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Those darn "other inspectors"

Richard Moore

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As I'm sure we all know, the TPR valve temperature sensor is supposed to be immersed in the top 6" of the water heater tank. That's basically verbatim for the IRC and to "manufacturers specs" for the UPC.

This is the second unit I have inspected in a 1987 condo complex that was extensively renovated in 2003. Both had 2003 water heaters with TPR valves hooked up this way.

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I'm guessing the whole complex is the same. I don't have pre-1987 codes but I suspect it was wrong then and I know this was wrong in 2003.

The set-up in the photo might work for pressure, but it's going to be slower to react to high temps. How much slower I don't know and I don't care. Maybe it's not THE most dangerous thing in the world...but wrong is wrong. And, yeah, it's going to be a bit difficult to fix using the existing in-wall discharge piping.

I had explained all this to the client and his agent during the inspection. Then the listing agent dropped in near the end of the inspection. I didn't hear the whole conversation between the two agents but I got the gist. Evidently there had been two other inspections on this unit, neither of those "other inspectors" had mentioned the TPR situation, so the listing agent couldn't understand how it could be wrong.

I'm sticking code and links in this report...just for the fun of it!

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Hi Richard,

I've actually run into that several hundred times over the years. Was there a valve with a pipe ending near the floor on the tank? I usually find that those ones that are mounted high are 125psi valves vs. the typical 150psi valve that's also mounted on the side of the tank. I think it is someone's way of getting away without a pipe that goes directly outside from the higher-rated TPR with the idea being that the 125psi valve will open long before the one on the tank would be needed.



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I have heard, but not confirmed for every manufacturer, that electric water heaters have built in cutoffs for temp and pressure. That said, code is indeed code, there is no exclusion for electric WH. Those pressure relief valves on both units are NOT TPR valves, they are pressure relief valves only, and if the plumber who installed them thought they were in compliance with code for TPRs, he was wrong.

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