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Sediment Traps

By In Sediment Traps On August 4, 2009


Sediment Trap Photo Sediment Trap DiagramSediment traps might have more slang terms than any other component in a home; Drip, Drip Leg, Drip Tee, Drip Elbow, Sediment Tee, Dirt Tee, Dirt Leg, Dirt Pocket, Drip Pocket…. you get my point. These names all refer to a short length of pipe installed on the gas piping to an appliance that is designed to catch any foreign debris in the gas line, and prevent it from getting in to your fuel burning appliance and gunking things up.

The basic requirements. Sediment trap requirements are fairly consistent across the country, but Minnesota is a little more strict.  Minnesota requires the following for a sediment trap:

  • Improperly Installed Sediment Trap Must be installed as close to the inlet of the equipment as practical
  • Must be installed ahead of all pounds-to-inches pressure regulators
  • Must be made of a tee fitting with a capped nipple, a minimum of 3 inches in length, in the bottom opening of the run of the tee
  • Provide a 90-degree change of direction of gas flow (the photo at right is an improper installation, because it does not provide this)
  • The cap shall be at an elevation lower than the tee fitting.

Minnesota requires sediment traps at all automatically controlled gas utilization equipment, but good luck getting a straight definition of what “automatically controlled” is.  I’ve been trying for the past four years, and I’ve received different answers from different authorities.  Some jurisdictions say that any appliance that automatically controls the flow of gas is ‘automatically controlled’, such as a clothes dryer or a range.  Other jurisdictions say that only appliances that turn on and off by themselves are automatically controlled, such as a furnace and water heater.  That’s the definition I prefer to use.

How important are they? That’s debatable.  While a missing sediment trap is certainly a code violation, I don’t feel that this is a serious defect.   It’s just a good sign that an amateur has been doing work on the house.  I’ve taken apart many old sediment traps just out of curiosity, and can you guess what I’ve found at the bottom of every trap? Click the photo below to see.

Click the photo to see what's inside

Are they becoming a thing of the past? Natural gas is actually a very clean product today, and I’ve never found a trace of sediment at the bottom of any trap.    The national codes for gas piping don’t require sediment traps at illuminating appliances, ranges, clothes dryers, or outdoor grills.  This leaves furnaces, boilers, and water heaters.  I’ve heard that copper gas lines can leave leave lots of sediment… but again, I’ve never seen it myself.

But if you live in Minneapolis… you better have your sediment traps installed.  For a Minneapolis Truth-In-Sale of Housing Evaluation, any appliance that is less than three years old (from the date of the evaluation) must have a properly installed sediment trap.  If it doesn’t, this requires repair with a plumbing permit.  The Minneapolis Building Inspections department is very picky about these.


Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections – EmailTruth in Housing

About the Author

Reuben

Reuben is a second generation home inspector with a passion for his work. He grew up remodeling homes and learning about carpentry since he was old enough to hold a hammer. Reuben has worked for Structure Tech since it was purchased by Neil in 1997, and is now co-owner of the company. Reuben’s favorite customers are the ones who have a lot of questions; he grew up thinking he was going to be a school teacher because he enjoyed teaching others so much. In a sense, that’s a lot of what home inspections are about, so Reuben truly does what he loves. Reuben has an A.A. degree in liberal arts and has attended most of the Building Inspection Technology classes at North Hennepin Community College. Reuben and his wife are the proud parents of two young childen, Cy Alexander and Lucy Nicole, and have a German Shepherd named Stanley. With two young children Reuben doesn’t have much free time, but he still tries to play disc golf as often as possible during the summer. Reuben lives in Maple Grove, MN. Professional Qualifications / Memberships: *ASHI Certified Inspector *President, ASHI Heartland Chapter *Member, Minnesota Society of Housing Inspectors (MSHI) *Licensed Minneapolis Truth-in-Sale of Housing Evaluator *Licensed Saint Paul Truth-in-Sale of Housing Evaluator *Licensed Maplewood Truth-in-Sale of Housing Evaluator *Licensed Hopkins Truth-in-Housing Evaluator *Licensed Robbinsdale Point of Sale Evaluator *Affiliate Member, Southern Twin Cities Association of Realtors

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