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 Pros/cons of installing a vacuum breaker with new water heater.
Author: JReality (NJ)

The contractor who gave us estimate for a water heater said that that because our unit was a condo we need a vacuum breaker. However, our town inspector's opinion was that if there wasn't already a vacuum breaker installed we're okay with just replacing the water heater without one. Our condo is 10 years old.

Our condo is all one floor(3rd floor), and except for the showerheads the level of the fixtures are below the level of the top of the water heater where the water comes in. Could that mean a vacuum breaker is needed? Our water heater and the replacement are top feed water heaters. Is there any real need for a vacuum breaker?

If we did add a vacuum even though the inspector didn't think it was needed, then the concern is that we would likely then need an expansion tank because the vacuum breaker may prevent backflow that would occur when the water heats up in the tank. Is that correct? Also the vacuum breaker is another component that could eventually leak, right?

BTW the contractor also told us that an expansion tank is required for all water heater replacements, but according to our town's inspector, an expansion tank is only required if there is a Pressure Reducing Valve installed somewhere in the line. Currently there isn't, and I've been led to believe that you don't even really need an expansion tank if there's a pressure reducing valve that allows backflow (although I did not ask the inspector about that). I Would like to avoid installing either an expansion tank or vacuum breaker unless they really are need as I don't want to have to worry about these components failing or leaking before the life of the water heater.

If it turns out that the water pressure is measured as high, then I wouldn't mind having a pressure reducing valve installed, but only if it allows backflow, and if the inspector wouldn't be insisting that it still requires an expansion tank. (did not discuss this with inspector, but in my previous residence I had a Watts pressure reducing valve that allowed backflow, and no expansion tank)


J.

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 Re: Pros/cons of installing a vacuum breaker with new water heater.
Author: packy (MA)

to answer your first question...

"Do dip tubes have holes in them?
A dip tube has a small hole in it that should be higher than the top element in the water heater. This hole is intended to break any siphon that occurs by allowing air to enter the cold water side. The hole is small however and not 100% to be relied upon as it could become plugged."

there is no answer to your second question until you know the waqter pressure in your building.

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 Re: Pros/cons of installing a vacuum breaker with new water heater.
Author: bernabeu (SC)

a vacuum breaker on a water heater is independant of the cold water supply

it merely allows drainage of the heater

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"Measure Twice & Cut Once" - Retired U.A. Local 1 & 638

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