Rumbling Noises From The Tank
Those strange popping and clanking noises coming from your water heater cant be a good sign. Most homeowners fear that noises indicate its time to replace your hot water heater, but it could actually only be due to sediment.
Why does it create these noises? The heavy sediment traps air bubbles in the tank, which pop when the heat bursts them open. If the sediment itself moves around the tank, it may create scraping or creaking noises.
What Is A Sediment Trap Why Is A Sediment Trap Required
Sediment traps, commonly referred to as drip legs by tradespeople, are manually constructed fittings installed in a gas line that trap debris that may be floating or pushed through the gas supply piping. Natural gas pressure on residential gas supplies will typically not exceed 5 psi , so gas isnt being pushed through the gas lines at a high pressure, but over time, any debris present in the gas line could theoretically be pushed into the appliance controls and cause blockages or malfunctions with the equipment.
What kind of debris is floating through the gas lines? Most gas lines are made of a material called black-iron steel pipe that is bought in large stick lengths of a minimum of 8-12 feet and cut down to size as necessary. If youve never seen a plumber thread pipe, they typically have a large machine that they wheel out that clamps down the pipe and using an electric motor and lots of lubricating / cooling oil, cuts threads into the approximately 1/8th of an inch thick steel piping. This process creates little shavings of sharp metal that can easily be lodged into the pipe, especially once they get coated in oil. Although it may take a while, these pieces of metal can and likely will eventually find their way to the gass final destination, such as a water heater or furnace. Dirt and other minor debris may also find its way into the pipe just because construction is a dirty process these things happen.
When Checking Or Installing A Sediment Trap On A Water Heater Also Look At:
Does the water heater have a proper and safe gas line?
The T & P valve: make sure there is one and that there is a proper discharge line.
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Example Of Correctly Installed Gas Sediment Trap
A gas sediment trap consists of a tee, nipple, and cap. It should go straight down before the pipe that enters into the appliance.
Florida Building Code states:
G2419.4 Sediment trap.
Where a sediment trap is not incorporated as part of the appliance, a sediment trap shall be installed downstream of the appliance shutoff valve as close to the inlet of the appliance as practical. The sediment trap shall be either a tee fitting having a capped nipple of any length installed vertically in the bottom-most opening of the tee or other device approved as an effective sediment trap. Illuminating appliances, ranges, clothes dryers and outdoor grills need not be so equipped.
Here is one below that is installed incorrectly. This is because the gas line does not go straight down into the drip leg or sediment trap. Debris in the gas line can easily travel into the appliance.
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Can A Gas Line Sediment Trap Be Installed
If the gas appliance did not come with a sediment trap, it can be installed. A professional can do this for you for about $100, or you can get a kit at the local hardware store for about $10.
Another way is to buy a gas line at a hardware store and install it for even cheaper. Installing it vertically is important so that it allows the sediment to go downstream.
There are also rules about where and how the sediment traps can be installed:
If you have a Bradford White water heater, check out this video for installing a gas sediment trap. This is now required.
While you are there, make sure the water heater reset button works as well and you follow the maintenance for water heaters.
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Drip Leg Verses Sediment Trap
Note that there is a lot of confusion about the differences between the two. Plumbers and some inspectors will often use the terms interchangeably. However:
- Sediment traps are basically for the purposes of catching sediment and contaminates in a gas line.
- Drip legs are basically for catching condensate and moisture in a gas line.
How To Flush Your Water Heater
You might have read online that flushing your hot water heater is relatively easy. It may seem like a simple solution to your sediment buildup problem.
However, taking the DIY route for this issue may not be your best bet. You might end up causing a leak in your water heater, which can be disastrous for your property . You also risk damaging components within the hot water heater, such as the heating element or drain valve.
Rather than risking further damage, it might be wiser to call in a professional. Even though youll need to pay for professional plumbing services, its better than damaging the system further and needing to cover even more expenses.
In the future, you can schedule annual water tank maintenance. Flushing your tank regularly will prevent sediment from accumulating. A plumber can install a sediment filter to keep your tap water clean!
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How To Install A Gas Water Heater
Water heaters are appliances that supply hot water to your home, but they dont last forever. Many water heaters have an estimated life expectancy of 8 to 12 years. To replace a failing gas water heater or install a new one, you need a gas supply line, a cold-water supply line and a flue connection to divert harmful combustion gases. This guide explains how to install a gas water heater tank in your home.
Note: Tankless gas water heaters have different installation demands. Be sure to check your owners manual for your model’s requirements.
What Is A Sediment Trap And Why Is It Important
Dec 11, 2021 | Water Heaters
Plumbing is a practical and necessary feature in every liveable home, but despite the pivotal role it plays in ensuring the functionality of your living space, not a lot of people know all the working parts that keep it running smoothly.
HVAC systems such as your gas appliances, in particular, are made up of different components that ensure its working in tip-top condition without giving in to wear and tear too soon. With that said, one of the parts that people often see but dont know the purpose of is the gas lines sediment trap, which are the pipes that go down the ground into what seems like a rabbit hole.
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I Have No Sediment Trap / The Sediment Trap Is Installed Incorrectly: Do I Need To Call Someone To Fix This
If your home inspector just inspected your New-Build home and called out the lack of a sediment trap or incorrectly installed sediment trap, then I would ask the builder to have the plumber / HVAC tech come out and fix it. It shouldnt take more than 20 minutes.
