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randynavarro

TPR Valve Discharge in Basement

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What do y'all write when a TPR valve from a water heater terminates inside the home but within 12" of a basement floor?

There is no way to get gravity fall to the exterior and there is not a floor drain near the water heater.

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I've read heated discussions amongst HIs about TPRs discharging to the exterior. I've seen it done twice out of 10,000+ boilers and water heaters. I figure it's a regional thing.

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Hi,

There's no question that the codes say it must discharge to the exterior by gravity and terminate 6 to 24 inches above the ground, and when gravity won't work a watts 210 gas shutoff must be used in conjunction with a simple pressure relief valve and it must still discharge to the exterior.

That's what the codes say - not necessarily what gets done. Around here the great majority if them are installed so that the discharge is inside the building and it doesn't seem to matter which local jurisdiction your in, they're all doing it and the code bubbas are accepting it.

My opinion, as long as the thing is going to discharge the proper height from the floor and the materials are the correct type, I'm not going to quibble about it. There are lots of much more important things to haggle about than whether a T & P discharges inside or outside.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Originally posted by hausdok

There are lots of much more important things to haggle about than whether a T & P discharges inside or outside.

Totally agree. Trouble comes in trying to be as consistent as possible. If I'm going to call one thing or another for being 'wrong', I'm obligated to call a T & P discharging inside wrong also. But the reality is there really isn't a feasible, practical way to remedy this.

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Originally posted by randynavarro. . . Trouble comes in trying to be as consistent as possible. If I'm going to call one thing or another for being 'wrong', I'm obligated to call a T & P discharging inside wrong also. . .

I disagree.

Bear in mind that I think it's a great idea for home inspectors to read codes, know codes and occasionally cite codes as references or sources of opinion. However, I don't believe it's a good idea for us to feel like we're slaves to codes. There nothing wrong with looking at a given situation and applying a little common sense and educated opinion to it.

Otherwise, you're just a robot.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by hausdok

There's no question that the codes say it must discharge to the exterior by gravity and terminate 6 to 24 inches above the ground, and when gravity won't work a watts 210 gas shutoff must be used in conjunction with a simple pressure relief valve and it must still discharge to the exterior.

What code is that limiting? The IRC says "The discharge of the relief valve shall be piped full size separately to the floor, to the outside of the building or to an indirect waste receptor located inside the building. In areas subject to freezing, the relief valve shall discharge through an air gap into an indirect waste receptor located within a heated space, or by other approved means"id="maroon">

It doesn't seem to me that being piped to a basement floor is necessarily in violation at all, particularly if there's a floor drain (indirect waste receptor).

We have very, very few basements here, but what I run into is water heaters in the middle of a slab-built house where no provision was made for the relief piping. At best they're tied to the plumbing vent system, which is expressly and specifically forbidden by some codes (the IRC being one).

Brian G.

Basement (Mississippi version) - the mint on the bottom of a stack of mints [:P]

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Hi Brian,

I'm using my trusty CodeCheck West and IRC CodeCheck and all they say is:

  • Drain ends outside <6in. {6-24in.UPC} from ground IRC 2803.6.1 / UPC 608.5
  • 3/4in. min., no trap, no reduction, no thread on end IRC 2803.6.1 / UPC 608.5
  • Drain line may not run uphill IRC 2803.6.1 / UPC 608.5
  • Watts 210 also req's. pressure-relief valve IRC 2803.6.1 / UPC Check local
If you're using a code book your's could very well be more explicit. However, I don't like the idea of having to interpret ever nuance of the codes. That's too much like J.P. for me. So, I'm not interested in owning any of those.

I'm perfectly happy with using all of the CodeCheck books and then, like Jim says, applying some common sense to the situation. If it's a situation where I think they need to stick rigidly to the code, I tell them that the CodeCheck is taken from the model codes and is relatively accurate, but that if there's any disagreement with the owner or builder about it they should check with the local code bubba to get a final decision.

It's worked fine for me for nearly 10 years. I've only had one argument about a code issue with anyone in all that time and that had to do with a furnace vent placed too close to a side wall. I showed the builder the CodeCheck, he told me it was wrong and that I was full of it up to my eye sockets and I told him maybe so but I thought he should check with the code bubba just to make certain.

He called me that afternoon and apologized. Code Bubba came out, took one look at the vent, looked in his code book and then admitted that he'd screwed up and missed it. The builder wasn't happy with the HVAC guy, he had to have a total of 7 vents in a 16 home sub-division moved.

Me? I was just happy I'd purchased the CodeCheck series because there're just enough regularly occurring issues in those to keep an inspecting boy out of trouble without the need to turn into a J.P..

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Bear in mind that I think it's a great idea for home inspectors to read codes, know codes and occasionally cite codes as references or sources of opinion. However, I don't believe it's a good idea for us to feel like we're slaves to codes. There nothing wrong with looking at a given situation and applying a little common sense and educated opinion to it.

Otherwise, you're just a robot.

Amen Jim. Common sense is my middle name. Its difficult to walk that fine line between the "rule" (the code) and common sense. My fear is this: "No, your honor, I know its the law, but I didn't write it on the report because I thought that I knew better!"

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Hi Randy,

How many times have you had to look at new construction where all they thought about was getting it vented to the exterior and they were willing to do anything it took to do that, including sloping the danged pipes uphill? Look at it this way, at least when the discharge is inside where you can see it you don't have to worry about the possibility that some wingnut bent it upward or kinked it someplace between where it leaves the water heater and reaches the outside.

Besides, why would you be in court over a functional T & P that is inside the home? They don't vent unless there's something else wrong - pressure is too high or the thermostat is shot and allowing the thing to heat up way beyond normal. The T & P would be the thing that saves the day if it vents when it's supposed to.

OT - OF!!!

M.

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Up here, in the land of basement, I never see them piped to the outside. Only time I make mention of the T&P is if it's the wrong material for the drain line, reduced in size or to high off the floor. I also tell the customer that if you notice any dripping to call a licensed plumber to evaluate.

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Originally posted by hausdok

Besides, why would you be in court over a functional T & P that is inside the home?

Not worried about being sued over a T&P - just trying to be consistent in my findings. As mentioned before, I think its very difficult to walk the line between common sense and what the rules are as clearly printed in code books (I know, sometimes things aren't so clear - that another discussion).

I have never had legal issues, but I do know from family experience how they can dig and dig and nail you on any 'kinks in your armor'.

Just trying to fortify my armor.

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Originally posted by hausdok

If you're using a code book your's could very well be more explicit. However, I don't like the idea of having to interpret ever nuance of the codes.

Interpret nuances? I'm not comfortable interpreting nuances of code either, but it's plain ole' English in this case. The entire body of IRC code covering this particular item is one paragraph, and your original (rather emphatic and unequivocal) statement about what the code says was just dead wrong. Jeez Mike.

And what's J.P.? Is that like AHJ?

Brian G.

'Splain It To Me [?]

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Hi Brian,

Nope, not just dead wrong according to the reference I'm using - see the bullets in my second post above - and that reference is good enough for me.

I'll PM you about J.P.

OT - OF!!!

M.

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Drain ends outside <6in. {6-24in.UPC} from ground IRC 2803.6.1 / UPC 608.5

The IRC code they claim to be referencing is the same one I posted (in part). It doesn't say what they're saying it does, but it's good enough for you anyway? Even knowing it's wrong? Forgive me Mike, but that's indefensible for a professional home inspector.

Gentlemen, it's one thing to start from a position of knowing well how a thing is supposed to be done and what's required (or allowed) by the established standards, then deviate according to the situation and common sense. It's quite another to begin with only a few slivers of the same knowledge and deviate in the same way, particularly if the slivers are flawed to start with. It would leave an HI open to all sorts of potential consequences. We're supposed to know this stuff, or at least be willing to find out what's what, before we render our professional opinions and/or recommendations.

I'm not enjoying this at all, but I can't help myself.

Brian G.

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James is the one that got it right. Use common sense.

1. Code does not require it to drain outside, but it is a damn good idea.

2. Is it safe, if I have to stand next to a drain line 12" from the floor, that is spraying steam, to turn off the water or power to a unit then it is not safe.

If the line is 12 inches from the floor on the other side of the unit I might recommend that the line be drained outside if possible but I would not make a big deal out of it.

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Hmmm,

Lemme see. When I first got into this business in 1996 my references were the C-D Home Reference book which said that the T & P should discharge 6 to 12 inches above floor level but that some codes called for it to be discharged outside. When I asked my franchise mentors about that they told me that there's no way an inspecting boy can know the idiosyncrasies of every single municipality's code and that I'd be better off not to go down the code road and stick to what the general standard of care is based on the teachings of acknowledged experts in the profession. That was, and still is to a large degree, to stick to the position that it needs to have a valve and a discharge pipe and that when it's impractical to vent it to the outside don't sweat it - just make sure that it's got one and that it vents within 6 to 24 inches of the floor. There are the other requirements - materials etc. - but this thread is about where it discharges.

The other reference that they'd used during my training was Norm Becker's book which said that the discharge pipe should empty into a bucket on the floor (Imagine that!). After I'd earned a little money, I got some more references that I'd considered authoritative - Mike Casey's Residential Plumbing Inspections and Alk's Training Manual For Home Inspectors. Casey's said, "The pipe should terminate outdoors or within 6 to 24 inches of the floor," and Alk's said, "to the floor or to a floor drain." That year I bought my first CodeCheck and it also said within 6 to 24 inches of the floor, so I adopted that as the rule I inspected to.

A couple of years later when the IRC came out and I got the CodeCheck IRC, that was changed to indicate that it must vent to the outside and when CodeCheck West came out that didn't change. So, as far as I've been concerned to this point, My reference says that it must vent outside but I've been using what I thought was the old standard, because it made more sense to me, and I don't call it unless it's done in such a way as to make it dangerous or to cause damage. That means that I don't call it about 99.999% of the time that it vents inside as long as it vents within 6 to 24 inches of the floor. That's my call and I'm willing to stand up in a courtroom and defend my position - my own CodeCheck be damned.

Now, your reference disagrees with my reference and says that the position that I've been taking on this is right anyway, that it may vent inside, and you're chiding me for not agreeing with a document that nobody has heretofore ever pointed out to me was flawed? So, what's the beef? Apparently common sense was winning out in my case anyway, because the common sense I was applying agrees with your reference.

I didn't see myself as having only a 'few slivers of knowledge' on the topic. As far as I was concerned I did know it, based on what folks like Becker, Casey, Alk (Well maybe not Alk - lousy book), Kardon and Hansen have published. Unless you're saying that these references I've been using for years shouldn't be used as authoritative references in this business and we should rely only on codes, in which case I'd have to strongly disagree with you. The code is a minimum set of standards and isn't supposed to co opt our ability to reason, which is exactly why my position on the T & P discharge, though actually correct, has been contrary to what I believed to be the code for years.

So, thank you Brian, now I won't have to feel that little twinge of guilt for having stubbornly been sticking to my guns for years by telling folks that in my opinion there's nothing wrong with allowing these to vent inside so long as it's 6 to 24 inches off the floor. If you spot any more flaws in the CodeChecks let me know.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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When we do research on historic buildings, or study old building materials and practices, I only rely on primary sources. That's probably why I've never even seen a Code Check book, except for the advert in the PE catalog.

I'm no JP, but I do rely on the big blue book frequently.

Brian, here's a J.P.ism:

A kid parked his big wheel in front of the service equipment panel = inadequate working space. E3305.1

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OK. Lets forget the code. Lets just say that a T&P discharged inside a basement only and within 12" of the floor is acceptable and legal (at a location above grade, then it should definitely vent to the exterior, in my ever-to-be-so-humble opinion)

I think I will decide to still continue writing this as needing correction as water discharging inside the home is bad and can lead to all sorts of nasty stuff. As someone has said before, "homes built to code are the worst buildings that are still legal". I have a responsibility to the client to inform and educate them re: the consequences of hot and / or steaming water spewing all over the basement.

Your discourse has been helpful and is much appreciated. Even though it hasn't made the issue crystal clear, it has helped me in making a personal and business decision on how to address what appears to be a sticky issue.

Will continue to vent to the exterior. . .to infinity and beyond,

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Originally posted by hausdok

Now, your reference disagrees with my reference and says that the position that I've been taking on this is right anyway, that it may vent inside, and you're chiding me for not agreeing with a document that nobody has heretofore ever pointed out to me was flawed? So, what's the beef?

My beef, such as it is, is that you're referencing a code (by extension) that doesn't say what you claimed in your first post. Apparently it did say that previously, unless the Code Checkers just made a mistake. I'm not chiding you for not knowing what was never pointed it out to you, I'm chiding you for what struck me as a rather casual dismissal of the current standard after I pointed it out by directly quoting it.

Apparently common sense was winning out in my case anyway, because the common sense I was applying agrees with your reference.

But you said of your reference "...and that's good enough for me." Huh?

I don't disagree on the best way to handle the situation posted, or the use of common sense. In this region common sense has always been revered, above all else by some.

I didn't see myself as having only a 'few slivers of knowledge' on the topic.

I don't either. I should have made that clearer; my bad. I see your Code Check as having a few slivers of knowledge on the topic, and for some newbies starting out that may be all they have to work with until they can build their own knowledge. I wouldn't want any newbie reading along here to think that the information in a Code Check constitutes enough of a base to start making common sense varitions from.

As far as I was concerned I did know it, based on what folks like Becker, Casey, Alk (Well maybe not Alk - lousy book), Kardon and Hansen have published. Unless you're saying that these references I've been using for years shouldn't be used as authoritative references in this business and we should rely only on codes, in which case I'd have to strongly disagree with you.

I'm not saying we should rely only on the codes. I'm saying that if you're going to reference a code, even by extension, you probably should either specify which issue of that code you're talking about or use the current one.

I would also note that many sources or standards become obsolete over time, at least in part. We're obliged to keep up, if only to know exactly what it is we're ignoring. I know what the codes say about venting fart fans to the exterior, but because of common sense and experience (in my region) I ignore it. I'd be surprised if almost everyone doesn't do that on some particular issue or other.

The code is a minimum set of standards and isn't supposed to co opt our ability to reason, which is exactly why my position on the T & P discharge, though actually correct, has been contrary to what I believed to be the code for years.

I don't disagree with your ultimate position, only with your statement about what codes say about it and the casual dismissal of the update. If a newbie read that statement and took it for gospel he would be operating on a mistaked belief in the future.

So, thank you Brian, now I won't have to feel that little twinge of guilt for having stubbornly been sticking to my guns for years by telling folks that in my opinion there's nothing wrong with allowing these to vent inside so long as it's 6 to 24 inches off the floor.

Glad to have been of service Mike. [:D]

I debated with myself about whether to just drop this and not post a reply. I have no desire to injure you or create a rift between us. In the end I decided I gotta be me, you gotta be you, and you probably wouldn't want me to just stifle myself if I thought I had a point. I wouldn't want you to do that. We're big boys. Sort of.

[:-propell

Oh, and it hit what J.P. is...no, don't want to go J.P. [:-crazy]

Brian G.

Professional Hardhead, And In Good Company at TIJ [:-banghea

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Every TPR discharge that does not discharge to the outside that I have encountered which is a significant amount I call it because that is where it is supposed to vent. To me it is a safety thing (scalding water). Also a liability thing. I am also a common sense advocate. But I am also quite sure that in a damages lawsuit the judge would side with the established code.

I actually observed a discharge line terminate over the top of a basement door. However it was pointing down toward the ground [:-hot]. Been several years but I am almost sure I wrote it up.[:-magnify

My 2 cents worth,

Paul Burrell

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I've attached a photo from one of yesterdays inspections. The 1/2" PVC pipe drains the water softener as well as the TPR valve of the water heater!! While you can's see all of them from this photo, there were (8) 90 degree elbows in this pipe that terminates into the condensation lift pump!! Here in MN all the TPR discharge pipes end 6"-12" off of the floor, the only time I've ever seen one routed to the exterior is when I visit my daughter and here family in Tacoma, WA.

Robert E Lee

GENERAL Home Inspections, Inc

Download Attachment: icon_photo.gif P2280009a.JPG

152.03 KB

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What TPR drain needs to go when water heaters in the middle of a slab-built house? Does the 6" from the floor for the extension good enough even though it will just go the the floor inside the house. The closest drain line is the kitchen which is not that easy to connect to.

 

On 2/25/2006 at 7:11 PM, Brian G said:

Originally posted by hausdok

 

There's no question that the codes say it must discharge to the exterior by gravity and terminate 6 to 24 inches above the ground, and when gravity won't work a watts 210 gas shutoff must be used in conjunction with a simple pressure relief valve and it must still discharge to the exterior.

 

What code is that limiting? The IRC says "The discharge of the relief valve shall be piped full size separately to the floor, to the outside of the building or to an indirect waste receptor located inside the building. In areas subject to freezing, the relief valve shall discharge through an air gap into an indirect waste receptor located within a heated space, or by other approved means"id="maroon">

 

It doesn't seem to me that being piped to a basement floor is necessarily in violation at all, particularly if there's a floor drain (indirect waste receptor).

 

We have very, very few basements here, but what I run into is water heaters in the middle of a slab-built house where no provision was made for the relief piping. At best they're tied to the plumbing vent system, which is expressly and specifically forbidden by some codes (the IRC being one).

 

Brian G.

Basement (Mississippi version) - the mint on the bottom of a stack of mints [:P]

 

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I first look to the local codes for suggestions on that. In coastal Louisiana that means it must discharge either outside or to a garage.

If I get one that's in the middle of a slab supported house, I'm in the habit of suggesting that they not put it in the middle of the house.

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