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Thread: Connecting Hot Water Heater Drain Pan to Sewer - Will Swing Check stop sewer gas?

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member Jim109's Avatar
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    Default Connecting Hot Water Heater Drain Pan to Sewer - Will Swing Check stop sewer gas?

    Hey all!

    So I had a plumber out to make my water heater drain pan:


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    drain to somewhere else other than the garage as I am building out the garage to use as a room. He ended up connecting the drain pan to the sewer in the wall next to the hot water heater as it has sinks on the other sides. He used a swing check valve:

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    to stop the sewer gas from going back into the water heater closet. My question ... is this sufficient to keep the sewer gas out? I have a feeling that its not and there should be some sort of P-Trap or something else to keep the gas out. I haven't been able to smell any sewer smell in the hot water heater closet yet but I am very concerned that it might be letting small amounts of gas through. Any help here would be much appreciated.

    Thanks!

    Jim
    Last edited by Terry; 05-19-2011 at 03:34 PM.

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    Plumbing Contractor for 49 years johnjh2o1's Avatar
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    There is no way what he did is correct. At the least it should be connected to a indirect waste with a properly sized air gap. He has created a very dangerous condition.

    John

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    DIY Senior Member dlarrivee's Avatar
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    There is no trap seal, and there is a chance of gas, or back flow...

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    DIY Junior Member Jim109's Avatar
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    So it sounds like I need to get this looked at again. Can you give me a little more details on what indirect waste is and how you create a properly sized air gap? Is it a dangerous condition because gas can leak out into the house? I'm trying to get more details so if I do need this fixed I know what SHOULD be done

    Thanks so much!


    Quote Originally Posted by johnjh2o1 View Post
    There is no way what he did is correct. At the least it should be connected to a indirect waste with a properly sized air gap. He has created a very dangerous condition.

    John

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    DIY Junior Member Jim109's Avatar
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    One additional question.. I should be able to smell the gas if its leaking right? I would think the swing check wouldn't stop the gas but I can't seem to smell anything. I wonder if the proper solution here would be to go through the wall to the sink on the other side and connect to it before the P Trap like the A/C units do. Would that be the proper solution or is there a way to fix it without doing that?

    Thanks!!

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    It's strange what he did, but I doubt you will be smelling anything. I would be more worried that it won't drain. Those are normally placed on water supply lines under pressure.

    We drain water heater pans and relief lines either outside, or to an indirect drain.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Depending on the situation, some drain lines don't really smell much, so no, you may not smell anything. Yes, this should be corrected, and if the guy is licensed and it was done with a permit, a call to the inspector would get fast action.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    In the Trades SacCity's Avatar
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    Again the point is that you want to see if there is a problem.
    If the water heater is leaking you want it to dribble on the floor and piss you off enough to call a plumber.
    That is the point! Do not route the drain from the drip pan to a hidden point do not hide any problems that may occour.

    If there is a problem you want to know before it becomes dangerous!!!
    Michael
    Michael
    Sac City Plumbing
    http://SacCityPlumbing.com

  9. #9
    DIY Junior Member Jim109's Avatar
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    Thanks for the reply! Can someone explain what an indirect drain is. I'm thinking of having it go to the bathroom drain before the P Trap ( Just like my AC unit does in a different bathroom). Is that an indirect drain like you are referring to?

    Thanks again!!!

    Jim

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry View Post
    It's strange what he did, but I doubt you will be smelling anything. I would be more worried that it won't drain. Those are normally placed on water supply lines under pressure.

    We drain water heater pans and relief lines either outside, or to an indirect drain.

  10. #10
    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    Part of the equation will be what the layout of the existing plumbing is, as a gravity drain can only flow down, not up.
    With a drain pan on the floor this limits your options.

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    DIY Junior Member Jim109's Avatar
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    The hot water heater is raised up fairly high off the floor that it could drain to the sink behind the wall where it is now. I'm not sure if that is what you refer to as an indirect drain though... and whether there is a carbon monoxide risk by having the drain go into the house like that.

    Thanks!

    Jim


    Quote Originally Posted by cacher_chick View Post
    Part of the equation will be what the layout of the existing plumbing is, as a gravity drain can only flow down, not up.
    With a drain pan on the floor this limits your options.

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    DIY Senior Member kreemoweet's Avatar
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    There is no carbon monoxide in sewer gas. Actually, there is no danger whatever from sewer gas in the amounts that would issue from household drain pipes. It is merely unpleasant.
    Were this not so, most plumbers would have died long ago. A water heater overflow outlet is not a drain, and should not be connected to the drain system. It is just an emergency overflow put in to limit damage caused by sudden water heater failure. It can discharge anywhere convenient and should not be hidden from sight.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    AN indirect drain does not have a continuous connection, there is a gap between the outlet and the inlet oriented such that if the drain got plugged, there would be no direct connection between the two. think of your faucet for a sink...it is an indirect connection to the drain because it is high enough so that it can't make a 'direct' connection to the water that may be in the sink, and possibly suck contaminated water from the drain into the potable water system.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    There may be two separate situations here. The drain pan CAN connect to the sink drain BEFORE the trap, although it is not a good idea to do so. The safety valve CANNOT empty into the drain pan because the pan's drain line is completely inadequate to handle the flow and WILL overflow within seconds of the valve activating, and CANNOT connect directly to the sewer system because of backflow and temperature considerations.

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    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kreemoweet View Post
    There is no carbon monoxide in sewer gas. Actually, there is no danger whatever from sewer gas in the amounts that would issue from household drain pipes. It is merely unpleasant.
    Were this not so, most plumbers would have died long ago. A water heater overflow outlet is not a drain, and should not be connected to the drain system. It is just an emergency overflow put in to limit damage caused by sudden water heater failure. It can discharge anywhere convenient and should not be hidden from sight.
    Too many have died sticking their heads down into a newly opened septic tank, especially working on a pump in the outlet chamber, hanging by their knees upside down.

    So the proviso is depends on where you are in the system. Methane also can make it up the main vent stack, which is why there are so many codes about distance to windows and such. Notice those big blowers at manholes that are being entered - not for comfort!

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