Reply Wed 24 Dec, 2008 09:35 am
We had a softener installed several years ago and they installed the flush into the same PVC pipe as our upstairs AC unit. We had a freeze and when the softener went through the cycle the water froze on the outside, went back up the pipe into the attic and flooded my house. Do you know if any codes were broken by doing this? Were they supposed to run it separately outside because we don’t have a floor drain?
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Type: Question • Score: 0 • Views: 10,929 • Replies: 11
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Gary Slusser
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Dec, 2008 11:03 am
@Ted Anderson,
In all my years the only codes I've heard about is the requirement for an air gap when putting the drain water into a household drain line or sump pump hole etc..

Floor drains are not very convenient or a good choice IMO.

Sorry to hear of the problem but since there was no problem for "several years", how did you manage to allow some type of blockage to the free flow of water out the line to cause a freeze up? It sounds as if you're looking to sue someone for the damage... had they run a separate line, you still have the responsibility to protect against freezing, no?

When they installed the softener, did you tell them not to use your regular drain/sewer lines?
Ted Anderson
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Dec, 2008 01:13 pm
@Gary Slusser,
Thanks for the info, if you have already received a reply delete this; I think I lost the first.

I think that you think I am looking to sue over this and I am not, I am looking for answers to see if it was done correctly and if there are codes to follow for the drain lines. On 1-3-08 my house flooded because of this and nobody figured it out until it did it again on 12-23-08 so If a shortcut was taken we need to know and if not then that is OK, we just have to know.

There was no blockage that I managed to allow, we had a few days of freezing weather and when the system ran it froze up and made a "plug", when it cycled again at 1:00 AM it went up the pipe, out the AC and all through the house.

The reason it hasn't happened the last several years is we haven't had this cold of winter, if I had known that that drain line tied into this it never raised a flag of concern and I just don't remember the installer calling me over to get an OK on tying into it. If they ran the line to the outside and this happened I would only be dealing with a wet concrete floor and wet tires, not $35,000 in damages and moving into a hotel for 3-4 weeks AGAIN.

I am fully aware that I am responsible to prevent freezing and I would have done so if I had known of the issue, we will have this moved to it's own drain line and do what is need to prevent it from freezing up, but if it does "wet tires".
Thanks again.



Andy CWS
 
  2  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 10:45 am
@Ted Anderson,
Your questions on codes (READ: or permits) is very important. Nearly all manufactures of water treatment equipment/valves state somewhere in their installation instructions to be sure and check with ‘local building codes”. They say that for a reason.

Actually, there are many codes (building, plumbing, commercial, industrial, etc.) on water softeners and other water treatment equipment and associated fixtures, structures and electrical connections in varying locations around the country. Some counties/states are very anal and have extremely detailed requirements and inspections. Others have no codes, whatsoever.

Some codes may include but not in all locations obviously and may not affect you:
-- The performance of water softeners shall comply with the provisions of WQA S-100
-- The nominal diameter of water supply piping to the softener must be at least ¾-inch
-- The minimum static water pressure at the building entrance must be at least xx psi
-- The inlet and outlet diameter of the water softener must match the diameter of the water supply piping at the location where the softener will be installed.
-- Plumbing fixtures must have a minimum available flow pressure of xx psi.
-- This location should be located near the service entrance but downstream from the main water supply shutoff valve.
-- All softeners must have a by pass.
-- All storage tanks must have a drain valve.
-- Water softener shall not be connected to sewer lines with or without air gaps.
-- Any alterations to existing equipment
-- Must be installed by a licensed plumber
-- Placement shall not interfere with accessibility and installation of other appliances such as water heaters.
-- Fire Sprinklers: If the house is equipped with a fire sprinkler system that draws water from a single connection point near the service entrance, the required water softener size can be reduced by installing the softener downstream from the branch supplying the sprinkler system. If the sprinkler system draws water from individual branches of the water supply system, this reduction is not possible and the sprinklers must be included in the water softener sizing calculations.
-- California created water softener efficiency standards in 1978.
-- You will need a standard 3-prong, 120V, grounded outlet that is not controlled by
a switch.
-- Electrical outlets must be a certain height and distance from water equipment.
-- Some may have to be grounded and grounding must cross plastic connections.

Of course there are numerous others but these can serve as examples that professionals and homeowner should be aware of. In my area, there is a code for some homes that a softener has to be eight feet off the basement floor!

