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  1. #1
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    Default tubing off of water heater drain valve ?

    What could this copper tubing connected to the drain valve of a 22 year old electric water heater be ?

    I could not see exactly where the tubing went because of insulation and duct work ,but it appeared to connect to the distribution piping under the bathrooms about 25 feet away. Could it be some type of passive hot water circulation loop to make hot water more readily available at the bathroom faucets?

    The water heater was installed correctly and considering it's age was in remarkedly clean shape.

    Thanks.

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  2. #2
    James Duffin's Avatar
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    Default Re: tubing off of water heater drain valve ?

    That sounds like a good guess to me. Is the arrow on the check valve pointing towards the heater?


  3. #3
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    Default Re: tubing off of water heater drain valve ?

    Either a recirculation line as mentioned. Or perhaps someone installed a hot water baseboard heater in an added bathroom and are using the water heater as the source. in any case there must be a circulating pump for it to work as the check valve would prevent any "gravity" circulation.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: tubing off of water heater drain valve ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Foster View Post
    What could this copper tubing connected to the drain valve of a 22 year old electric water heater be ?
    .
    .
    Drain ( sediment drain ) to maintain the WH.
    .

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: tubing off of water heater drain valve ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Stephens View Post
    .
    Drain ( sediment drain ) to maintain the WH.
    .
    No, that ain't it. Take another look.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  6. #6
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    Default Re: tubing off of water heater drain valve ?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    No, that ain't it. Take another look.
    .
    Up Hill Drain to Maintain WH .
    .

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: tubing off of water heater drain valve ?

    Quote Originally Posted by James Duffin View Post
    That sounds like a good guess to me. Is the arrow on the check valve pointing towards the heater?
    Unfortunately, I didn't look close enough....very talkative clients (yes, three) fun time with nice enjoyable people but it was difficult to stay focused on the task...fortunately the house was in really great shape...older retired engineer type lived there and really took care of the place.

    So other than writing that you think it is an atypical home grown attempt at improving response time at the hot water faucets and the inability to flush/drain the water heater ...what else if anything would you write about it ?


  8. #8
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    Default Re: tubing off of water heater drain valve ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Foster View Post
    Unfortunately, I didn't look close enough....very talkative clients (yes, three) fun time with nice enjoyable people but it was difficult to stay focused on the task...fortunately the house was in really great shape...older retired engineer type lived there and really took care of the place.

    So other than writing that you think it is an atypical home grown attempt at improving response time at the hot water faucets and the inability to flush/drain the water heater ...what else if anything would you write about it ?
    .
    Robert,

    At 20 years of Age Water Heater is beyond it's usual service life .
    The Water Heater is not in a drain pan ( location ? ) failure could cause significant water damage to the home and contents .
    .
    .

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  9. #9
    James Duffin's Avatar
    James Duffin Guest

    Default Re: tubing off of water heater drain valve ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Foster View Post
    Unfortunately, I didn't look close enough....very talkative clients (yes, three) fun time with nice enjoyable people but it was difficult to stay focused on the task...fortunately the house was in really great shape...older retired engineer type lived there and really took care of the place.

    So other than writing that you think it is an atypical home grown attempt at improving response time at the hot water faucets and the inability to flush/drain the water heater ...what else if anything would you write about it ?
    It is really not that atypical to see this type of connection. It is an accepted way to connect a super-heater on a geothermal heat pump system when the water heater does not have a bottom port for a return. About all I would say as a FYI is that the hot water system has a circulation pump to help cut down on the amount of cold water that has to be run out before the water at the faucet gets hot. No need to go into details unless the system was not functioning properly...ie...like a faulty pump.

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  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Default Re: tubing off of water heater drain valve ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Stephens View Post
    .
    Robert,

    At 20 years of Age Water Heater is beyond it's usual service life .
    The Water Heater is not in a drain pan ( location ? ) failure could cause significant water damage to the home and contents .
    .
    .
    I wasn't asking about the 22 year old water heater...yes, I said and wrote that it is "beyond the typical service life blah blah blah"....I was referring to just the funky DIYer plumbing on the drain valve.

    The water heater is in the basement on a concrete floor

    Last edited by Robert Foster; 07-17-2011 at 06:41 PM.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: tubing off of water heater drain valve ?

    Thank you James...an FYI along the lines of what you mention is what I wrote and also suggested inquiring with the current owner for further information.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: tubing off of water heater drain valve ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Foster View Post
    I wasn't asking about the 22 year old water heater...yes, I said and wrote that it is "beyond the typical service life blah blah blah"....I was referring to just the funky DIYer plumbing on the drain valve.

    The water heater is in the basement on a concrete floor
    .
    Well Alright y Then.
    * it's Still Wrong.
    .

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    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  13. #13
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    No. San Diego Co., CA
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    Default Re: tubing off of water heater drain valve ?

    Fer shur, it's an amateurish attempt to provide a passive hot water loop. Sometimes they work without a pump but more often than not a pump is necessary. I'm guessing with the WH in a basement and the master bath/shower some distance away, the hot water would normally take several minutes to arrive a the faucet/shower head without some attempt to modify the plumbing system. I wouldn't mind betting the 'other end' of the rising copper tubing is connected to a hot water line entering the furthest bathroom or possibly kitchen sink.


  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    Wenatchee Wa
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    Default Re: tubing off of water heater drain valve ?

    On these type of things I usually put in a comment like

    "Unable to verify purpose I recommend client ask current owner the purpose and/or further evaluation by a qualified plumbing contractor."

    Don Hester
    NCW Home Inspections, LLC
    Wa. St. Licensed H I #647, WSDA #80050, http://www.ncwhomeinspections.com

  15. #15
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    Jan 2011
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    portsmouth RI USA
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    Default Re: tubing off of water heater drain valve ?

    [quote=Robert Foster;173224]What could this copper tubing connected to the drain valve of a 22 year old electric water heater be ?
    Maybe a Heat Pump? (air/water type)The return is teed into the cold supply of the tank . this was accepted & recommended, 20 + years ago.


  16. #16
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    Nov 2007
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    Chicago
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    Default Re: tubing off of water heater drain valve ?

    It is more than likely a return line. It is defiantly not installed properly. Its funny that you posted this picture. I ran into a home owner in a plumbing supply house that wanted to plumb his return line the same way. I told him to put it back the way it was on the old water heater. Boiler drain removed 3/4 by 1/2 by 3/4 tee installed add boiler drain to end of tee, and add 1/2 line to tee all done.


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