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Sediment Trap

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Sediment trap
Aaron Stickley
A sediment trap can help prolong the life of your gas water heater. What a sediment trap consists of is simply a tee in the gas pipe before the inlet of the control valve. This tee provides a place where the gas can make a sharp turn into the water heater and any particles of water or trash can collect. Preventing debris from getting into the pilot or main burner assembly will prolong the life of the water heater. Sediment traps are required by the Uniform Plumbing Code and are therefore incorporated into most, if not all, city building and safety codes. Call your local building department if you have any questions about whether or not a sediment trap is required.

Installing a sediment trap is quick, cheap, easy and required, so everyone should have one on their gas water heater. If you don’t currently have a sediment trap and you are replacing the water heater plan on putting one in.

Here is what is required and how to install your own sediment trap on a gas water heater.

What you will need:

  • one black iron tee
  • a short shoulder length black iron nipple
  • a 4” black iron nipple
  • a black iron cap
  • and the male iron pipe by flare fitting that is on your water heater now or a new one like the one that usually comes with a new flex line.

If the gas flex line to your water heater barely makes it to the control valve now then you may need to get a longer flex line. Another option is to make some adjustments to the gas line so that it makes up the difference.

Also, make sure you have some appropriate pipe joint compound to put on the threads. Collect everything before you begin.

  1. Shut off and disconnect the gas: Turn the gas off either at the water heater or at the meter. Once the gas if off remove flex line (the side that is nearest the gas entry to the water heater) with a pair of pliers. Then remove the flare connection that goes into the water heater.

  2. Prepare the fittings: Prepare the fittings by applying pipe dope to the threads of the nipples and on the flare connection threads. You can get these ready one at a time as you use them but sometimes it easier to do this all at once.

  3. Put it all together: Start with the short nipple. Screw the nipple into the tee and tighten using two pairs of pliers or pipe wrenches. Then carefully thread the tee with the short nipple on the end of it into the control valve of the water heater. Over tightening the nipple onto the control valve can crack it, so be very careful not to tighten it more than necessary.

    Next screw the cap onto one end of the long nipple. Then thread the other end of the long nipple into the bottom of the tee. Lastly, screw the remaining flare adapter into the top of the tee.

  4. Connect the gas: Hook the flex line back onto the end of the flare fitting. Turn the gas back on and check for leaks. It’s that simple!
Now you have an approved gas sediment trap which could help keep you safer and prolong the life of your water heater.

Note: A sediment trap should be installed as close to the control valve as possible, so plan accordingly.

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