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Hybrid Electric Heat Pump Standard Installation

By January 25, 2021 January 30th, 2021 No Comments

Our goal is to provide our customers with a well designed plumbing architecture that meets code, minimizes maintenance and future service calls while getting the best performance from the products we sell.  We know that no two jobs are identical and that you’ll need to make judgment calls based on your expertise when you are on the job.

We’ve put together a few examples of what to do and what not to do when installing a hybrid heat pump water heater.  This is not an exhaustive list and we’ll continue to improve, so please feel free to comment below if you have suggestions or questions.

All water heater installations should conform to the most recent national Uniform Plumbing Code on Water Heater Installation as well as any local codes and guidelines that may be in effect including any permitting and inspections that may be required for the job.

Click on the blue “plus” icon in the photo get an explanation of the issue we are calling out.  The two pictures to the right highlight some examples of what not to do when installing a hybrid heat pump water heater.

Unlike traditional gas and electric tank water heaters the majority of hybrid heat pump water heaters have their hot water outlet in the middle of the tank and their cold water supply at the bottom of the tank.  In retrofit installations you will likely have to reroute the hot and cold water lines.

Condensate line wasn’t installed.
Incompatible mixed metal (black iron T fitting installed on a copper line).
Thermal expansion tank not secured to code.
Earthquake (seismic) straps not anchored into a stud.
Drip pan not installed.
Flex copper line is blocking access to the filter.
Electrical connection and CTA adaptor not properly attached.

To the right are some examples of a much better installation.  Again, select the “plus” icons to read about the issues we are calling out.

Some improvements that could be made to this installation would include using a more durable heavy duty drip pan rather than the less expensive aluminum type used here.  The aluminum ones are pretty flimsy whereas the heavier duty drip pans can take abuse and don’t tend to dent, deform or crack.

The hot water line should be insulated and strapped to the wall.

The earthquake straps could also be anchored to the rear portion of the water heater so its often not necessary to use extra wood for anchoring.  However, a wood block can help space the water heater off the wall which helps create the space needed for a drain pan.

Not all homes need a thermal expansion tank, but when one is required it’s important they are installed securely.  The Flamco Flexconsole thermal expansion tank wall mount bracket used in this installation is a bit pricey, but is useful in certain circumstances.  The less expensive HoldRite expansion tank mounting brackets work fine too.

In the installation pictured here there is one brass union on the expansion tank branch after the LHBV and before the tee that is likely unnecessary.

Expansion tanks can fail sooner than the water heater itself and adding in a ball valve on the expansion tank branch and hose bib provides the homeowner with some upgrades that can save future expense if any service work is required.  The hose bib is to relieve pressure and drain any residual water, arguably a frivolous enhancement to the installation.  We get it.

Having a valve on the hot water line is another upgrade of sorts to prevent major residual water from pouring out if the water heater has to be removed (more important in multi story homes).

Piping Tee installed on the condensate line to provide access opening for annual inspection and cleaning.
Earthquake (seismic) straps properly anchored to a stud.
Drain pain installed with sensor on foam pad.
Condensate and T&P line properly terminated to a floor drain
Thermal expansion tank properly anchored up to code.
Ball valve used on cold and hot water lines for easy maintenance.
Ball valve and hose bib installed on the line to the thermal expansion tank to make servicing or replacement of a thermal expansion tank easy.

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