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Al’s Plumbing, Heating & A/C in Plano, Texas provides maintenance & repairs for all brands of Central A/C, Gas & Electric Furnace, and Heat Pumps.  Additionally we sell and install new HVAC Systems from American Standard (same company as Trane), Ameristar (same company as American Standard) and Coleman HVAC (same company as York HVAC).

Al’s also provides full service plumbing maintenance, repairs and replacements for every plumbing component in your home.  Al’s sells and installs Rheem Profressional Series gas & electric water heaters, and tankless water heaters.

Call Al’s today to discuss any concerns or problems you have with your HVAC System or Plumbing.  We will arrange an appointment at your convenience, and offer 24/7 Emergency Service.

 

NOTE: This Is Part 1 Of a 2-Part Article.  Click Here for Part 2 (of 2): AlsPlumbing.com Water Heater Installation Texas Code Part 2 (of 2)

 

New Water Heaters Installed In Existing Homes

Must Be In Compliance With Current Texas Plumbing Codes

Al’s Plumbing, Heating & A/C Sells And Installs Rheem Professional Grade Water Heaters.

Rheem Professional Grade Water Heaters Say “Professional” On The Label At The Top.

If It Doesn’t Say Professional On The Label, It’s Not Professional Grade.

 

diagram of electric and gas water heater

 

A Water Heater Installation Must Comply With Plumbing Codes 

Most building-codes require a home must be updated to current codes when modifications, major repairs, and replacements occur.  Until one of the “inciting” actions occurs, a home is considered legal if it met building-codes in effect at the time the home (or modifications, repairs & replacements) were completed.

When replacing a water heater, water heater installation must be in compliance with current plumbing codes for the municipality.  In this article we discuss the most frequently needed items to make the new water heater installation legal and code compliant.  We also tell you why each item is required.  In nearly every instance, it is to protect home occupants safety.

A SIDE NOTE: Texas Code Updates Are Not Limited To Plumbing

Below we show two electrical system compnents required for electrical updates, upgrades, and replacements.  As with new plumbing codes, these new requirements are to protect occupants safety.

Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) Electrical Outlet

photo of arc fault circuit interrupter electrical outlet

Shown:  AFCI /GFCI Outlet

  • Since 2014, Arc Fault & Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI/GFCI) Outlets are required in locations where there is a higher potential for electrical shock.  This includes “wet” rooms — kitchen & baths.  It also includes garage and outside electrical outlets, due to the possibility of garage floor and lawn being wet enough to complete an electrical circuit and create a shock.  As this code is updated, it continues to include additional rooms, such as a family room and bedroom.
  • With any (AFCI/GFCI) Outlet, there will be a test button to check to ensure it’s working.  AFCI/GFCI helps prevent electrical shocks AND electrical fires. 

Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCI) circuit Breakers

photo of electrical service panel and Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters

Shown: New Circuit Breaker Panel & AFCI Breakers

  • Since 2014, when replacing an electrical circuit breaker panel, the International Building Code (IBC) requires new panels have Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) Circuit Breakers.   An AFCI is a circuit breaker that also interrupts (shuts off) the circuit if it detects an electrical arc within the circuit.
  • With any Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter Device, there will be a test button on each breaker to test that it’s working.  AFCI helps prevent electrical fires.

When an electric current crosses an air gap from an (+) energized component to a (-) grounded component, it produces a glowing discharge known as an arc.  The most well know example of an arc is lightning.  Just as lightning can cause fires, arcs produced by residential electrical wiring are capable of producing extremely high levels of heat that can ignite their surroundings and lead to fires.

To see an arch fault occur in a circuit breaker panel, Click Here:  YouTube.com Arc Fault In Circuit Breaker Panel

arc fault circuit interrupter  electrical arch flash from circuit breaker panel

Shown:  AFCI Breaker                                 Electrical Arc Flash From Circuit Breaker Panel

 

A New Water Heater Installation Requires A Plumbing Permit In Texas 

Since 2007, Texas requires a plumbing permit for a water heater installation.  The permit requires that a licensed plumber install the water heater in compliance with the State of Texas + any Local Municipality Plumbing Codes.  The International Building Codes (IBC) form the basis of most of Texas’ codes.

The Permit requires an inspection of the installation to confirm the water heater was installed properly, does not create a hazard, and is working correctly & safely.  There are many things that can go dangerously wrong if an error exists in a water heater installation.

Click Here to see the 2015 Texas Plumbing Codes: Up.codes 2015 Chapter 5 – Water Heaters    Note: The 2018 International Building Codes (IBC) may include updates to what is shown with the link.