We have a local ‘plumber’ who installs on-the-cheap water (and electrical) equipment and ignores the local codes and convinces homeowners that his two decades of “doing this” qualifies him and there’s no need to “do this or that” because “its stupid” and will “cost extra” “it’s not needed” and so on.

Most homeowners just went along with him. Well, home inspectors put stop-work orders on some construction sites, maker the homeowner very angry. Great costs had to be paid for redoing things (shortcuts, violations and lack of permits)"and guess who DIDN’T have to pay for those? Another homeowner wanted to sell his house and the prospect’s home inspector found three violations and delays and additional costs were required before a sale could be closed; the seller had to foot the bills.

He knows all the short cuts now, like installing AFTER the inspection gets approved. But that doesn’t bide well for homeowners who often find out too late. He is still in business and we are still correcting his mistakes. There’s one in every location!!!

Now, some of these codes are antiquated and really redundant or pointless (IMO), but they are still on the books and bureaucrats don’t much care for ‘making sense’, right? Professional plumbers and service techs understand these codes and make every effort to explain them to owners. Sometimes code variances can be applied for but the obligation is often on the owners (and sometimes the installers) along with the risks and penalties for failure to comply.

Do your homework. Beware of the guy who says that isn't necessary or, "Gee, I don't know of any codes, but I wouldn't worry about that, I've been doing this a long time...!"

Andy Christensen, CWS-II
0 Replies
 
Gary Slusser
 
  0  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 02:48 pm
@Ted Anderson,
Ted Anderson wrote:
I think that you think I am looking to sue over this and I am not, I am looking for answers to see if it was done correctly and if there are codes to follow for the drain lines. On 1-3-08 my house flooded because of this and nobody figured it out until it did it again on 12-23-08 so If a shortcut was taken we need to know and if not then that is OK, we just have to know.

There was no blockage that I managed to allow, we had a few days of freezing weather and when the system ran it froze up and made a "plug", when it cycled again at 1:00 AM it went up the pipe, out the AC and all through the house.

The reason it hasn't happened the last several years is we haven't had this cold of winter, if I had known that that drain line tied into this it never raised a flag of concern and I just don't remember the installer calling me over to get an OK on tying into it. If they ran the line to the outside and this happened I would only be dealing with a wet concrete floor and wet tires, not $35,000 in damages and moving into a hotel for 3-4 weeks AGAIN.

I am fully aware that I am responsible to prevent freezing and I would have done so if I had known of the issue, we will have this moved to it's own drain line and do what is need to prevent it from freezing up, but if it does "wet tires".
Thanks again.

I'm sorry to hear this happened, and then again!

I don't see any questions about how to prevent freezing etc., just codes...

As you see, wordy Andy has done a tremendous job in listing various codes and included a lot of non code instructions found in most if not all softener manuals but there is no mention of "codes for drain line" anywhere in all that, or to prevent drain line freeze problems. The manuals and instructions I use have the same instructions and I added a part about freezing drain line or the pooled drain water and the outcome of either freezing.

The first time this happened I would have come up with the cause, my best guess or at the very least, changed something to attempt to prevent it from ever happening again regardless of codes. And had I not done that, I certainly would have been seriously paying attention to cold weather forecasts in the future.

The fix is not to simply run another line outside, although that may be a good idea with a dedicated line that can not leak due to blockage, but, you need to prevent blockage caused by freezing etc. ANYWHERE in the line; like in the attic and outside. Hint, if the end of the line is on the ground or close enough to the frozen water on the ground (you don't have the required air cap) a new line will freeze and block up also. Especially if there is no provision to allow air into the line, that your present AC condensate lines does, the line probably can/will not fully drain all the water out (of tubing bellies etc.) and if it can freeze it will.

Andy, I'm not sure it's true but I hear that most codes don't apply outside 'city limits' (and permits are not being required in those places); it seems the code enforcement folks won't go outside the 'limits' or don't have jurisdiction. But that's no excuse to not do things right.

As to home inspections at the time of selling a house, if the thing worked for me and the 'problem' was illogical/irrational and not a health issue/hazard, like not having a bypass or being 8' off the floor!, as the seller, I'd require the buyer to accept things as they are or I'd amend the sales agreement and remove the softener or other water treatment equipment and allow the buyer to buy their own and install it anyway they care to at their expense.
Andy CWS
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 05:57 pm
@Gary Slusser,
"--In all my years the only codes I've heard about is the requirement for an air gap when putting the drain water into a household drain line or sump pump hole etc.--" Gary Slusser.

