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  1. #1
    Jack Gardner's Avatar
    Jack Gardner Guest

    Default Could this explode?

    As you can see in the attached image, the P &T valve on the water heater is jammed up against my furnace. You cannot lift the lever on the valve. Somehow, this passed inspection when they installed this water heater 4 years ago (before I bought the house). Home inspector did not notice or comment on this, which surprises me since he was thorough otherwise.

    I had the gas company out the other day to service my AC. When the repairman saw this, he said it was "insane" and that I basically have a ticking time bomb in my house that could explode. Let's say that got my attention.

    The reason this was installed this way is that there is simply no room in the utility closet for the water heater, but they put it in there anyway. So, I'm trying to determine how much of a danger this is.

    Thanks,

    Jack

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Could this explode?

    The internal valve can still operate, however it should be moved.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Could this explode?

    You have a couple of choices: a) rotate the water heater so that valve has clearance for manual operation of the handle for routine testing; b) most water heaters which have a side mount location for the T&P valve also have a top mount location for it, so have the T&P valve relocated to the top opening.

    Both options will require draining the water heater and disconnecting it from the plumbing piping to allow the water heater to be moved to access the valve.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  4. #4

    Default Re: Could this explode?

    Is this a gas or electric water heater? Next to a gas furnace? If they're both "jammed" into a utility closet, are they getting adequate combustion air?

    Welmoed Sisson
    Inspections by Bob, LLC, Boyds, MD
    "Given sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine."

  5. #5
    Jack Gardner's Avatar
    Jack Gardner Guest

    Default Re: Could this explode?

    Thanks for the replies.

    So, is the lever on the valve only for testing it? Or does that lever need to pop up for the valve to function properly? It sounds like it is only for testing.

    It is a gas water heater. And, yes, I am also concerned about the air supply in that closet.

    Unfortunately, the water heater cannot be rotated as the temp control, gas line, etc. would hit the wall. It is really amazing that they even got it in this space.

    I'm currently looking into replacing this water heater, either with a tankless unit or moving it to the garage. I just don't want to blow up in the meantime.

    thanks,

    Jack


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Could this explode?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Gardner View Post
    Thanks for the replies.

    So, is the lever on the valve only for testing it? Or does that lever need to pop up for the valve to function properly? It sounds like it is only for testing.

    It is a gas water heater. And, yes, I am also concerned about the air supply in that closet.

    Unfortunately, the water heater cannot be rotated as the temp control, gas line, etc. would hit the wall. It is really amazing that they even got it in this space.

    I'm currently looking into replacing this water heater, either with a tankless unit or moving it to the garage. I just don't want to blow up in the meantime.

    thanks,

    Jack
    .
    Jack,

    I wouldn't worry about it blowing up in the meantime. ( the handle would move long before the Steel Tank would Rupture.)

    I'm guessing your closet is open at the top and is drawing the needed combustion air from the unconditioned attic .

    Did the AC Repairman offer a Fix?
    .

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Could this explode?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    b) most water heaters which have a side mount location for the T&P valve also have a top mount location for it, so have the T&P valve relocated to the top opening.
    If there is a T&P opening in the top of the water heater just install a new T&P into that opening and run a new T&P discharge pipe. Leave the existing one in the side, nothing wrong with having a secondary T&P.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Could this explode?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    ... nothing wrong with having a secondary T&P.
    Only if it leaks

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Could this explode?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    Only if it leaks
    Depends on why and where it leaks.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Could this explode?

    Looks like it is against the return duct. You may be able to press a dent into the return duct to give a bit of clearance. Otherwise, as others have said move the T&P valve to the top of the heater.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Could this explode?

    Jack,
    To test the valve without raising the lever, using a spade screwdriver behind lever and under pin/rod and rotate. This will cause the rod attached to the valve to compress the spring and open the valve.

    Testing the valve only shows that the valve operation for movement, not stuck. Testing also can blow off contamination on valve, but that is about it.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Could this explode?

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Sorrells View Post
    Jack,
    To test the valve without raising the lever, using a spade screwdriver behind lever and under pin/rod and rotate. This will cause the rod attached to the valve to compress the spring and open the valve.

    Testing the valve only shows that the valve operation for movement, not stuck. Testing also can blow off contamination on valve, but that is about it.
    Testing an old valve can cause rust flakes to lodge in the valve body, causing a leak.

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

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Could this explode?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    .

    Testing an old valve can cause rust flakes to lodge in the valve body, causing a leak.
    .
    Replacement Required ( Failed Under testing.)
    .

    Last edited by Billy Stephens; 07-03-2012 at 09:14 PM.
    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.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Could this explode?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Testing an old valve can cause rust flakes to lodge in the valve body, causing a leak.
    Testing anything can cause a problem. Granted there is a higher potential for this valve to leak after testing, if it has not been opened on a regular basis. But life is dull without living on the edge and taking risks .


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Could this explode?

    Testing it with a screwdriver would be contrary to SOP. Its not an approved test method.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Could this explode?

    Who's doing all this approving I keep reading about? Is that business profitable? Can I start approving stuff for profit? I have worked closely with the UL process, and concluded that they were dependent on me, the manufacturer, to give them any credibility. Therefore, I could have gamed them with no effort and almost no risk. I suggest that an experienced person's knowledge and judgement is more valuable than reliance on approval.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Could this explode?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    Testing it with a screwdriver would be contrary to SOP. Its not an approved test method.
    The discussion of SOP is a different story. Meeting SOP, hiding behind SOP, limiting to SOP, something exceeding SOP as a reason for not to perform, teaching only to SOP, only requiring SOP for performance level, experience/knowledge vs SOP.