If youre buying a pre-owned home and the homes water heater has no sediment trap, I wouldnt be too concerned. At least, its not severe enough of an issue to call someone out to come fix the problem and I definitely wouldnt ask the seller to correct such a minor repair in a hot market as in the San Antonio, TX area.
When the water heater / furnace next gets serviced or replaced, you may go ahead and ask the plumber / HVAC tech to install one. If they are replacing the system, they should be installing one to be code compliant.
Other Tools And Materials
Its essential to have an adjustable wrench, garden hose with adapter, a large bucket, and rags for this activity. If you dont have a large water container, you can use several small buckets. You can also prepare Teflon or plumbers tape to ensure a leak-proof fit between connections.
Knee pads might come in handy because youll be handling the drain port at the hot water tanks bottom. You might also need a step ladder to manipulate the cold water inlet valve at the top.
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What Is A Gas Line Sediment Trap
If you have a gas furnace or gas water heater, then you should have a short, vertical gas pipe on the front. It may look like it isnt useful or goes anywhere, however it is very useful! This is a gas line sediment trap and it traps the debris in the line so it doesnt go into the appliance.
Lets take a look at why this is important, appliances that do and dont require this, installing one later, how sediment gets in, examples of properly and improperly installed traps, what to do if there is not one on an appliance, home inspections and gas line sediment traps, and maintenance.
How Did Sediment Get In My Water Heater
The water that you use in your home has thousands of tiny microscopic minerals and particles in it. When water sits in one place for a good amount of time, like in a water heater, those minerals and particles will settle and fall to the bottom of the water heater. These minerals and particles are typically described as sediment. Over time, the sediment in your hot water heater can harden and cause some problems.
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Open Several Hot Water Faucets
Although you can skip this step, I still recommend this procedure to relieve pressure from the hot water tank. It would be best to open at least two hot water faucets, one near the hot water tank and another in a room higher than the water heater.
Opening water faucets also prevent vacuum formation within the water lines. Dont worry about losing water because you closed the main water valve supplying the hot water tank.
What Is The Correct Way To Install A Sediment Trap
If you go to the hardware store and ask to buy a sediment trap or a drip-leg, youll get some funny looks. Thats because they dont sell pre-made sediment traps, theyre constructed out of commonly available fittings. What you would need is a 3-sided female tee fitting along with a cap to plug one end and a few nipples or small pieces of pipe that contain male threads on both ends. Once assembled , you have a sediment trap. All in all, this is certainly less than $20 in fittings.
But as a home inspector in San Antonio, Texas, I commonly find that sediment traps are installed incorrectly. Either the gas supply inlet is entering at a horizontal section of the Tee or the sediment trap is installed BEFORE the gas appliance connector and not after the gas appliance connector as required.
In order for a sediment trap to work, the incoming gas supply pipe has to enter vertically, from the top of the sediment trap, creating a change in direction at the bottom of the drip leg so that sediment will fall straight down into the trap and wont fight gravity to come back up.
As for the case of the second one, you not only have the same problem as above, but the building code requires that the sediment trap be installed on the appliance side of the gas appliance connector .
Correct installation of a sediment trap / drip-leg is important if you want the device to perform its job correctly: trap sediment!
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Sediment Traps In Gas Water Heaters
Russel Ray, a knowledgeable home inspector working in the San Diego area, shared this information on sediment traps in a gas water heater. I had never heard of them, and found this information very useful. Perhaps you will also…
If you would like to read more posts by Russel, or to leave him a comment, please click on his link below:
Why Do You Need A Sediment Trap On Your House
There is no direct evidence correlating to broken appliances because of missing sediment traps. Sediment traps help protect your appliances from damage and are required for most appliances. You should check with your local building code to find their direct requirements of install. But in general, they are about the same nationwide.
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Connect A Garden Hose Or A Similar Device To The Hot Water Tanks Drain Port
Check your hot water tanks bottom section, and look for a drain port with a valve. Get a garden hose and connect one end to the drain port. You can use an adapter if the drain ports diameter is different from your garden hoses dimensions.
Ensure a tight-fitting connection to avoid leaks. You dont want to create a mess in your basement while draining and flushing your water heater.
Pro Tip: You can wrap Teflon around the connector threads to ensure a leak-proof fit.
Disconnect The Gas And Water Lines
Next, detach the gas and water lines from the old water heater.
- After confirming that the gas supply is shut off, disconnect the gas line using two pipe wrenches. Disconnect the gas line at the union fitting if the gas supply line is a black iron pipe. Disconnect at the flare fitting if the gas supply line is a flexible pipe. The union fitting is typically installed just after the gas valve that feeds the water heater.
- Using two adjustable wrenches or pipe wrenches, disconnect the water lines above the tank. If the piping has been soldered into place, use a tubing cutter to cut the pipe. Clean the pipe with a sanding cloth before cutting the pipe. This will make it easier to prep for the solder connection later.
- Remove any gas piping that is attached to the old water heaters gas valve. If the supply here is made of black iron pipe, keep the tank tee and sediment trap intact. Keep the leg that connects to the union so you can re-use them later.
- Remove the overflow pipe and pressure release valve from the old hot water heater. You will reinstall it later on the new unit.
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Turn The Water Heater Off
If you have an electric water heater, turn off the power switch. If your water heater is a gas heater like the one shown in the photo above, turn your thermostat to the pilot setting. This turns the heating element off in your water heater so your water can cool down. Before starting this maintenance project, make sure no one in your home is trying to take a shower, wash dishes, or run a load of laundry.