Sorry, I was responding to your not ever hearing of codes concerning water treatment equipment.

I saw two about drains, but that's OK, I precluded those by saying that these are only some of the codes. And, yes, some codes actually require by-passes and three-pronged plugs. But I was a little surprise that the only code you ever heard of was about air-gaps. I see.
0 Replies
 
Andy CWS
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 06:04 pm
@Gary Slusser,
"--Andy, I'm not sure it's true but I hear that most codes don't apply outside 'city limits' (and permits are not being required in those places); it seems the code enforcement folks won't go outside the 'limits' or don't have jurisdiction.--" Gary Sluser.

That would be news to me. I'm a little surprised this is a mystery to you. Anyone who works a wide range of areas knows that each county is a kingdom of their own.

For example, Sandusky CO. in Ohio has NO building code! Do what you want! Next door in Ottawa County it is a completely different story. They have permits for nearly every aspect of building, plumbing, electrical, additions, ad nauseum. All UVs must be Class-A and inspected after installation, Fortunately, none for softeners and other equipment, unlike Maryland.

My advice was to do the homework. Responsible people do the right thing or if not, shouldn't complain when it kicks them in the buns.

Andy Christensen, CWS-II
Ted Anderson
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 08:04 am
Thanks to all for the advice, I will contact my plumber, get this drain line ran correctly and do watever is needed to prevent frezing in the future and hope like hell that my insurance doesn't cancel me or go through the roof.

I do look forward to watch this debate between you two, it is fun from a outsiders view. Happy new year.
H2O MAN
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 10:05 am
@Ted Anderson,
Ted Anderson wrote:

Thanks to all for the advice, I will contact my plumber, get this drain line ran correctly and do watever is needed to prevent frezing in the future and hope like hell that my insurance doesn't cancel me or go through the roof.

I do look forward to watch this debate between you two, it is fun from a outsiders view. Happy new year.


Make sure the drain line is more than 1/2" in diameter and no longer than 25 feet.
An air-break is an excellent way to increase performance and prevent siphoning & excessive line pressure.
If your plumber connects to your existing sewer/septic lines make sure both a trap and air-brake are used.

Good luck
-H2O MAN
0 Replies
 
Gary Slusser
 
  0  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 11:42 am
@Andy CWS,
Andy CWS wrote:
I'm a little surprised this is a mystery to you.
Andy Christensen, CWS-II

Let me help you with your confusion wordyAndy, Ted and I were specifically talking about drain line codes, not all codes about everything everywhere as you obviously assumed. Now see if you can stay on topic or I'll start adding water treatment specific codes you seemingly don't know about.

h20man, what diameter would that be, ID or OD? And what is "an air break" or "air brake"? Also, you may want to read a control valve manual and see what to do if you need/must/have to run a drain line farther than your made up limit of 25'.

Ted, you're welcome and I wish you luck with getting back in the house ASAP and in dealing with the insurance company.
H2O MAN
 
  0  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 09:03 pm
@Gary Slusser,


It sounds like Slusser is off his/her meds again...
0 Replies
 
nmaw
 
  0  
Reply Thu 15 Oct, 2015 02:16 pm
@Ted Anderson,
I do want to say first, I am sorry to hear about the floods, it does suck. Honestly there are no codes against having to insulate pipes. All pipes should be insulated to protect against freezing weather. Typically in the attic its less likely to happen since it is so much warmer up there. Also in the winter times you should have your vents around your roof covered so that you do not have issues with cold air coming in contact with your pipes, duct work etc... This responsibility falls on the homeowner. Now if a plumber installed it and left exposed on the outside of the home that is a bit different, then you could go after him on a homeowners insurance claim. In October of every year you should start winterizing your home to protect from those days of extreme cold weather, as this will reduce the chances of broken pipes due to freezing. Also a good recommendation is switch from copper to pex, reason being is that there are little chances that it will burst even if exposed to cold weather extremes. The pipe made by Wirsbo is cross moleculed in a such a manner that it expands to about the size of a goose egg then as it starts to thaw it shrinks back down to its original size. SO awesome using this stuff as a plumber. It really does help reduce the chances of bursting pipes. My advice if not yet done is have your pipes insulated and cover vents in the attic that lead to the outside.

New Mexico Air & Water A Plumbing & Water Treatment Company
0 Replies
 
 

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