Heat-trap nipples?

lilathabitApril 22, 2006

I bet that got your attention!

Why would a plumber not install the heat-trap nipples that comes with the hot water heater? We had a new heater installed on Friday. My husband today just found the heat-trap nipple lying on the floor, then upon closer observation, spots that a different piece was used where the nipple would go on the tank. They did use the cold water one.

Thanks in advance for your help!

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What is a heat trap nipple? Do you mean a dielectric nipple? The nipple is used to seperate the iron inside the waterheater from copper, if copper is used. If brass flex is used, he maybe thought it is not needed, because the connection uses a gasket. If you have plastic pipe it is not needed. At any rate, I can't imagine a plumber leaving the nipples behind. They are worth to much to throw away.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2006 at 10:44AM
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I have never heard of or seen heat trap nipples nor can I imagine how they work.

I have heard of and used heat trap loops in hot water systems of various types.

I believe in view of your particular post you owe us all a PG family rated picture of yourself and the devilous smile you had on your face when you posted.

We're waiting!


    Bookmark   April 23, 2006 at 10:53AM
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Heat trap nipples are simple and common place. These days they are often combined with dielectric nipples into one package.


    Bookmark   April 23, 2006 at 1:51PM
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Actually, the piece he found on the floor looks like what is shown in the photo on the bottom:


and the new piece looks like one in the website kframe19 posted. Does that offer any clue to a reason?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2006 at 11:00PM
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Well, it would stand to reason, if what the plumber used looked like the one kframe 19 posted, then the combination type was used. The plumber just added an extra level of protection for your heater. I too wonder why he didn't take the one supplied with the heater. It sounds like to me, he's one of those guys who just goes ahead and does the job in the best way possible and has no use for it. Hang on to the one the plumber left in case you might need it in the future. Using either of the two saves substantial energy so, it's great that you want to know whats up.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2006 at 11:19PM
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take the one the plumber left, and shake it.

Does it rattle?

If not, it's a dielectric nipple ONLY, and not a heat trap nipple.

Heat trap nipples rattle.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 12:54AM
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The nipple does indeed rattle.

It was requested by my husband that I learn a bit more about these sort of things. He's tired of being the go to guy to handle whomever has to come to the house and work.

I can't blame him. I should learn about how this stuff all works. Or at the very least, know enough not to get too ripped off!

Thank you all for your help. It's good to know that my plumber might perhaps know what he's doing.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 12:22PM
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The plumber had to come back and finish up some work, installing a new pressure regulator and a reserve tank. DH asked about the nipple. It's a Rheem HW Heater. The plumber said that the replacement combination nipple upgrades the unit from a 6 year warranty to a 10 year warranty.

Thanks for your answers !

    Bookmark   April 25, 2006 at 11:16AM
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I seriously doubt that installing a heat trap nipple adds 4 years to the warranty. Sounds like the plumber is blowing smoke.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2006 at 3:32PM
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Well, that really sucks.

I paid $1300 for a new 40 gallon HW Heater with a 10 yr warranty, a new water pressure regulator and a pressure relief tank (I think this is what it's called).

I got a bunch of quotes and they were all higher than this. I just went with this guy. I tend to over think things and I just wanted it done.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2006 at 6:15PM
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The warranty will be stated on either the hot water tank or the instruction manual that comes with the tank. Nothing installed by a plumber can increase the warranty of the hot water heater.

I bought a 9-year warranted, GE Smartwater (made by Rheem) 50-gallon electric hot water tank from Home Depot 2 years ago for about $250 and installed it myself. The tank came with the the dielectric couplings installed plus I got 2 more when I bought the copper flex hose kit.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 1:44PM
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Well, what could I do. This was actually the cheapest quote of the 3 places we called, DH wasn't willing to do any of the work himself. I can't do it, so I'm at the mercy of these guys.