Some Municipalities Have Additional Municipality-Specific Plumbing Codes

This article describes the plumbing code requirements for most municipalities.  In addition, there may be additional water heater installation requirements for a specific municipality.

Example: When a water heater installation is inside a garage, Texas code requires that a GAS Water Heater MUST Be 18″ above the garage floor.  A gas water heater could become a source of ignition for flammable or combustible vapors (such as gasoline) that may have accumulated near the garage floor.  The 18-inch elevation is intended to keep ignition sources above combustible vapors that settle to the garage floor, as they are heavier than air.

An Electric Water Heater MAY be required to be 18″ above the floor in a garage installation (depends on the municipality).  The reason is when an electric water heater energizes the heating element, a spark results. This spark could become a source of ignition for flammable or combustible vapors.  Arlington requires an electric water heater to be elevated, Plano does not.

photo of combustion supply air ducts for water heater closet

Shown: A Correctly Installed Gas Water Heater Installation Inside A Water Heater Closet (inside the home).  It Is In Compliance With Plumbing Codes.

Note: Some Locations May Have Additional Requirements For a Water Heater Installation .

Click Here To See Plano, TX Water Heater Installation Code Requirements:  Plano, TX Water Heater Installation Requirements

 

An Example Of What Can Go Dangerously Wrong With An Incorrect Water Heater Installation

photo of water heater temperature and pressure release valve

Shown: Close-Up Photo Of Water Heater’s Temperature & Pressure (T & P) Valve

If a water heater malfunctions and continues to heat, the pressure inside the water storage tank continues to increase until the water heater explodes.  To prevent an explosion, the Temperature & Pressure (T&P) Valve will open at a predetermined pressure (150 PSI in most cases) and/or temperature (210F in most cases).

The T&P valve allows overly overly hot and / or overly pressurized water to safely escape from the tank until the temperature and/or pressure drops below the T & P Valve’s pre-set levels.  Then the valve recloses.

NOTE: The T & P Valve must be checked each year to ensure it’s working.

Older T & P Valves can fail due to corrosion or other ways.

Click Here To See A Failed T&P Valve That Can’t Be Tripped: YouTube.com Failed Water Heater T & P Valve (can’t be opened).

photo of corroded water heater t & p valve

Shown:  This Corroded T & P Valve Could No Longer Function Due To Corrosion, Creating A Dangerously Operating Water Heater

 

Two Examples Of Exploding Water Heaters Due To T&P Valve Not Opening

The TV Show “MythBusters” created an episode where the co-hosts intentionally disabled a Water Heater’s T & P Valve.  As the water temperature became hotter and hotter, the pressure build-up caused the water heater to explode.  At 330 pounds per square inch of pressure, the water heater exploded and shot 600 feet up in the air as its bottom blew out.

While this pressure was far higher than normal operation, it is what can happen if a water heater malfunctions and continuously heat the water.  While rare, exploding water heaters do happen (we detail one such event later in this article).  To protect against an explosion, the T & P Valve opens and allows the pressure inside the water storage tank to drop to safe levels.   This valve is a safety-device installed on every water heater to ensure excess pressure can be safely released if needed.

See The MythBusters Explosion By Clicking Here: YouTube.com Mythbusters Water Heater Explosion

photo of exploding water heater

Shown: Water Heater (with Pressure Relief Valve plugged) Skyrockets Through The Roof Due To Pressure Build-Up Inside The Water Storage Tank

 

Home’s Water Heater Explodes, Hurtles 135 Yards

Below is an actual event of a water heater explosion.

by Thomas Demane and Matt Culbertson – Aug. 14, 2008 03:34 PM
12 News and azcentral.com

Phoenix Fire Captain Sam Richardson said “At about 5:40 a.m., the water heater was blown out of a garage near Thunderbird Road and 38th Street; Phoenix, AZ.”  The aftermath of the explosion left the house “leaning” to one side.  The damaged home will likely have to be torn down, authorities said.  A Googlemaps street view of the address does appear to be a newly constructed home.

Due to the destructive nature of the blast, the Phoenix police Bomb Squad and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms were on the scene as investigators worked to find what caused the explosion.

See The News Cast About This Exploding Water Heater:  News Cast Telling Of Home Destroyed By Exploding Water Heater

photo of house destroyed by exploding water heater

 

Shown: Phoenix, AZ Home Destroyed By Exploding Water Heater

photo of where exploded water heater landed far from the home it was in

Shown: Exploding Water Heater Landed 300 Feet From The Home!

