not particularly like it. Recommended that they install carbon monoxide detectors in here and consider either isolating the water heaters or changing the room to more of a storage room.

The TPR valves are plumbed straight down to the drain pans. I reported this as not allowed and dangerous to the residents in the event that the valves ever activated while people were in the room.

The pans, there are two typical low end pans, are plumbed together, but if you look closely you will notice that they are not plumbed out of the home. I reported this as wrong.

In lieu of properly plumbing the pans out, as best I can figure, they have installed the WAGS safety solenoid valves in the pans. Theoretically these valves would sense water in the pans and turn off the supply. I also did not like that they only ran the inlet plumbing for the right unit through the solenoid safety valve. The left unit, the second in series, solenoid valve is only connected to the gas control of the left unit. Therefore, the system is depending on the right unit solenoid for cutting off water. I feel that they should properly connect both solenoids to inlet lines for the best level of protection. Could it be argued that the installation of these solenoids valves can take the place of plumbing the pans to the exterior from this location inside the home?

I suspect that the plumber forgot to plumb the TPRs and the pans to the exterior and that they installed the solenoid valves as a way to fix it. The home has had a number of plumbing issues, including leaks and mold remediation already, so the quality of the plumbing work was already in question.

Opinions? Anything I missed? Codes that would not allow these units in this areas, rather than it just being unusual and not a good idea?

Don’t know about the solenoid, might want to consult with a plumber. As to the rest I don’t have a problem with it.

You don’t have a problem with the installation or you don’t have a problem with my comments?

I don’t have a problem with the location or the TPR.

Those drain pans need a drain.

As far as the solenoids go , I do not recall seeing them other than on HVAC drain pans.

Location is fine.

Gosh I hate when they run flex line that way.

Is that proper B vent on the left. (it looks dis-colored)?

Maybe its a regional thing, I know where it’s warm there are often mechanicals in the attic. Not around here. Anyhow, the CO recomendation is sound, but we often see, around here, mechanicals in unfinished or partially finished basements. Some enclose them (in a “mechanical room”) for asthetic reasons, more than anything. They are often, in a ranch home in a "mud room’ just off the garage.

Remember they need air to burn too!

As far as the valves go, into the pan is fine or into a floor drain, ok too. I never understood the pipe to the exterior (again, a regional thing, I guess) because how would you readily know if it was discharging?

Check out http://education.nachi.org/show.php?course_id=28 for more.

It can freeze up around here.
Texas is different.
They need a place to drain because they are in the attic,and why even have a drain pan at all otherwise:)

Really? :shock::p:mrgreen:

No sh**! :mrgreen:

I understand the Mexican Language better than southern drawl.

(just kidding)(8) sorta

You need to consider the issue of makeup/combustion air for the fuel burning appliances.

Take NACHIs water heater tanks course for a better explanation and requirements.

Read the Course materials HERE

In ohio the pan is required in a finished room. The drain are supposed to be pipe to an indirect drain visable in the room or a floor drain. I am a licensed plumber and have never seen the solenoids piped in this manner, mostly HVAC. Home security systems can place a contact sensor that will shut off the water. The location is fine (if you like them in a finished room). The carbon monoxide detectors are always my advice no matter where. The tprvs are to be piped 2" from floor(in this case pan). I ran into a lot of plumbing problems yesterday as well.(INSPECTING)I never do work on any house I inspect, mostly commercial and industrial. I hope this helps but ever locality has its own rules and regs. Was there a expansion tank?

TPR piping here either is plumbed to the exterior and visible, or plumbed to a drain with an air gap.

Hi John
I believe the tanks only need the expansion bladder if there is a check valve upstream.

I would have a lot of difficulty accepting those TPR’s being dumped into those pans without a drain. The TPR’s would fill those pans in a heart beat (even just one) and in a finished room, well it would be unfinished and wet.
Bob I don’t like the flex either, but what can you do.

As to the secondary drainage pans, I like to see them piped to the soffit area (centered over the front door) so if they ever did leak, the homeowner knows that there’s a problem in the attic when they observe dripping over their front door.

If they are not piped to a better location (garage area, basement, soffit area) and there is a water detection system in place, I let it go.

As to the WH’s being installed in a living area (or vise versa), I simply remind my clients to NEVER box these in as they will always need combustion air to prevent CO poisoning.

CO detector installation is going to be required by the fire dept. on the Sellers close of escrow mandated walk-through.

Some cities around here are starting to require the thermal expansion tank on new installs. This house is old enough not to have it in this area, even at only a year.

I do occasionally see this safety solenoid in a water heater pan in an attic. I usually like seeing it, as usually they will have used a big pan with 6 or 8 inch sides that is still plumbed out of the home and the solenoid valve simply serves as a secondary line of defense to keep the house from being damaged by the assinine placement of two 50 gallon tanks of water in the attic above the living space. But it is a rare set up. As I have never seen the solenoids function, I would be happy with them as a secondary line of defense, but reluctant to count on them as the ONLY line of defense.

I believe that since the pans are NOT plumbed to the exterior, that the TPR lines running to the pans is wrong. I agree that they would fill the pans quickly. And cause damage.

The flex line is normal for around here. So not an issue. I can live with the placement in a living area that is not a bedroom or bathroom, even though it is very rare, in my experience, for this area in new construction, and will simply advise my clients of things they should consider about the placement.

I called out the TPR drain and the lack of the pans being drained out. I recommended that the builder confirm, in writing, that the current installation of these drains meets the code or he fixes them.

This was a very high end house, that had a lot of corners cut. Apparently it was a “cost plus” build. The builder lives in the neighborhood, and from the way my clients talked, is not a popular person. They had verified mold problems from a leaking kitchen supply line. They have a child with health issues, and had the mold inspection and remediation done themselves. When approached the builder choose to counter with a different mold “expert” who claimed that the elevated levels were not dangerous, instead of SPLITTING the cost as the homeowner ask him to. The client is actually a lawyer, which makes the whole thing even more interesting. As far as this type of problem, he is most concerned with just making sure his home is safe and that problems are fixed, even if he has to pay to do it himself.

To answer the check valve question: Yes if there is a backflow preventer in our area your are required to have the expansion tank. Remeber all this depends on your area. Also no matter where the pan drains are piped to, that pan wouldnt keep up on a full dump by a TPRV. They are only meant for small drips.