I'm an hour north of NYC.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 8:41AM
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You can check the status of your warranty here:

(The technical bulletins under Contractor/Resource Library are quite well-written on that site too, and do a pretty good job of explaining this stuff IMO.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Rheem water heater Warranty Verification

    Bookmark   May 8, 2006 at 12:02AM
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Just because I like pictures, and clickable links, here they are: http://www.waterheaterrescue.com/pages/WHRpages/English/Troubleshooting/quick-fixes-to-water-heater-problems.html ...I think the "quick" advice on that page is hilarious

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.perfectioncorp.com/water/heattrap.html

    Bookmark   July 28, 2006 at 4:19AM
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I tried to drain my house but was unable to get more than just a trickle of water from the petcock at the bottom of the water heater or the main house drain. I opened all the taps. The cold water system drained with no problem. I have a Nordyne water heater which has a dielectric heat trap on the cold and hot water side of the heater. Do these nipples act like off valves when the system is drained causing no back flow? Can I operate the heater without the heat traps? I have Pex tubing in my entire house. Thanks

    Bookmark   March 5, 2007 at 11:02PM
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Most boilers and water heaters are required to have a temperature and pressure relief valve. This valve prevents the heater from exploding like a bomb. Lifting a tab on the top of the valve will allow air into the heater. This will allow water to come out of the drain. If the T&P valve is weak or bad, it will not shut off when the heater is again hot. It will require the valve to be replaced, before using the heater again.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2007 at 11:26PM
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Not getting but a trickle of water from the drain valve on the water heat could mean that it's clogged with precipitated minerals. I've seen a couple like that over the years.

One, a 50 gallon heater, was so bad that we ended up rigging an air hose to the intake and blew the water out of the heater into the utility sink until it was light enough to move.

When we got it outside we pulled one of the heating elements and the mineralization was so bad on the bottom element I'm surprised that it didn't burn out.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 10:52AM
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I checked the petcock with the water pressure in the heater and when I opened the valve the water sprayed out with alot of pressure. The heater is only 1 year old so I figure there isn't any sediment in the bottom of the tank that should cause the drain to clog. Does that ball in the heat trap close like a "reverse flow check valve" when I try to drain the system toward the well pump? Is it possible that the hot and cold heat traps are preventing me from draining the system toward the well pump because the small ball is seated not allowing water to flow in the opposite direction of the normal flow? What would happen if I removed the heat trap? would the heater still function?

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 2:12PM
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Heat trap nipples do two things: They reduce the amount of heat lost from the heater to water in the pipes, and they eliminate tank corrosion caused by the dielectric effect of copper connected to steel. I first saw them in widespread use in 1995-96, when the local electric co offered free heat recovery devices when you bought electric water heaters.
Their main drawback is that they reduce the flow of water. Their great advantage is they are the cheapest way to keep copper pipe from touching the steel of your heater.
Most plumbers are content to install water heaters the old way, regardless of benefits: copper pipe connected directly to the heater. It is the quickest way. But this creates the dielectric effect: The steel-copper combination acts like a battery. It creates a small electric current, which results in corrosion of the tank.
Best: use dielectric unions or flexible copper connectors.
Both are insulated; neither reduces water flow. You might lose a little heat to the pipes, but no big deal.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 10:45PM
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Or you can use dielectric unions & use copper piping to perform the heat trap function.

The copper piping needs to look like this:

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 10, 2007 at 7:16PM
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I installed a hot water recirculating valve to conserve water and energy, but hot water is not recirculating.
Could this Heat-Trap-Nipple be the problem? The company that sold the recirculating valve says it probably is and recommends taking it off.
Is that right?
Is it acceptable?
Do you recommend it?
Can a dumb Do-It-Yourselfer do it?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 12:39PM
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FYI 1stratto a recirc line conserves water only but it doesn't conserve energy. You're reheating that water a second time.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 5:55PM
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The heat trap nipples were removed from your Rheem water heater to install an additional magnesium anode rod. This changes the warranty on the heater from 6 years to 10. The idea is that the additional anode will prevent the tank from rusting for a longer period of time.

The rod comes attached to it's own nipple, and it's impossible to have them installed at the same time. In theory you could remove only the hot water nipple and leave the cold water one intact, but the instructions recommend removing both.

The newer tanks come with just a little rubber flap in the heat trap. I'm not sure how effective that would be based off of the ball-type traps. I believe just using flex lines and making a goose-neck shape would be just about as effective.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2008 at 3:13AM
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