    The OP was a homeowner being told by gas company that "...basically have a ticking time bomb..."

    If the gas company thought it was unsafe they should have tagged it, if only for the gas company's own liability.

    Plan to take a look at a valve to see if the rod to the valve being in contact with obstruction restricting its movement will cause the valve not to open under pressure. Never had the occasion/situation like the one posted. Therefore, I would be concerned to verify that there is enough room for the valve to operate. Screwdriver as a method to test valve operation is only expedient non destructive that I see. And I would be more concerned as to valve not working and safety than worrying about going beyond (hiding behind) a SOP.

    If there is a way to effectively test the component even though not to Manuf. manual method, it would be better than the cost of reinitialization HWH. Providing that there is not an alternative location to install an additional P T valve that could be tested as manual describes.


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Could this explode?

    I think this is a case of the SOP, a standard of care dovetails with the SOP. There is no need to confirm whether the valve functions by testing in the manner you described, given that its obvious the duct work limits the handle action to some degree.

    The best solution in my mind was noted by Jerry P who said to relocate the valve to the top of the heater.

    I don't think a manufacture would condone using a screwdriver, if so it would be in the manual.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Could this explode?

    Jacks OP ended with "...So, I'm trying to determine how much of a danger this is. ".
    If Jerry's relocation/additional valve is not an option, then it becomes an issue of the ability for the valve to function. Therefore the ability to maintain that valve along with verifying that the valve is not being obstructed in its movement has to be determined. If it can not be determined that the valve is operational then it should be shutdown till a determination or correction is made.

    As to in or not in the homeowners manual of operation, be cause something is not mentioned in a manual does not mean that it does not exist. Also, manuals are written by engineers and then rewritten by attorneys. But that is another discussion.

    Still hold that the gas company had a duty to tag the heater if it was a hazard "...basically have a ticking time bomb..."

    Raymond, you introduced SOP into the discussion. SOPs is what you make of it and relevant to where you are standing and which SOP you may attest to. Canada, US, different States and so on will only present a minimum standard. And again that is a different discussion in it self.


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Could this explode?

    Garry

    I understand the SOP and my introduction of same, I was speaking of an inspector using a screwdriver, not the home owner.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Could this explode?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Testing an old valve can cause rust flakes to lodge in the valve body, causing a leak.
    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Stephens View Post
    .
    Replacement Required ( Failed Under testing.)
    .
    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Sorrells View Post
    Testing anything can cause a problem. Granted there is a higher potential for this valve to leak after testing, if it has not been opened on a regular basis. But life is dull without living on the edge and taking risks .
    Tell that to the sellers when they come home to a flooded house.

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

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Could this explode?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Tell that to the sellers when they come home to a flooded house.
    .
    Here In The Good Ole US of A .

    We have something called a Water Shutoff Valve. EH!
    .

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  23. #23
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    Default Re: Could this explode?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Gardner View Post
    As you can see in the attached image, the P &T valve on the water heater is jammed up against my furnace. You cannot lift the lever on the valve. Somehow, this passed inspection when they installed this water heater 4 years ago (before I bought the house). Home inspector did not notice or comment on this, which surprises me since he was thorough otherwise.

    I had the gas company out the other day to service my AC. When the repairman saw this, he said it was "insane" and that I basically have a ticking time bomb in my house that could explode. Let's say that got my attention.

    The reason this was installed this way is that there is simply no room in the utility closet for the water heater, but they put it in there anyway. So, I'm trying to determine how much of a danger this is.

    Thanks,

    Jack
    Repairman from the Gas Company or was he an HVAC repairman?
    In my area gas company employees look only at gas fired equipment, was it a gas fired AC unit that he was servicing?(Yeah, they exist, just not a lot around anymore). Gas company employees here have no issue with red-tagging a hazard and do so on a regular basis. This issue probably would have resulted in a red tag and the Gas Company employee would have removed the meter, only returning it after a licensed plumber had made the needed repairs.

    Alton Darty
    ATN Services, LLC
    www.arinspections.com

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Could this explode?

    He may well have meant exactly what he said.

    Illinois is deregulated. Several energy suppliers (both electric & gas) offer "service contracts" for a multitude of appliances - and use your delivery bill (by the regulated utitity deliverer - i.e. meter owner's) like a charge account.

    Such as the distinction between NiCOR (No. Illinois Gas) the regulated Utility/delivery agent/meter owner, and NICOR SERVICES, the unregulated service and energy supplier.

    Gas-fired upflow forced air furnace with split AC coil is pretty common for the region. A full-year service contract with summer and winter service visits is also commonly pushed by the unregulated suppliers, with extra fees tacked on for the WH, and other appliances.

    The OP should contact a licensed plumbing contractor to correct the violations of the Illinois Plumbing Code pictured and described.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 07-04-2012 at 05:13 PM.

  25. #25
    Jack Gardner's Avatar
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    Default Re: Could this explode?

    Thanks for all the advice. I am having a plumber come out to inspect the WH and possibly move the valve to the top. The guy the gas co. sent out was doing HVAC work, but the gas co. also services (gas) water heaters. I really do not know if he personally also services water heaters, but I agree that the gas co. should have tagged it if he truly believes it is a ticking time bomb.

    Since this water heater passed inspection when installed (I checked) and my home inspector did not mention it when I bought the house, I was left with conflicting opinions regarding the safety of this water heater..which led me here as an initial step.

    We'll see what the plumber says...but his unbiased, objective opinion may include a brand new super-deluxe water heater. We'll see.

    Thanks again,

    Jack

    Last edited by Jack Gardner; 07-05-2012 at 12:30 PM.

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