Drains from hot water cylinder relief valves

Guidance about the function of pressure relief valves in plumbing and drainage systems, including discussion of the requirements in Acceptable Solution G12/AS1.

This information was confirmed as current in February 2016. It originally appeared in Codewords newsletters prior to January 2014.

  • Published on 1 April 2010
  • Of interest to Building consent authorities, Designers, Plumbers
  • 1st edition

The guidance was released after MBIE received several enquiries about drain lines from pressure relief and temperature and pressure relief valves discharging to a PVC-U plumbing and drainage system. In some cases, the PVC-U pipes and stacks melted causing a failure of the plumbing system and extensive damage.

It appears that this was due in part to the increasing use of solar water heating, and other heat sources that cannot be controlled by an energy cut-out device, requiring relief valves to discharge to prevent hot water cylinder explosions.

Relief valves are designed to reset after discharging and can discharge again and again until the heat source is reduced or a fault, such as replacing a failed thermostat, is fixed.

Pressure relief valves in plumbing and drainage systems

Pressure relief valves are designed to relieve excess pressure to make sure valve-vented storage water heaters do not explode.

Temperature and pressure relief valves are designed to keep the temperature below 99°C and to relieve excess pressure to make sure valve-vented storage water heaters do not explode.

Acceptable Solution G12/AS1, and Standards AS/NZS 3500.4: 2003 (cited in G12/VM1) and NZS 4607: 1989, all require:

  • the drain line from the relief valve to be in copper
  • discharge to an appropriate place that does not cause damage to the building.

AS/NZS 3500.2 (cited in G13/AS3) says the range of temperatures likely to discharge to the plumbing and drainage system must be taken into account when selecting materials for use in the plumbing system. Therefore, if the drain line discharges over a tundish into the plumbing system, the plumbing system has to be constructed of a material that will take the high temperature discharge from relief valves.

Failure to comply with these simple requirements could cause the PVC-U plumbing system to melt when a relief valve discharges, resulting in a failure of the plumbing system.

All guidance related to G12 Water supplies

This information is published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Chief Executive. It is a general guide only and, if used, does not relieve any person of the obligation to consider any matter to which the information relates according to the circumstances of the particular case. Expert advice may be required in specific circumstances. Where this information relates to assisting people: