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Dirt legs and time


Ben H
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We all know we are not code inspectors, however when we come across something that needs attention most people seem to thing we should know every code for every aspect.

Lets take a Dirt Leg at a WH for example. What do you guys do when you see a old install missing a dirt leg?

Do you wite is up as "needs" a dirt leg? Or do you leave it be since it was installed before it was required to have a leg?

Are HI expected to remember the year changes on "major" code items? Maybe some guys carry a cheat sheet of codes and years?

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Ben,

When you say "dirt leg" I assume you mean drip leg. No matter how you say it, weather it is code or not isn't really the issue. As you stated, we are not code inspectors. Drip legs are recommend to be installed near each gas fixture in order to catch pipe shavings, dirt, ect. before entering the gas valve. You may wish to state in your report that they are absent, what purpose they serve and state the implications of not having them installed. However, you are not required to state any building codes in reference to any component.

FYI: Last year during an inspection, the gas company arrived to the home in order to turn on the natural gas meter. He took the cap off the drip leg in order to bleed the air from the gas line and light the water heater's pilot. I was surprised when he removed the cap there wasn't any dirt or debris in site. I questioned him about how clean it was and if this is common, and he said yes. In a nutshell, he pretty much said the drip legs are useless and it isn't a big deal should they not be present.

I do believe knowing the building codes is very helpfully for us home inspectors, particularly when inspecting new construction. The CodeCheck books are incredibly useful. I recommend having it on hand for reference, but I do not recommend putting the word "code" anywhere in your report.

Robert

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Most all manufacturers also require a "sediment trap" ... also called a "drip leg" and seldom called a "dirt leg" ... at least in our region.

They are required by code and are of a 'low value' item on the radar in the overall scheme of things.

In the DFW market many of the AHJs have again or finally started requiring builders to have them installed on new home construction. Unless the AHJ has exempted the item they should still be noting it during their inspections. Few if any of the DFW AHJs have exempted the sediment trap in their documentation.

Several homes in the DFW market have blown up due to gas-leak problems (none of which had anything to do with sediment traps), but they are covering their backsides.

All in all ... a good thing.

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. . . I was surprised when he removed the cap there wasn't any dirt or debris in site. I questioned him about how clean it was and if this is common, and he said yes. In a nutshell, he pretty much said the drip legs are useless and it isn't a big deal should they not be present.

. . .

You're never going to see any quantity of dirt or debris in there. The "dirt" that they stop is very tiny. A few flakes or bits of stuff that you could pick up with tweezers. Nothing else is going to be carried along in the very low flow of the gas stream.

Still, those tiny bits are important. Gas valve orifices are really small and a single rust flake can clog them. Most valves have screens to protect against this stuff, but the drip legs provide added protection.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Still, those tiny bits are important. Gas valve orifices are really small and a single rust flake can clog them. Most valves have screens to protect against this stuff, but the drip legs provide added protection.

I converted an oil fired boiler to gas fired with a gun style gas burner. After a few years I was plagued with issues that always resulted in a cold store in the mornings and intermittent failures through the day. Over a few years I replaced flame rods, controllers, igniters, and cleaned orifices and I never solved the problem.

I was shoveling the walk one day when the boiler kicked on and the meter sounded like a tin can with BB's in it as the gas started to flowed and then the sound abruptly stopped. I went inside to see if the boiler had fired and it was off. I pressed the manual reset and it fired right up.

It turns out that the puff of gas resulting from demand moved rust particles into the orifice on the meter and held them there long enough for the misfire cycle to kick in. The gas company replaced the meter and blew out the lines and the issues were solved. The drip leg on the meter was chock full of junk.

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In my area the gas supply mains are riddled with holes. Drive on a country road in almost any small town around here and you will encounter a gas leak that you can smell for 1/2 mile or more. The result is that the supply is full of debris, water vapor and liquid water. It is very common to find small amounts of water (up to an inch or so in 1/2" pipe) in drip legs sediment traps here, or enough rust to indicate the high water mark.

I have a customer (day job) that works for the gas company. He carries a list of 'known' leaks for his route that number in the thousands.

Tom

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Lets take a Dirt Leg at a WH for example. What do you guys do when you see a old install missing a dirt leg?

Do you wite is up as "needs" a dirt leg? Or do you leave it be since it was installed before it was required to have a leg?

If the water heater is old enough that a sediment trap was not in the code, I'd tell my client it's time to change the water heater. ('[;)]')

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