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IAPMO Uniform Codes Spotlight

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From the 2015 UPC Illustrated Training Manual

1007.0 Trap Seal Protection.
1007.1 General. Floor drain or similar traps directly connected to the drainage system and subject to infrequent use shall be protected with a trap seal primer, except where not deemed necessary for safety or sanitation by the Authority Having Jurisdiction. Trap seal primers shall be accessible for maintenance.

Floor drain traps that do not connect to a watersupplied fixture will tend to evaporate. Other traps that are not periodically used or are installed in overly dry areas will lose their seal by simple evaporation. The result of this loss of trap seal allows known health hazards such as hydrogen sulfide, methane, bacteria, viruses and mold to enter the living space. The SARS epidemic (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) reported in Hong Kong, China in 2003 caused in part by a dry and leaking trap, has raised the awareness of the dangers of an unprotected sanitary drainage system.

One of the first lines of defense against trap failure is the trap primer, which is a piping device that helps to maintain a water seal in a remote trap. A trap primer connects to a cold water inlet or other water supply. Every time that inlet or supply is used, a small amount of water flows down to the trap to keep the water seal from drying up. If the primer is electronic, it is set on a timer that daily releases enough water to maintain the trap seal (see Figures 1007.1a and 1007.1b).

It is clear that traps can easily dry up in rooms where floor drains are seldom used, but it may not be obvious that traps dry up in rooms that are used daily. This is a common problem in mechanical and service rooms, which are often dry and overly warm. Years ago, traps would be regularly replenished on the janitor’s nightly rounds. Enough of the soapy water from those old fashioned heavy mops would go down the floor drain to replenish the trap. Today, with the popularity of dry chemicals for cleaning, not much water is used on the floors, at least not enough to keep the traps seal full. By providing a trickle of water every time water is used, trap seal primers refill the seal of a P-trap.

Making the correct choice of which trap primer to use should take some thought. There are three main kinds of trap seal primers:

1. Pressure drop activated.
2. Flush valve operated.
3. Multiple and electronic activated.

Pressure-drop-activated trap seal primers are usually brass, have a one-half-inch Mail Iron Pipe (MIP) inlet connection, and one-half-inch Female Iron Pipe (FIP) outlet connection. An interior cartridge seals when the line pressure is in a static state, but when the line pressure drops just three psi (20.68 kPa) by the flushing of a toilet, a faucet opened, etc., the cartridge will rise. It rises because a pressure differential has occurred within the primer. At this point, a metered amount of water is discharged under pressure into the line connected to the floor drain trap.

Pressure drop activated trap seal primers are designed to minimize the problem of clogging. These trap seal primers are constructed with a fine mesh filter, keeping line debris at bay.

The flush-valve-operated trap seal primer gets its name from its installation (see Figure 1007.1c). It is placed below the flush valve on a water closet or urinal and connects to the floor drain by a tube so that the tube can catch some of the water discharged from the flush valve. The water runs down the tube to the floor drain and the water seal is maintained. This trap seal primer has two positive features: 1) low water consumption since it only uses a portion of the discharged water from the flush valve operation, and 2) no moving parts. However, this trap seal primer also introduces some restrictions. Its use may not be practical because the flush-valve may be situated too far from the floor drains. In this case, a pressure-drop-activated trap primer is more practical since it can be installed close to the drain that needs to be primed.

When a number of pressure-drop-activated trap seal primers are located close to one another, they can be primed via a multiple trap primer (see Figure 1007.1d). In this case, a metered amount of water from the trap primer is evenly distributed to more than one floor drain trap by means of a distribution unit or an electronic primer manifold. For every 20 feet of floor drain trap make-up water line, the primer must be a minimum of 1 foot elevation from the finished floor. It should generally be mounted level with the water supply line.

These multiple units can be installed in a variety of situations. For example, such a unit is useful when a men’s restroom is located next to a women’s restroom. In this instance, one trap seal primer can serve both floor drain traps, omitting the need for additional trap primers, extra shutoff valves, another access door and air gap fittings, which saves time, money, and labor. They can also be installed with an electronic timer to provide automatic filling of the trap seal. In this installation there is no worry about having enough pressure drop or use of the fixtures to keep the trap filled.

The trap primer must be accessible. The access door needs to be large enough to allow the plumber to reach the trap seal primer, the line shutoff valve and any other accessories present. Installing a line shutoff valve will make repair and maintenance that much easier.

The 2015 Uniform Plumbing Code Illustrated Training Manual eBook is available for purchase here.

© 2017 International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials.
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