This Is A Prime Example Of Why A Permit & Inspection Are Required A Water Heater Installation

When the installation is completed, a City Inspector will recheck the installation it is correct and the water heater is operating properly and safely.  A faulty T & P Valve is one of the items that is checked during the inspection.

2018 International Residential Code (IRC) Requirements

The International Building Code (IBC) is adopted (or in use) by all 50 states.   Because of advances in building-materials and in building-sciences, building codes are  evolving to keep up. The International Code Council (ICC) creates an updated International Building Code every 3 years.  The current version of the IBC is the 2018 edition, known as ICC IBC-2018.  This comprehensive code comprises all building, plumbing, mechanical, fuel, gas and electrical requirements. 

In general, the IBC is focused on; means of egress (being able to get out of the home), stability, sanitation, adequate light & ventilation, energy conservation, and safety to life and property from fire, explosion, and other hazards. These topics are addressed throughout the 35 chapters of the expansive ICC IBC-2018 document.  Each chapter covers a separate topic.

SOURCE: https://blog.ansi.org/2017/11/2018-international-building-code-icc-ibc/#gref

Click Here To Read The 2018 IBC Codes For Water Heater Installation:  IccSafe.org 2018 IBC Code For Water Heater Installation

photo of combustion supply air ducts for water heater closet

Shown: This Water Heater Installation Inside A Water Heater Closet Is In Compliance With IBC-2018 Code Requirements

 

IBC-2018 Requirements For AWater Heater Installation

GAS WATER HEATER

  • Gas Connector Must Be Accessible.  Both gas connector and gas valve must not be concealed.

photo of flexible gas connector

 

  • Gas Valve: Older Style “Grease-Pack” Gas Valve must be replaced with a ball-style gas valve.  The old style is no longer allowed due to its high failure rate.

photo of grease-pack gas valve photo of ball style gas valve

Shown: Grease-Pack Valve                                                           Ball Valve For Gas Line

 

  • Gas Line Sediment Trap.  Its purpose is to trap any sediment or moisture within the gas as it flows into the water heater

photo of gas line sediment trap installed on gas water heater

Shown: Gas Line Sediment Trap.  It forms a “T” with gas coming in one side and existing to the water heater from its center.

Bonding Of Gas Lines

Electrical Energy from a damaged home electrical wire or lightning-strike has a history of damaging flexible gas pipes.  These pipes are required to be attached to the home’s electrical ground to ensure they don’t become energized or damaged by electrical energy.

NOTE:  If the home was built before this code was enacted, it is likely considered up to code.  The new code (below) was enacted in response to house fires caused (and in some cases also made worse due to being “fed” by gas) due to electrical energy damaging flexible gas lines.

If you own a home with flexible gas lines that are not bonded, your safety is at needless risk.  Flexible gas lines must be bonded to reduce the risk of damage from electrical energy, regardless of whether the home was in compliance at the time it was built.

250.104 Bonding of Piping Systems and Exposed Structural Steel.

(B) Other Metal Piping. If installed in, or attached to, a building or structure, a metal piping system(s), including gas piping, that is likely to become energized shall be
bonded to the service equipment enclosure; the grounded conductor at the service; the grounding electrode conductor, if of sufficient size; or to one or more grounding electrodes used.

The bonding conductor(s) or jumper(s) shall be sized in accordance with 250.122, using the rating of the circuit that is likely to energize the piping system(s). The equipment grounding conductor for the circuit that is likely to energize the piping shall be permitted to serve as the bonding means. The points of attachment of the bonding jumper(s) shall be accessible.

failed flexible gas pipe

Shown:  Unbonded Flexible Gas Lines Damaged By Lightning-Strike

photo of bonded gas line

Shown: Attached Bare Copper Wire Provides Gas Line Bonding (see copper wire where the yellow pipe begins on right side of photo)

csst pipe with electrical bonding (grounding) wire installed.

Shown: Bare Copper Wire Is More Visible In This Photo

 

Click Here To Read About Unbonded Flexible Gas Line Dangers: AlsPlumbing.com A Flexible Gas Line Damaged From Lightning Strike Can Cause A House Fire

attic fire showing damaged csst gas lines

A north Texas area house experienced a severe lightning strike that caused a fire.  Lightning entered the house through the metal chimney cap and was carried along: Corrugated Steel Gas Tubing (CSST) gas lines, copper electrical wiring, copper water piping, and the wooden structure itself.

 

NOTE: This Is Part 1 Of a 2-Part Article.  Click Here for Part 2 (of 2): AlsPlumbing.com Water Heater Installation Texas Code Part 2 (of 2)